“In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.” 
― Sheryl Sandberg

Babe #27: Rachael Tally, Flight Attendant @ Delta Airlines

Babe #27: Rachael Tally, Flight Attendant @ Delta Airlines

I freaking love Rachael. I met her in high school when we both dated a few of the same guys. (Oops.) Seriously though - Rachael is a ball of sunshine. She's one of those babes who is so naturally beautiful (you can rarely catch her with any makeup on) but aside from that, she's just a fun-loving, adventurous and caring gal who knows who she is. In terms of her hustle... I think you'll be able to tell by this interview that I'm incredibly intrigued and inspired by what she does (and might have gone a little overboard.) Oops. Not sorry. 


The Basics:

Hometown: Bradenton, FL
Current location: Birmingham, Alabama
Alma mater: Birmingham-Southern College    
Degree: B.S. in Biology with a minor in Gender Studies
Hustle: Flight Attendant at Delta Airlines

The Interests:

Babe you admire and why?
I've been a huge lover of animals since I was young, so my OG babe would have to be Jane Goodall. She was one of the pioneers in studying animals in their natural habitat, and one of the first women in the field. A close second is Lena Dunham. When people ask who I would lose my mind over seeing on a flight, it would be her. Like, not even Beyoncé’. The way she is just unapologetically herself is so cool. Sometimes, I wake up in the morning and think, what would Lena do/say/wear today? She's a genius and bad ass feminist who created the best show ever made and runs an awesome podcast. 


What do you do in your free time?
You can find me working out at Iron Tribe, reading, cooking, or planning my next vacation - which my life pretty much revolves around. As for cooking, it's a new hobby. Three years ago I attempted to broil a pizza. Now being constantly on the road, I get homesick for my own kitchen, and I’m constantly facetiming my mom with questions on how to do things. #NoShame.

Must-have item in your purse?
I carry the world’s ugliest diaper bag-looking purse in which you can always find noise-cancelling headphones, 15 types of chapstick and a good book. 

Biggest pet peeve?
The sound of a flushing toilet. 

If you were on The Amazing Race, who would your partner be?
My sister, Lacey. She is the only person I can fight with and scream at and love all at once. She’s my partner in life. We are extremely different people, but that’s what makes us work together; she’s bold and organized while I am more laissez-faire. Between the two of us, we could make it around the world pretty easily. 

The Hustle:

What does your typical workday look like?
A “typical” day can start anywhere from 4am to 9pm. I live in Alabama but work in Atlanta, so I commute to work by flight. At report time the crew members introduce ourselves, check mandatory items, brief for the trip, board the aircraft, check safety equipment, report any discrepancies, and set up for service. Then we brief with the captain regarding turbulence, evacuation procedures, weather, etc. When the passengers board, we greet and help them locate places for their bags (which I will not lift for you, that is not in my job description.) We then do our safety presentation, (which I do not have memorized and will not do on command.) Once we're in the air, we begin serving snacks and drinks or food, depending on the destination.

We do this 1-4 times daily and can only be on duty for a maximum of 15.01 hours per day (domestic.) For layovers, we all load up in a bus and head to a hotel. What we end up doing each night depends on where we are and how much time we have before our next flight. 


In terms of A-Days (days that I am on reserve until they call me,) anything goes. I can be scheduled up to two hours before a flight and sent anywhere from Amsterdam to Buffalo. They call based on how long you have been with the company, so since I'm pretty low on the totem pole, I usually get assigned a 6a.m. check-in or a short layover. There are times when I get lucky though, and land a long layover in Laguna Beach or a a 24-hour one in Nashville for Christmas.

The best part about it all is the crew. Sometimes I don’t know a single person, but by the time the first flight is over I can retell their life story. I've never had a bad flight crew. I learn so much from people of all walks of life, and most of them love a good night out, an adventure, and will protect me like family. Passengers tell us all the time how they think we are such great friends, when really we only met yesterday. 

What was the interview process like?
It's extremely competitive - only 1% of applicants are hired, which I honestly didn't know when applying. I actually found the job via a Facebook ad and since I didn't know what I really wanted to do after college, I applied on a whim. It's a four-step process that can take a few months - an application, a video interview, a phone interview and then an in-person interview. When I made it to the final interview, I ironically missed my flight because spoiler alert: I'm always late. Although I showed up in tears, my 45-minute interview ended with me talking about sex trafficking in the Southeast and common signs to help identify victims. As I was walking to the next part of the interview someone pulled me in the bathroom, re-did my hair and fixed my makeup and sent me on my way. After that, all sixty of us who interviewed that day gathered in a large room. They called out four names, including mine, and gave us a contingent offer depending on background checks and drug tests! After 8 weeks of training in Atlanta, and after passing all tests with a 90% or higher, I became a flight attendant.

Any layover highlights?
In just the past year and a half, I've visited almost all 50 states and 9 countries. My favorites include:
Amsterdam, Netherlands: The people are so incredibly nice, bikes are the main mode of transportation, and it is so clean. Dare I add, it's 10x more beautiful than Paris? 
Jackson Hole, Wyoming: If I could live in Jackson Hole, I would. It's amazing. I spent New Year’s Eve there in negative weather with a sparkly tank top dress on because I loved it so much, I didn't care!
Antigua, Guatemala: I met another flight attendant
who lives there and was invited to stay with her on a layover. Her house was beautiful, with hummingbirds literally flying in and out of the open air living room. You could see two volcanoes from her roof and she took me out for the best dinner.
New York, NY: Food.

Have you seen any celebrities while working?
I don’t see celebrities all the time, and I know for sure that I greet a lot of them without even knowing who they are. They are pretty normal people. I think my favorite was Josh Ostrovsky aka The Fat Jewish. He was hysterical, very down to earth and ready to party. 

Have you had any noteworthy in-flight moments?
When I was three months into the job, the cabin during a flight was unable to pressurize, which either means the system is down or there's a hole somewhere on the aircraft. If this continues, passengers can lose oxygen and have decompression; the oxygen masks fall down, people pass out, etc. Basically, I was not a calm, cool and collected flight attendant. I panicked and grabbed the rather large man I was working with while we turned around and landed the flight. When the captain came on the intercom to explain the situation, a disgruntled passenger asked, “Why can’t we just stay at this altitude the whole way?” I word-vomited, “Do you want to pass out and die?” I am so dramatic, but unless you’re a pilot or a mechanic, please don’t get mad when we are only looking out for your (and our) safety. On the plus side - I've met so many great people, gotten multiple job offers and held some really cute babies on flights!

What is one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced, and how’d you overcome it?
Breaking down stereotypes and being patronized. People assume that flight attendants are uneducated. It is so frustrating to be spoken down to, tapped, poked or simply ignored while doing my job. Every day, I work with others who have Undergraduate, PhD, and Masters degrees. I work with people who are still active in every branch of the military, been around the world twice and raise kids at the same time. We are here because we chose to be here, not because we can't do anything else. If someone does say something rude, I have no problem speaking up; if a coworker or passenger makes a sexist, foul, or inappropriate remark, they will be put in their place, and I will have a smile on my face. :)

Career advice for other babes?
I 100% believe that women are more capable than men in the workplace, many just lack the confidence. We are smarter, better communicators, and tougher. Stand up for yourself, even if you think it is a small issue. These moments of confidence will add up overtime and truly make a difference.

Connect with Rachael!

Instagram | rtally92@gmail.com


This interview has been condensed and edited.

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