Monday, November 30, 2015

Paris is always a good idea...

Our boy, Joaquin, traveled with Philip and me to Amsterdam this week, his first time in Europe.  While we had a wonderful time together in Holland, we knew that he wanted to visit friends in Paris, both for the friends and for the city.  As they say, timing is everything and we weren't exactly supportive of the idea.  But Joaquin is 24 now and making his own way in the world.  "Headstrong" is a polite description.

By all accounts, Paris was to Joaquin what it was to me on my first visit as a student at the Sorbonne.  Paris was to Joaquin what it is to so many young, starry-eyed romantics.  In spite of so many perfectly good reasons not to go just now, Paris is transcendent, even in its time of uncertainty and sorrow.

I wanted to share images with you that will undoubtedly be familiar, as seen through the eyes of a particularly headstrong. romantic, starry-eyed, editorial young man who happens to be very dear to me.  I also want to say "thanks" to my airline employer and to my friends and colleagues who made his journey so memorable.

Thank you also for getting him home safely and only 1 MINUTE past scheduled arrival in Los Angeles!  Our company has more than its fair share of detractors.  It also has one very supportive young fan who made it to work early today.  What a life!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

"We're all just walking each other home." Ram Dass

Today begins another Thanksgiving tradition:  the long road home.  Travel safely, my friends.  

Beyond that, be kind to one another.  Radical fundamentalism isn't the only impediment to our successful journeys.  We overeat, overschedule, overbook, overspend, overpack, overpromise, overexpect and become overheated.  Arriving home without one's humanity intact sort of defeats the purpose of the holiday, doesn't it?  

This is my Flight Attendant friend and colleague, Jae.  Perhaps you'll be fortunate enough to have him provide you an escort.  (Perhaps it will just be me.)

Either way, it's time to go!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Amsterdam by night, the day before Thanksgiving.  

There's a feeling of suspense in the air these days, like we're waiting for something to happen.  Maybe it's that way most days but our awareness has been heightened.  We're like the meerkats on the African savannah, torso erect, eyes, ears, nose to the wind to detect the danger that we're certain looms just out of range of our senses.  Or maybe we just are too susceptible to media hype.  Either way, the result is a generalized anxiety.

The antidote to anxiety is comfort.  Take it where you find it.  Offer it to anyone who needs it.  Be the solution.


(Many thanks to my homeboy Joaquin for the inspirational photo!)

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Evolution of Tragedy

I would rather die in love than live in hate. 

Death isn't the ultimate. Love is. 


Tragedy isn't new.

But there was a time when the rest of the world wasn't immediately, intimately, unavoidably aware of every detail of tragedy.  There was a time when an extremist sect was relegated to obscurity because it didn't have the way or the means to globalize its grievances and terrorize practically the entire planet.  There was a time when "eye-for-an-eye" faiths, laws and punishments were isolated evidence that not all members of the human race had evolved equally.  Indeed, they haven't.

That time was before the universality of the internet and high-speed travel, when we knew more about our door-yard neighbors than about those whom we'd never physically met half a world away.  That time has passed.  Will it ever return without a global reboot?

Tragedy isn't new.  It's just been globalized.  Evolution is a process. Whether it's "good" or "bad" is up to us.

Many thanks to my friend Noni for such an evocative photograph.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Role of Service

Another onboard experiment...
We had fewer than 100 customers in economy from Amsterdam to Houston yesterday. Our Amsterdam departure was delayed around an hour by late arriving equipment. Despite the captain's post-takeoff announcement that our arrival would be considerably more timely (only 5-10 minutes past schedule), the closer we got to Houston, the more anxious everyone got about connections.
Because of the light load, we finished our pre-arrival service quickly and had time to spare after prepping for arrival (I was working the aft galley position). I took a stack of customs declarations in one hand (because one copy is NEVER enough!) and my LINK (iphone 6 Plus) in the other and strolled through the economy cabin, "Questions about connections. Extra customs forms. Questions about connections. Extra customs forms."
I was probably stopped by 15-20 customers, most of whom were connecting to Latin America, many of whom had a smart phone or other connectable device in hand. I researched their connecting flights and advised them of status and scheduled departure gate along with the admonition, "Double check monitors in the terminal once we've landed. Gates are subject to change." It was a tedious process.
Just because the technology is available and easily accessed doesn't mean that customers have a common sense ability to use it. As experienced with the process as I am, I encountered a problem or two, so it isn't just customers.
There's a disconnect between all the tech-savvy things we're introducing to our product and the ability of our customers to take maximum advantage of it. We're the "link" (pun intended) between the two. It's an unrealistic expectation to think that airline passengers have some sort of innate ability to use everything we're providing just because it's 2015. Many don't.
What is the role of a Flight Attendant, really? My opinion: anxiety-reliever.  Service begins with intention and ends with a feeling.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

These are the good old days

Flight Attendants:  the 2000+ departures in the F/A Early Out are largely complete, only a few remain until next summer. Our departing friends and colleagues have left a formidable legacy in their wake; we are the fortunate beneficiaries of their experiences.

Now, it's our turn. 

Newly hired Flight Attendants continue to arrive at a breath-taking pace. So many are coming in 2016 that IAH-based F/As are traveling to DENTK for CQ.  We are being watched, scrutinized, emulated, admired, consulted, and REFLECTED, AMPLIFIED by our newest colleagues on the line. It's a daunting responsibility. 

This is where we repay the debts we owe our mentors. It's OUR time to rise to the occasion. 

These are the good old days!