Welcome to Freeport

WP_000556 Upon landing in Freeport we turned off the runway. As we entered the taxi way I noticed the passengers began murmuring things like “what’s going on?” and “is it raining?”. I looked out my window just in time to see us taxing past the firetrucks. It was instantly clear to me what had just happened. I waited for our Cabin Manager to make an announcement, and when no announcement came I picked up the interphone myself and said,

“Ladies and Gentlemen, you may have noticed that we just received a water canon salute. This is because you are arriving on [Name Redacted] Airline’s inaugural flight to Grand Bahama Island from western Canada. Thank you, and once again welcome to Freeport.”

WP_000559At the terminal they literally unrolled the red carpet for us. As our passengers disembarked, they walked down the carpet and were greeted by a number of officials from Freeport. Television crews were filming our arrival; this was a big deal. There was even a marching band playing for us!

Inside the terminal our passengers were given free drinks (Bahama Mama’s!) as a toast, welcoming them to Grand Bahama Island.

 

WP_000553 (2)Once all of our passengers had disembarked, we as crew came down and met the officials and took a few quick photos. A few of us went inside as well to visit the duty free store. They offered us drinks as well, however since we were in uniform we enjoyed only the fruit punch instead of the Bahama Mamas.

Being an inaugural flight, we had no passengers to take home. So as soon as everyone was off, the airport authority rolled up the red carpet. Once the crew returned to the aircraft and we finished fueling we took off back to Vancouver. It’s a shame, I would have loved to stay for a layover. Maybe I’ll get the chance sometime this winter. Fingers Crossed!

 

as filmed by the pilot

Red Carpet, Marching Band, TV crews!
I’d like to thank my whole crew for supplying me with the photos they took! Unfortunately the airline either didn’t know FPO was going to give us a red carpet welcome, or they just didn’t tell the operating crew. I would have brought my good camera if I had known.

Food Poisoning: Sick in the Sky

Warning: In this post I talk about my food poisoning. It gets somewhat graphic.

 

food_poisoning1It’s a 6 day pairing staying in various cities in Canada, Cuba, and Mexico. These kinds of pairings are very tiring and it’s pretty easy to get sick.

I was staying in Edmonton when I first started feeling a little off. The previous day I had flown in from a layover in Cuba and this wasn’t the first time I’ve had… umm… digestive issues after staying in a tropical destination. For that reason I wasn’t too concerned when the symptoms started up. They usually pass pretty quickly. I’d also had a pretty busy day with my crew. I’d met them for brunch and gone to the movies with them as well. I also spent a good amount of time running errands and planning for my upcoming vacation. I’d eaten a lot that day and told myself that all of these could be contributing factors.

I continued my routine for the day. I even went out to get a haircut before meeting my crew for dinner.

After dinner I went back to my room to go to bed and that’s when things began to get pretty bad.

I won’t get into too much detail but I’ll tell you that I was in and out of the washroom pretty much all night. Eventually I did manage to go to bed, but I think I got about 3 hours of sleep total before it was time to get up, put my uniform on, and head to the lobby to meet the crew.

I should have called in sick. But for some reason I kept telling myself that I didn’t have enough time to book off without delaying the flight. I needed to be a team player. (Keep in mind we were in Edmonton. There was no other crew there. If I called in sick, the flight would have been delayed at LEAST 4 or 5 hours since they’d have needed to call someone in from Vancouver.)

So I got ready. Sort of. As soon as I got out of bed that morning I was in the washroom again. I’d get up, start to brush my teeth, and then go back to the washroom. I swear I was on the toilet every 5 minutes. I was passing food from the night before and it was undigested.

It was painful.

I’d be on the toilet saying to myself, “Okay. I’m booking off. As soon as I can get up.” But as soon as I was up I felt better and would decide “No. I’m fine now. I’ll work the flight.”

This went on for 30 minutes. I was shaking. I was exhausted. I felt like I might fall apart. Finally I called my Cabin Manager’s room. I was going to tell him I’d be booking off. Unfortunately he didn’t answer. He was already in the lobby. I decided that meant it was too late to be sick. I composed myself, finished getting ready, and went down to the lobby.

Through some miracle my constant need to be near a washroom subsided. When I met up with my Cabin Manager I told him I wasn’t feeling well, but I didn’t tell him how bad it had been.

From the hotel to the airplane I was more or less fine. Tired, untalkative, a little pale, but otherwise fine. I completed my pre-flight checks, we loaded our passengers, and we took off. It wasn’t until we were in the air that the second wave hit me. This time was different though. I spent a little time in the lavatory, but there wasn’t anything left in me.

Instead I just kept experiencing really bad abdominal pain. The first time it hit I was in the galley. It was so painful all I could do was sit in the jump-seat, hold my abdomen, and lean forward until my head touched my knees. It was so bad I couldn’t work. I’d be in the aisle with a cart, and it would strike. I couldn’t focus on anything but the pain. All I’d manage to do is look up at the other Flight Attendant across the cart and say to her “I’ll be right back”. I’d hold my composure until I got to the galley and again I’d go straight to the jump-seat where I’d hold myself, lean forward, and wait for the pain to pass.

It turned out that our Captain was having the same issues as well. Although his symptoms didn’t start until that morning at the airport. Around the time I started getting the abdominal pain, he was getting hit with the diarrhea. He spent much of his flight in and out of the forward lavatory. Luckily it was our First Officer who was actually flying the plane that day. Otherwise we’d probably have diverted.

My pains came and went in waves. It went on for about 3 hours. I’d tried taking Pepto but it did nothing. It was awful. The only thing that provided any relief was ginger ale. After a bar service there was a half can about to be dumped and I decided I needed to drink something so I took it. It settled my stomach enough that I was actually able to get up and help a little bit with the services. I called up the Captain and recommended he have some ginger ale as well.

From that point things got easier. By the time we’d landed in Cancun the abdominal pain was much more mild and infrequent. By the next morning it was nearly gone all together. It would no longer affect my fitness to fly.

Sadly we couldn’t say the same for the poor Captain. Even the next day he was still very ill. He called in sick from Cancun. Luckily the crew bringing in the aircraft for our flight out of Cancun was deadheading back. We were able to take one of their pilots and bring the plane home without a delay.

When I got back to Vancouver I filed an incident report with the company over what happened. As it turned out the Captain and I had eaten the same crew meal which was evidently improperly prepared. It was a chicken crew meal that had been catered to us in Cuba. The plane we picked up in Cuba was scheduled to sit on the ground – in the heat – for about 4 hours before we arrived to take it to Edmonton. So instead of catering the return meals in Canada, my airline contracted a company in Cuba to provide our meals in order to (ironically) prevent the crew from getting food poisoning.

I’ve learned a valuable lesson from this, of course: If I’m sitting on the toilet thinking to myself, “Should I book off?”, then the answer is, “Yes, you stupid food poisoned moron.”

 

Champagne Spill

champagneMy airline is famous for offering a small glass of sparkling wine when you fly out at the start of your vacation. While some people complain that the glass is too small, and others that the champagne is “too cheap”, most people genuinely enjoy the experience and appreciate the fact that we offer it as a complimentary service.

That is unless I spill an entire tray of it on your lap. While you’re sleeping.

Here’s what happened;
We had a gentleman traveling with his mother. They were pre-boarded to the aircraft, as the mother needed to be carried to her seat. She was more or less completely unable to walk on her own. When I came through with my tray of champagne and offered her a glass, I realized she (who was seated at the window seat) was unable to slide or lean over to take the glass from me. As I was trying to be accommodating, I leaned over her son to allow her to take the glass. All the while (and unbeknownst to me) the tray is tilting more and more until suddenly all the glasses tipped at once onto her son who was previously sleeping soundly in the aisle seat.

Naturally he woke up shocked and startled.

After my own initial shock I apologized profusely and ran to the galley to get him as much paper towel as possible. The next 10 minutes or so just consists of me getting him fresh paper towel, taking away used paper towel, and occasionally apologizing further.

At one point I even noticed his sandals contained puddles of sparkling wine. When I saw this I threw on a pair of plastic gloves, took them back to the galley, and did my best to rinse them out.

I felt so bad.

Luckily he was very nice. I don’t think he got mad at all, although he was upset. Naturally.
Once I had him all cleaned up, or at least as clean as possible, I apologized one last time. I also let him know if he wanted anything from the bar it would be on me.

From then on he was fine. Although I still felt bad about it. I’ve never spilled a tray before, even during turbulence.  At that moment I was just glad we serve our sparkling wine in plastic cups as opposed to glass.
Funny enough I flew him and his mother home the next week. Needless to say I didn’t go anywhere near either of them with any trays on that flight.

Breaking up a Fight

calvin-yellingI was in the galley when I suddenly heard a commotion from the other side of the curtain. I immediately went out to the aisle to find two women screaming and swearing at each other, one was seated and the other was standing in the aisle. It was quickly escalating and undoubtedly was about to turn physical.

I immediately intervened and said, “Stop!”.

For a moment they stopped, and then both started frantically telling me a “she said/she said” story and then began arguing again. To this I responded, “No. Both of you stop talking. Now. Arguments like this are how planes get diverted.”

I then directed the woman standing in the aisle to go to the galley. I told the woman in her seat to stay there, I’d talk to her about what happened after.

I spoke to both women separately in the Galley. On each of those occurrences one would come up to the galley while I was talking to the other to try and intervene on the other’s story. I’d send that one back to her seat saying “I’m going to hear both side of this separately. Then I’ll talk to you both.

They story that I pieced together was that the woman seated in 2C told the woman in 4A (who was standing in line for the lav at the time) that there was also a washroom in the back. It’s possible 2C may have said this with some attitude as she had been repeatedly bumped by other passengers waiting in line and apparently was already having a bad day as she slipped while was leaving her resort that morning and her ankle was swollen. I think she may have also been annoying others around her throughout the flight as she had apparently been complaining to numourous other passengers on various topics.

Anyway, when 2C told 4A that there are washrooms in the back, 4A apparently took that as “go away” and called 2C “a bitch” at which point 2C called 4A “a bitch” and they continued calling each other “a bitch” until I intervened.

After speaking to both women separately, I briefly spoke to them together. By this time they’d had ample time to calm down. I reiterated the details of what I felt had just happened. They were in agreement for the most part, although they began insisting on small details that make them “right” and the other person “wrong”. I stopped them again and explained, calmly, that they way this entire scenario played out could have resulted in the aircraft diverting and was a very serious situation. No one here was in the “right”. I further explained that I would love for everyone to get along here, but I realize air travel can be stressful, and a 737 is a very tight place to be stuck in for 5 hours. I told them that while they don’t have to like each other, its absolutely unacceptable that they behave this way. They “MUST coexist peacefully on this aircraft”. Even if that meant not speaking to or looking at each other.

At this point they both agreed. Although the woman in 4A kept saying “That’s fine, I’m over it. I’m not bringing it up anymore! I’m not the one talking about this…” and so on. I had to tell her to end this, she needs to stop telling me she’s over it. And then sent them both back to their seats.

A short while later, 4A was back in my galley. She was telling me I could be honest now and tell her it was all “2C’s fault”. I told her I’m not taking anyone’s side, and then quickily changed the subject. I offered her a Coke, which she accepted. I asked her about her ring. Apparently she had just got engaged. I brought up my engagement as well as the engagement of another flight attendant on board, who had been proposed to the day before the flight.

As 4A left, 2C came in. She was concerned at the fact I was smiling and laughing with 4A. I explained she had brought up her engagement and I had begun talking about mine as well. Apparently 2C was also recently engaged, so we talked about that for a short while. I offered her a Coke too, which she declined.

My tactic here was to dampen any heat that was still burning in these two passengers. I was lucky they came to me, although had they not I would have come out to their seats with those Cokes and made small talk. It was important take them off the subject of their argument and really, truly defuse them once and for all.

From that point on they didn’t argue or even talk to each other, and they remained pleasant with all the other passengers.

Red Eye Flying

During the slow season, my airline operates a number of domestic flights from various parts of Canada to Toronto. The flights are all red eyes, and they’re scheduled as turns for the crew. So for me the flight usually starts with a 21:20 check in at YVR Airport, arriving in YYZ around 06:00 local time, leaving by 07:00 to be back in YVR around 10:00 local time.

It’s really tough to be prepared for these. I do my best to stay up as late as I can the night before, then get up early the morning of the flight. If I’m lucky I can sleep 3 – 4 hours in the afternoon, but it’s a light sleep. After that I head to the airport for my all-nighter.

I usually do pretty well for the flight to YYZ, it’s the way back that always gets to me. I drink my Starbucks refresher and try to stay awake. Even though the way home is technically during daylight hours, most passengers opt to sleep. There isn’t much to do on these flights other than walk up and down the aisles collecting garbage, and getting drinks for the few passengers that are awake. Anything really just to keep myself busy.

Sometimes I try to read a book once I’ve run out of things to do, but unless it’s a really exciting book that just makes me sleepier.

In the end I usually just bounce between galleys and chat with crew members. Sometimes passengers who can’t sleep will chat as well. I enjoy that too because those conversations usually vary from things other flight attendants have to say. (Sort of. Most conversations with passengers start with “So how long have you been flying?” and “Is this your usual route?” But after that sometimes the conversation goes off in other directions)

I try to avoid those red eye turns, but for the month of July I messed up my schedule bids and was assigned 4 of them! Luckily I managed to trade two away. Although I only bothered to trade because they overlapped with my schedule with the cruise line. The person I traded with was happy to take them though! I was surprised anyone would want to take these flights from me, but she was only assigned reserve this month and on top of that prefers to fly red eyes. So great! It worked out better for the both of us. Although I think she’s crazy. In the summer I’d rather have reserve and get paid to stay home and enjoy the sunshine. Although I also have another job this time of year, so I suppose I’m less likely to go stir crazy.

I just received my schedule for August, which I spent more time bidding on and actually paid attention to what I was doing. I’m happy to report that all my flights will be during the day.