Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving On The Bayou

Actually got to see my family for turkey day this time. Flew in, got hugs, overate, and flew back out again. Apologies to those of you I didn't get to visit with. Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Crossing The Line

I don't wanna say I've been at this job a while, but these days I can tell if I'm over Canada by just looking at the ground out the galley service door window. DAYOM I'm good.

Monday, November 10, 2008

My Octagenarian Serenade

By and large, the elderly folk I get on the plane are OK. The average ones just sit there and I never notice them. A lot of them represent the best parts of their times, as in gentlemen passing drinks to ladies first and such. A few of them are epithet-shouting basket cases, and perversely, I usually end up appreciating them as much as dreading them. But every now and then, I get one that's a full bag of lit firecrackers, and Josephine was such a one.
Josephine was from New Jersey and she was headed back there, as she told me from seat 1B, right there in the front. I forget where she'd just been, but she'd have been able to tell you, and she had all kind of interesting stories about what I should do if I ever got to Atlantic City. The singing part of this story comes in when I realized I things would never line up like this for me ever again, and so I launched into the first verse of "Come, Josephine, In My Flying Machine." She had never heard of the song, but she was the kind that could get down with a moron in a polyester suit mangling century-old music. She wanted me to finish it, but that was all I knew.
I think this turned into a story about how clever I am, but I also think it doesn't count unless you know the whole damn song.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Hope We Have Insurance

I think this Saskatchewan trip is cursed. Today as we were leaving, we had to wait two hours for a new aircraft to get ferried in because the ground crew ran into our original plane with a de-icing truck. Superficial damage, but nobody flies a plane that's already been in a wreck. The best part was that the plane had just landed and the passengers were still on it. Listening to the stories they were telling, I began to wish I'd been there too. How many people can say they were on a plane that got hit by a truck?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Give ME The Finger, Will You?

I didn't see this happen, but it was too horrible of a story not to repeat. What you have to know is that that jumpseat of ours (which is the not-quite-as-comfortable-as-your-seat seat that FAs have to sit in) slides into the wall when stowed, and to deploy it, you have to slide it out and lock it into a slot on the other side of the flight deck doorway (or lavatory doorway, if you're in the back). The slot design is circa industrial revolution, and usually the seat is so gunked up that you have to apply serious force to it to get it to slide out. Having been given all this information, you can probably predict where this is going, but the horrible story part is this: on this last trip I heard over the flight deck radio that a plane had to return to the gate because a flight attendant sliced her finger off with the jumpseat. Ick. This job gets more and more mundanely dangerous every day.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Action Movie Weekend

My first emergency landing. A hostage situation. This is one two-day trip that shouldn't have happened.
Day one. On our way into Bismarck, N.D., the captain called me and told me that the flaps weren't working.

ME: The flaps aren't working?
ME: The flaps?
ME: Not working?
CAPTAIN: You got it.
ME: Don't we kinda need those?
CAPTAIN: Usually.
ME: So what are we going to do now that they're not working?
CAPTAIN: Uh, land.
ME: Is it going to hurt?
CAPTAIN: No. I mean, probably not. It's just going to happen a lot faster than you ever thought possible.

Back in FA school, they trained us in a procedure called 'preparing the cabin,' wherein we announce to the passengers that we're all going to die, and then make them assume silly positions so that the coroners all laugh. I asked the captain if he wanted me to do this, and he said no. Just keep quiet, he said. Then, as soon as he hung up and I began to be quiet, he announced to the passengers everything he had just told me. I may never understand why he did that. Then we all buckled in and waited for the landing.
Fortunately, what's called a zero flap landing is one of the more common emergency landings, because flaps often don't work. Pilots train to do this in the simulator all the time, and not only did we all survive this landing, it was actually a hell of a lot of fun. Imagine a regular landing. Now press FF on that landing, and you get a zero flap landing. I asked later, and the captain said that instead of the customary one-hundred-fifty miles an hour, we touched down at about two hundred. I'm sure there were passengers that wished that landing had been normal. As for me, I never wanted to have another normal landing again.
Day two. When returning to the US from Saskatchewan, you have to go through customs in Denver, which means there's a small part of the Denver airport that is technically still Canada. And when we attempted to step onto US soil there, the immigration police did not let us.

US: Wait, what?
THEM: You can't come into our country.
US: OK. Why?
THEM: An earlier flight from your airline didn't provide the proper declaration documents.
US: We are providing the proper declaration documents.
THEM: Yes, but they didn't.
US: Uh, what happened to them?
THEM: We let them into the country.
US: You... you let them in because they didn't have their documents.
THEM: Yes.
US: And you're... not letting us in... because we have our documents.
THEM: We're not letting you in because you don't have their documents.
US: Why would we have their documents?
THEM: Because we need their documents.
US: Well, why can't you get their documents from them?
THEM: Because we already let them into the country.

The conversation the captain had with the border guards really did sound that stupid. Apparently, they'd been on the phone with our head honchos all day trying to get the documents faxed over from our HQ, and since the honchos never really got all that around to it, the guards held us hostage until they got their documents. They eventually got their documents. We eventually got into the country. What we eventually didn't get was lunch, because we spent our lunch break blindfolded in a tiger cage in the bowels of the Denver airport.
The lesson here is, always fly on a plane with working flaps, and always work for a damn airline that has documents.
The movie comes out next summer. Rutger Hauer plays me. They offered me the role, but I turned it down... I lived it.