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.







{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. 

{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!

I am always hearing about flight attendants leaving personal items behind in hotel rooms.  Generally,  we are not in hotel rooms for very long.  Sometimes, we are there just long enough to sleep. Other times,  we have time to sight see or go out to dinner.

When it is time to check out of our room,  we have to pack quickly, as the shuttle bus or taxi is picking up the entire crew at a specific time and we can’t be late.

Ideally, it’s best to pack the night before, but sometimes it is not to be.  I am either too tired or lazy. But, I have never left behind anything at checkout.  Not a sock nor a lipstick.  Everything gets packed away. 

This how I do it. When, I am getting ready in the morning,  I work from the area furthest away from my hotel door and keep moving my things with me as I move about. For example,  when I wake up, I take my cell phone and charger and whatever else is on my night table with me and put it in another pile of my stuff that is that much closer to the door. 

Then, after my shower,  as I am getting dressed, I pack things and again, keep inching my belongings closer to the door. So, when I go to a new area in my room, I never have to look back, because I know I took everything with me. 

It works every time. Do you need to borrow my cell phone charger again?

I was on a layover, sitting at the desk in my room, looking for some writing paper. Usually there are a few sheets with the hotel’s logo lying around. I was looking through all the hotel binders. There has to be paper somewhere. Right?

I flipped to the last page of the hotel information binder and lo and behold, I found something. I did not find any writing paper but I DID find a sticker with a scantily clad woman on it that had Lesbian Angels written in big letters. Also written on it was: 24 hours, hotel visits available. Wow! That was unexpected! I wonder how long that sticker advertisement went unnoticed in a reputable hotel information book!

How many women (or men?) go to a hotels, order room service and then think: what should I do now? Rent a movie or dial 1-800-lesbian. If they chose the latter, it certainly would take the ‘layover’ to a new level!

So, what did I do with my lucky find? What do you think? I took the lesbian sticker off the hotel book and brought it to my flight the next day. I showed it to the flight attendants and pilots. I got lots of laughs and a few phone numbers…

{January 24, 2013}   Oh what a life!

Being a flight attendant and a mum is not that hard to juggle. People who don’t know much about our profession think that we are never home and it must be hard always being away from  the kids. Yes, we might miss some events, like a school play or our kid’s soccer game. But, at the end of the day, I am home more than a nine to fiver mum. Instead of seeing my children for a few hours every day, I see them for an extended period of time when I am on days off. I don’t have to rush home and cook dinner at 5 pm. I get to shop for my groceries on a Tuesday afternoon. I even get a few hours to myself in our home every now and then when the kids are in school and I have a day off. I also get to volunteer at their school and go on school trips. Life is good!

Nope, I wouldn’t trade my job for any other job. I still love flying and traveling.  I STILL think after all these years that it is exciting!  Every day I go to work, I never know what to expect.  It could be a thunderstorm and a red alert that shuts down the airport. Or it could be a mechanical problem on the airplane and an unexpected layover in a warm destination. We get to meet all sorts of people from many different countries and backgrounds.  Every day is an adventure. 

I go to work with a positive attitude and ready to take on whatever comes my way. When I completed my initial flight attendant training 15 years ago, I remember my instructor telling us that if we wanted to be flight attendants,  we need to accept that with our crazy work schedule that we must be prepared for anything.  Even, be prepared to be the only person that does not show up at our own dinner party. 

I have missed a few dinner parties over the years. But, no worries! There is always the next one.

{January 18, 2013}   Good morning, Captain Jerk

I was on a short layover in the States and organized my wake-up call before I went to bed. The next morning,  I woke up to the phone ringing.  But,instead of informing me that it was time to wake up, I was told that my flight crew was downstairs waiting for the airport shuttle and was I on my way downstairs. Well, no, I wasn’t.  Thanks for asking. I never received my wake up call! I am still in my jammies! I informed him that the crew should go to the airport without me and I will meet them there. I had 30 minutes to get ready before the next shuttle bus. As flight crew, we have to be at the airport 1 hour before the flight, so, I still had some wiggle room and should stop be okay with time. I know I probably should have a backup alarm just in case, but you would  also think that a reputable hotel shouldn’t mess up something as important as one’s wake up call.

So, off I went to the airport 30 minutes late. Said hi to the flight attendants and introduced myself to the captain. Despite not being late on purpose, he was a real jerk…totally giving me attitude and wasn’t very nice. Well..isn’t my day just getting better and better! 

Quickly escaped the cockpit (no pun intended) and proceed to board the aircraft.  All the while fuming.  You better not ask me for coffee, Captain Jerk. You might just get a little unpleasant surprise in it this morning. 

(no actually pilot was harmed in the making of this blog)

et cetera