Knecht’s memoir takes readers up into the rarefied atmosphere of being an international flight attendant with iconic airline Pan American, with its special culture, exotic locales, and quirkiness.
Debut memoirist Knecht is a very engaging schmoozer. After becoming a Pan Am flight attendant just out of college, she planned to work there for a couple of years, then pursue other plans; instead, she remained with Pan Am until its demise in the early 1990s. She took to world travel like a Boeing to the jet stream. Readers also learn about her upbringing and ambitions. In those days, Pan Am ran a tight ship, and esprit de corps was high. There was, of course, some tomfoolery (Knecht is a member of the Five Mile High Club). On the somber side, the hijacking in the title refers to the 1986 hijacking of Pan Am 73 on the tarmac at the Karachi airport. Knecht wasn’t on the flight, but many friends were, including an Indian flight crew whom she had trained and befriended. Knecht tells the story well, capturing the anxiety and horror. After Pan Am, and on a very loose arrangement with its successor, Delta, she became a private flight attendant, serving on private or corporate jets, where she met many celebrities about whom she is now happy to dish. Speaking of dishes, her book also includes recipes for many items from the famous Pan Am menu. Knecht is a competent though not fully polished writer given to clichés. Anecdotes, the life of her memoir, are alternately amusing and somewhat forced, or the reality struggles to survive the telling. Always hovering behind the narrative like a ghost is the downfall of Pan Am—a bittersweet backdrop for such an alluring profession.
An authentic voice helps this tale take off.