Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ah, the memories

Although I really should be turning my attention to other tasks, I couldn't help it. A former flight attendant classmate of mine has found my blog. I'm not a big promoter -- although a very select few may beg to differ -- so I'm honored that she sought me out and added me to her blog roll.

The number of classmates still working as flight attendants are dwindling, but I'd like to highlight blogs from two of the nicest women I had the pleasure to work with. They were nice in that I-value-you-as-a-person-and-will-go-to-the-ends-of-the-earth-but-I'm-also-damn-good-at-my-job-and-I-can't-let-you-do/have-that-right-now kind of way. Susan's Toes in the Sky blog and Kelly's Who Am I to Fly the Sky blog are bursting with flight attendant humor and wisdom.

Here's to you, ladies. I have many fond memories of early morning studying, Bennigans debriefing (may they rest) and stern discussions from Marco about Mr. January. Thanks for the memories, safe flying and happy blogging.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

GQ Man on the RTD Bus

An RTD bus friend and I were talking about our most mindless jobs today and he springs this one on me.

"Well, I guess my most brainless job had to be when I was a male model in college," he said after half a second of reflection.

"For art classes?" I asked, trying to imagine my near-retirement, non-profit administering friend as a nude model for a forms class.

"No, it was more runway stuff for men's clothing," he explained as we disembarked.

Snapping open cans of Coke and purveying beverages with a cocktail napkin tucked neatly beneath while maintaining corporeal balance at 38,000 feet in a metal tube pressurized to 9,000 feet can't hold a candle to that occupation. Admittedly, both are glamour-filled, but I didn't get nearly the number of cat calls as my friend did.

"My friends took to calling me GQ because I would get free clothes from my modeling gigs," he said with a squint of a grin on his face.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bus Mates

Now that I no longer fly the friendly skies, I've taken to riding the regional bus an hour and a half one way to work in an effort to save the planet (and my budget). I've gone back to riding on the same route at the same time, so many of the people I got to know while I was commuting prior to my flight attendant gig were there to greet me on my first day back on the bus.

Not only was it great to see familiar faces and catch up with each other on the past year of our lives, but this impressed upon me that even though my daily travels no longer involve the glamour of the airline world on a daily basis, I will still be traveling among the masses, witnessing and being drawn into other people's lives. The fodder will not falter!

Speaking of about the guy from up in the hills who's been living completely off the grid for over 25 years because the utility companies wanted to charge him thousands of dollars to bring service lines out to his property? "I don't even know what a utility bill looks like these days," he exclaimed to me.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Good Bye Friendly Skies

Last week marked the end of my career flying the friendly skies. I thought I would give myself a week to mull over some of the important lessons I'll take with me from my tenure as a flight attendant so I could come up with a compelling list. While I'm still grasping for anything profound, here are a few fun observations:

*Please and thank you, heck, even a smile go a long way towards getting your own way.
*People travel for a variety of reasons, handle the confusion and congestion of airports differently, and for the most part react warmly to a simple greeting and smile.
*A startling number of people are willing to walk into the lavatories bare foot.
*Screaming infants and/or toddlers with sticky fingers are usually seated next to business men pecking away on their laptops (I think gate agents secretly arrange it that way).
*Even though (most) people pack their own bags, load them into the trunk of their cars, pull them back out and wheel them through the airport all by themselves, there will inevitably be a few passengers who feign the inability to stow their own luggage once aboard the aircraft.

And why focus on solely on the passengers?

*Yes, Botox parties are hosted and attended by flight attendants.
*You would think that schlepping luggage from one city to the next as part of you job requirement would encourage some of the most super-efficient packing techniques, but sadly this is not the case -- many flight attendant injuries are personal luggage-imposed.
*If you're looking for a pair of stylish, yet comfortable black heels, ask a flight attendant where she got hers.
*And finally, have crew badge, get discount.

Shameless Self-Promotion

Here's a bit of shameless self-promotion, but travel related, nonetheless. The travel website I freelance for,, is running a contest and rewarding the five contributors with the most hits on their articles. (The prize isn't specified and could be a used toilet brush for all I know, but it would be exciting to win).

So please, if you are infected by the travel bug at all, click on my contributor page link and then click on each of the articles. Feel free to leave comments. And of course, if you have any suggestions for more perfect days in Colorado, by all means, make them known!

Happy clicking!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

How Do You Like That?

I spent a wonderful long weekend in New York City with my aunt and brother. We laughed, we dined, we drank, we bonded. This was a much needed respite from my flying schedule. The month of June was particularly taxing -- lots of flight hours, long trips, many nights away from home, and the beginning of the summer vacation season.

As I'm walking up to our front door, I notice a priority mail envelop tucked under the welcome mat. My pulse does a little jig as I notice the return address is from one of the PR firms I had sent my resume to.

Irony? Coincidence? Call it what you will, but the very PR firm I was trying to get in with also represents my airline. And wouldn't you know it? The envelop contains not the brilliant job offer my delusion of grandeur would lead me to believe, but notice that in two months, I will be laid off from my current position.

Now that's a fine welcome home, thanks for your hard work! Ah well, my life of leisure is over. Perhaps I'll find a better outlet for my problem solving skills sooner than later. I mean really, you've seen one duplicate seat assignment, you've seen them all.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Quick Overview

Just because it's been over a month since my last post doesn't mean I've run out of material. Here's the last month rolled into a few observations...

Three weeks ago -- Something's not right if you're opening your bottle of Two Buck Chuck (1.99 from the Orange County Trader Joe's for the record) with a cork screw that cost 5.99.

Two weeks ago -- Something's not right if you look like Larry the Cable Guy, except you're sporting a rocking mullet instead of a shiny pate, you're thirty years old, traveling with your older brother, and he's outfitted as your identical twin. Perhaps, coming from Las Vegas, you were out there for a bad plaid convention.

One week ago -- Something's not right when someone who is constantly being followed by a dark cloud of doom is able to attract a partner and procreate with them. Perhaps it's the weather in Detroit, but there was no need to complain about the state of the lavatory sink after you had already cleaned it or snap in my face, "I hope I don't miss my connection," as you were exiting the plane even though we had arrived ten minutes early.

This morning (if you can call this side of the sunrise morning) -- Something's not right if you roll over to see that the digital readout says 3:45 and think, "Sweet! I still have fifteen minutes to sleep!"

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Bottle Warmers and Athletes Foot

Yes, believe it or not, on the same flight. Granted, the destination was L.A. so take that for what it's worth.

I am always shocked when people are willing to remove their footwear and stroll around the airplane barefoot, no socks, no stocking, no anything. I was beyond words when a fairly put together woman removed her shoes to reveal bare feet and proceed to walk towards the back lavatory. The worst part was not that she was willing to expose naked skin to God only knows what forms of nastiness are spawning on the lav floor, but that she herself was spawning some form of fungus between her toes...evidenced by the chalky white dusting covering on and around her pretty pink toenails. Frankly, there is no hue of polish that will cover up, disguise, or otherwise distract the eyes away from the anti fungal dust.

To top it off, while fungus foot lady is in the bathroom, a lovely, young dad walks back, bottle in hand. I know what's coming, I've done it a dozen times before. I prepared the ever so snazzy "hot water bath" to warm the baby's bottle. (Don't be fooled, this consists of pouring hot water into a plastic drinking cup and dunking the bottle in it until it reaches the desired temperature). The funny part is that as I'm submerging baby's bottle into its bath, Dad looks at me quizzically and asks in a befuddled voice, "You mean you don't have a bottle warmer on the plane?" Now I don't know what airline he's racked up his frequent flier miles on, but I'd sure like to try them out if they come with everything...including a bottle warmer. Except the bottles I prefer require an ice bucket, but I'm sure they'd have that too.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hold the Bucket!

A slight departure from air travel, but a daily travel nonetheless. Yesterday was my first driving range experience. My dear husband and I split a large bucket of golf balls at Buffalo Run Golf Course. I got the privilege of pushing the token into the machine to release the practice balls. Lesson number 1: Hold the ball bucket when collecting the balls from the machine. No One wants to have to dodge those tiny terrors before even making it to the practice pitch. I've heard of water hazards, but these tripping hazards add a whole other element to the game.

Luckily, thanks to my catlike reflexes, I saved the bucket just before it tipped over. The whole experience did highlight why the ball machine is located off the beaten path -- away from all turf -- practice or otherwise.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Blankets and Better Living Through Chemistry

On a flight back from San Diego this afternoon a frazzled mom brought her crying two year old to the back galley. I asked if she needed anything, but the poor girl was just tired. After being on vacation for 10 days and facing a connecting flight to get all the way to Milwaukee, you can't blame the poor girl.

"Do you have any tips?" the mom asked me with a look that was half desperation and half exasperation.

I was hesitant to suggest it, but, "Some people give them a tiny dose of Benadryl." When she didn't blanch I was emboldened to continue, "Or if you have a favorite blanket, sometimes that's comforting."

Apparently she didn't have any kiddie drugs in her arsenal, and as much as I'm tempted to, I am definitely not allowed to dispense anything of that sort. She did go back to her seat and pull out a stuffed lamb and fuzzy pink blanket and sure enough, within a few minutes her daughter was sound asleep, reclined in her lap.

"Huh, who knew?" I thought. As a jet-set, childless, 20-something, I had just proffered sage advice. It's not often I am the recipient of such looks of glowing gratitude from a passenger, but it certainly does a lot to brighten the day.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Madame Booger

Working a flight back from Milwaukee last week I had the pleasure to chat with a lady who ran her own day care. (Why she immediately offered this information is beyond me.) It was her lucky day. We weren't completely full so she was able to move into the bulkhead row and enjoy the luxurious foot room all to herself.

She proceeded to explain that on her last flight, she was stuck in a row behind someone who pushed his seat all the way back leaving her trapped and feeling extremely claustrophobic. "I just kept coughing on him."

"That should teach him a lesson," I said. "Get him sick as punishment for causing your discomfort."

"I know," she continued. "I have a day care and I've seen at least seen different kinds of boogers. There's orange ones, and yellow-greenish runny ones..."

At this point I was thanking the flying lady gods that she trailed off before she managed to run down her entire list of booger characteristics. Ironically enough, for someone so sensitive to the physical properties and powers of boogers, she was continuously blowing her nose and placing the used tissue, ever so daintily, into the pocket that holds the safety card and entertainment guide.

Another request to all airline patrons...Please do not place your "used service items" in these pockets. They are not trash receptacles! Someone, whose snot is not on those tissues, inevitably will have to reach their hand blindly into that pocket to retrieve all the nastiness that people leave behind. No matter what your boogers look like, they all belong in the same place...the trash bin.

Thank you. I'll get off my booger-free soap box.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Rest of the Story

I remember listening to NPR with my mom in the car on the weekends and always looking forward to Paul Harvey's The Rest of the Story. On a recent trip back from Seattle, it was taking forever to close the cockpit door. Once we were finally under way and the other flight attendant came to the back to help with the drink service she told me the reason we were delayed was because we had to wait for a baby Orca Whale to be loaded underneath and have its oxygen system installed.

"Really? Where is it going?" Logically, anyone with an ounce of curiosity would have asked.

"Oh, I don't know. The captain didn't say." Was the only response I got. This is a perfect example of why it's nice to have someone filling you in on The Rest of the Story.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Vestiges of a Full Moon

As seems to be the pattern, I began this month with a high hour, multiple day trip that included layovers in Washington, D.C. and Seattle. While I had a great layover in D.C., walking up and down the mall in sunny, 60 degree weather, it was the passengers that left their mark this time.

From D.C. to Denver there was a very pregnant mother and her four year old daughter traveling with us. From the beginning, they were high maintenance, to put a diplomatic spin on things. "I want a blanket and a pillow." "I want this whole row for my daughter and myself. I'm pregnant and have to keep my feet up." "I need two ginger ales and a tea with three sugars." All of these directives were squeezed in between the timeouts she took from yelling at her daughter who didn't seem to be doing anything but sitting in her seat, watching TV, and making the occasional comment about the cartoon she was watching. While I'll admit it may have been a tiny bit unprofessional, we took to calling this mother our princess.

Ironically, our princess and her daughter were also on the flight from Denver to Seattle. Talk about a long travel day. Most OB/GYN's will recommend against women flying past their 36th week of pregnancy. Our princess' midsection was so distended, I was worried we might be celebrating a new life at 38,000 feet. Thankfully, this did not happen on either leg of our trip, but her pronouncements and demands did not die down either. We all breathed a sigh of relief when she fell asleep for most of the descent into Seattle.

On our flight from Los Angeles to Denver we had a very tall passenger who made his impression through his vestments. We took to calling him our Dr. Seuss passenger. He boarded wearing a brown velour track suit with a coordinating felt Cat and the Hat style hat. Rather than the traditional red and white stripes, however, this hat had leopard spots. The passenger unassumingly sported this accessory throughout the flight, in spite of the fact that between the length of his torso and the high profile of his hat, it nearly scraped the ceiling of the cabin, making a slightly slouchy posture necessary when seated.

Maybe it was the full moon, or the leap day thrown in, but this trip seemed to have no shortage of interesting characters. Pet names are one way to cope, but at the end of the flight, or even those rare chances when we have the back galley to ourselves, all we can do is chuckle about phenomena so strange all that can be done is blame them on the lunar cycle.

Friday, February 1, 2008

First Officers' Club

Flying has begun to slow down again after the holidays, which is a nice respite but does not provide much fodder for travel tales. Over the last few trips I've been on though, it has seemed like the first officers were the ones providing the most material for interesting character sketches.

Two weeks after New Years, for example, I was on a trip to D.C. with a first officer called Dusty. He's the type that is so cute you'd want to make a Ken doll out of him, but one sideways look told you he could do some serious damage to your face with one hand tied behind his back given the right motivation. The best part about him was instead of bolting out the cockpit door in an attempt to beat the passengers out of the airport, he would thank each passenger as they exited and then...wait for it...he would walk to the back of the plane and pull down each of the flight attendants' bags for them. Anytime a pilot walks past, oh say, the emergency exit row of the cabin, my little "this is unusual" hairs go up on the back of my neck. Now I purposely pack light to save my limbs and back the strain of lugging my suitcase so I'm more than capable of hefting it in and out of the storage bins, but thank you Dusty. That simple act earned you a spot on my all time favorite to fly with list.

Next comes the female first officer who started out as a flight attendant and happened to be four months pregnant during our trip to Las Vegas. I managed to ask Donna the right lead-in question and she told me her whole history from college through today in about three minutes. Her dad is a retired United pilot and her sister is a current United pilot. Donna started as a flight attendant for United, but soon realized that she was getting much too impatient with the passengers and much too interested in what was going on in the flight deck to stay on that side of the cockpit door. So, thanks to her private tutors, she made it through flight school and is in her current position today. I feel like this is something that almost never happens, which is too bad. If the pilots had to experience our job duties and interactions with the passenger first hand, I think they would have a greater appreciation for flight attendants as a whole, as well as a greater appreciation for their own career where they are allowed to sit behind a locked door and not interact with the passengers if they don't want to.

And last, but not least, is first officer Travis. You might remember him from an earlier post. We flew to Portland together a couple of months ago and he usually referred to himself as "the fat kid." When I was flying the couch at the airport last Monday, the other reserves and I were watching Knocked Up on a TV in the corner of the crew lounge (their cinematic choice, not mine). Travis was sitting on a couch behind us and would titter at all the inappropriate or unnecessarily graphic parts, but otherwise not acknowledge or engage us. As a self-described redneck hillbilly from the South, this behavior painted such a classic picture you'd have to be there to fully appreciate it.

I'll be flying the couch again tomorrow, which will make it nearly two weeks since I've been at cruising altitude. Disappointing, but airports are such great venues for people watching, you never know what you'll witness.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Prisoners, FAMs, and an Early Release, Oh My!

This last trip, although just a short overnight came with some excitement.

First of all, I was working the back of the plane with the bar cart, so I got to use my new kindergarten scissors I got in my Christmas stocking to cut open the bags of ice...Whoppee!

On the trip out, we had a prisoner aboard. It was interesting -- the first time I had seen a prisoner and his escort on the plane, as a civilian or a flight attendant. I did learn one useful trick through. Since prisoners travel in a stylish leather belt that is attached to their handcuffs in front, carrying a blanket around seems to do a sufficient job covering up your state-issued bracelets.

On the trip back, we had some Federal Air Marshals aboard -- also a first for me. It's a running joke that they're pretty easy to pick out because they're usually big, hulking meatheads that board the plane first with all the screaming babies and decrepit pensioners. However, one of them approached us in the gate area while we were waiting to go down the jetway and I would have never pegged him. I figured he wanted to make sure he had a seat assignment. Instead, he flipped open his badge.

On top of these exciting firsts, I got in at about quarter to eight this morning and was released to ten hours of rest! I was fully prepared to be sent out on a three day trip as soon as I checked in, but I'm off until at least eight o'clock tonight, hence the blogging update.

An American Idol Flies South

"We have a celebrity on the list." The gate agent alerted me. I was in charge of the paperwork for this trip, so I got to see her name, right there on the manifest...Kelly Clarkson.

"It's a common enough name, it's probably not THE Kelly Clarkson," I said to the agent after scanning the crowd for any conspicuously incognito passengers.

Sure enough though, towards the end of the boarding process, two ladies asked me if they could sit in the emergency exit row. I looked up to see THE Kelly Clarkson and a friend waiting in the aisle.

"We were the last ones down."

"Sure, no problem then."

Kelly wasn't wearing any make up and was clad in those velvety track suit bottoms and a vintage tee. From Nashville to Cancun, I don't think any of the other passengers realized she was on the plane with us. It's a good thing too...I think the U14 Nashville Gymnastics team would have done back flips down the aisle to get to Kelly if they had realized she was on the plane.

Kelly and her companion were cordial and down to earth. They traveled like normal people, so they were treated like normal people. As soon as they put their bags away and got settled into their seats, Kelly and her friend pulled out a travel Scrabble game and started playing. If nothing else, it's nice to have proof that Kelly can spell all the lyrics to her songs.

As tempted as I was, I didn't bother Kelly or her friend, even when I had Kelly alone in the back on her way to the bathroom. I constantly kept coming back to the thought that while she may have only spent about $400 on airfare to Cancun, her hotel room could very well be costing ten times that every night. Ah, the price of normalcy.