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 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. 



{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.



{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 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!



{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