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The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

Viktoria Metzner: Work at 35,000 Feet Above Ground

Metzner on a plane at her base airport, Frankfurt International Airport. (Courtesy of Viktoria Metzner)

The engines start turning as a low rumble shakes the plane. To the left, a flight lands as another takes off to the right. Lufthansa flight attendant and WIS parent Viktoria Metzner (mother of sophomore Lena Metzner and fifth grader Allegra Metzner), sits patiently in her seat. As the rumble grows to a roar, she goes through the emergency procedure in case of an evacuation, checking what emergency exit door she is closest to and where the take-off is. 

Metzner started flight attending in the summer of 1995 as a 19-year-old. “I had to pay part of school and training by myself, so [flight attending] was something that allowed me to work on weekends and go to school during the week,” Metzner said.

The cockpit on one of Metzner’s flights. (Courtesy of Viktoria Metzner)

Despite her nearly 30 years of experience in flight attending, Metzner said there is no typical work day or week for her. Currently, she is required to fulfill seven working days per month, and depending on what flights she requests, that’s when she works. 

Metzner loves her job. “You always meet new people and you get to go to new places!” Metzner said. Though all her flights start in Frankfurt, Germany, her favorite destinations are other parts of Europe or the Middle East. She typically chooses not to go to popular places like Paris or Berlin, preferring less popular cities like Sarajevo, Dubrovnik, or Split. 

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Metzner in front of one of the planes she works on. (Courtesy of Viktoria Metzner)

Metzner wishes more people realized that flight attendants are not on board for the service, but rather for safety and potential emergencies. “Sometimes people do forget that, and that is something I wish people would keep in their memory,” she said.

Another misconception Metzner points out is that  many passengers think flight attendants don’t do anything.” We do emergency training every year, we get CPR and first aid training every year, then you can only fly on the [type of] airplane that you are trained on, so that means that you can’t just switch,” Metzner said. She is currently trained on several aircraft, including the Airbus 320, 319, 321, and the Boeing 787-900.

Metzner also has to complete communication skills training with her crew, passengers, and the cockpit crew. Additionally, she takes a Dangerous Goods Test annually, where she learns to recognize hazardous materials. She also has to stay up to date with new regulations. “Every time the [Federal Aviation Association (FAA)] comes out with a different strategy, you need to know what the strategy is about,” Metzner said. 

A Lufthansa plane prepping for the next flight at Frankfurt International Airport. (Courtesy of Viktoria Metzner)

Throughout her career, Metzner has encountered various situations where she has used this training. Once, an engine failed and Metzner’s plane barely touched down while landing. Another time, a lightning bolt struck her aircraft. While no one was hurt, this was a new and interesting experience for Metzner. 

Metzner says that flight attendants need to be friendly, good with people, good at communicating, and open to being around new people. 

However, she has also had some less desirable moments with passengers. “Sometimes passengers do get rude and become obnoxious,” Metzner said. “However, that being said, if it goes too far, then the captain has the authority to disembark someone, and that person is not going to fly with us again.”

Additionally, Metzner says that many people don’t take flight attendants and their work seriously. “It’s a myth to say that everyone looks [like] the Pan American (PanAm) stewardess, good-looking, flying around the world for free.” 

Flying takes a significant toll on people’s bodies. Flight attendants are up at night, don’t have regular sleep cycles, and can’t eat at regular times. “Sometimes a flight from Frankfurt to Buenos Aires with preparation, getting there and getting to the hotel is 17 to 18 hours,” Metzner said. “It’s a lot of stress on your body.”

One of Metzner’s flights taking off at night. (Courtesy of Viktoria Metzner)

Despite all the challenges that come with her profession, Metzner wouldn’t change anything about it. “It’s still something that I enjoy,” she said. “I enjoy being up in the air and flying sort of has a certain, I don’t know, fascination for me that I still, to this day, love.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             By Lucy Randall

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Lucy Randall, Features Editor

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    CecilyOct 23, 2023 at 6:57 pm

    Very well written!