Tuesday, March 22, 2016

View to a Thrill: Checking Inn

A Marriott

Inside Voice has a sassy personality that I can't always control. I try to keep Inside Voice silent, but sometimes it just blurts out. Inside Voice's favorite response to the question, “Does Mother Airline pay for your hotels?” is, “No, we sleep in the terminal in makeshift shanty towns of lost and found coats and jackets and old seat cushions.” Inside Voice can be so sassy. Of course Mother Airlines provides for our hotels.

It's said that back in the day, flight attendants had to bunk up and share a room. Today, our contract provides language of certain expectations for our hotel layovers. They must be of a certain standard (sorry, Best Western and Howard Johnson, our standards are high), be located in a safe environment, have food available, provide Internet access, provide no smoking rooms and a room for each crew member. Bunking up is strictly at the whims of the crew involved. (And yes, there have been times I've willingly bunked up, but that is for a completely different series!)

Most of our crew hotels are of the caliber of Marriott, Doubletree, Hyatt or Sheraton. One of the things I enjoy about my job the most are the layovers. I love the chance to get out and explore, engage in new cultures, see how people live and work, and enjoy a nice hotel room. Some hotels are fantastic to stay in. Others are quite mundane. Only a few were bad enough that I would never wish them on anyone else! (I'm looking at you DC.)

Almost any crew member will readily admit that there is nothing better than staying in a hotel that is attached to the airport. Not having to wait for the van, tip the driver or spend time in transport, are a huge bonus! It's a fairly rare, bonus, however, as most of our layovers require the van ride.

My favorite hotel chain is probably Marriott, although I love the free cookies when you check in at a Doubletree. But with Marriott, you know that no matter what city you're in, you're going to have the same basic room...down to the same desk and lamp. It's sort of nice to have that expectation. Of course, that doesn't help in trying to figure out in which city you're in. “Wasn't I in this room last night?”

I'm often hear jealousy from others of all the room service I must take advantage of. Room service is a nice luxury, however, if I were to do it on a regular basis, I'd need another job to support the habit. Yes, most hotels give us a small discount- usually 15%. But most hotels tack on a 20% charge plus a fee for the opportunity to have someone bring your meal to your room. I've only taken advantage of room service at a hand full of hotels; once when the crew discount for food was 50% and perhaps a few times when I just didn't feel like getting dressed and going down for food.

The Peabody Hotel in Memphis

I've found a routine in entering a room and I'm not sure if I should attribute this to be slightly anal retentive or just comforted in having a routine for the many hotels in which I stay. Number one is safety and locating my exits in case of emergency. I enter the room and inspect it for intruders and odors. I refuse rooms that still have a lingering odor of cigarettes.

Off comes the tie and my airline ID badge, then the shoes. As I take off my watch, I verify that the room's clock is correctly set; you'd be surprised at how many times I have to adjust a clock. After this, I adjust the thermometer. I like the room to be between 67-70 degrees. In a hot locale, I may turn it down as low as 60!

Now it's time to lose the uniform, hanging it in the closet. Then I set out the items in the bath room on a washcloth; toothbrush and paste, comb, meds, deodorant, cologne, cotton swabs, liquid soap (I bring my own so I don't waste the hotel's on a single use) and like a rock star's dressing room, it's always set out in the same fashion. After all, I am a rock star. Of sorts.

Once this is complete, I may need to facilitate...or as some might say, use the oval office. Usually, when I get to a hotel room, I've been working a long day—as long as 16 hours. Airplane lavs are disgusting and I avoid having to sit in one at all costs.

Not every hotel has a heliport...but this one does!

As my name-sake might suggest, I don't like a lot of heat, so the next thing I do is remove the down comforter from the bed. When I started this job 15 years ago, it was rare to see down on any hotel bed in the US. But today, 99% of the hotels in which I stay have down. It gets old ripping the bed apart and making it back every time I'm in a hotel room. The only times I can handle sleeping under a hot down comforter is when I make the room 60 degrees or colder!

It's at this point that I can do what I need to do. On a short layover, that means going right to bed, as by this point I may have an alarm set for as little as 6 hours later (Flight attendants often have only an 11 hour layover, which is block-to-block, meaning once you subtract deplaning, getting to the hotel, checking in, doing the above settling in, getting up, showering, dressing, getting back to the airport and starting work an hour prior to takeoff for passenger boarding, you're only left with 6-7 hours for sleeping!)

If sleeping is not necessary right away, I'm usually on my computer to write a story, checking email or chat with friends all over the globe. When I have a longer layover, I really love getting out to explore and take photos or working out in the gym.

Exploring on a layover in Pittsburgh

They are our chance to recharge. They are our home away from home. They are nice, comfortable and if we're lucky, close to things we enjoy doing if we have enough time to do them. Yes, a nice hotel after a long day flying the skies is just the thing needed between flights.

Please click a reaction below \/

1 comment:

  1. I love staying in hotels, often the hotel is much a destination for us as thee city. Room service is my guilty pleasure. Too bad you don't get at least one meal gratis, that makes it tough for you. Knowing you in can see you putting out your things in order. I suspect we would travel well together!