Archive for January, 2010

A Quick Break

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on 26 January, 2010 by Thomas

It’s 7:30 in the morning on day four of a four-day trip. I’ve finished my beverage service, and 29 people are staring at the headrest in front of them, the back of their eyelids, or out the window at the quickly rising sun as we zoom east towards Charlotte. Row 13 was open a few minutes ago, but now I’m sitting here staring out the window, joining my passengers who have nothing else to do either. The sun is on the other side of the plane, and although I don’t have the good fortune of watching it paint the sky I’m easily mesmerized by these clouds; I never tire of looking at them. I take this brief moment to relax because I know the next five legs and 12 hours are going to leave me spent with little opportunity to sit and hide from the ever-watchful eye of the traveling public.

As I stare out the window into the nothingness that is 34,000 feet I see some clouds on the horizon. To me they look remarkably like snow-capped mountains. Though they are obviously clouds and nothing else, they still have the ragged edges, peaks, and valleys that mountains would have. It is at this point that I start to envy my two other crew members; they get to sit up front and chase sunrises and sunsets and see things that I can only see in my mind’s eye most of the time. What a job they have!

I’m quickly brought back to reality and out of my daydream by the ding-dong that is the In-Range Call from the captain. He wants to know what I need when we arrive in Charlotte. Having lost myself in wonder it takes me a second to remember the passenger who boarded with a wheelchair; I guess we’ll need one of those when we land. I go back to work collecting from traytables the trash left there by my slumbering passengers; I find myself envious of their freedom to sleep, too. Because I was lazy and didn’t get my uniform ready the night before I had to wake up at 4:30. Running on little sleep I think about the long day I have ahead of me and am grateful for the break I just had, even if it was for just a few minutes.

Don’t Sit There

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on 22 January, 2010 by Thomas

So I’m finally working again.  I feel like it’s been forever since I’ve flown.  I originally had Hot Reserve this morning (6th time this month), but thankfully someone called in sick the night before and I was the only one who could work the flight on time.  Originally I was a little upset when I saw I had a 4-day trip put on my schedule (why?  I need the work), but then I saw I was working with my favorite captain.  Without sounding like I have a crush on him, let me just that he’s a man’s man and a lot of fun to fly with.

Anyway, somewhere along the way 5D’s seatback breaks.  As an empty seat it looks normal, but put a body in it and the seatback just reclines.  It doesn’t recline any more than normal; it just reclines without pressing the button.  Sit up and the seat pops back up on its own.  This is a safety issue for the people in 6D & F since it can impede their egress into the aisle during an evacuation.  So I tell the captain, and he calls maintenance who responds by saying that they are really busy fixing a bunch of planes for another regional airline and can’t spend five minutes to tighten a seatback (it literally takes less than two minutes to fix; I’ve seen it done).  Instead, we defer the seats and make it so no one can sit in them . . . or so we think.

We flip the seat cushions upside and thread the seatbelts through the straps (the cushions are an approved flotation device after all) and buckle it in.  Unfortunately, we don’t have the massive stickers that say “DO NOT OCCUPY,” but you’d think that an upside down seat cushion that you have to unbuckle would send up a red flag to a passenger.  Yeah, you’d think that, but you’d be wrong as hell.  After 38 people board my plane, I walk down the aisle closing overhead bins and looking at bags, and what do I see?  That’s right.  Two people sitting in 6D and 6F.  I tell them the seats are out of commission and explain why, and the husband says (in a friendly manner), “Well, we put them back in commission.”  I politely ask them to move and they oblige, but as they sit down, the guy across the aisle in 6C starts to move his jacket over to the seat so he can have them to himself!  What is wrong with these people?!  Seriously, if I saw that my seat had an upside down seat cushion buckled down, I’d wait and ask someone in charge what the the scoop was.  These people are ridiculous.

Before the passengers boarded the captain made a joke about people still sitting there, not realizing they actually would.  I knew someone would because I’ve had people do it before.  People are idiots; God love ’em.

Hot Reserve

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on 13 January, 2010 by Thomas

As you may or may not have noticed I am posting less and less these days.  When I started this wee little blog I was a fancy lineholder meaning I was working regularly and had more chances for more stories and inspiration.  Well now I’m back on reserve, and I expect it to stay that way for the foreseeable future (unfortunately, I don’t qualify for any government assistance programs).  This particular post is more a means to vent some frustration than anything else.

Like I said in the above paragraph, I’m back on reserve.  Reserve is not a fun way to live.  The main reason I don’t like reserve is I don’t make a whole helluva lot of money.  My airline guarantees me 72 hours of pay whether I fly that much or not; most months I do not break guarantee.  While it’s great to know I will get something every month, it’s not nearly enough (what can I say, I have expensive tastes).

Another reason I so disdain reserve is that I must maintain daily contact with Crew Scheduling.  Some of the schedulers are nice people who are simply doing their job, and that job can sometimes piss off the crew members.  However, some of the schedulers are also mean, spiteful people who condescend to crew members and talk to them like children and jerk us around with our schedules just because they can.

I also hate reserve because I never get late reserve times like 8:00am or 10:00am.  If I’m assigned those times then I don’t have to worry about Hot Reserve.  It has come to my realization that scheduling hates my guts.  Why, I do not know.  Every single time I start a new block of reserve days after a day off I am given 5:00am Hot Reserve, which means the rest of my reserve days will start at 5:00am (a double edged sword to be sure).  For Hot Reserve I must wake up well before the sun is up so I can get dressed in my snazzy uniform and be at the airport where I spend the  next ten hours of my day dying on the inside ready to cover any last minute call offs.  For the rest of my days spent on call I am given 5:00am home reserve, which theoretically allows me to sleep.  Most of the time I can sleep through a large portion of my reserve period (it lasts until 7:00pm) – that is unless scheduling calls me at 5:00 to come in as a replacement flight attendant on hot reserve.  This doesn’t happen often, but it did happen recently.

After having Hot Reserve the previous day I am rudely awakened by the most skin-crawlingly awful ring tone and asked to come in again because the original hot reserve flight attendant was used.  Thankfully, the voice on the other end of the phone belongs to someone I like and I just roll with it.  That was the third time on Hot Reserve this month; tomorrow is the fourth.  I imagine I’ll get up to six days before the month is over.  This is getting old.  FML.

Slam! Click!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on 4 January, 2010 by Thomas

Most jobs have their own vocabulary that those on the outside won’t really understand even though the individual words by themselves are oftentimes easy to define.  The airline industry is no different.  Take “slam-click” as an example.  Everyone knows what slam and click mean by themselves, but put together they take on a completely different meaning.  To slam-click is to go into your hotel room and never come out until it’s time to take the van back to the airport; it gets its name from the sound of the door slamming shut and the clicking of the security latch over the door.

If you’ve got a short overnight then you have to slam-click and no one thinks a thing about it.  A lot variables must be taken into account when trying to decide whether to slam-click.  For example: Did I recently get paid?  Is the crew cool?  Might we get into shenanigans by going out?  Do I have to wake up early?  If you’re on reserve and working with a fun crew then slam-clicking is a bad idea.  The next time you fly it might be with a really boring crew who force you to slam-click by slam-clicking themselves, so you must take advantage of your good crews while you can.  Even if you’re short on money you should try your best to go out and have fun.

On a recent trip to BHM I had the pleasure of working with a fun crew (well, 75% fun anyway, including myself).  I was running short on money and not feeling like taking my aforementioned advice on fun crews so I asked the first officer if he and the captain were going to make me feel bad for slam-clicking.  He said no, but then a few minutes later the captain mentioned going out to this certain restaurant, that I had actually been craving lately.  He mentioned barbecue and beer and that was that; I had to go out.  You see, this place, only a few blocks from the hotel, serves up some savory BBQ and tasty brews, and I wasn’t going to miss out on this opportunity to have some fun.  We asked the other flight attendant if she wanted to join us, but she preferred to stay in and watch some DVDs like a square.  So . . . Guys’ night out!  Now we can do man doings and say man sayings without fear of reprisal.

After being manly and saying horrible things about (probably) wonderful people we arrived back to the hotel and remembered it was “haunted” and that our other crew member was afraid of ghosts.  We enlisted the help of the nice front desk lady to play a little prank on the slam-clicking flight attendant.  After making a key for me to gain entry to her sleeping quarters we had her call up to the room to tell the slam-clicker that she had forgotten to sign a new no-smoking policy.  When she finally went downstairs to sign it, I slipped in her room, moved some furniture around, and left a hand-written note (written with my left hand) on her bed.  The note called her by her full name (which she hates) and thanked her for staying at the hotel again.  Oh, and we also changed her 6am wakeup call to a 4am wakeup.  Unfortunately, after getting back to her room she did not coming running and screaming down the hall.  I guess she was smarter than we gave her credit for.  Though it didn’t have the effect we desired, we still had a fun time plotting it.

And that is why you don’t slam-click if you can avoid it.