flightmum











{May 24, 2013}   Turbulent Times.

Nobody actually likes turbulence when they fly. It’s downright annoying. Uncomfortable, yes. Dangerous, no. An airplane does not just fall out of the sky due to the Harlem shakes. Aircrafts are designed to withstand bumps with their ingenious flexible wings that ‘flap’ in the wind.

Even though I have flown in hundreds of hours of turbulence,  I do not pretend to be an expert in that topic. I still don’t REALLY get it.  But, I’ll give it a shot and explain what causes turbulence to the best of my abilities.

Turbulence in the air is like driving on a bumpy pot-holed road. When you are flying in the sky and you hit ‘an air pocket’, you are experiencing irregular fluctuations in the air. Technically speaking,  air flows like a horizontal snaking river that is referred to as a jet stream. When the edge of the jet stream interacts with slower moving air, you get turbulence.  Hey, presto.

Even though pilots can’t see turbulence, they can avoid it by relying on ride reports from other pilots that flew the same path moments before. It is always rush hour up in the sky, so there is a lot of information to share amongst pilots and air traffic control!

Pilots are trained to handle turbulence and any other mishap thrown their way, so don’t worry.  Keep your seatbelt fastened and you’ll be fine. I trust the pilots. You should too.

I have had many fearful passengers over the years. Some drink  alcohol or take ‘something’. Others just cower and suffer through it.

I used to be able to take scared flyers into the flight deck so that they could see the pilots in action and ask them a ton of questions.  That used to help. But, after 9/11, that practice stopped.

I had a woman so frightened once, she wouldn’t let go of my hand. Fortunately, I had a deadheading pilot in uniform that was nice enough to talk to her and calm her down a little.

Then, there was the woman that looked me straight in the eyes when we were flying through turbulence and shrieked: What’s going on?There is something you’re not telling me! 

Fear of flying, is an irrational fear, just like fear of spiders (unless you live in a country like Australia, where they have the most deadliest arachnids). So, you can’t reason with these types of passegers because they are so frightened and cannot think logically about the situation.

The most fearful flyers appear to be female, unless the men are better at hiding it. The fear of flying crowd tend to have controlling ‘type A’ personalities. They probably would not be afraid if THEY were licensed to fly the aircraft. At least they’d be in charge. But, I do sympathize with them.

Of course, it goes without saying that, statistically speaking, it is safer to fly in an airplane than  drive your car to work. 

Like I said, irrational fear.



{May 23, 2013}   Check, please.

Sometimes I imagine a scenario where the passenger arrives at the airport two hours before departure and waits in line to check in for their flight. When it is finally his turn, he steps up to the passenger agent and they have the following exchange:

How may I help you?

I’d like to check in for my flight.

How many bags are you checking?

Two.

Would you like to check your manners and common sense too?

Yes, please.

Have a nice flight.

 

And then they come on my flight with just their carry-on bags, since they checked everything else.

They shove their rollerbag in an overhead bin with half of it sticking out, fully knowing that the bin will never close. Then they quickly take their seat and don’t speak up when the flight attendants ask if ‘anybody knows who’s bag this is’. Then these grown men watch as two 90 pound female flight attendants struggle to take the imposing bag out of the bin and start playing Tetris with the remaining pieces of luggage. They see us struggling putting THEIR bag up and away. In real life, chivalry would kick in and they would do their own heavy lifting. Or you would hope so, anyway.

The other day, I had a frequent flyer sitting in the first row of the aircraft. He was a good boy and put his bag in the overhead bin as he knew bags aren’t permitted at the bulkhead. During the flight, he took his bulky briefcase down to do some work. Once it was time to prepare the cabin for landing, he tried to ‘hide’ his bag behind his legs. He wasn’t fooling anyone!

I reminded him that his bags have to be stowed for landing and asked where his bag had been for take-off. He pointed to an overhead bin but made no move to get up. As I struggled to put his bag up, he said,” Sorry…it’s heavy”. Damn straight it was! I said, “Good thing I am going to the chiropractor tomorrow!”. He laughed. I didn’t.

 

 



{May 20, 2013}   Business and Pleasure

I love getting paid to visit friends and family. Well, I don’t exactly get paid to visit them, but I do get paid to fly down to their city and I get expense money to eat and a free hotel room to stay in.

I have visited people on layovers in Montreal, Ottawa,  Calgary, Victoria, Miami,  Atlanta, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Glasgow. 

On layovers with loved ones, I have gone to pubs and for meals. I’ve gone for walks on the beach and have gone grocery shopping.  I’ve babysat their kids and helped them select and cut down the perfect Christmas tree. Really, I’ve done just about everything. 

When I went to Scotland,  I looked up my long lost relatives who I had never met, and they took me under their wing, so to speak. They picked me up at my hotel and took me out to dinner to meet 20 more family members.  They were so friendly and giving to me, a complete stranger,  linked only by distant blood. I couldn’t understand anything  they said due to their thick accent. But it was one of the most enjoyable and memorable layovers I’ve ever had.

Of course,  there are also the times that you find yourself in the same city as your family and mates and you make sure you don’t tell a soul where you are and don’t update your whereabouts on Facebook because you just want to chill and relax on your layover, but you don’t want to offend. You just want to catch up on your sleep. Hope you understand. 



{May 16, 2013}   Lord of the Feet

I had two interesting ‘characters’ on my flight the other day. Both interesting but for completely different reasons. Sitting in business class was one Lord Conrad Black.  For those of you not familiar with him, he is a Canadian-born former newspaper publisher and for a time, he headed the third largest newspaper group in the world. Oh yeah.  And he is also a convicted felon for fraud and obstruction of justice. 

From what I observed, Lord Conrad Black still appears to be a powerful and busy man. During the flight, he was polite enough, but he kept busy with paperwork and correspondences. You would never guess that he had just spent three and a half years in jail.

My other entertaining passenger was a top tiered frequent flyer.  During the safety demonstration,  I notice he was playing with and picking his toes for the duration of the video. He wouldn’t leave his bare foot alone…to the disgust of the frequent flying woman sitting right next to him and said foot.

Later I was chit chatting with her and somehow it got on to the subject of gross things passengers do on planes. I told her that I could tell her some stories. She said: I bet you can!

When she came up to use the lavatory, we talked about the foot fetish her seat-mate seemed to have. She said that she kept having to inch away from him while he was going to town on his foot because he was getting dangerously close.

When dinner was served, he dropped the foot and enjoyed the succulent servings.  Alas no, he did not wash his hands before eating. But, he did use the lav later… in barefeet! Who DOES that? There are so many germs on the lavatory floor. I mean, men STILL use the lav during turbulence and the miss the bowl…often.

Hope our friend washes his hands AND his feet before he decides to play foot hockey again.

 



{May 14, 2013}   Love You Forever

When I was pregnant for the first time, I received a Robert Munsch book at my baby shower from my aunt.  It was called ‘Love You Forever’. My aunt wrote a lovely message in it which included: Once you are a parent,  you will truly understand the words and meaning. 

I heard through others that the book was a real tearjerker. That night, I decided to test it out. With my baby boy tucked safely in my womb, I read the book from cover to cover. Hmm. Nothing. No tears. Ha! I knew I was tough.

In the book, the mum sings a specific song to her son from the day he was born until he becomes a new dad himself.

 

I’ll love you forever,

I’ll like you for always,

As long as I’m living

my baby you’ll be.Image

 

After my son was born, I read him the Robert Munsch book and couldn’t get through it without choking up. I chalked up the tears to baby hormones.  

Ten years later,  I have read the book many times over to my three children and I still can’t get through it without waterfalls. No baby hormones to blame.

Last night,  I tried reading the book to my daughter using silly voices to stave off the tears.  We laughed. My method worked…almost. I guess I am soft after all.

 

 

 

 

 

 



{May 12, 2013}   Mum appreciation day

I remember when I was a kid, I’d ponder out loud why there couldn’t be a kid’s day. I mean,  there’s a mother’s day and father’s day,  so it made perfect sense that there should be a day dedicated to kids, right? My mum explained that every day is kid’s day. How right she was!

I had a really good mother’s day today, I have to say. I am lucky enough to get breakfast in bed every year on the big day, where my sons take my meal and drink order and deliver it to my bed. Delivery with a smile. Then they salivate while I devour my eggs. After that,  my special day is pretty much over. It’s back to making lunch and wiping bums.

But, this year, my day kept on givin’. I got the customary yummy sunny side up. Then, I got to go back to sleep! (hooray). Afterwards, I got in the car and was told to keep my eyes closed. That’s really hard to do when you’re driving. But I managed to keep them closed the whole time.  Did I mention that my husband was driving? After parking, I put my life in my kids hands as they blindly led me to our next adventure.  To my surprise,  we were to have lunch at our favourite Irish pub. Irish coffee, anyone? As you can imagine, with three young children,  we rarely go out to restaurants as we have been banned by most of them in a ten mile radius. 

Then home for  a quick four hour game of Monopoly where nobody cried or fought or whined. It was a magical day after all. 

Bbq for dinner rounded out the perfect day. Didn’t cook one meal or wash one dish all day long. ( I did wipe one bum). Still…BEST MOTHER’S DAY EVER!

 



My four year old daughter loves wearing dresses.  She also loves when her and I dress alike. She’s insisting that we wear dresses everyday.  Except there’s only one problem with that. She looks way cuter in her outfits than me. She weighs about thirty pounds. I weight at least 100 pounds more than that (and then some). 
I need to lose some weigh. At least 10 pounds. Okay. Maybe fifteen.

Already, my darling daughter is competing with me. She asked her father, “Who looks prettier in their dress? Mummy or me? That was a tricky one to answer diplomatically. My husband said: Mummy, because she’s my wife. My daughter’s lower lip trembled. My husband said both of us were the prettiest. She was okay with that answer.
The truth is: She is beautiful. And I’m okay with that.



{May 7, 2013}   Alumni

I was boarding the aircraft when I spotted a young man sporting a sweatshirt with my alma mater on it. The good old university days…

I excitedly asked him if he went to my old university.  He told me: Yes. In fact, he still does. Just going home after finishing his exams. I felt like we had a bond. A connection. We both went to the same small school. I figured we would talk during the flight about our amazing school. We would reminisce and compare notes. We would talk about the teachers still there. We would laugh about all the old hang-outs and pubs we frequented. We would sing our old school song. What did you study, he’d ask.

Well, in flight,  he did not seek me out. He wanted nothing to do with me. And then, it hit me. He looked at me and saw an old lady.  He can’t related. I graduated over 15 years ago. I’m as old as some of his teachers.  Sigh. How can that be when I still feel 22?



{May 1, 2013}   Tight connection

Last week, I was working my last flight of the night.  It was a full flight,  of course.

One of the flight attendants noticed that the very first passenger to board,  put her two carry-on bags in the overhead bins at row one, in business class, and then continued walking towards the back of the aircraft. I rushed over to the passenger to confront her.

Excuse me. Are these your bags?

Yes they are.

You have to move them.

Well, I have a tight connection upon arrival.

I understand, but there is plenty of overhead space at row 15 where you are sitting.

Well, I am frequent flyer and I do this all the time.

But, surely you don’t expect the passengers at row one to stow their bags at row 15?

Well, I tried to get upgraded but it was full.

You NEED to move your bags. I will help you.

(We walk over to her row with both her bags. She continues arguing with me.)

I will show you my boarding card. I have a VERY TIGHT connection.

You only have 16 minutes to make your connection. That’s not even a legal connection. It’s impossible. You are never going to make it.

I do it all the time. Just watch me!

Well, if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to try to get this flight out on time, if that’s okay with you.

I stormed to the front of the aircraft in disbelief. It made no sense! If the passenger placed her bags above her seat vs at row one…how is that saving her time? She is not going to make her connection anyway!

We continued boarding our full flight and shut the aircraft door on time. As I closed the business class overhead bins, I noticed there were some empty spots in them after all, which is HIGHLY unusual. But, nevertheless, rules are rules and that passenger was not in the right to place her bags up there without asking first.

The captain made an announcement that we would be 10 minutes late pushing from the gate due to weather delays.

The other flight attendant spoke to this woman and the woman had explained that she had put her bags at row one because her plan was to be the first one off the aircraft. She she’d get up, rush to front and then get her bags. But if she had to retrieve her bags at her row, then she would NOT be the first passenger off. Also, she had been at meeting that ran late and she was suppose to have been  on an earlier flight, which would have giving her an hour sixteen to make her connection instead. The passenger also said to the flight attendant that sometimes the purser makes an announcement to let her off first due to her tight connection.

At least I understand the passenger’s reasoning, but it still does not excuse her selfish actions or her rudeness.

Anyways, after take-off, I decide to play nice and ask the pilots to inquire about her connecting flight to see whether it is on time or not. They inform me that it is. In fact, we will be landing five minutes after it leaves.

I go see the passenger and inform her that I checked with the pilots and unfortunately, we will be landing five minutes after her other flight takes off, so she will be misconnecting. But, she should speak to the passenger agent upon deplaning and they will be able to put her on the next flight that leaves an hour and a half later.

As we are deplaning, the passenger sees me and says: You people were NOT helpful AT ALL!

I answered with a jaw drop.



et cetera