Monday, December 7, 2015

My Favorite Things: Working It

One thing this job has is lots of variety. This is not a job for people who like the mundane; who like regulated tasks; who like repetition. I see people working on assembly lines and think to myself, “I'd rather be attacked by a giant fruit cake!” Besides the constantly varying days off, my job is full of different destinations and aircraft.
An Airbus about to land at EWR

The question I get asked most, and gets my eyes rolling, is, “What is your route?” It's OK, not many people realize how 60s that question is. Only the most senior flight attendant has a constant 'route'. And if I ever become that senior, I don't know that I would want one. I like variety.

There are periods of holding similar trips for a month or two; plus, every other month I'm on call and have no control over where I fly. A few winters ago, I was holding Boston layovers, which I thoroughly enjoyed. But soon, the flying shifted and I was holding Orlando. While not as exciting as Boston, I liked the hotel in Orlando and the airport is nice. One month you may see Austin, Texas 3 or 4 times, and then you won't see it for years. It's fun going to cities after years of not being there, such as a recent layover in Memphis, where the previous one for me was over 10 years ago! There is no 'route', just a constant change.

My airline has 8 kinds of aircraft in her fleet and I am trained for each one. I used to love flying on the 747. It's such a big bird, lots of places to roam, many passengers to get to know, 15 or so crew members and it takes you far away from home, which is the main reason I got this job. The 777 is a great plane to work because it was designed with input from flight crew. It's the largest twin engine airliner in the world. We have several variants of the '67 and the '37. The 787 seems like a great plane, but I've yet to work on one.

Interior of an Airbus 
There are things I don't like about the Airbus, such as the manner in which the jumpseat seat belts constantly get stuck when it retracts. But there is a lot to like about the aircraft, such as the wider aisles and flight attendant-friendly gallies. (The new 737 galleys were obviously designed by people who were never flight attendants!)

If I had to choose one position on one plane, I think I would choose purser on the Airbus A319. When I was based in San Francisco, there was nothing better than that position on a transcon red-eye flight. For the most part, the passengers sleep for most of the flight. There was a quick little service after takeoff, I would then assist with picking up trash in economy, and then it was pretty much just keeping yourself busy for 4 hours. As a writer and a night owl, this was very easy for me. I used to get a lot accomplished on those flights.

The nice thing about flying purser is being the only one on the jumpseat. There are a lot of times when I like peace and quiet, including at work. There's nothing worse than sitting on the jumpseat next to a flight attendant who's name is Chatty Kathy and all I want to do is listen to the conversation in my head. But with all the chatter, all my inside voice can do is shout, “Shut up. Shut up. Shut up!”

View from door 2L on an Airbus
We don't have that many long night flights being based in Houston. And in Houston, we don't see the 747. But I do still get a lot of flights on the A319. They're rarely all nighters, but I am often purser. The variety is great with this job, but when I'm purser on the 319, that's my favorite!

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