By Danny Freedman
Wednesday, March 30, 2005 5:41 PM
KRISTAN BARAN, 30
JOB: Flight attendant for Dulles-based Independence Air, which took to the skies in June.
SALARY RANGE: Starts at around $16 for every in-flight hour, plus $1.55 per hour while you're on the clock.
EDUCATION: Bachelor's in sociology from University of Northern Colorado.
WHAT SHE DOES: Baran works about five flights a day, making sure passengers reach their destination hydrated, well-snacked and hopefully in a good mood. Yes, she has to smile all the time, but that's not a chore: "There's always somebody there that's going to do something or tell you a story that's going to make your day just so great." If the day ends in another city (Baran likes landing a night in New York or Florida), the airline puts the crew up in a hotel.
WOULD YOU WANT HER JOB?: The flight attendant tends to double as the on-board psychologist/punching bag, lending an ear to passengers' grumbles and getting blamed for bad weather or airport closures. With room for just 50 passengers per plane and one attendant to keep them happy, she spends most of the time on her feet -- in heels. Schedules are assigned based on seniority.
HOW YOU CAN GET HER JOB: More than anything, enthusiasm and compassion will put you ahead. "You can't ever be taught how to be nice," Baran said. "You can't be taught how to be genuine. It's something that you just have to learn through life."
FOR MORE INFORMATION: They're hiring. Apply at www.flyi.com.
This article orignally appeared in the Express on August 23, 2004.