Friday, December 12, 2008

Another day in the life of

I open my eyes to the dulcet tones of my alarm going off at 2.30am on a Sunday morning.
I reluctantly drag my sorry ass out of bed and shuffle zombie like towards the kitchen, to make myself a cup of coffee. 2 spoons of coffee this morning,
I think.
The distant sounds of Saturday night revellers echo throughout the streets outside my window. Lucky Bastards.
I struggle to make myself Vegemite toast, wondering why the knife is rebelliously refusing to spread the butter smoothly today.

Sitting on the couch, I take the first sip of coffee, feeling it's warmth slowly spread throughout my body like a gentle energising wave. It's a mild improvement.
I draw back on my first cigarette, it's comfort reminiscent of my recently deserted bed.
A quick glance at the clock tells me I have an hour to get ready. Unable to muster even the minutest amount of panic over the short time frame to pack and groom, I have one more cigarette and lurch towards the bathroom.

I stare at the haggard face reflected in the mirror, and I can't help but wonder, is this really the glamorous life or am i too, contributing to the lie that all Flight Attendants perpetuate?

The soft droplets of water of the shower slowly wash away the shroud of sleep, even as my mind conjures all kinds of excuses not to go into work today. Sighing, I resign myself to the fact I have no choice but to go. I briefly muse at the fact that when I finish work today, I'll be half way around the world.

Bags packed, I call the taxi at 3.45am.
As I leave through the front door, I bump into my neighbours coming home. We smile at each other. They at me, with a sympathetic pity, and me at them, with an envy, knowing they are about to go to a nice warm bed, and I'm beginning what will be a 24 hour no sleep day.
The blast of cold hitting my face seems distant, as though its not really happening to me. Perhaps after all I'm dreaming, still in bed. Chance would be a fine thing!

4am. Standing at the bus station waiting for my bus to Gatwick Airport. The streets are filled with drunken party goers looking fr the next venue, or the nearest kebab shop. sounds of fun and merriment surround me tauntingly. What wouldn't I give to be throwing off the uniform and joining the party, rather than be flying to Barbados. Its then that it hits me. Have I become so inured and cynical towards my job already? With all these exotic destinations I go to, I cant help but wonder, Is heaven overrated?

I can hear the voices incredulously chiding me. Am I mad not to want a night in tropical Barbados, and a chance to defrost from the bitter cold of winter? Seriously, the thought of spending 9 hours in a crowded Boeing 747 is not exciting at this hour of the morning.

4.30am. all hopes of sleeping on the bus are gone, as my energy drink kicks in, leaving me hanging in the null space somewhere between the fully waking world and a dozing state. So i get out my Ipod. Too early for club music, but i scan for something uplifting. My eyes settle on Bananarama. I select it, even though every fibre of my being screams in protest against the stereotype this brands me as. Somehow the mindnumbing lyrics and upbeat tempo seems to lift my spirits, just in time for the bus to pull into gatwick.

I trudge up the aisle...the door to the outside world drawing ever closer. Going live in 5...4...3... ... ... I step onto the airport world that is my stage, smiling and looking happy and confident. Holding within, all the frustrations of inept and inconsiderate travellers that meander in front of me, aimlessly wandering with luggage carts overflowing, to cut in front, to stop in the middle of the path, without nary a care who is behind them, as i continue to serenely keep a placid, genial visage.

Finally i make it to the crew room, where a bunch of crew sit awaiting their briefing call. all sitting there, groomed and made up. Tonnes of foundation and smiles covering the fact they are all just as knackered and longing for a warm bed as I am. But we keep on smiling, even if we're out of bloody mary mix.

Who's going to Barbados, the flight manager calls from the doorway of the briefing room. In response, 16 strangers converge on the small briefing room. as i sit there, looking around at those that will now be my new temporary best friends over the next 3 days, i search for anyone I might have flown with before. Nope. I conduct a secondary scan, wondering who I am going to get along with, who is going to annoy me, and wonder, who i will be working closely with on a cart, or sharing a galley with. Funnily enough, you can never tell, and often you come back from a trip surprised at the ones you really gelled with.

Time to commence the briefing. the flight manager is talking. Whatever is being said is being lost in the world of nerves that comes before the almighty safety question. That one question that if answered correctly means youre going, and if answered incorrectly could mean being offloaed from the flight and sent back to training. UGH!
Time to get the brain in working order and up to full speed. It complains all the way and i can almost hear the gears screeching in protest. Suddenly my name is called. Shit! What was the question? My mind races to recover the last few seconds and I somehow manage to answer the question that was asked. It wasnt that I didnt know the answer, it was more that I almost missed the question.

Question time over, I can relax, and take in all that is being said by the service supervisors for the flight, and before we know it, we are shuffling out the door, grabbing cases and headed for security.
Do we really need to take our shoes off? I moan to myself. The floor is freezing. We grin and bear it, as my besocked and tighted colleagues pass one by one through the scanner.
Sitting on the airside bus that takes us to the aircraft, we all commence our preflight ritual. Out come the mobile phones, sending that last, I love you text, in the unlikely event of an emergency. I wonder if other airlines crew have this ritual too.

Before I know it, we are onboard the massive 747 and running around doing our checks and prepping the cabin. All too soon, passengers are boarding, and the everlast smiles are spread across our faces, as we prepare to hurtle ourselves into the wide blue yonder. Sigh, here we go again.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

talk about putting it out there

on my last trip i had just about everything i love happen.
passengers used my name, i had passengers shake my hand on getting off, stating it was the best flight they have had service wise, i even had someone come into the galley while i was eating ad place an order, but only when i was finished eating... WOW. i think theres a lot to be said for positive and wishful thinking.

and Tim, i reckon you would be a fun passenger.

Friday, December 05, 2008

things we love

well, after my rant over my pet hates in the job, to balance it out.. here's things that really make my day... or things you can do to get on the good side of a flight attendant.

1. have your boarding pass ready when you get to the door, and show it to us.. we do need to see it, and kicking up a fuss only delays things. i love it when a passenger gets on, ready, and has a happy face..i usually remember the ones who have something nice to say and store that away for later.

2. i love it when a passenger takes time to read my name badge and refer to me by name. makes me fell like a human being, and ill usually go out of my way to give them a great service.

3. whilst we do get marked on our performance on each flight, nothing makes my day more, than having a passenger comment to me towards the end of the flight, telling me they have loved my service or that i have done a great job. it really energises me for my next flight, and lets me know what im doing right. im on top of the world when i have a passenger specifically thank me for a wonderful flight.

4. i love it when passengers are honest. if they need something and come and ask really nicely... you actually feel like doing all you can to assist. we have all seen the waterworks before, and some people think it gets them what they doesnt...i actually go that extra mile for people who have been totally upfront and honest and nice about it.

5. i love it when a customer comes into the galley, and sees that im eating and actually asks for something, but only when im finished. i think most people forget we are human too. they have all been fed and given drinks... and when someone comes in, during the 5 mins i actually have to eat something, and demands a drink.. and expects you to drop everything right then... of course we do anyway but do they not realise we are often working on ur feet, for over 9 hours, without a break, and they want to interrupt that 5 mins we actually do get. i tell you what... i go 110 percent further for anyone that wud come in and apologise for interrupting my meal, and ask that when i finish if i could bring them what they need. actually if someone did that i woudl probably stop eating anyway, but if not.. i can bet they would certainly get more than they originally asked for, and would be treated like royalty for the rest of the flight.

6. having said point 5, i do really love it when someone sitting on an aisl seat actually gets up and comes to us for something rather then ringing the call bell. sometimes its so ice to have a chat to someone other than the crew, whilst youre getting what they ask for.. and sometime they end up getting something extra whilst they are there (ok this goes for me i cant speak for the rest of the crew)

7. i love it when people actually say please and thank you. you wud be surprised how many people forget their manners on a plane and bark ordered or dont even say thank you when you give them something. so it really makes my day when i have someone be really polite to me. they are the ones who stand out amongst the 300 passengers, and the ones who get the extras.

8. i love it when kids do something really cute on board (as opposed to being a brat)

9. i do love it when people actually appreciate what we do. and realise we are not sky fact, the whole food thing and drink thing is just a complimentary add on and gives us and you something to do for 9+ hours. the primary reason we are on board is for the safety thing. in case anything goes wrong, or someone gets sick. the reason you always see us serving food is that theres so many passengers it takes so long to do. i really get a kick out of someone who actually understands that, and i tell you what, they really do get all the extras.

10. ok, honesty time.. I F'ing love it when i walk thru the terminal in my uniform, i love going to work every day (i really do), i love walking onto the plane (even though they smell....all planes do, especially boeings...they have a particular scent to them, that you get so used to) i love arming doors and crosschecking, i love doing safety demos, i love the thrill of take off, i love that double ding for landing, i love getting to play in the galley , i love being able to play with all the equiptment, and i love being able to do something special for my customers. im the luckiest guy in the world. i actually getting to do what i have always dreamed of doing.
ive done the high money thing, ive done computer software analysis, ive done being a trainer, ive done sftware helpdesk, ive done all kinds of jobs. but nothing, nothing can compare to what i do now.
its funny, when you work in a plane, most of the time your not actually conscious of where you actually are...youre too busy focussed on what you are doing to think about the fact youre 37,000 feet in the air or where in the world youre over...but on that odd occaision you happen to glance out of the window...nothing beats some of the spectacular views that you get.

well, thats my balancing out all the whinges about what pisses me off in the job..and believe me the pros far outweigh the cons.