August 31st, 2016

When I flew...and my woes

I wrote this five years and six months ago relaying some experience of being a flight attendant: (please be aware the following has been truncated for clarity and understanding)

I will start my 1st day of duty with home reserve* at 0400 followed by Airport Reserve from 0500 to 1400. As I am calling to check in** I am notified by scheduling that I have flying at 10AM.

*Understanding that people on airport reserve are there for emergencies, last minute things. While home reserves are for anticipated things, etc. So surely there is enough time to call someone who has home reserve. There are other times when I check in and I am told of a flight/trip that will start after my airport reserve is over. For example at 1517 and my airport reserve is till 1400. Yet I was notified of it at 0500.

**To 'clock in' you call a scheduler. Sometimes you get the same person everytime or various people. They are usually not in the same time zone as you. They may know next to nothing about being a flight attendant. They tell you where to go and what hotel you'll stay at--sometimes. If you have any problem/question/illness/mishap,etc. you contact crew scheduling. For all other queries you end up speaking with a flight crew supervisor which may or may not check you for complaince. Be it with regulations, appearance, cosmetic or anything else they think of. Talking to a scheduler may be a bore or literal hell. Also (they inform you) all your conversation are being recorded.

So I will go to this flight at 10 AM and upon landing at our destination I will be notified either via the pilots or otherwise that my trip has turned into a three day with a deadhead home.

*A deadhead is a flight that you will be taking as a passenger and not an employee. You do not get paid for it. However if the flight is overbooked or there are transfers you will not be a "deadhead." If this happens you stay whereever you are till you can be scheduled a flight back. Sometimes this can be an hour or two--a day even a week. It happened to me more than once.

Then on that 3rd day going to deadhead home I will again be notified that I am not to go home but to another flight. That it'll be one overnight* with a deadhead home after the leg.

Yet alas the day of, they tell me I must now go to another flight and overnight there. Then after 6 days have passed I am finally able to go home...and only because that is the (lawful) limit.

*an overnight is where you may(be) stay overnight in a hotel. Sometimes you're there for 6 or 8 hours. This time however starts when the plane lands. When the plane is taxiing, that is when your overnight begins. So if it takes you two hours to get to the hotel and your overnight is six hours--you'll be back in the plane in four hours.. As in when there is 59 seconds left of your overnight you are next to cockpit.

Then on various occasions when I have been assigned these flights (some of them literal minutes before my arriving on a previous flight or finishing up with a previous trip)

I will tell the scheduler that I need to eat, use the restroom, etc. I am told that they can't allow me to go eat but if I must, then to go as they cannot stop me. However they state to make it to the flight on time. Madonn.

Another occasion my car broke down on the side of the street as I was driving to work. It was three o' clock in the morning. I called scheduling 2 hours before my scheduled airport reserve at 0500 (as I had decided to leave early due to inclement weather--it was raining. DC traffic goes bezerk with rain.) I clearly told them that I was stranded. I was going to be unable to arrive at work.

I had to call a tow and anyone I knew was more than 35 miles away from the airport. --it was also 3AM! I may not get an answer from anyone. Whoever did had at least an hour drive in the rain and would be getting the beginning of rush hour traffic.

Despite having communicated that I was stranded and unable to go to work they told me to try my very best to get to the airport! Adding to my dismay they notified me of some flying they had added to me!

This two hours before my showtime and after telling them I was stuck on the side of the road!.

I told them I wasn't going to be able to make it.

They told me not to worry about it as the flight wasn't till 11PM!

I replied saying that I am on the side of the road and it's raining and that I hadn't been able to get in touch with anyone to take me to the airport.

Madonn. I feel like this was last week. Yet this was five year ago--almost six years ago!