Up Up & Moving Away!

Well everyone, that time has come. The time has come to move my blog off WordPress.com and host it, myself.

Hosting this blog on my own allows me to control part of the monetary costs of keeping this blog up and running and gives me a little more creative freedom. WordPress.com charges me $15 a year for the domain name, but gives me no flexibility to use subdomains, change the email server settings, etc.. and then, charges me $10 a year to edit the colors and styles of the WordPress theme used on my blog, but doesn’t allow me to import any theme I’d like and only lets me use the ones they’ve already uploaded.

So, I’m moving! I’ve already got the new blog up and running but I’m waiting for the transfer of UpUpAndAGay.com to be complete. Please continue to visit the blog through that website address, because that’s NOT changing. Once the transfer of the domain to my new server is complete, you’ll automatically be viewing my new self-hosted blog. Though my domain is staying the same, for some of you my feed may not be and I want to make sure you’re moving with me. Please update or subscribe to my RSS feed by visiting http://feeds.feedburner.com/upupandagay. Some of you already subscribe to my feed through this location (and if you do, thats great! leave everything the same!), and some of you follow me through WordPress.com’s feed which will be changing. If you subscribe to the blog via email, that’s great too! Click the link above, and you can confirm that you’re receiving your emails from the right location.

I predict that the domain transfer will be complete on February 17th, but that is out of my hands and subject to change. I’m hoping this will be a seamless transition on your end and not cause any downtime for my blog!

Thanks Everyone!

Pushing the Button

You like to push our button. I know you do. You do it all the time. You push it for a drink, something to eat, to ask a question, to hand us your trash, and when somethings wrong. You push it when you want us to tell the parent sitting in front of you to ask their child to calm down and when you want us to wake up your neighbor so you can use the restroom.

Lately, I’m noticing the strangest requests coming from people via the button, and some requests that make me want to scream. First off, realize that when you ring the call button, nose goes. No one really wants to go get it. We’re all sitting in the back or the front, we hear the ding.. someone leans over to check the ACP (area call panel) which shows us who hit the button. We then all look at each, figure our if we’ve already had an interaction with you – then, based on whether or not it was a good or bad interaction we try to decide who goes. As the most junior person walks down the aisle (just kidding!) we’re all peeking out to see whats going to happen.

The request that makes me the most upset is when I’m asked a question that I just gave the answer to over the P.A. It becomes obvious to us, even though we already know, that you’re not listening to us. So we answer your question and go on our way. In about 2 minutes, someone else will ring the button, and ask the same question. We become a never-ending broken record of information, which could be avoided if everyone just paid attention the first time.

Then there are those requests that we just can’t do. We can’t ask the person behind you to put their shoes on, or the person in front of you to bring their seat upright because you feel cramped and we especially can’t stop the baby from crying. Nothing is worse than having to talk to the parent of a child that is being too loud especially if you know they’re trying to calm the baby down. I refuse to.

I have a question. When you hit the button, you expect one of us to come by and ask whats going on, right? Becauselately, almost all of the call buttons I’ve been answering either no one knows who rang the button, everyone is watching a movie with their earphones in and pays no attention to me what so ever, or they just say “sorry it was an accident.” For your information, you can turn off the call button by hitting it again. I find so rude though when I go up to a passenger whose wearing earphones and rang the call button. I ask them if everything is okay, and they yell “WHAT?” – so I ask again.. “can I get you anything?” and they say “I can’t hear you.” People take OFF your headphones when you’re having a conversation with someone, especially someone you asked to speak to.

Also, like I mentioned on The Crew Lounge, don’t ring your call button during taxi, takeoff or landing unless its a dire emergency. Ringing it during the critical phases of flight for a fork for the food you brought in the terminal, something to eat or even to question our flight departure/arrival time is unacceptable. During those phases of flight we are there for your safety, positioned by the doors and readily accessible to assist in a medical emergency, and for no other purpose.

I love answering the call buttons for “what lake is that down there?” – my answer is always “Lake Las Vegas.” Even though we might be over Kansas, no one ever questions it.

Oh yeah, and don’t ring your call button to hand me a half eaten apple or a dirty diaper. Get up and throw those out yourself. Ew.

Live from the Line: LAX it is!

Well, my wish came true! I’m here on Los Angeles and I’m supposed to deadhead to Washington DC tomorrow morning. I, personally, don’t think that’s going to happen. I can’t believe how much snow their expecting and how much they’ve had already. The weather this year has been crazy! California has been flooded, Phoenix learned what rain is, and the east coast redefined the word “winter.”

DC is expecting over a foot of snow tonight into tomorrow, and my flight is supposed to depart at 7am. I wish they’d just release me and let me go home. But at the same time, today provides for some much needed catchup time with my friend Jenn, who I’m flying with and my friend Aimee, who just landed here in LA from…DC. She was lucky, she was the first and only flight out!

Well.. I’ll keep you updated.. this trip is full of surprises.

Live from the Line: It’s all up in the Air

So I’m in Seattle right now and was supposed to work to Los Angeles and then onto Washington DC tomorrow. But, that’s not happening anymore.

Thanks to the storm on the left, my schedule is up in the air, literally. My LAX DC flight is canceled so now I’m waiting for a re-assignment.

Who knows where I can end up.. I’m hoping to just work to LA, layover, then deadhead to DC to pick up the rest of my trip. Let’s hope that happens. Less work + same pay = Happy FA ;)

Worst Airline Ad Ever

Okay, so I saw this ad on TheFlyingPinto blog and I had to post it myself. Maybe they should have reversed the position of the airline logo and make the plane point upwards? ha!

Guest Post: Eating on the Road

Guest Blogger, Brad (a.k.a Brajit) from Pop Slingers Paradise.

If you fly for an airline most places here in the United States, Crew Meals are a thing of the past.  So are having ovens, serving meals to your passengers, or having open seats in your premium cabin that would allow everybody to pick on the leftovers on that long flight.

Bringing food on the road is a difficult task, especially if you are doing multiple day trips or commute, or both!  However, over the last 9 years, I’ve been fortunate enough to find some great ideas to help keep your hunger away while working:

1. Nuts of all Types – They are full of fiber and protein to keep you feeling full and help to give you extra energy throughout those long duty days.  Eating the nuts provided on board (if you are fortunate enough to have them) is great, but if you can get to a market that sells unsalted nuts, this will be your best bet.  We all know staying hydrated in the air is a challenge and adding any excess salt to the diet just makes it that much harder.

2. Food Saver Plus Vacuum Sealer by Tilia – My family has owned one of these since they came out and they have only gotten better and easier to use every year.  The initial investment is worth it, because you can size your own bags based off the amount of food, and make bags that can fit easily into your lunch tote.  These bags are resistant enough to hold up to boiling water and are also microwave safe.  The company has also even added steamer bags for those that like to have steamed fish or veggies in your room.

3. Mainstays Foil Pans – I just recently found these at my local Wal-Mart and it is their in-house brand.  These foil tins come in two varieties that I have found so far: single compartment and dual compartment.  If you are fortunate to have access to a toaster oven or galley oven, these are GREAT!  Just remove the plastic lid, pop in your cooked (or uncooked) food until completed, and you have a hot meal on board.  They are also small enough to really pack a variety of food in your lunch tote (or bring enough to share!)  QUICK TIP: Use your Food Saver Vacuum Sealer to seal each of these individually with the lids on, to keep from making a big mess in your bag.  In a pinch, you can also boil the entire package if your oven in INOP (Inoperable).

4. Tuna and Chicken in a foil pouch – These can be found any grocery store these days and although you do pay a premium for having them neatly packed for you, they weigh less and you can fit them in every nook and cranny of your bags.  I have yet to find an airport that doesn’t have some sort of mayonnaise packets to swipe, so this is a quick and easy nosh.  (And if you can stomach eating it without mayonnaise, you can cut the fat!)  Also, if you have an airport with a salad bar, you can save on the heavy meat and just get some lettuce and mushrooms and bell peppers to make it even cheaper!

5. Individual Serving Vegetable Cups – These are something new I have also seen and so far have only been found in Green Beans and Corn.  They are non-perishable and need no refrigeration, and are great for a quick side item to anything you might have.  I personally crave vegetables only, and sometimes it can be difficult to find steamed veggies in an airport.  Having a cup of these, even at room temperature, can really quench a craving.  (But don’t forget to pour out the juice they are soaking in and rinse with some bottled water.  This will help reduce the amount of sodium you are eating.)

6. Dried Fruit – Bags of this stuff are easily found everywhere but my personal favorite is from Costco and is the Mango and Berry Blend.  (Wal-Mart also has a Tropical Trail Mix that I enjoy.)  Again, this is non-perishable, will last as long as you want it to, and can make an awesome salad topper in a pinch.  The dried fruit does contain some fiber and will help keep your appetite at bay on those long nights flying, and will help keep you awake on those redeye turns.

7. A Protein or Energy Bar – This is self explanatory.  You never know when you are going to be able to run off a plane to grab some meat, so having this will help make it through your day.  And, with those early show times when NOTHING is open or they are serving eggs (and who wants to eat cold eggs in the morning), this can really be helpful to make it through the day.

8. A Candy Bar – Who doesn’t like a sweet treat to end their day.  Yes, it is loaded with sugar (but there are so many sugar-free options out there these day) and sometimes you just have to take one for the team and go for it!

These are only some of the things you can do to help the hunger pains while on the road.  If you are a flight attendant, airport food can be dull and boring, day after day, week after week.  With a little foresight, you can help both your hunger and your wallet.

You can read more from Brad by visiting his blog, Pop Slingers Paradise.

The Replacements

Credit: Flickr/BriBri

In recent news, American Airlines has come out publicly to say that in the event of a flight attendant strike (over contract negotiations) the airline is committed to their operation and would consider training their managers and support staff as flight attendants.

Putting aside the ramifications and reasons over a strike, this is a bad, bad idea.

The managers and support staff would be put through a quick abbreviated flight attendant initial training course, focusing mostly on safety and security and not the customer service aspects of the position. Usually, flight attendant training courses range from 3 weeks to two months, depending on the airlines standards and training schedule. My fear, is that the airline will “push through” replacements that may not be 100% qualified for the position, in an effort to keep planes in the air.

With the recent influx of security scares at airports and heightened awareness of aircraft safety, would you feel safe with a full crew of replacement flight attendants working your flight?

It’s no secret that flight attendants have become your first defense in the air against terrorism and have proven time over time that they are properally trained to safely evacuate passengers from an aircraft in crisis, but can these replacements do the same?

Probably. The FAA needs to approve any abbreviated training program before American can legally train any replacement workers. Therefore, you would hope that any safety and security training modules that are imperative to doing the job of a cabin crew member wouldn’t be cut in lieu of time. But what worries me is the mindset of a replacement worker.

These people are being taken out of an office environment, thrown through an inflight training course (which, trust me, isn’t easy and is very stressful!) and placed in a metal tube for a ‘temporary’ amount of time with other ‘flight attendants’ new to the position as well. If they happen to encounter a medical emergency, diversion or god forbid an emergency landing no one on board that aircraft has any prior experience to draw upon to lead the other crew members through the situation. The best training after initial ground training is experience and guidance from those who have been doing this job for a decent amount of time.

Through you sit through a month of training on the ground, and run through various scenarios, being faced with a situation in the air is a completely different story. I remember my first medical emergency, it was a very scary experience. At first, I froze. I won’t lie. I did. I was in one of those moments where I thought “oh my god, this is really happening!” Luckily, I had 2 other flight attendants working with me, who had been flying for over 5 years, and to them this situation was “routine.” They sprung into action, assisted the passenger, and taught me the ‘real way’ of dealing with the situation. From that moment on, dealing with medical emergencies also became routine to me and I’m able to show our new hires how to handle this situation in the real world.

These flights being operated with replacement workers, won’t have experience to fall back on when things aren’t going according to the textbook.

In addition to these replacement workers, ex-TWA flight attendants (who have been laid off by American Airlines following the merger) have now come forward and said they would be willing to work in the event of a strike. Even though these are past flight attendants, with years of experience I would question their motive in returning to the skies for an airline that has jerked them around for the better part of almost 10 years. These flight attendants were stapled to the bottom of the American seniority list, laid off, offered buyouts, etc. and now what to “help the company out in a time of need.” Why?

All of this aside, the employees at American should understand where the flight attendant work group is coming from (as they too took paycuts to keep the airline running) and should support each other. Crossing a picket line isn’t going to win over new friends, just create more enemies which, in the end, will create further atomicity between work groups which will be seen by the passengers and ruin the airline.

Passengers need to understand that flight attendant’s don’t make as much money as they used to and have taken considerable paycuts through the last few years to keep their airlines operating. As the airlines are looking to increase revenue and decrease spending during the recession, it’s sad to say that in my opinion they are putting safety on the line as they further jerk around flight crews and allow them to work in a hostile work environment.

Though it is important to mention that not all airlines share the same beliefs and some take care of and work with their employees to make their company a great place to work.

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