Thursday, December 3, 2015

My Favorite Things: The Double Chime

An arrival in Lisbon
Whether it's a great flight or one where, as I say, “I earned my money on that one!” there is no better sound than the double chime. Any flight attendant would agree. Ding...ding. At the end of the flight it means get in gear, the plane is now on final approach. If you're working with a crew member as dry as a slice of fruit cake, it means in half an hour you most likely won't fly with them again for a very long time. If you're about to start vacation, it means that all though your brain has been on vacation for a week, your body is about to finally get in synch. If at the end of a trip assignment, it means that you're home. After a long 4-day domestic trip, it's simply the best sound in the universe.

The pilots engage the double chime when we descend to 10,000 feet. They do so by cycling the no smoking sign off and back on. Right after take off it tells us the cockpit is no longer sterile, a term that means we are not to disturb them. On approach it's our signal to prepare for landing and that we can no longer bother the pilots with anything but safety related business.

At this point, we've picked up the trash and now we conduct our safety checks. No more pillows and blankets to hand out. No more water for your medicine. No more milk for your baby. It's go time. Safety checks (seats forward, bags, tray tables, and head rest are stowed) and a jumpseat away from what we hope is a short taxi and then get off the plane...we want to go home!

Jet bridge controls

What is better is when the double chime sounds early. Flight crews, just like our wonderful passengers, love arriving early. I once had a layover in Hawaii and arrived an hour early, which was splendid. On a horrid, short layover in a worn-out airport hotel, an early arrival means just that much more rest before going at it the next day. And when home, I love it when I reach my car and look at my watch and think, 'gee, had we been on time, I'd just now be touching down, yet here I am, in my Peng-UV, about join the masses on my commute home'. (Yes, I call my SUV a Peng-UV. Why not?)

There can be a down side to an early arrival, and don't even mention it, for it is likely to happen. The dreaded 'gate-is-occupied'. That's the worst...arriving early and having to sit on the plane...on the ground...even longer after a long flight. But when the gate is free, and we're early, that's a good day.

Waiting for the jet bridge
Another bad thing is having a gate, arriving to it, the engines shut down and the passengers are right behind me, waiting for the door to be opened, but there is no gate agent to bring the jet bridge up. “I guess they weren't expecting us this early,” I'll say to those just behind me.

And it's funny when we are due in early, the captain has stated as much on his several announcements, but a passenger will stop me to ask about a tight connection. I'll look at their ticket and see that they had 50 minutes when we were to be on time. “No worries, ma'am, we're due in 20 minutes early.”

You may notice often, flight crew standing in the galley at the end of the flight after the seat belt sign is on. We may be talking about our weekend or our next trip. We may be talking about the strange dude in 22A. We may be talking about the overly talkative pilots. But when you hear the double chime, you'll see us smile and maybe do a little dance. The double chime. It's my favorite!


  1. Just proves you are normal...everyone loves extra time.

  2. Just proves you are normal...everyone loves extra time.