flightmum











I had a very short domestic layover last week. We are talking  just under eleven hours of crew rest. We landed at 7 pm, and we were on duty at 6 am the next morning. Essentially,  a ‘sleeping’ layover.

The guy flight attendant I was working with asked myself and the other flight attendant what we were going to do on our layover. We just looked at him and simultaneously replied: Sleep.

He mentioned that he was going to go to the gym and then meet up with a friend afterwards for a night on the town. We thought he was a little bit crazy to be so ambitious on such a short layover,  but whatever.  His choice.

When we got to the hotel, I reminded him that the taxi was to pick us up at the hotel at 5:45 am and to make sure he was there on time. Also, I half joked that I was going to give him a breathalyzer test the next morning. At my airline, we have a 12 hour rule called ‘bottle to throttle’,  which means that we can’t drink alcohol twelve hours prior to departure.

The next morning,  I head downstairs to the hotel lobby to meet up with the pilots and flight attendants so that we can get shuttled  to the airport together.  The male flight attendant was a no show. I was a few minutes early so I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt that he was on his way downstairs.  Meanwhile,  the rest of the crew went to wait in the airport van.

Finally,  I called his room and he answered the phone with a sleepy ‘hello?’ 

I said, ” What are you doing?  It’s pick up time right now. How long until you can be downstairs?”

Party boy answered, “Ten minutes”

I replied,  ” No, two minutes”

He said,” I need ten”

I told him that we can’t wait for him and he will have to find his own way to the airport. I inquired about a cab and it was going to cost around thirty dollars.  He said that he would meet me at the airport. 

Meanwhile,  one of the hotel guests overheard my conversation and mentioned he was heading to the airport and would be happy to give a lift to the flight attendant. 

And he did.

On the way to the airport,  I second guessed my decision to leave him behind. But, I felt that he was being irresponsible by not being well rested for the flight and I needed to teach him a lesson. 

Tardy flight attendant showed up, didn’t apologize,  and we still managed to leave on time.

Technically,  the Captain could have booted this young man off the flight stating that he wasn’t fit to fly. The Captain has the final say on all matters.

Luckily for him, this guy got off way too easy. It could have ended very differently.  In the end,  I don’t think he really learnt any lessons. 

I found out that he only got back to the hotel at 1:30 am.  He tried to convince me that he was awake when I called that morning, but lost track of time. Ya, right.

Reality is that he dragged his sorry ass out of bed, chugged a Red Bull, and somehow made it to the flight on time.

I don’t think he will be in the airline industry for much longer.

 

 

 

 

 

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So, it’s been almost six months since I blogged. I just ran out of time for this activity. I had a choice to either spend what little spare time I had to blog after the kids went to bed, or to do laundry. After a few days of the kids running around buck naked, I knew I had to return to becoming a dazzling laundress instead of a famous blogger. But I had hoped that I’d come back to writing again eventually because I enjoy composing (I hope) witty and thought provoking words and, well, gosh darn it,  I like the attention of my followers.  Plus, my aunt told me that she likes reading my stories and that I am talented. Thanks,  Auntie.

So, I am back. Not sure what kind of schedule I will keep. Might write again tomorrow or in six months time. Who knows. We shall see.

To the meat of my blog:

I flew with a husband and wife team. They were so adorable.  They buddy bid to fly together on as many flights as possible.  Their children have grown up and moved away and they are a few years away from retirement. They drive in to work together and bid to fly to fabulous destinations with long layovers. Essentially,  they are getting paid to have several mini holidays together every month. This month alone,  they have ‘vacationed’ in Santiago and Bejing.

When their daughters were younger,  they would choose to work opposite shifts so someone was always home with the girls.  They did this for many years.  Working opposite days could really take a toll on a marriage.  It’s a gamble and doesn’t always turn out for the best. Look at all those movie stars married to each other, who take turns going away on set and making films while the other stays home with the kids. Conscious uncoupling, I tell you. Otherwise known as Splitsville. See, same could happen to the flight attendant power couples, except for the three million dollar paychecks.

I know another airline couple who decided to work opposites to raise their kids. Well, eventually they got used to their own time alone with the children and didn’t know how to be a couple anymore. Now, they still bid opposites, but the kids live with mum half the week while dad flies and vice versa.

Anyway, back to the love birds, they were so sweet and still very much in love after all these years. They were a pleasure to work with. They shared their stories with me about their doctor and pilot daughters. Ironically, their life story goes as follows: two flights attendants met, married and had two daughters. One daughter became a doctor and married another doctor. The other one became a pilot and married another pilot! Maybe that is the secret of a strong marriage…marrying someone with the same profession as you,  as they will be very understanding of your job constraints and the unusual hours you work.

Perhaps it’s true: Birds of a feather flock together. 

 

 



{September 27, 2013}   No Fighting in the car!

It all started one weekend  this summer when we were invited to join another family at their cottage. How was I going to entertain three children on a three hour drive?  Since we don’t believe in dvds and Ipads in the car, I had to come up with a back up plan.  There’s only so much window gazing and I-Spy games we could partake in before we all get a little stir crazy.

I remember almost 5 years ago,  I jumped in the car for a five hour drive to visit my family with my then 5 month old, and 4 and 6 year olds. I borrowed from the library countless annoying Robert Munsch audio books to keep my older two entertained. Halfway through the drive, we stopped at McDonald’s for lunch and to let off much needed  steam in the play area for my boys, while I fed my baby daughter. We all survived that trip.

So, cottage bound,  we stopped at the library and armed ourselves with as many audio books as we could manage. The three hour car ride literally flew by. It was so quiet in the car as all four of us were mesmerized by the characters’ voices. We enjoyed a mystery story plus some classics by Roald Dahl including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and James and the Giant Peach. These stories captivated the almost 5 year old all the way up to the 39 year old. Now that’s impressive!  

I loved listening to these books. I don’t get a chance to read ‘kids’ books anymore.  My older two read on their own and I read smaller books to my youngest. 

Anyways, we got hooked!  Now, where ever we go, whether it is a 5 minute drive or 1 hour journey, we listen to our stories. We have read everything from ‘The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar’ by Roald Dahl, to ‘Cool Zone with the Pain and the Great One’ by Judy Blume, to R.L. Stine’s Rotten School series (The Big Blueberry Barf Off…how can you go wrong with a title like that) and ‘Henry and the Clubhouse’ by Beverly Cleary.

The kids are enjoying authors that I read when I was a kid. I borrowed some more audio and regular books from those classic novelists. My 8 year is enthralled with those characters and is reading books that he used to be intimidated by. I couldn’t be happier. 

One book in particular,  Henry and the Clubhouse’ was written in 1962. Cleary’s writing was true to her era and I envy the freedom that her characters enjoyed in their every day life. Eleven year old Henry gets a job as a paperboy delivering newspapers and builds himself a backyard club house in his spare time. He is responsible and respectful to the adults in his life.  In one scene, the mother exclaims that she was starting to get worried about Henry one Saturday after he was out playing in the neighborhood for the last eight hours. Not once does Henry ask to play the Wii or IPad. Sigh.

There is another character,  Ramona, Henry’s pesky five year old neighbour who follows Henry around on his paper route. At one point, Henry tells Ramona to go home and she does as she is allowed to walk on her own as long as she doesn’t cross any busy streets.  My almost 5 year old is not even allowed to play in our front yard unsupervised! 

I think the kids ‘back then’ has a more fun childhood. More freedom=more fun.

This summer, when my kids were complaining that they were bored playing outside, I told my eldest that when I was his age, I would have been so happy to be able to play outside all day. He retorted: Ya Mum, but you didn’t know any better. You didn’t have computers or anything better to do.

He has a point, but…



{September 23, 2013}   Coffee, Tea or Fuck you?

How would you  describe the typical flight attendant?  Do you picture her as the petite young woman with a tight hair bun and a neat appearance?  Or perhaps he is an extravagant over the top gay man with a lisp? Maybe she is a slightly overweight older woman who has eaten one too many crew meals and reminds you of your grandma. Well, the truth is, there is no right answer. We come in all shapes, sizes and sexual orientation.  But one thing we all have in common is the love for our job in customer service and safety. Well, most of us, anyway.

I’ve flown with some real crabby pants over the years. They joke: This would be the perfect job if it wasn’t for the passengers. But, they are not joking.

I’ve also had the pleasure of working with some big time potty mouths. Some of these girls go into the airplane galley, shut the (flimsy materialed) curtain, and curse like a sailor visiting a brothel. F-this and F-that. One time, I had to shhh the cussing  flight attendant as there was a little girl sitting in earshot of the galley. Seriously!  What was she thinking? 

Another time, I had a sweet young flight attendant announce to me that “She’s a fucking slut!”, when I told her that a passenger complained that her announcements were too fast. Well…that was unexpected! 

I guess the days of the ‘Pan Am stewardess’ are long over.

Moral of the story? Don’t piss off your flight attendant…just in case. 



{September 19, 2013}   The Forever Flight

Rain storms cause as much havoc to the aviation world as snow storms do.  If there is any lightning activity or the threat of impending lightning strikes,  then, boom, there is a red alert. Basically,  that means that the airport is temporarily  shut down. No outside activity whatsoever. The ramp personnel or ground staff have to stay indoors due to the risk of a lightning strike. It is too dangerous to be outside near all those metallic planes.

Without the ramp guys (ramp rats), planes cannot be marshalled into the gate area to be parked. Nor can they be towed the away towards the runway.  Ditto for loading and unloading passenger’ checked baggage. 

The worse is when you look outside and it appears to be a beautiful day but we have to announce to the passengers that we are delayed to weather and there’s a red alert/work stoppage because the threat of lightning is within a 50 mile radius. The passengers grumble and form their own conclusions that those ramp slackers are really just on a coffee break.  Not true! Well, usually not true…

On one of those fateful nights in July, the weather was not cooperating.  We managed to depart to New York before the skies got nasty, but coming back was going to be a whole other story.  On arrival into NY, we found out that all flights out of The Big Apple were canceled or delayed. 

We managed to get all our passengers onboard and then we waited at the gate as our arrival airport was presently thunder struck. Actually,  there were two planes trying to make the same 1 hour journey back to homebase. Ours and theirs. Our flight was just a little late and their flight was super duper late. But, they managed to push back from their gate a few minutes before ours. They taxied towards the runway.  We had started taxiing but parked off to the side of the airport to free up our gate. Then we waited and waited and waited some more. Two hours and forty-five minutes later, the captain announced that while we had  waited with the engines running,  we burned too much fuel to make the trip, so now we had to go back to the gate to refuel. Grumble. Grumble.

Of course,  as soon as we got there,  everyone powered up their cell phones,  tablets and laptops and discovered that the other airplane that had pushed back just before us, had already  landed at their destination over an hour ago. And WE were still stuck in New York in this metal flying tube. Well, that didn’t go over very well.  The shit hit the fan. They wanted answers and fast! The conspiracy theories were rampid.

I marched into the flight deck to see if I could get some info and diffuse the situation. 

I chatted with the first officer for several minutes. He explained to me that the other aircraft had gotten permission just after they had pushed back from the gate to fly low at 10,000 feet so that they could go below all the thunder and lightning storms. When the plane flies at a low altitude,  the plane flies slower and burns a lot more fuel.  But, since we always get extra fuel onboard,  it wasn’t an issue for them,  so off they went.

Meanwhile,  we were offered the same deal,  forty-five minutes later.  But, by then,  we had burned our extra fuel and wouldn’t have been able to make the flight all the way to the arrival airport at that lower altitude.

The captain disappeared into the terminal building to get a new flight plan and we offered passengers all the pretzels they could eat. And water too. Yum!

I heard stories from my passengers saying that they were “supposed to be on the other flight” but transferred onto this one because it was supposed to land earlier.  Well, me too. My crew and I were supposed to have operated the other flight but we were assigned this one instead due to our tardiness into New York.  Drats!

Finally,  four hours after we has initially pushed back from the gate,  we took off, enroute to our final destination.  Truthfully,  by then, the bad weather had subsided,  and the flight wasn’t too bumpy.  We were able to fly at a higher altitude and faster too. We finally landed at 2:00 AM . Us flight attendants were tired as we had just completed a 16 & a half duty day. 

Our passengers,  of course, we’re classy and thanked us for getting them home safely. 



{August 8, 2013}   Wake up Sleepy Head

Certain destinations I fly to are known for their ‘drinkers’. They drink a lot of booze but it’s fine because they can hold their liquor.  So, the flight proceeds without any incidents.  Sometimes we run out of their preferred drink.  But, no worries! These passengers are very accommodating.  They just drink something else. 

I worked one of those boozy flights recently and didn’t think anything about one of my business class passengers downing his gin and tonics. I love gin and tonics too! Cheers!

The passenger was chatting me up, mentioning that he is buddies with our CEO ( ya, right! ) and that he was going to send him an email the next day about how great of a flight attendant I am (Thank you but was that you or the gin and tonic talking?)

After the fourth drink, he assured me that he was not driving when we landed.  And, again after the sixth drink, he told me he was taking a cab upon arrival.  He spoke in a clear and coherent manner.  He wasn’t slurring his words or getting loud and obnoxious.  He seemed fine. 

Finally,  towards the end of this four hour flight,  he asked me for his seventh and final drink.  I obliged. Shortly after,  he was in his seat,  sleeping like a baby. 

When it was time to prepare the cabin for landing,  I noticed that his seat was still reclined. So, I pressed the recessed button and pulled his seat all the way upright.  Usually this action wakes  up the passenger, but not Mr. Gin and Tonic.

It was around 10 PM when we landed.  I made my boring announcements over the p.a. that nobody listens to, especially Mr. G & T. 

He was sitting in the second row of the airplane.  All the passengers were deplaning and staring at his sleeping figure as they passed him by. Some passengers laughed and others gave him a funny look.

Finally,  it was just the crew and Mr. Sleeping Beauty left on the plane. After a long day, we were anxious to get home.  He, apparently,  was not.

I shook his shoulder more forcefully and talked to him in a louder voice. No dice.  The Captain also tried to wake him up. Nope. Nothing.  Nada. What were we going to do? I saw his chest rising up and down.  He was breathing,  so that was good.

Finally,  I called our operations and explained the situation.  They suggested pouring water on him and then reneged.  Perhaps they were thinking ‘law suit’.

After a few minutes later, the passenger miraculously woke up. He got his belongings and staggered very unsteadily up the bridgeway. He kept on banging into the wall.  I don’t know who got more bruises : him or the wall.

What Mr Business Class passenger did not factor in is that an alcoholic beverage in the air affects us differently than on the ground.  Inflight, your tolerance is lowered due to being in a pressurized environment and less oxygen flow.  One drink in the air affects you like 3 on the ground. Yikes! That’s some serious drinking.!

Poor Chap! I guess he got home okay because I did not hear anything more about this situation from my airline. 

 

 



{August 6, 2013}   Are you a Belieber?

Guess who was on my flight to Los Angeles?  You’re never going to believe it. C’mon, guess! Do you give it? It was none other than Patricia Mallette. What? You never heard of her? Really?  Are you sure? She’s about 5 feet tall and she wrote a book.  I think it was on the New York Times best seller list. It’s an autobiography. It’s about her and her son named Justin Bieber.  Yes! That’s right!  I had the Biebs’ mum onboard.  She was quite lovely,  actually.  Very down to earth. You’d never know from her demeanor that her son made 55 million dollars last year.

You’ll never guess which passenger she was sitting next to.  No, not THE Biebs himself,  but close. It was a stranger,  actually.  They didn’t know each other prior to the flight.  His name was Mr. Beaver. Seriously! No joke. That’s what was written on his boarding card. Mr. M. Beaver. What’s the chances?

When Mr. Beaver came up front to use the lavatory,  one of the flight attendants asked him if he knew who he was sitting next to. The man replied that he eventually figured it out. When they were chatting,  Mr. Beaver asked Mrs. Bieber what brought her to L.A. Was she in the ‘industry’? Mrs. Bieber replied to Mr. Beaver that her son is a musician and she was going to visit him in the Valley. Mr. Beaver told us that he knew that Justin Bieber lives in the Valley and put two and two together. After they chatted, Mr. Beaver went to sleep and Mrs. Bieber had a beer.  

Then the cat in the hat declared that he could not, would not in a house. Not in a box. Not with a mouse. He did not like green eggs and ham.

And then, along with Mrs. Bieber and Mr. Beaver, we landed.

 

 

The end.



{July 26, 2013}   A Crappy flight

Morning flights are actually quite easy for us flight attendants to work because there are a lot of sleepers and only a handful of awake passengers to serve. Once we get past the initial shock of waking up at the cracks of dawn, we are ready to start our work day. Oh yeah. Coffee helps. A lot.

Bleary eyed passengers shuffle on board the aircraft and settle into their seats with their pillows and blankies looking to continue their shut eye. Most passengers are fast asleep before we hit cruising altitude.

For those passengers who brave to stay awake, we feed them some eggs and keep the coffee coming and coming. About 20 minutes later, the real trouble begins.

I am not sure if it’s the crappy food we serve onboard or the effects of the strong coffee we brew, but the line-ups for the lav are ferocious. One by one, they pile into the tiny washroom and have their morning constitution.  Sometimes I wonder how certain sized people fit into that tiny room. They must have the skills of a contortionous artist.

Every now and then, I hold my breath, spray some heavy duty air freshener into the toilet area and then retreat back to my jumpseat, which, incidentally is located right next to that stinky loo. Generally,  I am put off my yoghurt and granola after two bites.

Passengers after passenger files out of the lav, making sure they don’t make any eye contact so as not to betray the fact that they just had the biggest crap of their life. It’s the walk of shame back to their seats. Because really, who wants to poop on a plane? I think most of us would prefer to do our business in the comfort of our own home.

The worst is when you are next in line and you hear the double flush. Because let’s face it. We can hear everything going on in the airplane’s toilet. After the second flush, the passengers in line and I exchange nervous looks, knowing that whatever happened ‘in there’, was so big (or messy) that it wouldn’t go down the first flush. Yikes!

The door swings open, and the next passenger gulps,  gives me a nervous look and goes in there to face whatever they may find. Hoping that it’s not THAT bad.

I swear,  everyone on that plane has a shit during the morning.  I mean, I am glad that they eat their fibre and are regular. But, come on! There’s only so much one flight attendant can take before they gag.

Perhaps I should stick to afternoon flights after all.



{July 8, 2013}   Asiana flight 214

Typically,  when there is a plane crash, two observations come to play. One: People point their fingers at the pilots and scream: Pilot Error. Second,  the heroic acts of the flight attendants get all but forgotten. 

In this most recent accident,  many media outlets are talking about the fire fighters and the emergency response teams as the true heroes of this tragedy. The flight attendants, once again, have all but been forgotten. 

The flight attendants are just as much heroes as the other first responders. The flight attendants were the ones to shout their bracing commands to the passengers as the aircraft was about to crash land. They were the ones to assess the outside conditions,  open their emergency exits and pull the inflation handles. The flight attendants were the ones to command the passengers to release their seat belt and evacuate the aircraft.  Many passengers ‘freeze’ after a crash and they need the authoritative voice of the flight attendants to command them on what to do: Come this way. Cross your arms. Jump and Slide. 

Flight attendants, like myself, spend six intense weeks of training before we earn our ‘wings’. We need to earn 90% on our tests to pass initial training. Many intelligent people don’t make it. We learn about the ins and outs of each aircraft type. We become experts on fire fighting,  disruptive passengers, first aid procedures and evacuating an  aircraft in under two minutes.

We learn to check for danger and  then open our emergency doors that we had previously armed. We can jump into action in a planned or an unplanned emergency.  We learn how to survive in a deserted area or on a lifeboat. We take charge during a depressurization or an aborted landing. 

During each take-off and landing, we silently review all of our emergency procedures so as to be ready for any catastrophe. 

Every year, we attend a recurrent training about our emergency procedures to keep up to date with our procedures.

We are hired to save lives. Everything else, including your diet Coke and bag of peanuts, is just a bonus to you, the first passenger.

Bravo to the flight attendants of Asiana, flight 214. You did your job and saved lives. You make us proud. True heroes.



{June 15, 2013}   Zombie Passengers

In this day and age, there are very few places that you come across that forces you to be unplugged.  “Do you have Wi-Fi on this aircraft?”, they always ask. The answer is NO.

So, people get on board and mentally try to prepare themselves  to be wireless for the next few hours.  But, it does not stop people from typing away e-mails on their BlackBerry or IPad so they can send them as soon as we land.

The flight passes uneventfully. But, as soon as we touch down safely on the ground, I make the obligatory safety announcements and then inform people that they can now use their cell phones. But, they do not hear me because they have already powered on without my blessing.

I look upon the sea of passengers in my cabin and they all look like they are sleeping. I look more carefully and see that their eyes are not closed but open ever so slightly, looking down at their mobile device. At first glance,  it looks like not a muscle is moving.  But then I zone in on their little thumbs moving a mile a minute typing away their ever important texts and emails. The cell phone zombies have awoken.

Looking into the zombie faces of the ‘phoners’ on the aircraft, reminds me of a Stephen King book called ‘Cell’ that I read many years ago about a mysterious signal that passes over the cell phone network and turns everyone into mindless zombie-like killers. In the book, there is a scene where all the phoners lie down in a soccer field at night and ‘switch off’ until morning while listening to weird music.  The next day,  they forage for food and kill whatever non-phoners they encounter. 

I think the phoners have won the battle. I rarely encounter non-phoners anymore while the plane is taxiing to the airport. The plane is filled with my zombie passengers who are at last reunited with their 3G network. 



et cetera