Category Archives: And then there was the time…

Ongoing short stories, and the lessons learned, of our flying experiences and time spent around airports and airplanes.

Prolonged anger? It could cost you…

And then there was the time…

…that a business class customer remained upset for so long, she literally lost her lunch. As we were on a trans-Atlantic flight, this is a very long time to remain upset. From the time this customer boarded the flight, there was no pleasing her. Her seat wasn’t the one she requested (her first class upgrade hadn’t gone through), the champagne wasn’t cold enough, the choice of meal she wanted wasn’t available. Throughout the service she complained yet continued to eat and drink. When the dessert, fruit and cheese service began she continued to complain. It was during tray pickup that her nerves and bitterness got the best of her. She literally lost her lunch. Yes, right there. On. The. Tray.

Moral: Depending on the severity of the situation, being upset is understandable. Prolonged anger and anxiety is not a good thing. Not only do you lose a sense of control, you lose a sense of who you are, and if you stay in this place for too long you could literally lose your lunch.

Focusing on the journey

And then there was the time…I took my last flight as a flight attendant. It was an easy trip; a turnaround. And guess who’s on my flight? The one and only Stevland Hardaway Morris, aka Stevie Wonder. He was traveling with 3 other people who guided Mr. Wonder onboard and settled into first class. I wished them all a safe and enjoyable flight as we departed for Philadelphia. The flight back to my base was full. We had just enough time in tourist class to serve all the customers and pick up. During our decent I had a lovely conversation with the customers opposite my jumpseat. They were an older couple who had been married for many years and their “thing” was visiting baseball stadiums around the country. While not a fan of baseball, I found their story interesting; here were two people with common interests, enjoying themselves, the places they’ve been, and each others company. And just like that, my career as a flight attendant ended. No water cannon salute, no paparazzi, no throngs of well-wishers. What a beautiful ending.

Moral: It’s all about the journey, not the arrival. Imagine had my last flight been overly dramatic. It may have eclipsed much of what I had experienced up to this point. I find life to be more fulfilling when focusing on the journey; the experiences, the people you meet along the way, the lessons you learn, and not the arrival at the final destination.

Safe travels!

Sylvester

Sometimes you gotta just keep smiling

And then there was a time…

…I decided to wear a brand new pair of shoes on a trans-Atlantic flight. C’mon, they were Kenneth Coles! When I say I was looking sharp, I was looking sharp! Getting to Zurich was a bit of a challenge though. By the time we arrived the next morning my tootsies were tender. I couldn’t get to my hotel room fast enough to get out of those shoes! Sneakers on my layover were just what the doctor ordered. Next morning, the thought of putting those shoes on again caused me to tear up. And I realized that sneakers (not even the Braniff Converses or AirBerlin airplane sneakers) wouldn’t work with my uniform.

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So, I begrudgingly put on my Kenneth Coles and walked across the Atlantic. One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. And I continued to smile. And if you’ve ever met me you know I smile all the time, even when it’s unpleasant.

Moral: When your feet hurt it’s easy to  become a miserable SOB. Sometimes you have to smile through the pain just to make it home.

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Passenger dominoes

And then there was the time…

That I was working an (in)famous LGA to PBI flight; a flight that is known for it’s (ahem)…seasoned traveler. I always had a great time working these flights and you had to take on a new tone with this group of flyers. It always worked best if you could match their zeal and energy. One day during boarding there was a back up and people were standing in the aisle with no space between them. As a passenger was putting his bag in to the overhead bin he lost his balance and caused a domino reaction; bodies started toppling. When the domino effect reached a certain passenger she began to react in the most dramatic way. “Ooooh!”, she yelled! “He is trying to knock me down!” “Whats going on?!” She was about to really get going when I stepped up, looked directly in her eyes and said, “Ma’am! You know just as well as I do, that was not what he is trying to do. This began a few people ahead of him and no one was trying to do something to YOU.” She looked me dead in the face, completely calm and said, “You’re right.” She then took her seat. She couldn’t have surprised me more.

My thoughts on this situation: Assume the best in people, help them see the real situation and let them rise to the occasion. It always makes your day better when a passenger surprises you with a great experience.

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Tax Day, Concorde, and Regret

And then there was a time…

…when my roommate and I decided “Let’s fly Concorde to London!” Being FAs without a lot of seniority, and being based in NYC, we had limited funds. So we decided “Let’s do this after we get our tax refund!” For the next few months we flew our schedules and talked frequently about our trip. Our airline offered a sweet deal: for approximately $800 you could fly British Airways roundtrip (standby of course) to London. This particular interline agreement allowed you to decide whether to fly over supersonic and back subsonic, or vice versa. We decided we’d take Concorde over, spend a day or two in London, then hightail it back on a 747. Tax time came and went. Refund checks arrived and were spent. Time passed. We never took the trip. We all know how this story ends. After the accident of an Air France Concorde, the subsequent grounding of the Concorde fleet, and the economics of operating supersonic flights, Concorde flew into the sunset, never to fly again. The end of an era had arrived. Every Tax Day since then serves as a reminder. Not flying Concorde has to be one of my life’s regrets.

Moral: If there’s something you REALLY want to do, do it! Make a plan, stick to that plan. Live life without regret.

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If I could’ve pulled a DB Cooper…

Then there was a time…

…we were cruising through the beverage service; nice crew, light flight, no troubles, very nice passengers. I say to the customer at the window, “And what would you like to drink sir?” And the LADY with the deep voice and sensible haircut at the window answers, “I’d like a Diet Coke.” Talk about embarrassing.  The fact that it takes a long time to pour Diet Coke added to the duration of my embarrassment. If I could’ve pulled a DB Cooper I would have jumped out of the plane, never to be found again.

Moral: Look people directly in the eye when asking questions. Doing so can save yourself from embarrassment AND of the possibility of having to jump out of a perfectly functioning airplane.

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So much depends on HOW you show up

And then there was a time…

…I was working a LHR to JFK flight and decided to go visit with Joan Collins who was seated at the front of the plane. Yes, THE Joan Collins! I spruced up, checked my teeth, opened the curtain and confidently presented myself at her seat. She was reading at the time and kindly placed her book to the side. “Ms. Collins, I heard you were onboard and wanted to come say hello and see if you needed anything.” With eyes wide open, a friendly smile and an attentive gaze, Ms. Collins asked, “Are you the captain?” I found her question splendid. I chuckled and let her know that I was a member of the cabin crew. After some small chit chat, mostly me telling her how I missed her appearance at a London booking signing and her travels to NYC, I refilled her beverage and returned to tourist class. She was most gracious and kind.

Moral: People can be very nice. Depending on HOW you show up and present yourself, people may think the world of you. You part ways feeling like you’re on top of the world.

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