flightmum











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. 

 

 



{May 7, 2013}   Alumni

I was boarding the aircraft when I spotted a young man sporting a sweatshirt with my alma mater on it. The good old university days…

I excitedly asked him if he went to my old university.  He told me: Yes. In fact, he still does. Just going home after finishing his exams. I felt like we had a bond. A connection. We both went to the same small school. I figured we would talk during the flight about our amazing school. We would reminisce and compare notes. We would talk about the teachers still there. We would laugh about all the old hang-outs and pubs we frequented. We would sing our old school song. What did you study, he’d ask.

Well, in flight,  he did not seek me out. He wanted nothing to do with me. And then, it hit me. He looked at me and saw an old lady.  He can’t related. I graduated over 15 years ago. I’m as old as some of his teachers.  Sigh. How can that be when I still feel 22?



{April 8, 2013}   Freedom Flight

As a mum, it goes without saying that my kids (especially when they were young), preferred me to do things for them or sit next to them. As opposed to their father.  My younger kids constantly fought over who got to sit next to mum at dinner time. When they woke up in the morning, they’d crowd me in bed while my husband had half the bed to himself. I’d tend to have two children sandwiched around me and one child with the coveted position of lying ON me. Their dad is a good sport about all this. He knows the kids love him immensely.

I don’t know if the kids gravitate towards me because of the mother/child bond OR because of the irregular hours I work. They never know when I will be available to kiss them good morning or tuck them in at night. Their dad always had more regular hours.

Anyway, no complaints.  I am very lucky. 

Many years ago,  my husband and I and our two boys were trying to fly home on standby. (Our daughter was just a figment of our imagination). The passenger agents called our name but said she only had 2 seats available and did we want to take them? We only needed 3 seats as our youngest was 18 months and would have been lap held. I asked if I could sit in the flight deck and she replied with an affirmative. My husband and I discussed the different options.  Basically,  we could pass on the seats and wait half the day in the airport for the next flight.  Or, I could sit in the flight deck while my sweetie sat with our 3 year old and a laptop held 18 month old for a five hour flight. It was a no-brainer. Ha ha.

We decided to go for it and boarded the aircraft. There were some tears as I headed left towards the cockpit and the kids and husband went right towards their seats. My husband gave me a brave smile and off they went.

I strapped myself into the jumpseat and waited for take-off. Once airborne,  I explained to the pilots that my husband and young sons were stuck in the back, while I got to have adult conversation.  We all had a good chuckle. All of a sudden,  I had a drink and a newspaper in my hands. It was a very relaxing and carefree flight…one I wouldn’t have had in the back of the aircraft with two little boys vying for my attention. It was a shame about being separated…but that is the sacrifice I made for my family that day. You’re welcome.



{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!



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 12, 2013}   I swear, it’s true.

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

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

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

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

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

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



I had this guy on my flight who was quiet and non-descript. He sat in his aisle seat for 5 hours and didn’t say or do much.  Towards the end of the flight, the young woman sitting next to him, approached us to tell us that she thinks the guy she was sitting next to peed all over his seat and it smelled terrible.  I looked at the passenger and he was distractedly looking out the window. Poor guy! Maybe he was embarrassed.  

We relocated the young woman to another empty seat and I made a mental note to have the seat cover changed when we landed. I headed back to business class to start preparing the cabin for landing. No sooner did I get there, the interphone rings and the flight attendant shouts: He’s pissing all over the crew seats and my lunch bag and jacket are all wet!

I hurried once again to the back of the airplane to the animated flight attendants. They explained that the passenger got up and was waiting in line for the toilets. Then he wandered over to the crew seats, unzipped his fly and proceeded to pee all over the seats and carpet. I went to confront this guy and explain to him that this was unacceptable, but he was pretended to be asleep.

I explained the situation to the captain and we both agreed that we were so close to landing that it was pointless to confront the guy in case he became aggressive. We planned to have the police meet the flight on arrival.

We landed 20 minutes later and I made an announcement to the passengers to stay seated. The police came onto the aircraft and escorted the pisser off first. Most passengers had no idea what had happened up until that point.

The police questioned him and searched his bag and found an empty mickey of Jack Daniels. Unbeknownst to us, he was sneaking drinks throughout the flight.

The guy was charged with vandalism and required to pay for the cleaning of the seats and was denied boarding on his next flight.

How do you like them apples?



et cetera