Travel literature review: Cruising Attitude

Cruising Attitude by Heather Poole

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Rating: 3.5 out 5

Reviewed by Sophie Splatt

Cruising Attitude is a memoir by veteran flight attendant Heather Poole, detailing the intricacies of a life lived largely in air and in transit. It’s both informative and personal -we follow her from her beginnings at a no-frills airline, into flight attendant training for a better airline and then through the air to her crashpad in New York and on the many flights that follow.

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While the narrative does occasionally get bogged down in details - for example, we learn more about scheduling flight attendants' rosters than we actually need (or care) to know - the book is peppered with handy tips for fliers. Did you know that the back of the aircraft is much bumpier than the front as aircraft fishtail during turbulence, that flight attendants of most airlines who speak the destination language will be wearing a flag of that country on their name tag, or that alcohol goes a lot further in the air than on ground due to lower oxygen levels in the blood?

Indeed it’s these little details that prove much more interesting than the ‘crew dramas’ and ‘crazy passengers’ that the subtitle promises. While we’ve all heard outrageous stories about celebrities behaving badly on board (and wondered if they’re true), Heather’s attempt to reveal all the ‘galley gossip’ with an extended paragraph that doesn’t name names becomes laboured and pointless: I mean, do we really care that a ‘beautiful A-list actress bit her toenails in business class’?

Despite this, Heather’s own journey throughout the years is entertaining - she’s not afraid to spill the details of her personal life, or the lives of her colleagues, and have a laugh with her readers in the process. Her tone is honest and confidential and her gushy text aims to please - and it does. Cruising Attitude may be the ‘tell-all’ that doesn’t tell all, but this book is funny, light-hearted and sets a snappy pace: perfect to keep you awake through time zones on your next flight.

Sophie Splatt is an editor at Lonely Planet. She loves window seats, plane meals and the existence of the call button.

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