Hey Friends, Laura here. Heads up - I’m about to get uncharacteristically personal in this one.
“Know Thyself” – Those ancient Greeks had it right. I think one of the greatest qualities a person can have is a true understanding of themselves – their own strengths, weaknesses, good/bad habits, behaviors, desires, etc. (This is particularly important if you’re considering pursuing a new career path – FYI ;) )
I believe two of my greatest personal strengths are my work ethic and my moral compass. By far, one of my greatest weaknesses (though I try to keep it buried), is that I’m intrinsically insecure. I have this secret burning need to be liked and/or respected by absolutely everybody.. which admittedly, is an exhausting way to live and an impossible ideal to maintain haha. (So let’s just keep this struggle of mine between us, eh?)
If you've explored the platform you might already know that I’ve had a cool, arguably “desirable” life to many, working for VIPs on Superyachts & Private Jets. So for the better part of 2019, I poured all of my professional career knowledge and experience into this web platform and our career training guides. I cut out all the b***shit, cross-referenced my own knowledge with friends and contributors from both industries, and presented everything I now know in a way that I would have wanted to see when I was breaking in. I committed all my spare energy (while still working full time) taking all of this super niche information that I’ve absorbed in my own career experience and unloading it onto the website. When T&T finally launched a year after I dreamt it up, it was one of the proudest moments of my life. As I started hearing from successful members and reading positive reviews and testimonials, I only grew prouder.
So where is this going. *Insert Elle Woods: “I have a point I promise!”*.
So just as T&T started gaining traction and success, COVID graced the world with its presence. Of course, the yachting and private aviation industries have been affected like all others - particularly those in the realm of travel, hospitality, & service. So as the pandemic has grown, I’ve been creating blog posts to keep members updated on the shape of things in both industries.
In a post several weeks ago, as a form of reassurance to those of you who've committed yourself to working in luxe travel, I mentioned that to date I didn’t know any yacht/flight crew members in my personal or professional circles who had actually lost their jobs due to the impact of Covid-19. (This remains true by the way – but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening outside of my fairly large network.)
Just to clarify - this statement was NOT my way of saying things are sunshine and rainbows in these fields. This was NOT me encouraging you to drop everything and immediately pursue these jobs. This was NOT me suggesting that there’s an abundance of opportunity for newcomers right now. This was just me standing by what I’ve always said, and reassuring the members pursuing this that these industries on the WHOLE survive economic downturn.
Now that you know how insecure I am and how hard I work, you can imagine how gutted I was to find a comment from a complete stranger/non-member or follower, who read this blog post and accused this site of being “a complete joke.” I believe their exact comment was:
“Just because you don’t personally know anybody in these industries who have lost their jobs, it doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. What a complete joke this page is.”
I of course, did what any confident, rationally thinking person would do on their first encounter with.. dare I say.. an internet ‘hater’? .. and INSTANTLY believed them. ...typical Laura.
Second guessing myself, my work, and my own insights, I took a step back from posting, promoting, and growing the platform I had committed so much of myself to the last couple years. Since maybe this stranger was right, and it might actually be a ‘complete joke’, I decided I would lie low and simply observe for a while. Observe the job markets, observe the superyacht & private jet travel patterns, observe how the wealthy are responding to the pandemic, observe how the WORLD adapts to these new normals.
So without further ado, Here are some facts and observations I have to share from my period of cocooning and self-doubt :) :
FACT: Most yachts are still hiring and gearing up for a busy summer season. As I predicted, they’re just getting started a little bit later than normal and staying more domestic this year than a traditional travel pattern.
FACT: I’ve personally been offered three yacht stew positions in the past several weeks- without applying. These were simply from having built a positive reputation within the industry and captains trying to crew up their vessels for the summer months. (FACT: Reputation and networking are everything in these industries!)
FACT: STCW Training Facilities have started to reopen as Florida has come out of lock-down.
OBSERVATION: A good fraction of yacht owners have essentially MOVED on board their superyachts to avoid the pandemic on land. I predict crew turnover will increase on these vessels given the demanding lifestyle of live-aboard guests.
OBSERVATION: The charter market seems to have increased for the summer months, especially on smaller boats. Wealthy families who may have scheduled a luxury vacation elsewhere seem more likely to splurge on the security of knowing they’re on a sterile yacht in their own space versus chancing public travel entities.
OBSERVATION: Many crew members who went home or were abroad during the pandemic are struggling to come back to the USA for work due to current travel and immigration restrictions put on by the US government. This is a positive sign for US/green card holding crew since it could mean less competition for jobs in the coming months.
FACT: I’m personally still fully employed full time on a PJ flight team and am told I have job security through all of this, despite the fact that we haven’t been flying. (FACT: SO GRATEFUL FOR THIS.)
FACT: I STILL don’t know of any Part 91 flight crew member in my network who is out of a job due to Covid-19. Everyone seems to be waiting for their bosses to start scheduling flights regularly again. (PS ‘Part 91’ in private aviation means you work for ONE owner or corporate entity.. ‘Part 135’ means the aircraft charters out to multiple paying clients.)
OBSERVATION: Private Jet management companies are struggling financially on the corporate side. These companies make a commission on each transaction with their private jet clients. So with limited transactions, they make limited revenue. This depletes funds for paying people in the operations sector, i.e. admin, dispatchers, line-workers, cleaning staffs, etc., so all of the big players seem to be making pay cuts, furloughs, and unfortunate lay-offs until they can generate the revenue to staff their facilities to full capacity again.
OBSERVATION: Contract crew are STRUGGLING hard right now. Flight Attendant contractors/freelancers work on a day rate per each day of a trip that they might be scheduled for. (Often in the realm of $400-$750 a day). Without the flights to be placed on, their livelihood is of course affected. What’s worse, is that it’s challenging for them to collect unemployment during this time on the chance that they do get placed on one of the flights that are happening in these times. Any recorded income affects their ability to collect the unemployment they deserve. Full time crew members on the whole, GENERALLY seem to be collecting their normal salaries right now and appear to be somewhat protected.
OBSERVATION: Summer months, especially in the New York area, are historically slow for Corporate Jet flying, even in a normal year.. let alone during a pandemic. Very few programs seem to be looking for new hires - let alone greenies - due to the lack of scheduled flights. My best guess, depending on how recovery develops in the coming months, is that things pick back up again in the Autumn.. and that they’ll pick back up HARD.
This long-winded post (thanks for sticking it out!) was particularly geared towards members who have purchased their memberships and have already started planning their career transition onto yachts or jets. A lot of the industry terms I used might seem unfamiliar if you haven't studied the guides. Of course, if you need clarification on anything just shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
SO - in conclusion, I’d like you to take this information as exactly what it is, so you can make your own decisions about pursuing these careers. (Unless perhaps, you're more interested in considering it a joke.. totally your call :) .) In your guides, we emphasize the importance of TIME, PLANNING, AND COMMITMENT to successfully break into Superyachts or Private Jets. So while this may not be the best time to pursue it at full force, particularly for private aviation, I STILL see no indication that the industries won’t survive the pandemic and eventually recover to somewhat normal operations once this is behind us.
As always, I’m here to answer your questions, share my insights, and provide information as you consider your paths… and I promise to always be honest with you and have your back.
Your "Complete Joke,"