flightmum











{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. 



{March 7, 2013}   Con Air

One of the best perks,  of course, working for an airline,  are the travel benefits.  No, I don’t travel for free.  Yes, my flights are very cheap.  I am extremely grateful that I can afford to fly my family all over the world. If I had to pay full fare, there’s no way we could have visited all the cool destinations we have. My 9 year old has over 130 flights in his flight log book.  How awesome is that? 

Of course we fly standby,  which is NOT fun. To go away, I have to play the role of travel agent before I leave the house. But, when we get to our destination,  it’s all worth it!

Getting a seat in coach is awesome. Getting seats next to my children,  is much better.  Sitting business class,  is a bonus.  But, sitting in the flight deck is pretty cool.

Back in the day,  before nine eleven, my husband used to be able to sit in the flight deck. This is before kids. He came on two layovers with me. One of them, he got to spend his time  in the flight deck of a double decker Boeing 747. Quite the experience. 

Of course,  after the towers went down, the flight deck rules changed. Only pilots and flight attendants are allowed to sit in the cockpit now.  But, it is THE BEST room with a view. Not many people can say that they have taken off and landed in the flight deck while listening to the air traffic control towers through their headsets. 

When we, the employees, travel,  we are referred to as ‘cons’, short for ‘contingent passengers ‘ So, when employees come onboard,they are referred to as  cons. Hee hee! I always think of prisoners when I hear that word, but I digress.

Come fly the friendly skies!

 

 

 



{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.



{February 28, 2013}   Buh-bye, ciao, au revoir, adios

The most tedious part of my job is at the end of the flight when passengers are deplaning and I have to stand at the boarding door and say good bye to everyone.  I try to send authentic and caring.  I alternate between saying “bye-bye”, “thank-you”,”take care”,”see you later”, and “have a good day”. Pretty exciting stuff, huh?

It’s definitely a nice touch when the captain stands next to me and greets the passengers adieu as well. The only time it gets interesting  saying goodbye to the gang is when we play the ‘glasses’ game. One of us only says goodbye to passengers wearing glasses and the other one only says ‘ciao’ to non-glasses wearers. We usually mess up and end up giggling. It’s fun! You should try it sometime.

Unless they are on their phones, passengers usually like to say their goodbyes as well. They like to tell us good bye or that they had a nice flight. Sometimes,  they turn into amateur pilots. They tell the flight crew, “Great landing!”…Everyone’s an expert!   Usually,  more times than not, the pilot replies, “I just get lucky sometimes” and then chuckles as I roll my eyes. Once, a pilot replied with a simple ‘thank-you’. I told him I appreciate him not saying the same stupid joke! 

 Buh-Bye!

 



{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 19, 2013}   V.I.P.

Lately I have had a few self proclaimed VIPs onboard, which, of course stands for Very Impatient Passengers and NOT Very Important People as they would like to believe. 

There are 3 types of VIPs. First, is the passenger who feels like he should be your number one priority and HIS needs come before anyone else’s. He flies often and knows what to expect, but he wants his newspaper BEFORE  you offer it and he wants his first cocktail BEFORE you get to his row. He’s like an excited 3 year old boy in the body of a business traveller. So, you give him what he wants and hope the other passengers don’t mind that he is monopolizing your time and that he is getting things out of turn.

The second VIP is the newly  pregnant woman who can’t put her luggage in the overhead bins because she is expecting. Throughout the flight, she keeps reminding you that she is with child. For example, when she gets up to use the lavatory for the 5th time… It’s because she is pregnant.  I don’t mind this type of  VIP. It’s kind of cute. But, I chuckle in the galley with the other flight attendants and tell them that when I was pregnant with my second child, I’d be carrying my toddler, my groceries AND the diaper bag up two flight of stairs.  But anyway…I try not to judge because you never know her story. Perhaps she has had a miscarriage in the past or has been trying to get pregnant for 2 years…you never know.

The final  VIP type is the family with the new baby. They bring everything but the kitchen sink onto the plane and make a big fuss and act like they are the first people EVER to travel with a baby. It’s quite hilarious to watch them in action. Both the mum and dad go into the tiny lav to change juniors diaper. So cute! 

The truth is, all these people  don’t have to make a big fuss to become my very important passengers as ALL my passengers are important to me. Especially the ones that bring me chocolates and money. Just kidding…sort of.



{February 15, 2013}   Squirrel Airlines

Flight attendants are hoarders on the aircraft. We are used to the times when we were missing something semi important at 25,000 feet that we needed for our passengers.  Of course, we can’t  just duck into the local 7-11 for the missing item and we don’t like disappointing our passengers.  We are  people pleasers. We like to make them happy. 

So, at the end of the flight, if there are extra napkin/swizel sticks/ a corkscrew/mixed nuts/cute guy etc, we will find a spot to stow it for the next crew to use.  We are, like little squirrels, collecting items for the winter’s hibernation.  There are many cubby holes and hiding spots where we can stow our treasures. We even collect items in our personal suitcases, just in case we run out of decaf coffee on the plane.

We especially love to collect People magazine and other gossip magazines. When you deplane, we sniff it out and raid the seat pockets for our next reading pleasure. This find, however, is rarely shared with the passenger.  But, it gets passed from flight attendant to flight attendant until eventually all is left are ripped pages and a half finished crossword.  But, at least we are up  to date on our Hollywood  news.

Sometimes, when we board our aircraft,  we search the cubbies and find the usual bottles of water and tea bags neatly placed. Other times, it looks like a bad episode of Hoarders or perhaps the flight attendant thought we would crash land on a deserted island and would have to survive for an indefinite amount of time with the collected supplies. And other times, there is a nice surprise waiting for us, like a granola bar from the previous crew snacks that they chose not to eat. Hooray!

Once, I went to distribute custom cards to the passengers.  To my horror, the cards were missing. Passengers don’t like that! I instructed the flight attendants to scour the airplane and look for custom cards because that is something we squirrel away too. We checked every cubby, closet, overhead bins and seat pocket. There was not one custom card to be had. Shocking, I know! Even the flight attendants didn’t have any in their bags. I had to make an announcement to the passengers that we would not be distributing custom cards as they were not boarded.

However, I had a nagging feeling that I HAD seen them at the beginning of the flight but I had searched EVERYWHERE to no avail. Perhaps I had seen them on my LAST flight.  

After everyone had deplaned, I was tidying up and found the custom cards! Apparently I had removed them from the plane’s satchel and placed them temporarily on 1D seat. When passengers came on board, the passenger at 1F had thrown her pillow and blanket on 1D seat, hence covering the cards effectively for 5 hours. Seat 1D remained empty.  I felt bad. Oops….I was a bad squirrel that day.

 



{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!



{February 7, 2013}   Scarf Attack

I hate scarves.  I really hate scarves.  I don’t mean the wooly wintery type ones that keeps you warm.  I have no problems with those.  It’s the silky flight attendant ones that I despise.

Those scarves used to be optional to wear with our old uniform.  So, I never wore them. Then we got new ones and the scarves became mandatory. 

I don’t know how to wear a scarf without looking like a total idiot or an old lady. I figure the only way to tie a scarf and look semi cool is to tie it around your neck. But I have a strong gag reflex. Just ask my dentist. Or my husband.  Ha ha!  I can’t have anything around my neck without choking.  Nope. Can’t even wear a turtleneck. 

So where does that leave me? Scarf-challenged. Unlike so many of my flight attendant colleagues who appear to be professional scarf tyers, or so it seems.  Once again,  I am not cut out for this flight attendant gig. I must have been absent on scarf tying day at flight attendant school.

Let us all unite and rid ourselves of scarves. Burn scarves burn! Or just recycle them. There must be some idiot old lady flight attendants out there in the need of some scarves.



{February 6, 2013}   Who you calling a klutz?

I am not sure how I got hired to become a flight attendant.  I am actually quite clumsy. I spill drinks and drop stuff all the time.  But I am really good at pointing out emergency exits.

I never wear the colour white because black coffee and mud somehow always throw themselves on me. It’s like – opposites attract. All I have to do is just think about dirty objects and my white shirt automatically gets ruined. I don’t even have to be wearing white to get it stained. Don’t wear white around me. It WILL get discoloured.  I guarantee it. I HAVE the power! So, YOU, the passenger. Don’t wear white trousers or blouses on the plane around me.  You have been warned. 

Many years ago when I first got hired,  I was working a really long flight to India. I had a tray filled with glasses of champagne, orange juice and sparkling water for ground service. We hadn’t taken off yet. Didn’t I find the one woman in white and proceeded to spill the entire contents of my tray on her lap.  She had to sit in wet clothes during her 11 hour flight.  I chose not to work in her ‘section’ during that flight because I was mortified. I consoled myself in knowing that I would never have to see her again.  I enjoyed a 3 day layover and on the return flight, who should be sitting in business class again?  The exact same woman. When I saw her, I apologized profusely.  She stayed dry that flight.  You guessed it.  She was wearing black. 

Fast forward a decade and I had an equally disastrous situation on the aircraft.  I was carrying a tray with hot coffee and Baileys.  The tray tipped all over the nice lady passenger in business class. In my defense,  it was an EARLY flight and I was really tired. This time I couldn’t escape her. Fortunately,  she was really nice. Probably because she was a friend of an employee.  After the coffee mishap, she took her white sweater off and gave it to me as I soaked it in seltzer during the flight to try to lift the stain out. Strike two.

Don’t get me wrong. There have been many a clumsiness and spilling over the years but these are the two that stick out in my head.

Choose your travel clothes wisely.  You have been warned. 

 



et cetera