flightmum











{March 28, 2013}   Creepy Crawlies

As I was getting ready for work, I glanced at the names of the pilots and flight attendants that I’d be working with that day. The name of the captain caught my eye. Could it be him? Is that the creepy pilot I first met fifteen years ago?

Sure enough, when I walked onto the aircraft, we both recognized each other right away.  We exchanged pleasantries and that was it for the time being.

A bit of background: When I first started flying, I was in my early 20’s. I had moved cities for the job and I was missing my boyfriend tremendously as we were in a long distance relationship.

The day I met Captain Creepy, I was working a flight with him and was having fun flying with my roommate as well. The last flight leg of the day involved my roommate and me deadheading (traveling in a passenger seat) while the pilots flew the airplane. I got a seat in business class and decided to change out of my uniform and into my regular clothes so I can enjoy a glass of wine on the flight.

The captain had offered me the flight deck jumpseat for the flight as it’s a pretty cool experience and you can see some amazing views. Pilots generally invite new flight attendants to sit there for that reason (or perhaps to woo them and get into their pants. I don’t know). I didn’t want to be rude, so I took him up on his offer and sat there for take-off. But, really, I wanted to sit in my business class seat, watch a movie and have a glass of wine.

Once we were airborne, we chatted for a few minutes and then I excused myself and returned to my passenger seat, but not before he extended the invitation to sit in the cockpit for landing.

Towards the end of the flight, I returned to the flight deck and strapped myself in. Captain Creepy (who was probably 20 years older than me) told me that he and the first officer were going to a bar near the airport after we landed, and would myself and my roommate like to join them? I really didn’t, but being so young and shy, I didn’t know how to turn down the invitation.  So, I said that my roommate was driving me home and she had to go home right away for some reason that I made up and perhaps we would join them later…fully knowing that we wouldn’t.

We drove home, and exhaled a sigh of relief that we dodged that awkward bullet.  In hindsight, I now know that NOBODY EVER goes out for drinks after we land. Everybody rushes home to their real lives.

About a week later, Captain Creepy calls me at home. How did he get my number, I ask him.  He told me that he went to the flight attendant’s check-in area and looked in the book that was there that had all of our phone numbers in it. We used it in case a flight attendant wanted to call another flight attendant to request a flight switch.

He wanted to know why we did not show up. I started making up an excuse when he told me that he really had enjoyed talking to me the other day and I was easy to talk to, unlike his wife. He felt we had a connection and was hoping we could go out for coffee some time. I blurted out that I had a boyfriend that I was crazy about and it wouldn’t be right to get together.

He continued on trying to convince me to meet him and then gave me his cell phone number and asked me to think about it and call him back the next day.

The following day, I left him a quick voicemail letting him know that I would not be changing my mind. Case closed.

About a year later, I woke up in my hotel room on a layover and found a note slipped under my door. It was from Creepy. It basically said that he noticed that I was also laying over at the same hotel but he had an early departure and hoped I was well. To know I was there, he would have had to check the flight attendants’ hotel sign in sheet as the pilots have their own. Does that mean he has been ‘looking’ for my name for a whole year or was it a coincidence that he saw it. Regardless, it still freaked me out!

Five years later, I worked a flight with him but didn’t recognize him right away. He reminded me that we had worked together long ago. I said I remembered but I had thought that he had been the first officer back then and not the creepy pilot. So, I put my foot in my mouth and said to him,” Do you remember that captain we flew with? He got my phone number and like stalked me. It weirded me out.” He didn’t say much then but later said to me, that HE had been the captain on that flight and that he didn’t know that he had made me feel uncomfortable and that he was sorry. Well, that WAS awkward! But, afterward, I was happy that I had mistook who he was because I wouldn’t have had the courage to say those things to him otherwise.

Back to the present…ten years after the last incident, Creepy Captain asked me what I’ve been up to. I mentioned that I was happily married and have three kids. We talked about how it had been a LONG time since we had seen each other last. I asked him if I had aged well.. I wasn’t flirting. Perhaps, I was just fishing for a compliment. He said I was just as beautiful today as I was then. Thanks.

Maybe he is not so creepy after all. I mean, at least he has good taste in women. That’s gotta count for something, right?



{March 24, 2013}   Ho ho ho and a bottle of rum

I flew to the Caribbeans yesterday. After we landed, we had time to go into the terminal and do some shopping before turning around and flying back home. I am not a big shopper,  so normally I don’t bother browsing the stores. But, yesterday,  I did.  
There was a lot of touristy things to buy. I bypassed those shops and headed straight to the alcohol store.  Good choice. I bought a bottle of Cruzan coconut rum for $9. And that is with my 10% off employee discount. Gotta love getting an airline discount on liquor sales! I was on a high the whole flight home due to my bargain find. Which got me thinking about how overpriced booze is at home. I can buy the same bottle at my local store for about $25. That’s more than double. Why is it marked up so much? Is it the duty, local taxes, greed? It certainly does not cost $25 to make and bottle rum. Somebody is making a tidy little profit, and it’s not me.  I will definitely be browsing the shops of far away lands from now on. 

I always declare my purchases to the customs officer when I land. It’s not worth losing my job over lying about a bottle of rum. Fortunately,  the agents are pretty lenient with crew when we buy alcohol  even when we are not entitled to duty free purchases as we were not out of the country for a long enough duration. They might raise an eyebrow, of course, if you buy too many bottles of drink. Like the time I flew to Santiago and brought home 8 bottles of wine. I had to pay extra taxes upon arrival but it was so worth it.

I wasn’t the only one of my crew to pick up bargains at the airport. Two other flight attendants bought a bottle and the first officer bought a huge wheel of Gouda cheese for $60. Normally,  at home,  it would cost double that. He too imported his cheese into the country without a visit to secondary customs. 

It’s like Christmas with all these great finds. Ho ho ho.



{March 22, 2013}   The book of vomit.

It’s been seven days since my last blog. Forgive Father for I have sinned. Psych. What can I say?…life has been busier than usual. Our children’s nanny is away on her yearly holiday, which equates to a very busy momma.

As of last week,  all of my (ya right) spare time has been devoted, unfortunately, not to blogging, but to  trying to finish my non-fiction book for my monthly book club meeting. Or as my husband calls it, “Nerd club” (he’s just jealous). Well, my efforts turned out to be fruitless as it was the first time I ever came to book club without finishing the assigned book. I hold my head down in shame. Forgive me!

Of course, when our extra set of hands is away on vacation, my whole family becomes sick with the stomach flu.  I know that previously I had written about how amazing I thought our body was and how cool it is that the vomitus centre knows when we are going to be sick. Well, I’ve had a change of heart. No two ways about it, puking sucks. There is nothing cool or interesting about the act of puking.

Since I was last sick, my oldest son also joined the vomiting party. Then, my daughter decided to give a repeat performance in the upchucking show. Twice. I have been up to my elbows in changing pukey bed sheets and laundry galore. Not cool!

As I write this, I feel queasy. Oh oh. Here we go again! But, is that my vomitus centre warning me about an impending puking session or am I just having phantom stomach pains. Time will tell. Stay tuned…ha ha. 



{March 15, 2013}   Pen for your thoughts?

What is it with passengers who steal my pens? I mean really!

People are always asking to borrow my pens on flights,  especially routes where we have to hand out custom and declaration cards.

My airline does not provide me with pens to hand out to my passengers. I lend out the pens that I, ahem, borrowed from the hotels I stay at. During my layovers, I take my favourites. It’s the pens with the blue ink. Always the ones with the blue ink.

Whenever passengers ask to borrow some ink, I always reach into the inside pocket of my blazer and hand it to them. I look them straight in the eyes and say, “Could you please return it when you are done?”. They reply with a, “Yes, of course”. But, generally, they are liars.

Most of the time,  unless I chase them down and directly ask for MY pen back,  I can kiss my pen goodbye forever. Sometimes,  I get busy and I forget to ask.

I’ve walked by people using my pen and noticed them using it to scratch the inside of their ear or they have the pen in their mouths and are nibbling on it.

Other times, when I remember to ask for them for my pen, they go into their purse to retrieve it for me. Why is it in their purse if they were planning on returning it straight away? Hmm.

When I am really lucky, I ask them for my writing utensil and they tell me that  they already returned it…because all us flight attendants look the same. Right?

But, the real question is, why aren’t people travelling with a pen in their carry-on baggage when they know that they will have to fill out a form on the aircraft. 

 

 



{March 13, 2013}   Like gag me with a spoon

A couple of nights ago,  I threw up many times.  I started my evening just not feeling quite right and was pretty sure that at some point,  I was going to puke. Normally, I would do just about anything not to upchuck: plead with a higher power, sell my first born (no wait, maybe my second) or anything else I could think of. This time, I was at peace with the imminent vomitus. 

I shouldn’t have been surprised about my upset tummy,  as in the last month,  both my daughter and middle son had their turn with the stomach flu. 

I went to bed early,  waiting for that feeling to arrive. Sure enough, at about 10:30 pm,  I calmly got out of bed and waited for the action to start. About a minute later, it was showtime. It was violent. Everything came up. I didn’t look at IT as I kept my eyes closed. But, I am pretty sure my stomach content was empty. I wiped my mouth, washed my hands and went back to bed. 

Instead of wallowing in self-pity and questioning, ‘Why me?’, I lay in bed and admired my son and daughter who had recently encountered the same kind of night as I just had. Throwing up sucks. I HATE it. I know no one really likes it but I REALLY REALLY hate it. But, my children were so brave when it was their time of need and threw up like champs.  Okay, my son did declare once that he was dying, but other than that, they were true puking warriors.

I knew, from watching my children do the deed, that I’d have  at least 2 or 3 more puking fests before I could retire from that chapter for the time being.

Sure enough, not soon after, vomit number two was rearing its ugly head and once again I made it to the porcelain bowl with plenty of time to spare.  As I had suspected, there was no food left in my stomach but my body tried to bring whatever up it could anyway. As my stomach was convulsing,  I was thinking how amazing my body is that it could do that. I was in awe of the act of puking.

Vomiting is the act of forceful expulsion of the content of your stomach; up through the esophagus and out through the mouth or nose. There is actually a spot in the human brain stem called the vomiting centre. This part communicates to the rest of the body that it needs to vomit. It sends a message and soon after, the abdominal muscles begin to contract, forcing the stomach contents out. Vomiting must run its course. Isn’t the body so fascinating!

Anyway,  sure enough, I had to get out of bed a few more times before I was able to get some shut eye at around 3:30 am. 

As interesting as this all is, I hope not to experience the amazing abilities of my vomiting centre for a very long time.



{March 12, 2013}   March Madness

Last month, my mum invited the kids and I to come visit her during our spring break when the kids would be off school. Talked it over with the hubby, and we decided it was a good idea, even though he had to stay behind and work. 

Since we exclusively fly standby (get on the plane only IF there are empty seats available),  I tried to pick a time and date to travel that OTHER passengers wouldn’t necessarily want to travel. I picked the Sunday right after school ended as I had to work around my boys’ hockey games. Big mistake!  Every province has their spring break during different weeks. So, even though most people going on holidays would probably have gone away already, Sunday was a BUSY travel day, because a whole other province was rushing home after their week off!

The flights looked terrible and were oversold for the whole day, but, I decided to go for it anyway.  I figured, other passengers might misconnect their flights and we might get lucky. After all, SO MANY of my flights that I work are forecasted to be full, but we end up having empty seats. You never know!

After hockey, off we went to the airport with fingers crossed and lots of snacks, books and electronics. We missed the first flight. No problem.  Off we went to sit at the next gate. No luck. I felt good about the third flight as it was a much bigger aircraft.  When we didn’t get on, I heard the gate agents saying that NO  (cons) employees got on that flight except the two that sat in the flight deck.  Didn’t get on the next flight either.  Started to get nervous. The thought of being at the airport (again) for twelve hours by myself with 3 children for a one hour flight, mind you, did not really appeal to me…let’s be honest.

Thankfully,  the children were well behaved.  Perhaps they saw my crazy look and knew that they better not upset mummy, or else there would be he’ll to pay.

As we were walking to our NEXT gate, a man stopped me and said that I was very brave to be flying standby with three young children.  I agree and added, ‘or perhaps stupid’. Anyway,  off we went and waited once again for our names to be called. My kids were starting to get a little antsy by now. Who could blame them?  I was too. When I approached the gate agent once again and inquired about whether he thought we had any hope of getting on his flight, he rudely answered: No cons are getting on. That was it for me. I was tired. I wanted to go home.

I broke the news to the kids, but mentioned that we’d try again the next morning. Perhaps the flights would be better.

When I got home, I checked the flights to my destination for the next day, and they were just as bad. I called my mum and explained the situation.  I couldn’t stomach spending the whole day in the airport again, so we brainstormed and came up with the idea that I’d wake up early and drive the 5 hours to her home (10 hours round trip with a 9,7 and 4 year old. Gulp). 

In the end, I got some kind of virus and ended up throwing up all night long instead, so that killed that plan. But, I did fly out of the small downtown airport and finally made it to grandma’s 24 hours late. 

 

 



{March 8, 2013}   That’s not a knife!

You’ve probably heard by now that the TSA will be loosening their rules on what people can and can’t bring on board the aircraft in  the USA. Starting in April,  passengers will be able to bring on some sports equipments and pen knives. 

Not sure that I am thrilled with that decision.  For twelve years now, since 9/11, people have not been allowed to bring knives onto the aircraft.  In fact,  for a while, we didn’t even have metal knives in business class either…we had plastic ones.  We all know how dull those airplane metal knives are!

Passengers adjusted to not having their pocket knives on their person at all times when they flew.  They accepted their new reality.

Soon, the general public will be able to keep their knives. Why do they need sharp objects with them anyway?  Why can’t we just leave it the way it is? I know a lot of people are uncomfortable the reintroduction of knives onboard again.  Myself included.  Don’t forget that the hijackers on the airplanes on 9/11 primarily used knives to kill people and bring the planes’ down.

I do believe things are different now. I don’t think we could ever have another 9/11 because if it was ever tried again,  passengers would take it upon themselves to attack the bad guys. They would be reminded about worse case scenario and would fight until the bitter end. 

Truth is, with or without knives on the plane, there are a lot of other ‘weapons’ already in and around the plane.  Oxygen bottles and fire extinguishers to name two. But, it would be a lot trickier to get up from your seat, go to where the emergency equipment is kept, remove it without being noticed and attacking a flight attendant vs swiftly getting up from your seat with your 6 cm blade and attacking me, the flight attendant.

You know what I am saying?



{March 7, 2013}   Con Air

One of the best perks,  of course, working for an airline,  are the travel benefits.  No, I don’t travel for free.  Yes, my flights are very cheap.  I am extremely grateful that I can afford to fly my family all over the world. If I had to pay full fare, there’s no way we could have visited all the cool destinations we have. My 9 year old has over 130 flights in his flight log book.  How awesome is that? 

Of course we fly standby,  which is NOT fun. To go away, I have to play the role of travel agent before I leave the house. But, when we get to our destination,  it’s all worth it!

Getting a seat in coach is awesome. Getting seats next to my children,  is much better.  Sitting business class,  is a bonus.  But, sitting in the flight deck is pretty cool.

Back in the day,  before nine eleven, my husband used to be able to sit in the flight deck. This is before kids. He came on two layovers with me. One of them, he got to spend his time  in the flight deck of a double decker Boeing 747. Quite the experience. 

Of course,  after the towers went down, the flight deck rules changed. Only pilots and flight attendants are allowed to sit in the cockpit now.  But, it is THE BEST room with a view. Not many people can say that they have taken off and landed in the flight deck while listening to the air traffic control towers through their headsets. 

When we, the employees, travel,  we are referred to as ‘cons’, short for ‘contingent passengers ‘ So, when employees come onboard,they are referred to as  cons. Hee hee! I always think of prisoners when I hear that word, but I digress.

Come fly the friendly skies!

 

 

 



{March 6, 2013}   What did you say?

Sometimes, we flight attendants think that passengers check their brains and their manners before they enter the aircraft.

Here is one of the reasons why. Fortunately,  we have a great in-flight entertainment system onboard the aircraft with a multitude of hours of viewing pleasure. The beauty of our system is that you can pause, rewind or fast forward your selection at any time.  So, there is no reason why you should miss a word of your programming when I, the flight attendant, talks to you and asks you what you want to eat or drink, etc. All you have to do is attempt to pause your movie.  I will wait while you do it before I speak. Really, I will.

But, so many times, the passengers don’t take off their headsets and either loud talk,  or try to guess what I am saying. Usually, they get it wrong, and then scramble to pause the movie so they can use their manners and actually listen to me. They usually appear annoyed that they couldn’t mind read my message.

But, ever the professional, I never show that I am annoyed with their lack of manners. Personally, when am a passenger, I pause my movie well in advance of you coming to my row because let’s face it. It’s not like the flight attendants randomly go from passenger to passenger scattered around the airplane. We go in order so it is easy for you to predict who we will serve next. Oh yeah…I also put down my tray table before you give me my refreshment and NOT when the flight attendant is ‘patiently’ waiting to give you your drink while you fumble with your table. Just saying.



I recently watched the movie Flight with Denzel Washington.  I love any movie/tv show/book about flight attendants or that takes place on a plane. I am not quite an aviation geek but perhaps a distant cousin.

Without going into too much detail for those who did not yet see the film, the Captain (Denzel) is an alcoholic captain and crashes the plane. Don’t worry.  This all happens in the first 20 minutes of the movie. There is still plenty of story to watch.

Firstly, in the film, it shows the captain naked in bed with a hot flight attendant (my double) and they had been up to no good all night drinking, having sex and doing lines of cocaine. In reality, the sexy flight attendant wouldn’t have slept with the captain…he’s just not hot enough. If all night drinking and cocaine parties are happening in real life between pilots and flight attendants, then I am not getting the right layover!

There is a rule that we can not drink alcohol 12 hours before departure.  It is generally a well respected rule. Also, we can randomly getdrug tested at any time on duty, so I have never see anyone partake in illegal drugs. But, I suppose if one of us was an alcoholic,  perhaps there could be some drunks working on the plane. But, I believe that if a pilot was going to drink all night, he would have done it in private so nobody else on the crew knew.

Next part of the story line, Denzel walks into the cockpit and the first officer suspects he is drunk.  He also refers to him as ‘Sir’. In real life, they call each other by their first names and I would like to think that the f.o. would have walked off the plane the moment he suspected that the captain was not fit to fly.

During the beginning of the  flight, the plane encounters severe turbulence.  I personally have only ever experienced light or moderate chop. Severe is HARD CORE! In real life,  99% of the time, the turbulence is known ahead of time, reported by previous airplanes flying at that altitude. In that case, the flight plan would have been modified to go around that ‘weather’. Regardless,  I am happy to report that, at my airline, the communication between the pilots and the flight attendants would have been far superior. 
During that awful turbulence,  as a flight attendant, I’d strap myself into my jumpseat and not get up again until it was safe for me to do so. In the movie, an overhead bin pops open, and you see the flight attendant from the back of the aircraft walking/being thrown around to try to close that bin. She never makes it back to her seat.

Another scene,  shows the plane go upside down (ya okay, whatever. According to my pilot I flew with today, it is impossible to fly the plane upside down and then invert it just before a crash landing), and a little boy falls out of his seat. The flight attendant in the front of the aircraft crawls on her hands and knees on the ceiling  to get to him. She also never makes it back to her jumpseat and emergency door. I will tell you why I wouldn’t have done that. My job, in case of a crash landing,  is to open my emergency exit, and evacuate as many passengers as possible. I have to be there for the greater good of all the passengers vs just one. So, it was a pretty stupid move on her part.

Then, when the plane loses its ability to fly properly, the captain calls the in charge flight attendant to help land the plane by pushing on the throttle.  As much as it would be fun to help land the plane in real life, the two pilots in the flight deck are (usually) fully capable to do their job without a third set of hands.  I guess, that is Hollywood for you. 

Recently an acquaintance told me he saw the movie and asked if I’d get out of my seat and save him, like the little boy. I told him no but I’d save his ass later when I was alive to evacuate the aircraft. He didn’t seem to like my answer. Oh well.

All in all, I liked the movie. 

The next morning, I went to work and do you think I was scared at all on the flight?  Well, no, of course not. But, I did check the pilots pupils to make sure they weren’t dilated…just in case.



et cetera