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: 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!

Live from the Line: Hands Down

I know a lot of you including @SkyVan on twitter wonder why I work New York – LA all the time, and its a simple reason really: No one senior to me wants to do it, so I always hold my first preference in New York trips. In essence that allows me to build my schedule the way I like it. Lately, the passengers have been better than they have been in the past. I’m in the middle of a four day trip right now and of course, just worked New York to LA and there was only two passengers who got on my nerves. Go figure they were traveling together.

Just after take off I went to the overhead bin where my bags were stowed to get my lunch bag when someone behind the bulkhead asked me if I had a blanket. Because of “swine flu” we no longer have blankets, so I apologized to her and told her that we do sell them though and that she was welcome to order one. While this conversation took place, the woman sitting in the middle seat behind the passenger who asked me for a blanket started waving her hand in my face to get my attention. She didn’t raise her hand, she didn’t ring the call button, she didn’t say excuse me; she instead waved her hand as close to my face as she could possibly get. In the middle of explaining to the lady why we had no blankets, I had to stop, turn to this woman and say “I’ll be with you in a minute” to have her reply “well, that was rude.”

I’m sorry, “I’ll be with you in a minute” was RUDE? Was your hand in my face NOT rude?

So, I brought my bag back to the galley then returned to this woman to see what she needed. She told me she was having a problem watching the inflight movie and that she couldn’t hear any audio. The reason why she couldnt hear any audio was because she plugged her headphones into her neighbors headphone jack. So, I pointed out the problem and went back to work.

Later, after doing a trash run, I was headed back to the galley when hands went flailing again as I walked past her row, this time she was thirsty and wanted something to eat. The flight attendants in the main cabin had just past her row and when asked if she wanted a beverage, she said no.  So I explained to her how cabin service worked, and got her a drink.

Mid-flight I was bringing a drink to someone in the main cabin, when she threw her hands in my face again. This time, I told her that I didn’t really appreciate that, and that she should use the call button. She waved her hands at me again and said “anyway..” and continued on with her request. This time she pointed at her travel partner in the window and said “he wants his light put on.” I looked at her in disbelief. She really waved me down to hit the reading light button. So I turned it on and left.

I understand that as passengers you might want the flight attendants attention for one reason or another, but please don’t be rude about it. Please realize there are 149 other people on the plane who also want/need something from us, so please ring the call button and get in line. Don’t throw your hands in my face, especially for things you can do yourself, like turning on a light. Thanks for reading my Rant!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

A Day in the Life: Flight Attendant Trips

In an effort to explain to those non-flight attendants and airline folks how each aircraft gets a full compliment of crew members, and generally speaking; what goes into being a flight attendant, I’m going to continue to add chapters to my “A Day in the Life” series. I think this could also help you understand some of the posts I make in the blog and help bring everything together to make some sense.

You may hear me mention from time to time that I’m leaving on another “trip” or that I’m on a “4 day trip” and I’m not saying that because I’m going on vacation or because thats the easy way of me saying I’m “going to work.” A trip is a collection of flights that a flight crew member will be operating over the course of one day to four days and sometimes even longer than that. The word “trip” can be substituted for the word “pairing,” “ID,” or “sectors” depending on the airline or country in which you work.

Trips can change monthly. The trips are built by the Crew Planning department after they receive a list of flights that the airline intends to operate for the next month from either Route Planning or Marketing. Flight times and flight schedules can change monthly, therefore impacting what kind of trips can be built.

Most domestic carriers build trips ranging from 1-4 days, and in some cases have 5 day trips. Depending on the flight attendant’s work rules or union contract regarding duty and flight time, some trips may contain a transcontinental turn (example LAX-JFK-LAX) allowing the flight attendant to fly 11 hours in one day. Most senior flight attendants like these one day trips because it allows them to be home at night, like a normal job would but allowing them to retain the scheduling flexibility that comes with being a flight attendant.

Commuters, like myself, enjoy 3 and 4 day trips. This way, I only encounter the annoyance of flying to work once a week.

Here’s an example of what a trip can look like:

Above is an example of the flights I might work in a 4 day period. Now, I’m going to break down a trip and tell you about some aspects of them, that you might not know.  Let’s take a look at the last flight on day 3, and the first flight on day 4.

You’ll see that if you were work flight 682, you’d land in New York at 10:29pm and you would stop getting paid at that moment. Figure it takes 15 minutes for everyone to deplane and 30 minutes for you to get to your hotel. Now, its 11:14pm. You’re report time the next morning, at the airport, is 10:30am. Which means, you have to leave the hotel at 10am, so you’re up getting ready at 9:00am or 8:45am.  You can now see that though the layover says you’re getting “11 hours 46 minutes rest” you’re really not. If you were to actually fall asleep the second you get to your hotel room, which would never happen, you’d be asleep for roughly 9 hours and 30 minutes. Realistically, by the time you take a shower (20 minutes), eat something (20 minutes), relax in bed to fall asleep (20 minutes) you’re now down to 8 hours and 30 minutes of sleep. Mind you, this is factoring in that you don’t wait 30 minutes at the airport for the van, your rooms at the hotel are ready, you have food with you to eat (and you don’t have to wait for room service or delivery), and most of all, you weren’t delayed arriving into JFK. Your rest isn’t extended if your late, unless it goes below 8 hours.

Another way trips can be built, which really messes with me, is with day sleeps.

You’ll see with this trip, that you leave San Francisco at 11:15pm and arrive in Dulles, VA at 5:45am the following day. You ‘rest’ for 13 hours and 10 minutes. Then, later that same day, you work a night flight to Los Angeles at 8:10pm. Some flight attendants prefer to sleep during the day after working all night, then again, working a night flight. So, some trips may be built this way.

For those days where you do “turns,” or a lot of short flights in and out of a particular city or cities, some trips come jam packed with “sit time” or “ground time.”

This is one of those things I can’t stand when it comes to being a flight attendant. “Sit time,” sometimes known as “airport appreciation time” is time you spend in an airport, not getting paid your normal, hourly rate, but yet — on duty, waiting to work your next flight. In the example above you land in San Francisco at 9:50am from Los Angeles, but you don’t leave for Las Vegas until 2 hours and 20 minutes AFTER you arrive from Los Angeles. This is usually when your momentum of ‘working’ and ‘being at work’ fades because you literally have nothing to do, and aren’t getting paid, until you close the door for your next flight.

Trips can come in all shapes, sizes, lengths, long days, short days, 1 days, etc. It’s a matter of personal preference as to what makes a “good” trip.. but generally speaking long sit times, working 4 or more flights a day coupled with a short layover seem to create a “bad” trip.

For those of you who aren’t in the airline industry, please take note (though not an excuse for bad service and/or cranky flight attendants): as you can see with the last example showing “sit time,” if you’re booked on the LAS-JFK flight at 2:35pm, as you can see, they’ve been working since their report time of 7:25am, which means they had to be on the way to the airport at 7am, and awake since 6am. By the time they are getting to you, to work a 4.5 hour flight, they’ve already been awake/working for 8 hours and 30 minutes trying their best to stay on time and dealing with everyday, normal, passenger issues. Trust me, they want to get to New York just as much as you do.. in fact, probably more than you do, so they can sleep!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Can’t we all just get along up in the air?

I came across this blog post on Gadling, via Twitter. The author, George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog, writes about passengers and crewmembers being polite to one another up in the air. He writes about the famed orange juice incident on American Airlines and a few personal situations he’s found himself in. He also comments:

When asked, “Can I get you something to drink sir (or ma’am)” by a flight attendant (or by a waiter for that matter), it is not acceptable to bark out “Coke” without looking up from your Sudoku. It’s not acceptable in the air, and frankly, it’s not acceptable on the ground, either. But especially not in the air. Flight attendants are trained to save your life if there’s an incident.

He goes on to say,

and it is not acceptable when handed your beverage to skip the “thank you.”

I agree! A lot of travelers have been complaining about delays, cancellations and missing/timed out flight attendants on Twitter after this past weekends snow storm on the East coast. We take a lot of heat and disrespect from the traveling public but I still manage to be polite, and as nice I can be under the circumstances.

As I mentioned on the UPGRD.com podcast, I reward passengers who are polite. On my flights, if you’re the first person to say “please” and/or “thank you” – I’m going to offer you a free drink. You would be VERY surprised to learn that sometimes I go 4 hours into a flight or days into my trip before someone actually says it.

One of the comments on Geroge’s post particularly infuriated me

SpadesHead: Let me get this straight, you want me to thank her, after being treated rudely by every single employee of her airline until now? After her airline is adding fee after hidden fee? I’ll tell you what, I’ll start saying “thank you” after they do. Listen after you conversation at the ticket counter, do they say “thank you”, no, usually not. How about security? “Thank you.” No.

To you, Mr. SpadesHead, I want you to keep one thing in mind. We are all different people and our own person. Just because the company I work for implemented additional fees for checked bags, food, etc.,  and the agent at the ticket counter didn’t say “please” or “thank you” doesn’t mean I’m not going to or I agree with what they did. I deserve the same amount of respect you would pay to any stranger you meet on the street. I just so happen to be your flight attendant today, and could, potentially, save your life.

Would you say “thank you” to that?

George, thank you for writing you did. Flight Attendants across the world, I’m sure, thank you as well.

I don’t know why flying has to be a battle of negativity. Flying used to be a luxury and something everyone dreamed to do, now, it’s dreaded because of the supposed lack of customer service and humanity.

I for one like my job, enjoy what I do, and that shows in my work and my interactions with my passengers.

Being polite will get you everywhere.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Alaska Airlines Flight Attendant’s file lawsuit due to Turbulence

Yep. You read that correctly. I was just as shocked as you are when I first read this story.. and frankly, I’d love to meet these ladies.

Donna Dacko and Inga Isakson were working a flight to ONT (Ontario, CA) from SEA (Seattle, WA) on December 25, 2007  when just prior to landing the flight hit “previously unreported sever turbulence.”

Inga allegedly hit her head on a seat armrest and metal rod below the seat which left her surrounded in a pool of blood and foaming at the mouth. Donna, was reportly thrown “at least” 6 rows of seats after hitting her head on the ceiling and landed on top of Inga.  In their lawsuit, they claim that Weather Service International (WSI) neglected to properly predict the weather and/or warn Alaska Airlines of the weather and are seeking payment for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages and emotional distress. They also named the U.S. government in the claim because they think Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Air Traffic Organization should have warned them about the severe weather because their injuries were “totally preventable.”

Are you KIDDING me?!

If I filed a lawsuit for every time I hit turbulence, when I was told by the pilots reading their weather reports, that it should be smooth- I’d be spending my days in a courthouse filing paperwork.  Nevermind the lawsuits I could file claiming “emotional distress”  when the flight deck asks me to take my seat because the aircraft in front of us reported hitting some bumps, and after strapping in, we never encounter them. Smooth as glass. A lot of aircraft get their reports of turbulence from other aircraft in the area who have already experienced it, whose to say that Alaska 464 wasn’t the FIRST aircraft to encounter the turbulence and that no one else in the area or on the ground knew it was there. I mean, can the meteorologists and the FAA Air Traffic Organization really SEE the disturbed air?

This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.

Yes, of course, if they really got hurt, I do feel sorry for them and send my deepest heartfelt well wishes. Going through severe turbulence isn’t a fun situation to be in, and can be very scary. However, I find it odd that they file this lawsuit one week before the statute of limitations expires. Why wait until now to file this claim? Why wait 2 years? What happened to the other one or two FAs on board? Are they okay? Furthermore, are you to say that when a meteorologist forecasts a foot of snow at 11pm and the next morning there is only 2 inches, because the storm got weaker through the night, that we can now sue them? It could be claimed that schools closed and flights canceled which caused lost revenue for those businesses, much those flight attendants lost wages from being out of work.

I’m really stunned at the audacity of these flight attendants. Turbulence is always something to be unexpected in my book, and proper precautions are should always be made in the event you hit “previously unreported” turbulence.  It comes with the job. When you going through training your taught about the many things that can happen to you on board an aircraft, including aircraft crashes. Turbulence is one of those things that we encounter on an almost every day, every flight basis. This is nothing new for them.

Alaska Airlines says they know nothing about this legal action. Frankly, good luck to them. They have to prove that two years ago SOMEONE else prior to them descending to 8,000ft knew that the patch of rough air they went through, was already there. The only patch of rough air I can see, is in the same location their brain is supposed to be.

If you’d like to read their 18 page filing, click here.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine