What’s a crash pad? Gen Z flight attendants discuss what it’s like to commute across the country: ‘This life is not for everyone’

When it comes to drawing back the curtain on their seemingly glamorous jet-setter lifestyles, flight attendants on TikTok have long been outspoken about the realities, including some misconceptions, of their careers.

On Sept. 19, Alex Mezza (@alexmezzza), who frequently posts day in the life, get ready with me and story time videos on TikTok regarding her life as a Delta flight attendant, revealed that she doesn’t actually live at her base.

“My base is New York City and I live in a crash pad here. If you don’t know what a crash pad is, it is basically renting out a room with other girls, and you basically just have your bed,” she said. “Obviously you can bring your suitcases that you travel with. … I have a small little space right here in the locker behind me, and I also get six hangers in a closet.”

The function of a crash pad? To “crash and sleep here for one night” and then you’re required to go back to work, said Mezza. “You can’t just sleep here for weeks on end. This is literally not an apartment. You are renting a bed, that’s it.”

Mezza, who doesn’t move into her New York City apartment until mid-November, currently commutes to work from Fresno, Calif.

“I literally commute from Fresno to everywhere else, and then go to JFK,” she revealed. “My route changes every single time. … I go from Fresno to Seattle to JFK, I go from Fresno to Salt Lake to JFK. … I have done it all.”

TikTok users, including fellow flight attendants, took to Mezza’s comments to also weigh in on the realities of commuting.

“Ohhh gosh I do not miss the cross country commute,” @_lupitae_ wrote.

“Girl I commuted from Fresno as well I quit after 3 years it’s so draining! Stay strong sis,” @0daly.s revealed.

“So excited for you to not commute anymore! It will change your life! I’m finally LAX based after commuting to SEA for 4.5 years,” @ericcastanedaa also commented.

Leanna Coy (@leannacoy), a 23-year-old flight attendant, gave additional details about crash pads in her own video, which she posted on Sept. 19.

“The best way I can describe a crash pad is it’s like a hostel for flight attendants who don’t live at their base,” she added. “As a flight attendant, you can’t pick what base they’re gonna put you in. So you might not get the one you want, and you’ll probably have to move — but there is an alternative and that is commuting.”

Coy, who does not commute herself, explained that some flight attendants have a home in the city where they reside and then have a crash pad at their base, which is a shared space with bunk beds that usually costs “a few hundred dollars a month.”

Given that they also fly standby, said Coy, flight attendants may experience added stress in trying to get to their base before embarking on their designated routes.

“You can ride on the jump seat, but even that fills up sometimes,” she added of the folding seat reserved for crew members.

Crash pads, however, may not be the safest option for flight attendants. In 2022, Boston Inspectional Services shut down an apartment that was illegally converted into a crash pad to house commuting flight attendants.

“Crash pads are a symptom of a much bigger problem in our country. We need decent pay for decent work and the ability to live closer to where we work,” Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA told Boston25 News. “Too many people in every industry spend hours of their own time and money commuting to work. Clearly, it is a safety issue in addition to a quality of life issue.”

City inspectors, according to the local news outlet, “found up to 20 people using a commercial garage area as a makeshift apartment.” Officials said 19 people were each paying $300 a month in rent.

Despite their controversial reception, crash pads aren’t necessarily illegal.

“From a legal standpoint, flight attendants’ use of crash pads is generally permissible, as long as all zoning ordinances and housing laws in the jurisdiction are duly obeyed,” Rick Chahal, a licensed paralegal and legal assistant at Kahlon Law told In The Know by Yahoo via email. “However, safety can vary greatly depending on the individual crash pad; its maintenance, location, and the number of occupants.”

Hannah, a Denver-based flight attendant, considers crash pads a worthwhile option for flight attendants who often commute.

“My personal experience with living in a crash pad is that it was such an amazing experience. I lived in an all-female crash pad, so I was able to meet so many new people who I’ll be lifelong friends with! We would cook dinner and hang out a lot. It’s also a super-affordable option for flight attendants to have to pay rent and for a crash pad,” she told In The Know by Yahoo via TikTok.

“Commuting as a flight attendant makes the job 10 times more challenging. There’s a lot more planning and effort that has to go into the job in itself,” she added. “So crash pads kinda help take the stress off.”

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