{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. 


{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.

{April 7, 2013}   Fight Club

What happens at flight club, stays at flight club. 

I worked a turn around flight to the Dominican Republic the other day and boy, was that one a doozy!

I don’t want to sound like a snob, but I will anyway.  The cheap all-inclusive price tag attracts the low class passengers.  (i.e. trailer park) 

Wow! So much happened on that flight, I don’t even know where to begin. 

During boarding,  we packed in over 130 passengers into their sardine-like seats. There wasn’t an empty seat to be had. There was a mix of people: couples,  families,  locals and also a wedding party consisting of around 30 or so guests.

After take-off, we went through the aisle with food and drinks.  As expected,  the service took longer than usual as people were drinking heavily. About half way through the cabin, we experienced some minor turbulence. A woman grabbed me and asked me what’s going on. I explained that it was simply normal bumps and it was nothing to worry about. She looked at me suspiciously and said: You know something! And you are not telling me. What do you know? 

I tried to assure her that she was safe but I don’t think she was buying it. We managed to finish the service before the really bad turbulence started and the pilots asked the flight attendants to sit down.  As I headed to my jumpseat,  I saw a look of terror on that poor woman’s face.  Later, another passenger offered her a prescription pill (perhaps Valium), and she was quite alright for the rest of the flight. Passengers were requesting more drinks as I was bouncing around the cabin heading towards the safety of my seat. I told them all that I’d be back. 

After about 20 minutes, the turbulence subsided and off I went, trying to find my passengers with their drink orders. Of course, on these  kind of flights,  it’s impossible to venture into the cabin without getting even more drink orders. So, there I was racing around the aircraft like a chicken with its head cut off. A passenger asked me for two cups filled with ice, which always makes me suspicious of them. Are they drinking their own alcohol?

I casualty mentioned that it is against aviation law to drink your own alcohol onboard and he could get arrested upon arrival. I then asked him if he still wanted two glasses of ice. He replied with a simple, “No”.

As I was mixing yet another Caesar, a passenger in the first row shouted to me to come. “What seems to be the problem?” I inquired. The passengers that summoned my attention, were a couple sitting in the window and middle seats who were unlike any of the other peeps onboard. They were well dressed and she was wearing pearls, for goodness sake! The woman gestured to the man sitting in the aisle seat and said, “That man is being extremely rude!”. Rude man answered,”I simply asked them to close the window shade as the sun is shining right in my eyes.” It went on and on about the way it was asked and why didn’t you, rude man,switch seats with your wife, etc, with me trying to play mediator. I suggested the window passenger close the shade and use the reading light instead. He replied with, “I need natural light to read by” Obviously, I wasn’t going to get a solution satisfactory to both parties, and I couldn’t exactly give them a time out, although I was really tempted! I used my best patient mother voice and said,” I have no empty seats to move you. We have two hours left in the flight to get along. Do you think we can all just get along for two more hours?” They nodded slowly like little kids that just got in trouble. Disaster averted…

I had to make announcements asking passengers to please keep the aisles free and refrain from asking for drinks as we would be out in the cabin for a second service. Otherwise, it would have been never ending.

As promised, we were out once again to offer drinks and food. But nobody was interested in food this time. We had to hussle because we had less than an hour left in the flight. One of the flight attendants came upon two men sitting one row apart, ready to duke it out. Apparently, the guy sitting in the seat in front of the other guy was by then sick of the BIG guy in back of him knocking into his seat the whole time. There was a lot of,”What’s your problem?”. Followed by the BIG guy replying with, “I have my baby on my lap. What’s wrong with YOU?” Of course, this argument was fueled by many a drinks consumed. The flight attendant was pretty sure fists were about to fly. She switched the seats of the passenger who had been drinking his own alcohol with the ‘What’s your problem’ passenger. Once again, everyone scathed unharmed.

Nobody was more happy to land then the flight attendants even though we were not laying over. Back in the day, passengers used to clap when we landed. You never see that anymore except Clap Clap. They clapped. Figures.

Upon deplaning, my snooty couple were still bickering with the sun in eyes passenger. “Excuse me! Can you move? I am TRYING to get my bag!”

Finally, everyone was off except the ‘What’s your problem?’ passenger and the couple with the baby. It looked like he was waiting for them to continue where it had left off. The flight attendant and I looked at each other and sprung into action. “Where are your carry-on bags, sir?” We got them for him and ushered him off the plane.

I promised the crew, that the next flight wouldn’t be as challenging as the last, especially since we had ran out of beer and vodka. Passengers would be tired from a weeks worth of drinking and sun worshipping.

Halfway through, the first service for these new passengers, I heard a woman shout to the woman right in front of her,”Excuse me. Could you NOT recline your seat?!” Oh oh, I thought. Here we go again! But, the other woman replied softly,” I have the right to recline my seat”, but then put her seat back to the normal upright position. Ah, no drunken testosterone to deal with. Phew!

{February 12, 2013}   I swear, it’s true.

Flying could be a stressful event for just about anybody.  Now, imagine a family with a 3 year old boy and twin 6 month old girls. Shoot me now! 

I had THAT family onboard the other day. The mum was freaking out as she boarded the aircraft about how she was waiting in line to check in for the flight for over 2 hours and the family did not even get seats together (by the way…you can’t always believe everything passengers say…they lie or exaggerate). I told her not to worry and that I would make sure they all sat together.  You know, kill them with kindness. 

Meanwhile, she is ranting and raving loudly all the way to her seat. Oh yeah. She is also swearing like a sailor. Fuck this and Fuck that.

To make matters worse, the gate agent comes rushing onto the aircraft saying that he forgot to get one of the twin girl’s information and needs the baby’s passport.  He asks the mum for it and she starts freaking out again and cussing. The gate agent tells her to calm down and that sets her off again. He left the airplane  to process the passport info.  Suddenly,  one of my flight attendants comes rushing towards me telling me about this mum  passenger who is disturbing all the other people onboard and that I need to deal with her.

I rush over to her and try to calm her down.  I tell her not to worry about the passport as I WILL NOT close the aircraft door until she has that passport. Then I tell her to please watch her language as there are a lot of children onboard. Which, of course is ironic, because SHE has 3 children sitting with her! 

In the end, the stress head calmed down. But, if this is how she acts and talks in public,  could you imagine how she behaves in her own home? Even her husband and little boy seemed to be afraid of her. I try not to judge people based on one incident,  but it’s pretty hard not to in this instance.  I hope her holiday was more relaxing than her flight home. 

et cetera