Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Adventures in Flight: Closing a Chapter


I walked into the terminal at SFO all smiles and my head held high. Sure I was going to Beijing, and there is a lot to smile about in going to China. However, as I filed down the hallway among other airport employees and flight attendants, I had a feeling much like that of just after I was hired. There was a newness, a feeling that I was standing at the edge of a great adventure, knowing my life among the clouds was about to begin, that my travel lust would certainly be entertained.
Planes of the SFO International Terminal

This was to be my last flight as a San Francisco-based flight attendant; and perhaps it came too soon – I still have business cards not handed out!

For me, it was a momentous day. I parked on level 7 of the employee parking garage, as I always do. It affords such a wonderful view of the airport and of our gates at SFO. I can see the metal birds tearing down the runway and taking to flight. Often, I arrive early just to sit and watch, as I did on this day, taking a photo for posterity. For others, it was just a day, but I appreciated all the things I was going to miss about living in the Bay Area and being based at SFO. I was going to miss this view when parking for work, but I was also excited for the adventures that lie ahead for me in Houston.

The view of SFO from where my car was parked.

When I walked into the briefing room, the purser had arrived early and placed in each of the chairs our briefing sheet a puzzle page from the newspaper and a small bag of M&Ms. I had flown with this purser a year ago, when I last visited Beijing, and she had done the same thing. She must get Christmas cards from M&Ms! What a great way to start my trip.

There were 15 flight attendants working a 747. Normally, I am the most junior, number15, and I don't have to choose where I'll be working, I simply take what ever position is left. Today, however, there were 2 junior to me. It's been years since I've worked in the premium cabins, as they always go senior. I know the service well in the back of the plane and I do well interacting with customers and reacting to minor medical issues that arise from time to time. Today, however, I would have a choice of 3 positions from which to choose, and when they got to number 13, the upper deck galley, a business-class position, was still available.

I remember my first flight on a 747. I'd been flying less than a year and got a trip to Narita, Japan. Those days, we were staffed fully and there were 19 flight attendants. Somehow, I was juniored into the upper deck galley position. The crew was great about it, saying they'd work with me. I worked with 2 great people who would help me along, telling me what to do next in the galley as they went into the aisle with queen carts. I did a great job, in the end, garnering quite a few kudos.

When I get to Houston, there will be no more 747s to work. Until things change, which in this business, they always are, this would be the last time working a 747. There's talk of retiring the fleet. I will miss working this wondrous bird if they go away.
747 taxiing at SFO

When seeing that the upper deck galley was still open, I decided to go for it. What better way to spend my last flight on the 747 before leaving SFO than working upstairs and having this experience bookend my first flight?

Now that there is only 1 aisle flight attendant, there is more work involved than my first experience upstairs. I worked with a girl named Lulu who shared my enthusiasm and positive attitude. We worked quite well together and had a good time. I soon realized that I preferred working in economy. Upper deck is much less social. When Lulu left for her break, I was left all alone for two hours with no one to talk to.

The service went swimmingly and had I been more familiar with that galley, I could have worked much smarter. Fortunately, the purser came up to give us some help. Help? Sure, while greatly appreciated, she would leave my galley a terrible mess where I am normally very organized.

It was good to finally reach the stage of flight where I took my jumpseat for landing. I could have been landing anywhere in the world. The upper deck jumpseat has no window and the passenger windows I had visuals with, all two of them, were closed. I had to sense the plane to determine at what point to assume my landing position which I got, spot-on.

It's sad to be leaving but I'm anxious for the next chapter of my life, returning to my home town of Houston and enjoying life in new skies. It's sad that I won't be working 747s very much, if even at all, but at least I still have the wondrous metal birds to take me to my next adventure. Onward and upward!

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