Of all the things people get wrong about being a flight attendant, Sandra Jeenie Kwon says the illusion of glamor is what strikes her the most.
“Most people when they see flight attendants think of this job as a glamorous jet setter and believe all we do is greet and serve passengers food and drinks,” she told In The Know. “This is honestly what I thought, too, before I became cabin crew.”
Unfortunately, the job isn’t always fun. But the stories and tidbits Kwon has taken away from her two-and-half years working as a flight attendant for Dubai-based Emirates Airline certainly make for some entertaining TikTok content — enough to have netted Kwon over 3.7 million followers on the platform.
“The training involved, the work we actually do, all the Karens and Chads we need to service — people find that fascinating,” she shared.
Kwon, or @jeenie.weenie, as she’s known to her ever-growing fan base, offers her followers not only a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the lives of flight attendants, but also some insider tips that may change the way they travel.
For example, in a recent TikTok video, which was part of her popular “travel tips you might not know about” series, Kwon revealed why those traveling within the United States should never accept an airline voucher when involuntarily bumped from a flight due to overbooking.
“Not only are the airlines required to find you an alternative flight, but depending on the length of the delay, you are entitled to cash!” she explained in the clip, which has since been viewed over 6.8 million times.
To industry experts, the tip is common knowledge — but to everyday travelers, it could mean the difference between a $150 flight voucher and $1,350 in cash.
Kwon told In The Know that she went to school for hospitality management prior to her time at Emirates, and was working for Fairmont Hotels and Resorts when she finally decided to apply for a cabin crew job with the posh airline.
“I met two girls randomly at a party who just got hired with Emirates,” she recalled. “I remember telling them I probably won’t get hired because I have no flight experience and I feel I’m too short. They persuaded me to try anyway, so I did and I got the job! And about a month later, I relocated my life to Dubai.”
Although Kwon has achieved fame through her insider travel TikToks, her time with Emirates ended over 10 years ago when she quit her job to return to college to finish her bachelor’s degree in business.
Her journey toward becoming a ubiquitous flight attendant figure on social media actually began somewhat by chance.
“I download TikTok for fun back in December 2019, and just like everyone, got addicted,” she said. “I started posting more content around March 2020 when everyone was in quarantine as there was nothing else to do.”
As she built up her fanbase, Kwon began posting polls about what kind of video she should do next, allowing her followers have a say on everything from what she should wear to what character she should be in her next TikTok.
“One of the weekly votes was based on my previous jobs and I would do skits around it,” she said. “The choices were cabin crew, retail and banker —and cabin crew won by a landslide.”
Once she started posting stories about her time as a flight attendant, Kwon says her TikTok page took off, gaining over a million followers in just a few weeks, all of whom seemed to want one type of content — and one type only.
“I actually tried to change back to my weekly series but it didn’t go well as everyone was asking for more cabin crew content,” she joked. “So now I’m forever pegged as that ‘cabin crew lady on TikTok,’ which I find hilarious because I haven’t been cabin crew for 10 years!”
Although she’s more than a decade removed from her time as a flight attendant, Kwon stressed that her stories and tips are still relevant and, in fact, have helped her create a space for other cabin crew members to share their experiences online.
“They share their stories [with me], which I can now use my platform to share with everyone else,” she said.
Kwon says that her informative content has even helped some of her followers ultimately decide whether or not they wish to pursue a career in air travel.
“I love the fact that I get messages daily from people who’ve I’ve inspired to be cabin crew after my series,” she told In The Know. “And also those people who thought they wanted to be cabin crew and are now thinking twice, as it’s another world in the skies.”
Through her videos — both the serious and the silly ones — Kwon says she hopes she can impart a little wisdom to her followers and, at the very least, make them laugh.
“TikTok really saved me from going crazy during these dark, depressing times,” she said. “I’m just here to have a good time, make people laugh, teach people things they might not know and inspire others to just live their best life.”
If you liked this story, check out this article about the grossest parts of an airplane.
More from In The Know: