At 3:00am today I got up and ready for work. I had to be at the airport by 5:30am. I wanted to give myself lots of time today because I had a tonne of paperwork I needed to fill out when I got to the office.
I think today’s flight was an excellent starter flight. I would be dead heading on an empty aircraft to an airport on Vancouver Island, where we would pick up some passengers before heading back to Vancouver (YVR). The flight would continue onto Mexico, but we’d have a crew change at YVR, so once we were back in Vancouver that’d be the end of our day. I don’t know exactly why they have us do the crew change, but I know the crew that replaced us will be operating back to Canada tonight, so I suspect they’d go over their duty hours if they had to work that extra leg.
It was a very easy flight for us. Because we weren’t picking up passengers before we got to the island, there was no rush to get our security and service checks done. The caterers (and ground crew) were still onboard the aircraft when we arrived. The ground crew let us know of a couple minor defects in the cabin (a light not working, a frayed seatbelt that needed to be replaced, etc.). The caterer was a super star. In small talk I mentioned to him that today was my first flight, and he asked me “So you’ve never done a meal count before?” “I’m afraid not.” I replied. Well right away he began showing me how to count the meals for the outbound flight and where the meals were stored for the inbound flight. He gave me a bunch of tips that’ll help me complete my counts faster and let me know all the common mistakes that I should be aware of. It was a huge help! It was very nice of him since all he was required to do was tell me the meals are loaded.
I was surprised when I realized my whole crew had finished all our pre-departure duties early and had time to kill. Today’s crew consisted of myself, two others from my class who (like myself) had never operated a flight before, and another recent graduate who had only operated one flight. Our cabin manager was very experienced and helpful. She really encouraged asking questions, and boy did we have questions! We were calling her on the interphone all the time with “where is this? I can’t get that to latch properly. Do we have the whatzit onboard?” (of course in reality we were using the proper terminology.)
Finally it was time for departure. We sat at our jump seats and made small talk until we were given the signal for take off. Once signalled we must stop talking and conduct a silent review of our emergency procedures until notified that it is safe to move about the cabin. (For FAs that is. Passengers would still be required to remain seated with their seatbelts fastened at this point.)
It was only a short hop to the island. Not even enough time to get out of our jump seats. After a few minutes in the air we began our decent and again did our silent review. We arrived early so we had lots of time to prepare for our passengers. Pre-departure from Vancouver Island didn’t take much time at all. We did most of the required duties in Vancouver, so all we really needed to do was open the overhead bins. I also took the opportunity to wipe down a couple of passenger seats. Because it was the first flight of the day, condensation had built up in some areas and I didn’t want anyone to start off their flight by sitting in a puddle of water.
When it was time to board our passengers, we took our boarding positions. I was in the galley today so I didn’t see much of the passengers. I did however get to make some baggage announcements. Being a galley position also meant that I didn’t need to do the safety demo. However in the interest of practicing, I followed along in the galley with some imaginary props.
After the demo we took off and were back in Vancouver in no time to pick up some more passengers. If you’re wondering why we didn’t pick up passengers in Vancouver before we left the first time, it’s because the airport on the island had shorter run ways, and we might not have been able to land with the extra weight on board.
While waiting for the crew change, we unlocked the lavs to passengers could use the washroom. There were a lot who needed to go! I also had a woman ask me for a cup of hot water. She appeared to have a sore throat. My colleague informed her that we aren’t yet set up for service, so the water boilers aren’t on. However I felt bad sending her away, so I told her that I could turn them on and try them in a couple minutes. I started them up and then went searching for a hot cup. Like I said before, the galley’s weren’t set up for service, so I had to find the cups in storage. Once I found a cup I tried the water. It was warm, but not hot. She smiled and said that’ll be fine. I was glad I helped! I turned the boilers back off. They shouldn’t be on until we begin preparing for service, which is done once we’re in the air.
Shortly after that our replacement crew arrived. I informed the person taking my position of our inoperative equipment and let her know that I moved a canister to a different slot since it wasn’t latching properly in its original location. Then it was back to the airport for a debriefing. Our CSM was very impressed with how smoothly everything went and how on the ball we all were. I guess the credit for that can go to my fabulous trainers, who obviously did an amazing job over the past 5 weeks.
So there we have it! My first flight is complete. It was a nice and easy introduction to the aviation industry. I think today’s theme was along the lines of “Hurry up and wait.” We were always working as quickly as possible, only to find ourselves with extra time or arriving early. Of course in the aviation industry, that’s a very good thing. My next scheduled flight is quite a bit longer. It’ll have a lot more of a service aspect to it, and hopefully I’ll really be able to shine!