Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Work on a holiday? Thanks, but no thanks.

Memorial Day, sitting outside with a good book and a cold drink under a sunny sky, I received a somewhat snarky text from my sister. "In your blog, could u explain why a gate is not ready when u land?  And why does it take so long to open the door?  Lovingly, your sis."  Now I agree, she doesn't sound very "loving" at this moment.  And that's my point.  Flying can send even the most rational, calm and seasoned traveler (said sister) into a tailspin.  (She later shares lurid details of a horrendous travel day complete with cancellations, mechanical delays and hordes of holiday travelers, leading to her less than charming text.)

  Sometimes we say people check their common sense with their luggage, but we can't really say that anymore because hardly any one checks their bags nowadays.  (But, that's another story for another day.) I once spilled tomato juice on a priest who was reading his bible.  My first thought, after "****"  (under my breath) was "Thank heavens (!) I spilled on a priest, and not the crazy lady in 4C with her white linen dress and holier than thou attitude." Wrong. The priest, with a big glob of tomato juice on his shoulder, looked up at me and as I was apologizing, getting towels, talking about using club soda to get the stain out, and said nothing.  This, of course, made me talk more.  I heard myself say "Thank heavens (!) you're wearing black.  This should wash out easily.  Where are you headed today?"  Still nothing.  His neighbor finally looked up at me, and with a wink, said, "Young lady, I'll have a Sprite.  Because if you spill it on me, it won't stain, right?" And with that, the priest let out a noise, kind of a combination of a snarl and a hiss, and looked back down at his bible. 

So, the answers to your questions, sis?  I'll get back to you on that.  It's a holiday, and I'm NOT at work. And, there's a reason for that.

And one more thing:  Buh Bye, now.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Fly Free?

The first reaction most people have after hearing you work for an airline is "Oh, you get to fly for free, right?"  Yes, we do.  Mostly.  International flights have a nominal fee, and some airports charge taxes for entry, but yes, we do fly for free.  Not so fast, however.  My standard comment is 1)  We can get on flights that  nobody else wants to go on and 2) We can go when nobody else wants to go. As we all know after 9/11, bankruptcies, and the price of fuel, seat capacity has gone down and consolidation has made it very hard to get anywhere.  In what I like to call the "Highs and Lows of working for an airline" (get it?) one day I can be on a first class flight to Australia, with seats that lay completely flat and be served champagne before the rest of the passengers even board.  The next day I can spend hours, which turns into days, trying to get on a plane to Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Yesterday I took a short little hop and ended up getting the next to the last seat, and it was even a window exit row seat.  Perfect.  I noticed the woman next to me did not seem at all happy about me sitting there, but I was there and I wasn't leaving.  (Well, sometimes the gate agents do come and take us off if a regular, full fare paying passenger shows up late and wants their seat).  That's obviously a "low" of flying free. 

Luckily, the flight was relatively short and sweet, because my seat mate sent me evil glances about every 10 or so minutes.  I had showered, I had all my body parts in my seat, and I even let her hog the middle armrest.  As we taxied into the gate at our destination, she turned to me and said "How did you get that seat?  When I checked the seating chart a half hour before the flight, that seat was open." I knew I couldn't tell her the truth, that I was in the seat for FREE, because I worked for the airline.  She would have hit me with her very large Gucci bag, that frankly, really didn't fit underneath the seat in front of her, but I was off duty, and not about to tell her that.  I smiled widely at her, and said, "Oh, I'm a million miler (well, I clearly am) and I was here early and the gate agents very kindly put me on an earlier flight so I could visit my aging, ill grandfather before he goes into a nursing home tomorrow. Wasn't that kind of them?"

Properly chastised, she turned away. When I saw her again in baggage claim, she walked as far away from me as she could.  Imagine if I would've told her the truth.  Gucci bags leave big bruises.  Believe me, I know. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

LaLa Land

Today took me to Los Angeles and back. Lala land. It proved to be a lala kind of day. During boarding, a man was standing right beside me going to his seat. He looked at me and said "Do you have an air sick bag?" As I rummaged for one in the closest seat, he let loose and projectile vomited all over me, my seat, another passenger, his bags and the aisle. As we ran for cleaning supplies all the while holding our noses, passengers just kept walking right through the "mess" to get to their seats, even though we directed them elsewhere. It was, to say the least, not very appetizing at 8:00 in the morning.

After we took a delay, for cleaning said mess, de-icing, and who knows what else, we left an hour late. That left everyone thirsty, hungry and cranky. While we bumped around the mountains, a passenger said to me
"Did you know that there's a kitten running loose around the plane?" "No" I said. "Are you sure it's not a rat or a mouse and not a kitten?" (Editor's note: A mouse or rat running around a plane would be much more likely than a kitten). "No", he said, "it's for sure a kitten." So, I start looking around while carrying a bag of trash in my hand, and I spot the kitten,sticking it's tiny little head out from beneath a seat. I reach down and grab her, and I walk down the aisle with a large, overfull garbage bag in one hand and a kitten in the other. Talk about feeling like you're in lala land! We make a PA--"If you have brought a kitten on board and that kitten is not in it's approved luggage carrier, please come to the back galley and claim your kitten."

A woman strolls back and claims her kitten, while she is purring in my lap. I must say, holding that purring kitten was the highlight of my day. Much better than cleaning up the remains of 33C's breakfast.