flightmum











{August 6, 2013}   Are you a Belieber?

Guess who was on my flight to Los Angeles?  You’re never going to believe it. C’mon, guess! Do you give it? It was none other than Patricia Mallette. What? You never heard of her? Really?  Are you sure? She’s about 5 feet tall and she wrote a book.  I think it was on the New York Times best seller list. It’s an autobiography. It’s about her and her son named Justin Bieber.  Yes! That’s right!  I had the Biebs’ mum onboard.  She was quite lovely,  actually.  Very down to earth. You’d never know from her demeanor that her son made 55 million dollars last year.

You’ll never guess which passenger she was sitting next to.  No, not THE Biebs himself,  but close. It was a stranger,  actually.  They didn’t know each other prior to the flight.  His name was Mr. Beaver. Seriously! No joke. That’s what was written on his boarding card. Mr. M. Beaver. What’s the chances?

When Mr. Beaver came up front to use the lavatory,  one of the flight attendants asked him if he knew who he was sitting next to. The man replied that he eventually figured it out. When they were chatting,  Mr. Beaver asked Mrs. Bieber what brought her to L.A. Was she in the ‘industry’? Mrs. Bieber replied to Mr. Beaver that her son is a musician and she was going to visit him in the Valley. Mr. Beaver told us that he knew that Justin Bieber lives in the Valley and put two and two together. After they chatted, Mr. Beaver went to sleep and Mrs. Bieber had a beer.  

Then the cat in the hat declared that he could not, would not in a house. Not in a box. Not with a mouse. He did not like green eggs and ham.

And then, along with Mrs. Bieber and Mr. Beaver, we landed.

 

 

The end.

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{July 26, 2013}   A Crappy flight

Morning flights are actually quite easy for us flight attendants to work because there are a lot of sleepers and only a handful of awake passengers to serve. Once we get past the initial shock of waking up at the cracks of dawn, we are ready to start our work day. Oh yeah. Coffee helps. A lot.

Bleary eyed passengers shuffle on board the aircraft and settle into their seats with their pillows and blankies looking to continue their shut eye. Most passengers are fast asleep before we hit cruising altitude.

For those passengers who brave to stay awake, we feed them some eggs and keep the coffee coming and coming. About 20 minutes later, the real trouble begins.

I am not sure if it’s the crappy food we serve onboard or the effects of the strong coffee we brew, but the line-ups for the lav are ferocious. One by one, they pile into the tiny washroom and have their morning constitution.  Sometimes I wonder how certain sized people fit into that tiny room. They must have the skills of a contortionous artist.

Every now and then, I hold my breath, spray some heavy duty air freshener into the toilet area and then retreat back to my jumpseat, which, incidentally is located right next to that stinky loo. Generally,  I am put off my yoghurt and granola after two bites.

Passengers after passenger files out of the lav, making sure they don’t make any eye contact so as not to betray the fact that they just had the biggest crap of their life. It’s the walk of shame back to their seats. Because really, who wants to poop on a plane? I think most of us would prefer to do our business in the comfort of our own home.

The worst is when you are next in line and you hear the double flush. Because let’s face it. We can hear everything going on in the airplane’s toilet. After the second flush, the passengers in line and I exchange nervous looks, knowing that whatever happened ‘in there’, was so big (or messy) that it wouldn’t go down the first flush. Yikes!

The door swings open, and the next passenger gulps,  gives me a nervous look and goes in there to face whatever they may find. Hoping that it’s not THAT bad.

I swear,  everyone on that plane has a shit during the morning.  I mean, I am glad that they eat their fibre and are regular. But, come on! There’s only so much one flight attendant can take before they gag.

Perhaps I should stick to afternoon flights after all.



{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.



{June 15, 2013}   Zombie Passengers

In this day and age, there are very few places that you come across that forces you to be unplugged.  “Do you have Wi-Fi on this aircraft?”, they always ask. The answer is NO.

So, people get on board and mentally try to prepare themselves  to be wireless for the next few hours.  But, it does not stop people from typing away e-mails on their BlackBerry or IPad so they can send them as soon as we land.

The flight passes uneventfully. But, as soon as we touch down safely on the ground, I make the obligatory safety announcements and then inform people that they can now use their cell phones. But, they do not hear me because they have already powered on without my blessing.

I look upon the sea of passengers in my cabin and they all look like they are sleeping. I look more carefully and see that their eyes are not closed but open ever so slightly, looking down at their mobile device. At first glance,  it looks like not a muscle is moving.  But then I zone in on their little thumbs moving a mile a minute typing away their ever important texts and emails. The cell phone zombies have awoken.

Looking into the zombie faces of the ‘phoners’ on the aircraft, reminds me of a Stephen King book called ‘Cell’ that I read many years ago about a mysterious signal that passes over the cell phone network and turns everyone into mindless zombie-like killers. In the book, there is a scene where all the phoners lie down in a soccer field at night and ‘switch off’ until morning while listening to weird music.  The next day,  they forage for food and kill whatever non-phoners they encounter. 

I think the phoners have won the battle. I rarely encounter non-phoners anymore while the plane is taxiing to the airport. The plane is filled with my zombie passengers who are at last reunited with their 3G network. 



{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.



{April 14, 2013}   I’m famous!

I have flown many celebrities to/from their destinations. Unfortunately, I have to stay professional and can’t gawk at them or fawn over them. To be quite honest,  I barely talk to these celebs, or sometimes not at all. But, for whatever reason,  it is still exciting. 

I think my first celeb was Jason Priestley. Mr. Beverly Hills 90210. I heard he was on the plane, but he was in first class and it was a short flight so I didn’t so much as set eyes on him. 

The best route to spot celebrities, of course, is the Los Angeles run. I’ve had the actor, Ed Harris.  I remember thinking that he looked really old in real life.

I’ve seen David Spade onboard.  I remember wondering why he was sitting in cattle class and who was the little girl he was with?I didn’t have the guts to ask him directly, so I asked the 6 year old girl instead when he was in the loo. She said that he knew her mummy. I excitedly asked who her mummy was, but she just shrugged.

I’ve had Jennifer Tilley on a flight. Not remarkable in any way.

There was quite the buzz when we had the Trailer Park Boys on our flight. Let’s just say ‘Bubbles’ does not look anything like his character without those big coke bottle glasses. 

Big names. I had Selena Gomez a few years back. She was in town hosting some event and visiting her boyfriend, Justin Bieber. Alas, she slept the whole flight so no words were exchanged. But, her assistants were bitching about how long it took to go through customs and declared that they were never coming back to Canada. I’m pretty sure they will.

 

A few years back, I also had Adam Levine of Maroon 5 fame and more recently, The Voice. He was with his entire band and entourage. They took up the entire cabin of business class. Like an idiot, I couldn’t remember the name of even one song they recorded. This particular morning flight was delayed and like any good rock star, he asked if we had any eyeshades onboard so he could sleep. I told him that that the airline didn’t provide any but I had my own personal pair he could have if he wanted. He wanted! I was excitedly about to retrieve them while thinking that I can’t believe Adam Levine will be wearing MY eyeshades when the captain interrupted and called me into the flight deck. He told me that the flight was canceled and everyone should deplane. I made an announcement, and lost my chance to interact with him again.

I’ve had musicians. Jann Arden sat in coach under an alias. Or perhaps her stage name was an alias. I had Chantal Kreviazuk on my flight. She was sitting in business class with her young son and a lap-held baby. She asked me to heat up a baby bottle and was just a cool and down to earth Canadian mum. She didn’t act like some big music star. I think we could have been friends.

I had the pleasure of taking Anne Murray to Florida. A few people noticed her and whispered to me, I wonder if she would sing ‘Snowbird’. When she came to the front to use the lavatory, I casually said, “Not very original, I know, but a few people asked me if I thought you’d sing Snowbird on the plane” I was hoping she would pick up the p.a. and belt out a few lines. But, she said, “No, not very original” and went back to her seat.

Then, there was Randy Bachman of The Guess Who fame. He was very nice but just looked like an old hippy.

I’ve seen a few athletes on my flights including Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky’s dad, Walter. I blurted out to Bobby Orr, “Your name was the answer to my crossword puzzle I did yesterday!” Then, I retreated back to my jumpseat with embarrassment. I have had a few other athletes but they weren’t famous enough for me to remember their names.

I’ve seen my fair share of politicians: Kim Campbell and Paul Martin AFTER they were no longer our prime ministers. I have had Justin Trudeau on a flight (sitting in the back) and when we landed in Montreal, I said, “Welcome to Pierre Elliott Trudeau international airport” (Usually I just say ‘welcome to Montreal’).When he deplaned, I said to him that I made that special welcome announcement just for him. He looked at me funny and continued walking. I had Mila Mulrooney (Brian’s better half) on a flight. She was so sweet and youthful looking. She said,”I am so cold. Feel my hands” and then clasped mine. I wished she could have been her my mother-in-law or my aunt.

I’ve had a few newscaster like Lloyd Roberts and Peter Mansbridge. I’ve played the news on board while Mr. Mansbridge watched himself on the big screen saying ‘I’m Peter Mansbridge’.

I’ve had a few soap stars. Sorry, I don’t know their names.

Rick Hansen, the ‘Man of Motion was an interesting passenger and SO nice. It was an honour to have him onboard.

Lastly, I had Brett Wilson a few times on my flights. He chatted with me and the pilot in the front galley just after he got ‘kicked off’ Dragon’s Den. He was very vocal about what had happened. The second time I had him on my flight, he winked at me and said he remembered me. My husband refers to him as ‘my boyfriend’.

Those are all the shoulders I’ve rub.

My friend had Rob Lowe on her flight once and had a picture of her and Rob Lowe as her Facebook profile pic for a while. Lucky her!

Maybe Brad Pitt will be on my next flight. You never know!



{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 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 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