I am working a 2-day trip. I will be working position 11 on the Boeing 777-300 to Los Angeles, California. Come with me as I work this flight.
It is a 540am sign in. Ugh, that’s pretty miserable. It means that I have to get up around 4am to shower and Uber to the airport. Packed and ready to go, I leave the apartment with time to spare. Hopefully the Starbucks is open because I know my normal coffee shop in the airport doesn’t open till 530am.
The Starbucks coffee line is too long and my crew line, which normally located in one area of the airport, is closed. I half to walk to the secondary entrance. I forego coffee. I show up to the gate and scan in. I confirm with the gate agent I am who I am. I print my hotel voucher (something I do even though we have electronic versions on our employee tablet) and board the aircraft.
Consulting my work tablet, I find that I am working Business Class and my jumpseat is at the boarding door. I stow my bags near my jumpseat.
I then begin my Safety and Security checks. I also walk around the aircraft to familiarize myself with the location of emergency equipment.
When I get back to my cabin, I begin distributing headphones, menus, and amenity kits to the Business class suites. As I am putting out the amenties a flight attendants passes by me and comments, “wow, you’re doing a little extra.”
It is here I reflect on my flight attendant journey. You see, I used to be a terrible flight attendant. I didn’t care about the service or the passenger. Zach taught me something very important. Before I met Zach I was your normal, typical don’t-care-about-the-service flight attendant. He taught me the power of a good service. When we flew first class to Tokyo we looked up the cost of a first class and business class ticket. They are upward of $5,000 internationally. This domestic trip will probably cost over $1000. He said, “you’re an American Express Platinum member and a gold member for Marriott Bonvoy. When you go into the Centurion lounge, or when you to the front desk of a Marriott hotel, don’t you expect to be treated a certain way?” He taught me that as a premium member I have expectations to be treated a certain way. Don’t you expect the hosts to smile and keep your champagne full at the Centurion lounge? Don’t you expect to stand in the priority line and get served first at the hotel? It was a lesson in service that I desperately needed to learn.
When I used to work at Disneyland I took full advantage of that free admission pass. I didn’t learn the value of paying for something that was as expensive as a Disneyland theme park ticket. I didn’t learn how to value my money in the form of a service that I paid for. I took this same mentality with me to this airline job. It wasn’t until I was able to purchase my own airplane tickets that I realize how powerful expectations can be when you pay a whole lot of money for it. Thank you Zach for the lesson.
As the other flight attendants board we introduce ourselves. “Hi, I’m Johnny, the number 11.” We usually say our position number because we will most likely never remember each other’s names. I see two familiar faces. “Hey! I didn’t know you were on this trip! We haven’t seen each other in 2 years!” We think pretty hard trying to remember the trip we worked together. “Yeah, we were in Vegas together!” They’re pretty cool, fun gay guys.
Our purser gives us a small briefing. It’s a way for him to confirm that the aircraft has the correct number of flight attendants and to pass on some important information about the flight—like some security stuff, the amount of passengers, boarding times, and special passengers. This is probably the only time on this plane that I will ever see all the flight attendants together at once for the flight. After this usually everyone sticks to their respective cabins.
The passengers begin to board. If you’ve read my previous posts about passengers, you know that boarding is the worse. Look, there goes a numb nut in main cabin who is constantly opening and closing overhead bins trying to find space. “Yo! Numbnuts, if they’re closed that means they’re full!” Yeah, right, I don’t say that, as much as I want to. Instead, I turn a blind eye and let him suffer. Jk jk.
When most of the passengers have boarded I begin the Pre-departure beverage service. I offer Champagne, Mimosas, oranges juice or water. There is about 52 Business class passengers.
After the last passenger boards and the final paperwork given to the Purser, we close the boarding door and get ready for push back. Flight attendants begin securing galleys and closets, we hang curtains and get last minute coats from passengers. We collect plastic cups. We clear the aisle and the plane begins to move away from the gate.
“Hello, welcome aboard Flight 277 with non-stop service to Los Angeles International Airport. Please pause for a moment to give you attention to a brief and important Safety Demonstration on our 777-300. Your attention please.”
The safety video begins to play. And, sure enough, some idiot is up and getting into the overhead bin. “Sir, you need to take your seat for the video. It’s required by law.”
“I just need my headphones.”
“Well you should have had them with you before you put them into the overhead bin.”
I love having imaginary conversations with passengers in my head. I always win and have the last word.
“Sir, please take your seat.” Then I walk away.
The flight attendants and I do our compliance checks. We make sure your seat belt is on, your tray table put away, seat in its upright position, and cell phones in airplane mode. A few flight attendants and I conduct last minute lock checks, make sure our work tablets are updated with the most current information, and then take our jump seats.
The plane roars down the runway and lifts off. We soar over downtown Miami, bank left, and continue northwest across the gulf of Mexico, Texas and Arizona before landing in California.
A single chime goes off indicating that we are above 10,000 feet. That is also an indication to let the flight attendants know it is safe to get up, even though the seat belt sign is still on.
The galley flight attendant gets his kitchen ready while I start getting my beverage cart ready for the service. I begin organizing the top insert in such a way that it is convenient for me. I make sure to have Champagne for those early morning drinkers, Orange juice, plenty of water and a huge pot of coffee ready since it’s the early morning flight. Like a waiter in the restaurant, you learn your clientele based on the time of day.
We start in the front of Business class then work our way back. We do our meal service from forward to back too, however we took our preferences Back to forward. There is a huge dichotomy on how to do service that would take a whole blog post to write about. This is just a gist.
After the service we pick up tray and refill drinks. We offer fruit and cheese to those who are awake. But everyone knocks out on those comfy lie-flat seats, eyes covered with provided eye-shades, all wearing noise cancelling headsets.
We do our service in about an hour an a half, which is pretty quick. It is a breakfast service. We are serving an American breakfast (eggs, bacon, potatoes, and roasted tomato), Fruit and yogurt, Oatmeal, and a Frittata.
Looking at the clock we still have about 3hour left in the flight. This is when I sit on the jumpseat and type out this post. I will periodically check on my Business class passengers every 15minutes or so, just to walk up and down the aisle for refills and to make sure no one is being stupid.
It is now about an hour before the flight ends. We do our arrival service. We will offer drinks and an arrival snack, in this case warmed chocolate chip or snickerdoodle cookies.
About 20minutes before we land flight attendants will prepare for landing, gathering all service items, including headsets; collect trash, make sure everyone is safe and secure as we descend.
FAA has deemed that flying under 10,000 feet is the most turbulent time for aircraft. That’s when you’ll experience the most shaking because the aircraft is going about 500miles per hour through different air temperatures and wind speeds, which is a concoction for turbulence.
Once we finish our compliance checks before we take our jumpsuits.
After landing and parking at the gate, I will be one of the flight attendants to say farewell to everyone as they get off the aircraft since my jump-seat is closest to the boarding door. I take a walk through the Business class cabin to check for items left behind. I grab my bags and deplane with the rest of the flight attendants.
We stand at the shuttle pickup spot for the hotel van. There are 11 of us. We have to take two vans. When I get to the hotel I throw off my uniform and plan my layover.
The layover is near the Redondo Beach pier. When I get into the hotel room the first thing I do is find food. My body is on lunch time, even though here in LA it is 9am. I don’t really feel like going out just yet either. Probably one of a flight attendant’s best app are the food delivery apps like Grub Hub, UberEats, and Door Dash. I find a place that serves Hawaiian food, The Grindz. I order their Bento Box. It comes with bacon fried rice, roasted pork, spam sushi, and Hawaiian chicken. Oh my god. It is sooooo good.
I really want to talk about that Spam Sushi. Dude, growing up, mom and dad always had spam. It is poor peoples food. I remember having to eat it ALL. THE. TIME. So naturally I have a profound hatred for spam. However, when I finally cave and try this sushi roll of teriyaki sauce, spam, and seaweed, I am in umami heaven. It is sea-and-pork saltiness. It meshes so well together that I regret never having tried it before.
I rest for a few hours before heading out. I don’t want to stray too far from the hotel, I do plan on having dinner with friends later. I walk the Redondo Beach pier. It is beautiful, sunny southern California. It is an absolutely GORGEOUS day outside. The weather is an incredibly crisp; gentle sun heat, cool ocean breeze; a noon so perfect that only a SoCal beach day can give. Waves crash on the beach. It is the perfect white noise that only a Californian beach and give: soft, rocking, easy-going, hakuna-matata, so-it-goes attitude. Ugh, boy do I miss this beach weather. Miami NEVER has this.
I finally gain the energy to go outside. I grab my amazing Bose sunglasses with the phenomenal sound system BUILT INTO THE SUNGLASSES, and walk the pier. It is now about 1030am. I walk the perimeter first. A rock-jetty separates a lagoon from the ocean. Paddleboaters and kayakers wade the calm waters. The smell of salt and ocean brine is almost hypnotizing. Following the path I enter the small International Redondo beach Boardwalk. There are shops and small eateries. I see a brewery and make a beeline for it.
I enter and greeted by the only woman working the shop. “Welcome to King Harbor Brewery.” She tells me that the brewskis are all locally made. I mention that I am from Miami, “Please don’t judge me for drinking a beer at 11am! It’s 2pm my time.” She laughs and says, “Yeah, and it’s Friday.” Well hallelujah for fridays. I try some cherry sour beer and a tropical IPA. Opting for the cherry beer, I take a seat along the open-air almost shack-like sitting area and take in the Californian sunshine.
As I am basking in the euphoria of a good beer, great weather, and the amazing job I have, I start texting everybody. Everyone from crew members to family members to friends. Me texting a crew member, “Where are you debbie-susans at?” I think I am the ONLY flight attendant to refer to Senior flight attendants as debbie-Susans. “We are meeting at 2pm. Who are you with?” They respond.
“I am with the greatest person on the planet, duh!”
And I chuckle at my own joke.
It is now 1:43pm and I am getting ready to meet my fellow crew members. I am only doing this because when flight attendants get together…the stories, the commaderie, the amazing connection between each other surpasses everything you think about coworkers.
We meet at the hotel bar for a few drinks. A few drinks turns into 2 more and we are having a blast. We laugh at each other’s personal troubles, we make fun of each others age, and we totally joke about passengers on the plane. “Did you hear someone wanted to take your name down to complain to Corporate because you didn’t get her a cup of coffee when we were landing?”
“Did you tell her this?” He lifts a hand and flips me off.
We chuckle heartily.
A few hours go by as we just sit and commiserate. Then one of my old Disney coworkers joins us. We head out to the pier for King’s Harbor Brewerie, again. One of my fellow flight attendants has befriended the bartender and asked her to come drink with us. My Disney friend introduces himself to my two crew members, then bartender introduces herself. We learn that her husband works for LAX as a Facilities Manager. My friend is searching for a new job and we try to convince him to be a flight attendant for another airline, which is funny because we don’t even promote our own airline. We learn that the bartender is trying to find as many Tiki Bars as she can. I say that my partner and I are doing the same thing and we are going to blog about it! We learn that my fellow flight attendant’s mom is battling and winning against cancer. We share a few more beers and stories. The time passes as quickly as a good time always does.
We leave the bartender to get food. We are now buzzing and laughing stupidly at everything. “Hi, waitress, he’s horny and hungry. So he’s going to be dramatic.” Even the waitress laughs with us.
Dinner ends with filled stomachs and yawns signaling bedtime. I’ve been up since 4am Eastern time. If you convert that into Pacific time, I’ve been up since 2am. It is now 11pm. I am exhausted. We say our farewells and share some hugs. My friend and I promise to see each other soon. We all part ways.
Goodnight, dear readers.
I try to keep my body on Eastern Miami time. I wake up at 6am Pacific time, which is 9am Eastern time. I watch the sun rise from my room with a cup of coffee. I open the balcony door and step outside. There in the distance behind the parking lot, the yacht dock, and some buildings is the beautiful Pacific Ocean. It’s enough to encourage me to take a walk around the Redondo Beach pier. I grab another cup of coffee. I head out into the humid morning that’s covered in clouds and marine layer. The sun doesn’t penetrate.
I begin getting ready for work around 10am. Shuttle pick up is about an hour and a half before departure. All 11 flight attendants and our 2 pilots greet each other in the lobby. “What did you do on your layover?” “Where did you go?” “Good morning!” “I’m hungry!”
We are going from West to East, California to Miami. Its going to be a lunch service in Business class. You see, when we did our breakfast service yesterday, a lot of the passengers were asleep and not hungry. We were pretty much doing nothing most of the flight because passengers wanted to rest. Today, however, the flight occurs during lunchtime and everyone is going to be awake. We are going to be more busy. Everyone is going to want to drink alcohol. Everyone is probably going to eat. Our service procedures are probably going to change to accommodate that premium class mentality: hand running each course (its a four course meal), set up a bar with snacks and accoutrements, and an arrival cookie service before we land in Miami. So, yeah, it’s going to be hectic.
I board the plane, stow my bag, then do my safety and security checks. After that I begin setting up the Business class seat with a menu, a headphone set, and an amenity kit. Then I start getting my Pre-departure drinks ready: water, orange juice, and champagne. Once the Galley Flight Attendant gets organized, he tallies the meals and gives us entree counts. Another FA and I divide the counts as evenly as possible. We start in the front of Business class, work our way back, taking preferences. “Chicken, Beef, Seafood, or Veggie?”
Lunch is pretty fancy. Braised Short Ribs with couscous, sautéed haricots verts, carrots and a mustard cream sauce. Our chicken option is a roasted spinach and gouda stuffed chicken with asparagus, carrots and a tomato ragout. Seafood and greens with smoked salmon, poached shrimp, boiled egg, seasonal vegetables and ranch dressing will serve as our entree salad. Finally we will offer a Mushroom Farro Risotto with kale, butternut squash, zucchini and pesto as a vegetarian option.
I get halfway through the cabin before the Captain says, “Flight attendants, prepare for take off.”
I take my jumpseat and strap in. We speed down the runway and launch into the air. After it is safe to get up I finish taking my food preferences.
We begin the beverage and nut service. Then we conduct the beverage and appetizer/salad service. Then we do the beverage and entree service. Then we do a beverage and dessert service.
It took us about an hour and a half to feed 52 Business class passengers. This level of service is phenomenal. But it kicks our ass. By the time we finish we are tired and foot sore.
We sit and chat for a few hours in the time between our next arrival service. I work on this post on the jumpseat and in the Business class galley.
About an hour before we land we do the arrival service. We offer drinks and warm baked cookies.
For a 4 and a half hour flight Business class passengers surely get wined and dined. I mean, I just checked the price for a Business class Flagship seat is $1800 one way. A roundtrip ticket will fork out about $3500. A first class flagship seat is $2900 oneway, $4800 roundtrip. Yeah, these passengers definitely deserve the wine and dined service.
Well, dear reader, this a Flagship Transcontinental flight in a nutshell. It’s a beautiful service when it is done right. First class service is even MORE elegant with fine dinner wear, stem-glassware, and visually stunning food plating. But there are only 8 passengers in Flagship first, with the office-suites that turn into beds, complete with Casper mattresses. Business class is a tough cabin and service to complete because of the many different elements: headphones, amenity kits, water bottles, comforters, pillows, pre-departure drinks, nuts, beverages, entrees, desserts, arrival and deplaning services, and the amount of passengers in the cabin, 52.
Again, this is only a two day trip, a trip that I usually don’t fly. I fly mostly three-day trips with a completely different, toned-down service. Maybe someday in the future I’ll take you along with me as I work a three-day trip.
Until next time, dear reader, pleasant travels and happy reads.