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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{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. 

 

 



{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?



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.



{February 20, 2013}   Evacuate! Evacuate!

You go through your entire career hoping that you never have to use your emergency training to face the unexpected on an aircraft. Even though we silently think about the inevitable before every take-off and every landing, as per our regulations, so as to mentally prepare ourselves for anything at all to come our way.

Annually,  we attend a flight attendant emergency prep refresher course and practice fighting fires, shouting out our commands and activating the emergency door slides and evacuating the aircraft in 90 seconds.

Some flight attendants fly for 30 plus years and never have anything more serious to deal with on the airplane more than a scraped knee. And that’s the way we like it.

After three years of flying,  I had a real live emergency on my aircraft. This is how it went down.  I was working a flight to Jamaica on a Boeing 767. Flight was full. My jumpseat was in the back of the aircraft. We took off without incident.  Ten minutes later,  the Captain comes over the p.a. and says the code words to let the flight attendants know that there is something wrong on the airplane. 

The in charge flight attendant went into the flight deck to find out what was going on. She got all the necessary information and called us to brief us on the situation.  The captain said that his flight deck indication showed that we had TOO much oil on the gauge and having too much oil on the plane is dangerous and a fire hazard.  We were going to return to the airport and have maintenance look at it.

Right away, we prepared the cabin for imminent landing. The captain said that is was going to be a high alert abnormal landing and NOT an emergency landing. We sat in our jumpseat and silently reviewed all of our emergency procedures ‘just in case’.

We held our breath as the plane landed. Thankfully,  it landed without incident.  The captain had mentioned to us and the passengers that we were going to park away from the airport and that there would be fire trucks and emergency vehicles to check out the airplane just to be on the safe side. 

A minute later, the captain said ‘evacuate, evacuate ‘ on the left side of the airplane. Oh no, that was MY side, I paused for a moment,  and then my training kicked in.  I started my shout out commands and opened my emergency door. I was mesmerized as the slide deployed. It jumped up and out towards the ground. All of a sudden, I was shouting to the passengers to come to my emergency exit and to go down the slide. I also asked them to leave all their luggage behind as it can damage the slide. It was pretty surreal.  My passengers were not rushing to the exit or anything but were casually coming over. Probably because they didn’t really know what the emergency was. Actually,  we didn’t even really know what the emergency was either.  Later, we found out that the fire department saw a fire in our right engine and that’s why we were evacuating. 

We continued evacuating the aircraft while simultaneously grabbing the passengers bags and throwing them in the galley.  One woman froze in fear at the top of the slide. We had to get her to slide down. Finally she did. 

Eventually,  everyone was off, we checked the cabin, grabbed a piece of emergency equipment (I took the megaphone) and we slid down to safety. For those of us wearing the uniform skirt, we found out that going down the fast slide allowed our skirts to pull up to our shoulders. Awkward! Fortunately, there were cute fire fighters at the bottom of the slide to catch us. 

After it was all over, we got debriefed and found out that aside from one woman who twisted her ankle going down the slide, everyone was okay. We got a couple of days off and went on with our careers.

They say lightning doesn’t strike twice. I am hoping that holds true since I already experienced an evacuation early on in my career that I will have no more ‘excitement’ in the years to come.   Fingers crossed. 



{February 14, 2013}   Love is in the Air

Happy Valentine’s Day! I can smell it in the air!

I was working a flight recently to the most boring place in Canada.  And lucky for me as I had a layover there. On this particular flight, we were minus one Captain to operate the plane. But, not to worry as we had one on reserve who was going to rush over to our plane after he landed his plane. 

We boarded all the passengers in anticipation of his arrival. We made the obligatory announcements that as soon as the captain arrived, we’d be on our way. Twenty minutes later, he arrived.  Things were looking up.  He gave me a quick safety briefing and we were ready to go. We were about to close the aircraft door, when a flight attendant in uniform comes rushing on saying she has a last minute deadhead. Deadheading is when crew scheduling positions a crew member to operate another flight after this one. So, technically they are not working, so they take a passenger seat and do as they wish on the plane.

We proceeded to  take off and we were off to the most boring place in Canada. About an hour after take-off, the Captain comes out of the flight deck and we start chatting for a few minutes.  We exchange stories and he tells me about his wife and 3 kids.  Then he asks whether that flight attendant got on the flight.  I tell him yes and where she is sitting. He says that he will go and say hi. He walks to coach class, plops down next to her and chats away for 10 minutes.  It’s weird to see the captain of the airplane sitting in the back chatting to a passenger when the aircraft is in-flight. But, there he was. Not to worry…it really only takes one pilot to ‘fly’ the aircraft when it is in cruise.

He heads backs to the flight deck for the remainder of the flight. Meanwhile, the deadheading flight attendant comes to the front to use the lavatory.  I say to her: It’s weird.  Our passenger list shows that you are flying stand-by on a personal flight pass and not deadheading on company business. She smiles and says: I am a terrible liar…I am with the captain.

Note that he was in his early 40’s and she was a new flight attendant in her early 20’s. There was so much I wanted to say…but I said nothing.

She went back to her seat and I thought about the pilot’s poor wife at home looking after the 3 children while he invites ‘the flavour of the month’ on a layover to the most boring place in Canada. I doubt they were going to sightsee… I also thought she was an idiot for getting involved with a married man and if she thought that she was special, and that what they had was going to last, then she had a lot to learn!

Once we landed, she came on the crew bus to the hotel.  The captain’s cover story was that she lived in that city and was just catching a ride with us and then she was going to walk home. Not sure anybody bought it. We checked into our rooms while she scurried around the outside of the hotel. When she thought the coast was clear, she joined Captain Dickhead and off they went to their room.

I wasn’t flying with him the next morning, so I did not see him again until just a few days ago. He was commuting on my flight back home. He didn’t recognize me. I remembered him though because he was joined at the hip to a different young flight attendant whom he chatted up the whole flight. What a surprise! I wonder who he will be spending Valentines with tonight?  Decisions, decisions!



et cetera