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This Reddit thread refers to "stressors of flight" (many of these stressors are also present in automobiles), sudden altitude adjustment, lower cabin humidity., proximity to strangers.

Yet flight attendants face these stressors too, but they don't appear tired?

I don't think sleep answers my question. I know that on long flights, they are allowed to sleep in crew rest compartments, while passengers sleep too but still can remain tired.

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  • $\begingroup$ Some people totally freak out over a minor fender-bender accident, while others shake it off and get on with life. Different people react differently to different situations. Those FAs who don't deal well with the stress of flying probably don't remain FAs for very long. $\endgroup$ – FreeMan Mar 6 at 14:38
  • $\begingroup$ I've seen plenty of tired FAs. $\endgroup$ – Azor Ahai Mar 6 at 18:10
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This is bordering on opinion based as its a bit subjective from person to person but generally speaking flight attendants and pilots are more accustomed to the typical stressors of flight and potentially less subject to them after some time as the human body adjusts.

Perhaps more importantly this is also their day job, its what they do. When you get on a flight it may be in the evening, or early in the morning, maybe you are coming off a long work week and really burnt out or that weekend in Vegas really got to you. When you get on a flight you may likely be tired, and small, dry, noisy spaces are not where you want to be. This is not the case for the crew. They are there to do a job, presumably well rested and ready to go.

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Sitting still is surprisingly tiring. Flight attendants are up and moving around for most of the flight, and that physical activity helps keep them awake.

They're also more accustomed to the lower oxygen levels and other physical and mental stresses of flight, similar to pilots, so even if the activity levels were the same, they'd be better able to handle it.

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FAs receive the same kind of fatigue and circadian rhythm management training that pilots receive, and have similar statutory duty hour requirements that limit time-on-duty and require minimum rest periods between duty, and so on.

A Flight Attendant's job is quite unusual, in that the majority of their training, and their real job function, is as kind of an undercover riot control cop, who can expect to spend their entire career working their nominal role as a cabin steward without ever implementing their training except in relatively minor ways.

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  • $\begingroup$ I like your description of the FA's job. I'm suddenly imagining them with a helmet and a riot shield $\endgroup$ – TomMcW Mar 11 at 19:27
  • $\begingroup$ When I was flying RJs for a private operator we were able to take a certain number of pax without an FA on board, so the pilots all had to take a very basic one-day FA training session every other year. It was more or less a short course on how to control panicking people during situations of pandemonium. Quite an eye opener. $\endgroup$ – John K Mar 11 at 19:58
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In addition to all the other fine answers, there is also a statistical error in your sample, more precisely in your selection criteria: you have a selection bias in your sample, because you are ignoring all those flight attendants that quit their job because they found it too tiring.

In other words: one possible reason why flight attends are not constantly tired by flying is because if they were constantly tired by flying, they wouldn't be flight attendants.

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  • $\begingroup$ "...that quit their job...": Or never applied for the job in the first place. One might ask the same question about bartenders or cocktail waitresses. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Mar 6 at 19:09

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