Posted: May 8, 2013 at 9:14 pm
Today’s disclaimer: The cats managed to do some damage to my laptop, so now I have to press some key’s extra hard for them to work. Please disregard if some of my words are missing the letter “I”, as it doesn’t always work. Lately I’ve been working from my new tablet anyway, but for today’s post I needed my video editing software and thus my laptop.
As you may know, the aircraft cabin is not pressurized to sea level, but rather to the equivalent of about 7 or 8 thousand feet. This means some passengers might feel a little light headed or that alcohol effects them almost twice as much as it would on the ground. It also means soft drinks foam up a lot more when poured out of a can. The worst culprit for this is Diet Coke. I literally have to sit and wait for the bubbles to fall before I can continue pouring. If all 3 passengers ask for diet coke I’ll often get them started, take another three drink orders, serve those, and then finish the diet cokes. As the infomercials say, “There’s GOT to be a better way!”
In fact there is! In the video below you can see me first pouring a diet coke the “normal” way, then pouring it the “smart” way.
As you can see, the can gets in the way and prevents the foam from forming. This saves so much time that I can pour a complete glass with ice the “smart” way before the foam even finishes falling when pouring the standard method. (That little cup full of melty ice was all we had left on the plane that day, normally with proper big cubes the effect of the foam is even bigger)
What you can’t see is that the diet coke doesn’t come out of the can when flipped upside down until you lift it up and tilt it slightly. This is because the air pressure is keeping the coke in the can. It makes pouring the diet coke very controllable and reduces the chances of spilling or overflow.
I know this seems like a minor detail, but at my airline we offer a full inflight service including hot towels, meals, bar, tea/coffee and more on flights over 3 hours. Pouring diet coke is one of the biggest slow downs in the bar service and on the shorter flights those precious seconds count!
Posted: April 24, 2013 at 2:53 pm
(Disclaimer: I’m trying out some new publishing software, which may need some adjusting. Apologies if my formatting is off)
Flight Attendants HATE sharing their pen with passengers (And sometimes other FAs).
- It’s because in their minds they never get their pen back. And a lot of the time they are right. In my case I’ll share my pen because I actively horde pens from hotels for the sole purpose of sharing. I’ll also tell the passenger straight up to press their call button as soon as they are done so I can collect my pen back to share with other passengers. 9 times out of 10 I’ll get the pen back.
However if you ask for one 10 minutes before we land then you are out of luck. In those cases I have never gotten my pen back because the pax gets off the plane before I get a chance to see them again!
Bribery goes a long way.
- Often when I fly on another airline, especially on long flights, I bring a little bag of chocolate for the crew. As a crew member I can tell you that we all feel well appreciated when a passenger does that and we will do everything we can to make your flight the best it can be.
Until just the other month I’d never experienced the receiving end of this, but since then I’ve had 3 different flights were a passenger has brought a gift for the crew! I have a feeling some passengers are doing a little research. Although in all three cases the passengers declined the complimentary drinks I offered.
Passengers like a little abuse.
Well, some anyway. There are many different kinds of passengers. Some like a little friendly chit chat, others like to be left alone. But my favourites are the ones who like a little sass. “You want ICE in your coke? Well aren’t we demanding!” I’ll get a good laugh from them and they’ll get a full can and a heaping glass of ice from me. Naturally you have to have a good gauge on who these passengers are. If you get sassy with the wrong pax you might find yourself in trouble later.
Theft is the only way to make me really mad.
A passenger sees a large bottle of water on the galley counter and decides to take it for themselves. It may not seem like much, but this is the only thing that really truly makes me angry onboard. Firstly because chances are that was a crew member’s personal water (I’ve had mine taken many times!), but also because we don’t have enough supplies on board to give everyone their own personal supply. If that water bottle wasn’t a crew members, then it was for everyone. It was stolen from everyone. I’ve seen this happen with pop, alcohol, snacks, MY LUNCH, and so on. Not to mention, the law says whenever a passenger starts rummaging through the galley, I have to tear everything apart to make sure nothing “suspicious” was placed in there. It creates a whole lot of unnecessary work for me!
Smiling makes my day.
- No matter how bad a day I’m having (even if a passenger steals my water bottle!) as soon as I get into the aisle and start smiling it all turns around. And if I have a particularly difficult passenger, smiling usually seems to defuse them. It seems to be a topic that many flight attendants and passengers seem to have trouble with. But I’ll swear on it, keep smiling and you’ll feel better.
Posted: February 22, 2013 at 3:23 pm
Today I’m in Regina. Super easy pairing. I woke up at 02:00 this morning, got ready for work, and left home at 03:30. I arrived at the airport early at 04:00 for my 04:45 check in. Once the rest of my crew arrived we had our pre-flight briefing and went down to the aircraft to do our pre-flight checks. I was in the galley today and noticed we were short by about 30 hot meals. It took a while to figure out, but we eventually got catering to return while we were boarding passengers and provide the missing meals. Luckily we got it all sorted out in a timely fashion and had on time departure at 06:00.
The flight was uneventful. It was a little less than 2 hours, so we offered a bar service and showed some sitcoms on the entertainment system. I’m just getting over a cold, so for much of the flight I unfortunately had a pressure headache.
We landed on time in Regina and were at the gate at 10:10 local time. In Regina we conducted a crew change with a Calgary based crew who took the plane down to Montego Bay, Jamaica.
My crew will stay here in Regina all day before we go back to the airport tonight around 23:30. We’ll meet that same YYC crew and take over the aircraft for the final leg back to YVR, arriving around 01:00.
It’s not a very difficult day, to say the least. As you can tell though, it’s a long day. Since it’s too long to legally (or sensibly) have one crew operate, the airline breaks the day down with two crews. One to operate the main portion of the flights, and another to catch the beginning and tail ends. It’s all designed to avoid fatigue.
I actually had a flight a few weeks ago that the captain terminated due to fatigue. We’d operated down to Cuba, after a series of extended delays beyond our control. The final straw was in Cuba when the airline couldn’t get a flight plan for us to go home. We sat at the airport, passengers onboard, waiting to go home. We waited for an extra 30 minutes. Finally the captain decided it was too much. We’d been on duty for too long, and there was no possible way to get the aircraft home before exceeding Transport Canada’s requirements on a maximum duty day. He pulled the plug, so to speak, and informed the passengers of the situation. We had to send everyone back to their hotels (paid for by the company, of course), and then spend a minimum rest period in Cuba. We ended up taking everyone home the morning after. Luckily we were flying to the prairies! Aside from a few (understandably) angry passengers, most people were okay with the situation. After all, it was a safety risk. Most people don’t want the pilots of a 737 to operate while fatigued!
That’s an extreme example, and luckily it’s very rare. But it’s also why my you see airlines planning crew changes on certain flights. It prevents situations like that from happening.
It’s not a bad deal for my crew either. Today we’ll get 8 hours credit, for 2 flights under 2 hours. On top of that we’ll also get an hourly per diem for all the time spent her in Regina.
Not a bad deal at all!
Posted: January 10, 2013 at 3:13 pm
(Please note; as always; the details of this article have been altered for the safety, security, and privacy of my airline)
It’s no secret that I as a flight attendant have to be recertified with a new competency card every 12 months. Every country in the world requires flight attendants complete an annual training program. At my airline, requalification consists of three parts.
The first part is a pre-class work book that is emailed to us a few months before the actual training class. The workbook consists of 100 multiple choice questions and must be completed prior to the start of class. With every answer you also have to include a reference to our Flight Attendant Manual with the chapter and page number where the exact answer can be found. The questions aren’t all that hard, since we have the whole manual memorized, it’s just time consuming searching for all those references. That swhy they give you a few months to do it. Although I usually just sit down a week or so before class and power through it in about 6 – 8 hours.
Here’s an example question of what you might see in the workbook:
The following are all fire prevention practices, except?
a. Strictly enforce no smoking regulations
b. Investigate any unusual smoke, fumes or odours in the cabin or lavatory upon
completion of service related duties
c. Ensure cabin floors are kept free of paper
d. Be alert to circuit breakers that may have popped and the cause of it
The answer in this case is “B” because 1) safety and security come before service, and 2) if you’re investigating smoke, you’re no longer preventing fire. You’re fighting it.
The second part of training is the classroom work and in class drills. This is a regular 9 – 5 work day in a classroom. The first thing we do is hand in our workbooks to be marked. Everyone is required to get 90% or higher to pass. Once marked, we go over all the incorrect answers as a class so that everyone has been orally corrected to 100%.
After that, most of the day is spent going over study material, hazardous goods laws, and reviewing all the key points of our Manuals. The day ends with another 100 question exam where once again, you need to get 90%+ to pass. We’ll go over the incorrect questions again as a class to be orally corrected to 100%.
Finally, to end the day we’ll do some basic drills. We need to demonstrate how to put on the life jackets on ourselves, children, and infants. We show how to use the fire extinguishers, various oxygen bottles, breathing equipment, etc.
All the drills are exams as well. We have to demonstrate how to use each piece of equipment without making any more than 1 mistake. If we do make a mistake they’ll let us know after what we did wrong.
Finally the third part of annual requalification is the evacuation drills. These are the same ones we did in initial training, which I wrote about here. There was only one difference. This year the airline decided that it would be a good idea to take the soon to be upgraded Flight Attendants and put them in the Cabin Manager role so they could get a better idea of what was included in their new roles. Unfortunately there were only a couple upgrades this year, so the airline decided that “Flight Attendants who applied for the upgrade, but were unable to receive it due to the lack of available spots will be filling a Cabin Manager role in this years
Hunger Games evacuation drills.” Apparently I would have received the upgrade this year if there had been room for me because I was assigned the in charge position. Hurray for small victories.
My group was last for the group evacuation drills. Our Scenario? “The Bomb Threat” Due to the security aspects of this scenario, I cannot disclose most of how we handled this situation. What I can say is this:
During the “flight” we received a bomb threat. The pilot called the CM (That’s me) to the flight deck and gave me my orders. We were to search the entire aircraft, including passengers and their bags. If a bomb was found, we’d take the details of it to the flight deck and get further instructions at that time. We were not to tell any passengers what we were looking for. Once I left the flight deck I immediately briefed my crew members.
During our search, we did find the “Bomb” (It was a paper shopping bag with a cartoon bomb drawn on it). I took down all it’s details and then returned to the flight deck, where the pilot gave me a fresh set of instructions.We’d be making an emergency landing immediately. We would be on the ground in 15 minutes. Do an emergency demo for the passengers. The signal to start your shouted commands will be “Brace!” once on the ground will be doing a rapid deplanement unless an evacuation is necessary. I’ll give you the appropriate signal at that time.
I returned to the cabin and briefed my crew. We performed our demos, and then took out jump seats. We began our shouted commands once we received the “Brace” signal. Once we “Landed” we performed a rapid deplanement and got everyone off the plane via the main entry door as quickly as possible.
It was the most time consuming and detailed scenario of the night. However I felt it was also one of the best executed. I was very proud of my team, because we all knew our stuff and we all made each other look good.
Depending on the year, there may be some extra components to requalification. For example, this fall I will be due to recertify my firefighting qualification. I’ll have to go into a simulator to put out live fires in a mock aircraft cabin. (This is my favourite one! Although I certainly hope I never have to use it in real life). Other components include first aid and dangerous goods. Those are much more boring to do, but equally as important.
Posted: December 28, 2012 at 1:59 pm
Keeping with the theme of lavatory placards; another flight attendant at my airline sent me this photo he took when he discovered a vandalized placard during his pre-flight checks.
I’m not a fan of vandalism, especially onboard an aircraft. But I’ll admit this Baby-B-Q gave me a chuckle. And not to worry, this placard has since been replaced by maintenance.
As always, you can click the polaroid for the full sized image.
Posted: December 13, 2012 at 5:00 pm
The placards onboard an aircraft usually display important information that is relevant to passengers and crew. Whenever you see one it’s worth your time to give it a read, because it usually is telling you something along the lines of how to open an emergency exit, or what equipment is being stored in that “crew use only” overhead bin. (It never hurts to know where the spare life jackets or fire extinguishers are. Even if you’re not technically supposed to access them as a passenger.)
The problem with placards though is that there is a lot of them. So many in fact that they tend to simply blur into the background. This applies to crew and passengers a like.
Did you know that the instructions on an aircraft placard are law? It’s the same as ignoring instructions from a crew member. If you ignore the instructions on a placard, you are breaking the law. (Hence why so many of them say “No Smoking” and “Stow table tray for taxi, take off, and landing.”)
This is why I strongly dislike unnecessary placards. There are already enough legitimately useful placards onboard the aircraft that you start to look past them.
We don’t need any more than what is necessary. The one that I find on pretty much every aircraft is this one located in the lavatory:
The main reason I don’t like this placard isn’t actually because its unnecessary, it’s because it’s an embarrassment to the English language. It’s a grammatical nightmare. Transport Canada had to approve this placard before it could be put onboard an aircraft. In fact, pretty much every country has approved it as is. I want to know who looked at this when it first went up for approval and said, “Oh yeah. That’s fine.” If I had that job, I would have said, “Oh, Hell no!” and sent it back with the following changes:
I also would have suggested that it be reworded somewhat. These are instructions, it shouldn’t be asking the passenger a question.
Actually all of that is a lie. If I worked for Transport Canada and saw this I would laugh, and then deny the request to have this posted in every friggen 737 lavatory. This placard has nothing at all to do with the safety and/or security of the aircraft, and as such should not be required to be there.
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