Saturday, October 24, 2015

Adventures in Flight: Ghost Flights

It's a very rare occurrence, some flight attendants say they've never had it happen to them. In my 15 years with Mother Airline, I've only had it happen maybe four times, but what a treat it is, for both passengers and crew. I'm talking about ghost flights; or very light loads. Extremely light.

The first time it happened for me, there were 5 passengers on a 757. On this plane, there are 24 seats in first class. With 3 passengers in coach and the other 2 in first, the purser got permission to move everyone up. With four flight attendants, this gave me and my flying partner assigned to the back no work to do on our flight from Chicago to San Francisco. What was fortunate was that the woman I was working with was a friend who I'd not seen since a Caribbean cruise 2 years prior, so it was fun just catching up with her for a few hours.

The second time I worked a ghost flight, it was again on a 757, but this time I was purser. I didn't move everyone up to first class, and no one wanted to, anyway. I mean, if you have an entire row, or three, to yourself, why move up. This flight had about 13 passengers, and even though those seated in economy didn't move up, I did offer and serve first class breakfast to everyone back there who wanted to eat.

On the most recent flight from Dallas to San Francisco, there were 9 passengers on an Airbus 320. We had 3 in first and 6 in the back; a young man, his mother and grandmother, a man and his 5 year old son and a businessman wearing a Rotary Club pin. (If you've read my story, “The Rotarian”, you will know I have a special history with the Rotary Club.)

View of the Ghost Flight cabin with PAX seated up front.
I love ghost flights and the ability to give outstanding, personalized service to each customer; a chance to get to know them (the Rotarian was from Arlington, the young man with his family worked for Nordstroms's in Dallas and were going on vacation, and the father slept, but the young boy was well behaved and loved orange juice). No cart was set up, my flying partner and I ran each drink out on a tray.

Each time I work a ghost flight, I always hear the same comment. It came from the nice woman in first class this time, “I'm surprised they didn't cancel this flight, they're not making any money with so few people.” The answer is always the same, “The plane is needed for the rest of the day, if they cancel this flight, they have to cancel 3 or more flights that this plane is scheduled to fly.”

The best service you can get on a plane is one with very few passengers. You receive personalized service on a ghost flight. The chance to chat up a flight attendant (and who doesn't love that?), lots of room and peace and quiet is all so, very nice. Plus, the crew is happy to have a light work load and a fun change to the routine of the normally packed airplanes. They are quite rare, so if you have the pleasure of being on one, enjoy...and feel free to spread out.

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