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What is a Crash Pad?
A crash pad is an apartment or a house that has rooms with multiple beds. Some are all male, all female, co-ed, all pilot, all flight attendant, etc. They usually consist of people from all different airlines – although some can be airline specific. Most big cities will have crash pads available, especially if it is a popular airline base.
Flight attendants and pilots will usually have a crash pad if they don’t live where they’re based. For example, you could live in Florida but be based in New York City, so you could pay for a bed in a crash pad in New York instead of moving there. It is definitely not required though. I know a lot of people in the industry who are based far away from where they live and don’t have a crash pad – they just bid for commutable trips. A commutable trip is one where you can make it on a flight to your base before the trip starts the same day and then fly back home the same day it ends. This is possible because of different report times and ending times. The more seniority you have, the easier it will be for you to get trips like this. Crash pads are most essential for flight attendants or pilots who are on reserve, since you usually can’t make it to your base for the 2 to 3 hour call out time while living in a different location.
There are “hot beds” and “cold beds”. Hot beds are cheaper but you share the bed with someone (first come, first served), which can be bad if you are both there at the same time – I don’t recommend this for reserves because you will be there so often. A cold bed is your own bed. Some crash pads have options to have your own room or share with just one person – but this will cost a lot more. Prices for your own bed in a multi-person room usually cost from $200 – $500 (depending on the city and how nice the room is).
I had a crash pad in Boston and in New York City, both were apartments.
My crash pad in Boston was all female. It had both flight attendants and pilots from different airlines. I had my own bed (a cold bed). I stayed in a small room with 4 bunk beds. So there could be 8 people just in my room – but since our schedules vary so much, there were usually only 2 or 3 of us there at one time. This apartment had 2 other rooms. One of the other rooms had 3 bunk beds, the other had 2. There was only 1 bathroom and 1 shower for all of us. I paid $250 a month.
In New York, I had a co-ed crash pad with both pilots and flight attendants from different airlines. This was even smaller than the one in Boston but it was a little more expensive because of the demand. Again, there was only 1 bathroom. I shared a room with both males and females. The first few months I had a cold bed, but the last couple of months I stayed there I shared a hot bed with my cousin, who was also a flight attendant. I didn’t like sharing a hot bed at all because there were many times we would be there at the same time. I paid $300 for the cold bed and $150 for the hot bed (we split the price of the bed). I moved to an actual apartment in Brooklyn shortly after.
Staying in a crash pad can be fun, especially if you like the people you live with. I have great memories of binge watching Netflix in the middle of winter with my crash pad mates. I made some really good friends and staying in a crash pad helped me learn a lot about airline life (like how to properly bid for your schedule, etc.), since everyone who lived there was in the industry. After my reserve shift ended, I would often explore the city with my new friends and find new restaurants and stores that I love.
But there was definitely some drama too. First of all, there is usually only 1 bathroom in the whole apartment. Because of this, we had to write down and schedule shower times, in 10 to 30 minute shifts. This obviously caused some problems. There are a lot of rules you must follow as well, such as friends or family weren’t allowed in the crash pad and certain times were “quiet hours”. There was hardly any room for your food in the refrigerator and even if you wrote your name on it, that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be eaten while you were on a trip. You have no private time or personal space unless you had the very rare moment of having the crash pad all to yourself. You are constantly being woken up in the middle of the night from people on reserve getting called to work.
I personally believe staying in a crash pad is a right of passage for all new flight attendants. I learned a lot about the airline industry while staying in one and made so many good friends. The drama is never fun but it’s an experience I will look back on and be glad I had. I think the goal for every pilot and flight attendant is to live where they are based or at least have commutable trips. But if you have to stay in a crash pad at the start of your career, just make the most of it and think of it as a time to make new friends and memories.