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!

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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.

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.

Single in the Sky

The past month has been rough to say the least. After coming back from vacation in the beginning of January my boyfriend and I decided it was time to end things.

Now, before you become sympathetic, let me tell you a little bit about what happened. Seb has a lot on his plate. He works practically full time, goes to school full time, must complete an internship this summer, and does not wish to remain in Phoenix after school, and is considering a move to Seattle. Maintaing and making a relationship work and exceed requires more time then he has at the current moment. We did not end things because of a dislike for each other, nor because we had an argument, but rather because he needed to focus on things more important in this time in his life.

I was supportive of this decision and fully understand the reasoning. I was a witness to his lack of time, increased stress and need for some downtime. In fact, I am so supportive that he and I still live together, as roommates and best friends, in an upgraded 2 bedroom apartment.

I tell you this because I made him an important role in this blog. When I started the ‘About the Blog’ section didn’t hide the fact that he, in fact, created the name “Up Up and a Gay” and he was the one who told me that I should pursue my dream to write for a living, and propelled me to start and continue with this blog.

Now, he still continues to do so, but in a different role. And, that’s okay.

Life, goes on.

Now, I’m single in the skies… and back in the dating game. A game don’t really enjoy. However, it can be quite comical for all of you, because now it gives me another chapter of my life that I can share with you on here. You won’t be finding the stories that Chelsea Handler shares about her sexcapades, but I’m sure it’ll be interesting nonetheless. Something I vow that you won’t see, if stories of me dating another flight attendant at my airline.

There’s something weird about dating another FA within the same company. I don’t know what it is.. but to me its just weird. What if you break up? what if it doesn’t work? what if after a big breakup you both must work a 4 day trip together? Too many “what if’s” and its not worth the drama and the rumors on the rumor mill that any airline runs on.

I think my breakup came at a good time in my life. Work is thriving (we’re getting pay raises this year..), I am officially based in Los Angeles effective March 2nd (bye bye San Francisco and Ground Delays!), I learned from my last relationship more about what I’m looking for and what is important within a relationship and finally, it’s a new year.. anything can happen.

In closing, thank you to those of you who are close to me and sent me messages after the breakup and offered a shoulder to lean on and thank you for continuing to read this blog! I am sorry I have been slacking this month with updating it, but between the break up and the move, in addition to changing my flying schedule around to accommodate both events, time escaped me. But restassured I’m back in full force, about to work a flight from Las Vegas to New York in about 4 hours, gearing up to capture the stories of the traveling public to share with you.

Pet Peeve: Airport Appreciation

One of my biggest pet peeves of being a flight attendant is airport appreciation. To those of you not in the industry you’re probably wondering what I’m talking about. Well here’s a quick explanation.

When the airline builds our trips (sometimes known as pairings) which include all of the flights we’re scheduled to work, there is sometimes “sit” times (or the time between flights of which we have to work) in between flights. Extended sit times, usually more than 2 hours we refer to as “airport appreciation time.”

There is nothing to do durning this time but wander through the airport, maybe grab some over priced airport food, catch up on phone calls, emails, etc. You would think we would WANT “sit times,” but we don’t. Remember flight crews are usually only paid from the moment the door closes to when it opens in your arrival city. For these sit times, we’re only earning per diem, which at my airline is $1.75 an hour. So, for those 2-3-4 hours in between flights I’ve made, maybe: $5. Talk about unproductive!

One of my past trips drove me crazy. Actually, I drove myself crazy. I bid for the trip only because of the layovers and didn’t bother to look at what flights I would be working. The first day I had a one hour sit, the second day I had a two hour sit, and the worst of all, the third day I worked a flight departing at 645am arrived into San Francisco at 8am and didn’t work my next flight, a transcontinental one mind you, until 1130am! That day in particular killed me. I was up at 4:15am to get ready for my 530am van to the airport to work a flight at 645am, and didn’t get to my final arrival city until 730pm east coast time, or 430pm pacific. I worked a 11 hour day and only got paid for 6 hours thanks to the sit time. Whats sad is on day three my whole crew walked into the lounge we have, and found 2 other crews on 2 or 3 hour sits.. all with nothing to do! We all went out for breakfast together… and still had time to kill afterwards.

Usually sit times are a real downer. You’re awake, your working, all of a sudden you’re sitting around with nothing to do.. you get tired.. and then CRAP! It’s time to work a 5 hour flight!

Unfortunately the FAA has no regulations in place regarding how long between flights we can sit around. It falls under the “duty time” limitations, but thats a whole other topic.

Lesson Learned: Don’t bid for trips based on layovers or any other criteria without looking at the actual flights to be worked. Sit times are a waste of time.

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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!

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