Sunday, November 27, 2016
Friday, November 25, 2016
I boarded the rush-hour train north at Airport Station on a chilly afternoon before Thanksgiving and took the first forward-facing seat near the door. At Garnett, I think it was, a man about my age breezed on and took the seat perpendicular to mine, facing inward. He was dressed much more appropriately for the cold than I: a toboggan, hoodie sweatshirt, tradesman's pants (I assumed "a painter", for some reason) and comfortable-looking, well-worn shoes. He had the newspaper in his hand, opened to the crossword. So I assumed that he was looking for an appropriate word when he asked the question:
"What is a good book to read?"
"How many letters? Have you tried 'novel'?", I asked.
At first he appeared confused, then glanced down at the paper, "Oh, no. I was just curious about what you'd been reading lately. You look like someone who reads."
"Well, I seem to read a lot of James Patterson novels. Do you know them?"
"Yes, I do. They're an 'easy read'; detective stories and such. Which do you prefer: the Women's Murder Club series or the Alex Cross series?"
"One reason I like them so much is that they require very little of the reader. They're easy to put down and pick back up again. Plus, you develop a relationship with the principle characters across the series that helps move from one book to the next."
"You know, I read that Patterson only made $95 million last year. I guess he's a little off his game."
"Maybe we should start a GoFundMe benefit for him!", I said in reply.
After exchanging trivia and speculation about James Patteron's finances and those of his many co-authors, my new friend asked, "But what kind of books do you REALLY like? Patterson is more a pastime than a devotion." (Interestingly, that was my thought exactly.)
"Well, to be honest, I've always been a huge fan of Fitzgerald, though he's a subject I haven't thought of or discussed in a while. His romantic style is sort of out of favor these days."
His eyes lit at the mention of Fitzgerald's name. "The only one of his books I've ever read is GATSBY. But I loved it so much that I read it over and over again. Isn't it interesting how tragic Fitzgerald's life became? He had everything...very much like Gatsby. And what was his wife's name?"
"Zelda. The parallels are fascinating. If you have the chance, you really should read some of his other work."
Then, he segued, "Did you ever read THE ROAD?"
"Cormack McKenzie, was it?"
"McCarthy. It was so brutal and in your face. It was the most beautiful thing I've ever read. Do you think people are really like that?"
Just then, the man crossed his left ankle over his right knee, the bottom of his foot clearly facing in my direction. I don't think that my face gave me away in my utter surprise and shock. Where there should have been a shoe sole, there was nothing. I didn't want to stare but at first (and last) glance, it looked like nothing more than the bottom of a foot covered in a filthy sock. What? My entire perception of the "reality" of this meeting and conversation suddenly changed.
"...so naturally, I'm anxious to read some of his other books. What was that movie that did so well based on one of his books?"
"Ummm, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN."
"Yep, that's it. They say that that Spanish actor really did a nice job in it."
The train had progressed quite a bit on our journey since the beginning of our literary conversation. Suddenly, with no advance warning or introduction of intent, my train-mate rose from his seat. The train slowed as we neared Midtown station. We stopped. The doors opened. He turned and exited.
Our conversation was over. Our relationship had ended. Is something wrong with me that I feel sad about that?
Adjectives and adverbs are the words we use to describe, to account for, to attempt to ally others to our view and our opinion. Which? What kind of? How many? When? Where? How? I wonder at how different our world might be with only nouns and verbs.
The man I met and spoke with on the train wasn't my superior or my subordinate. He was neither rich nor poor. He wasn't a homeless man. He wasn't an "altered" man. He wasn't an erudite man. He wasn't a well-read man. Though I've described him subsequently as all of those things. In those moments, in our unique reality together, he was really none of those things. As uncertain as I am about what "kind" of man he was in that situation, I'm equally uncertain about what "kind" of man I was in that situation.
He was a man. And so was I.
Monday, September 26, 2016
When my dad died on Labor Day 2012, he and my mom had just celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary a few weeks prior. To contemplate spending so long with one other person, faithful to one other person, committed to one other person, caring for and about one other person is beyond "possible" for many, beyond "likely" for most. Their 56+ years together weren't perfect but perfection is not the nature of life. Neither is perfection the nature of happiness with another person. Happiness is a fulfillment born of wanting for another more than wanting for self. Differences and challenges provide a tension that encourages growth, both separately, as individuals, and together, as an unique entity.
56 years is a rare achievement. Yet my (paternal) grandparents were married for 73 years before my grandfather preceded my grandmother in death by only days. Both were well into their 90s. I have no doubt that Mom and Dad would have challenged that longevity absent the unpredictable influence of fate; in this case, cancer. Dad and Mom didn't both survive that challenge together. But the love they share did.
So should I be surprised that as I wake today, I rise to celebrate my own 30-year commitment with one whom I have described as "the best person I've ever known"? When I consider our milestone, the years fly by like nanoseconds, punctuated by the bright flashes of opportunities, some victories, some insurmountable challenges that helped us to grow...together. Like every other couple, we have faced darkness and difficulty along with light and comfort. Unlike many, we withstood the ravages and grew closer to what has ultimately become "us". At every juncture, there were choices to be made. We did the best we could. We survived. We persevered. We thrived both because of and in spite of whatever circumstance had in store for us. In typical fashion for us, we spend today's milestone in separate hemispheres but we are far from separated.
Contrary to anything I would have ever believed possible or likely, we nurtured a young life in our home. What a responsibility. What a privilege. What a blessing. If ever you want to challenge your committed relationship, bring the responsibility of caring for another life into the mix. Parenting is the ultimate test and most important job that anyone will ever face in my estimation. If anything, maybe we tried too hard. I believe there was an expectation that we would fail. Looking back now, I think we did just fine.
"Thirty years" means that we likely have more days together behind us than we do ahead of us. That is a sobering realization. Advancing in life with the one you love is like sharing a bottle of fine wine. The exuberance and anticipation at the pop of the cork are replaced with savoring and appreciation as the bottom of the bottle becomes a clear inevitability.
Love. (Please take note that this lover of adjectives has allowed that simple, 4-letter noun to stand on its own merit, just as it should). Love, in all its guises, is humanity's prime directive. As pivotal as it is, love alone is not enough to sustain a successful relationship over time. One element is even more integral to success and it is a gift that the one selflessly bestows upon the other. If love is the cosmic force that draws two souls together, then respect is the universal superglue that bonds them.
Respect is the force that allows us to accept and even to defend the differences between ourselves and those we love. It is the recognition that two entities don't have to be (and maybe shouldn't be) clones of one another to form a lasting bond. In the end, our diversity is our greatest strength. It allows each of us to bring to bear our unique powers and make our bond together more impervious. Respect is that most critical of things, that most common of things: a simple choice.
On this special day, I'd like to conjure an indelible image from my childhood memories...
Mom, Dad, David and I often visited Dad's parents at their farm home. We usually went after supper but knew not to arrive too late. My grandparents retired with the Sun and the chickens, as most folks did whose lives were inextricably tethered to the land.
There, in the fleeting remnants of the day, we'd quietly arrive on their familiar front porch. My brother and I would sneak a peek through the lace curtains of the front room window to see what we almost always saw, what we had come to expect to see: Papa and Granna sitting closely together in their chairs, side-by-side in front of the dying embers in the fireplace, sometimes revisiting the events of the day, sometimes just basking in the glow of one another's company and the waning light and warmth of the fire.
An idyll of contentment.
From an early age, I knew what real happiness would look and feel like. I thought I recognized it on this day, thirty years ago.
I still do.
Thursday, September 8, 2016
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
My Flight Attendant crew and I deadheaded (rode as passengers) into position from Houston to Sao Paulo overnight arriving in the early hours of the 21st. I particularly looked forward to meeting new colleagues from the “other side” of our companies' merger of almost 6 years (yet still flying separately as distinct, pre-merger groups), having a chance to chat and to see for myself, to prove to myself that we really aren’t that different, after all. We deadheaders were greeted at the gate and invited to come onboard to get settled by the working Purser and several other members of the cabin crew. In aviation, routes, seniority and available flying are everything. Though the Houston/Sao Paulo route is one that has gone back and forth between pre-merger subsidiary groups repeatedly, there was no rancor between us, the smiles were genuine, as seemed the feeling behind them. Maybe everyone was on his/her “party manners”. That's not so uncommon at a first meeting.
Once in GRU (Sao Paulo), my charter crew was set to meet at 1245 the next day for our bus ride back to the airport. From our layover hotel in the financial center of this enormous city, a trip to the airport can be quite an odyssey. With that in mind, we were all assembled there on time. But our bus wasn't. At “go” time, a hotel representative informed our ISM (onboard leader, equivalent to a Purser) that the bus would arrive closer to 1305, due to a miscommunication. That time slid closer to 1315. Our scheduled ferry flight to Rio (we would operate the airplane without passengers to get into position for our charter) was to leave GRU at 1500. It was a relief to find that the midday traffic was lighter than usual. We arrived with an hour to spare....or so we thought.
Our normally scheduled flight departures leave from Terminal 3 which is used for substantially all international operations. We passed through Terminal 3 security and approached the Immigration control kiosks. There was some question about our status as we were not, strictly leaving Brazil right away. Should we retain our landing cards (normally surrendered at departure) and keep our passports unstamped, in the event something should occur that would prevent us from leaving Brazil as scheduled that night?
The question drew conflicting answers. Kiosk officers consulted their superiors, our GRU station manager, Ichida-san was summoned, and telephone calls were made. Prior arrangements had been made for us to formally “exit” at this point, since we planned to leave Brazil immediately upon our return to GRU with the Olympians. But there was a new "Chief of Police" (Ichida-san's term) on duty today and he thought otherwise. By his directive, we were told to leave Terminal 3, walk a fair distance to Terminal 2, enter the sterile area there as domestic crew and then be bused to our waiting aircraft on a hardstand (airstairs rather than jetbridge) back at T3!
While attempting to do execute that new plan, we encountered misunderstanding-related problems at T2 security, then at the hardstand transportation area. I reminded Ichida-san that a similar trip was happening in September for the Para-Olympics. He said that his staff had gone to great pains to clear all arrangements for this very special trip and thought that they had matters well in hand. It seems it was the willfulness of a local bureaucrat that had changed the plan.
When we arrived at our aircraft (767-400), we were surprised that our Flight Deck Crew was onboard, having SUCCESSFULLY entered the sterile area as normal, via Terminal 3, surrendering their landing cards and having their passports stamped. Without the assistance of our 3 Portuguese speakers to bridge the language gap, they had accomplished what we could not. (There's a great deal of kismet involved in successfully planning and executing anything "outside the norm" in Brazil, in my estimation.)
As late as the departure of our ferry flight from GRU to GIG, none of our 39 BusinessFirst (premium cabin) seats had been assigned, yet our economy cabin was near fully-booked. We expected that VIPs would receive upgrades from Economy, at some point. We learned what that point would be in flight!
About halfway from GRU to Rio de Janeiro (GIG), a total of 38 minutes, we discovered that all 39 seats would now be occupied by special customers upgraded from Economy. Accessing the onboard wifi, we used our LINK (an iPhone 6Plus that serves as manual, onboard sales tool, and universal "connected" resource) to verify this information. We took advantage of the resources available onboard (the LINK, wifi and paper) to put together a seating chart and learned that we would indeed be serving 20 US Olympic Gold medalists, 4 Silver medalists and 11 Bronze medalists. Several weeks ago, upon learning that this flight would be a quasi-Olympic charter, I did some prep work. I gathered a passenger manifest and created a spreadhsheet in the configuration of our aircraft cabin. I plugged in each passenger, by seat assignment, then added his/her Olympic sport or affiliation. As the games progressed, I updated the data with medals won by individuals and teams. At this juncture, it was just a matter of getting the right passenger in the corrected seat.
We were so excited. But our excitement was tempered by the practical: the GRU station had catered the premium cabin for 27 and told us to only expect 15 occupants. Now there would be 39! "Folks, it's loaves and fishes time!"
Upon our arrival, the GIG station did a cabin security sweep and we prepared for boarding. In spite of the short flight time back to GRU, we intended to give our special guests the full Businessfirst treatement, including a pre-departure beverage service. We knew that we would be boarding through 1L (forward-most left door), funneling everyone through the galley where we’d be working to serve those pre-departure beverages. What an opportunity to meet the people we'd spent 2 weeks watching compete on the world stage...but we'd be busy. I remembered my friend Christi telling me about an iWatch feature that allows you to control your iPhone camera remotely. So, I set my phone up with the camera app open, perched atop a tissue box in a corner of the galley and chose the correct app on my watch. No matter what I was doing, I could monitor the traffic flow on the watchface and “snap” photos remotely as our athletes passed through.
As the boarding flow slowed to a trickle, our ISM announced that we all (Flgiht Attendants) needed to bring our passports to the boarding door. Authorities were insisting that our departure from Brazil be processed before we left GIG to return to GRU. (They said that we SHOULD have cleared immigration formalities before leaving GRU. Ironic, huh?) Their insistence drove a half-hour delay which made some of our guests anxious about their onward connections, all on other flights of my airline-employer from GRU. Delays provoke anxiety. One way we thought ofcalming that anxiety was to involve our guests in OUR excitement at having them onboard.
That’s how the idea for the Medal Panorama camera shot was born!
“Would the medalists seated in A-zone mind retrieving their medals so that we can take a “class picture”? We’ll be happy to email it to anyone who wants it…it’s bound to be a keepsake moment!” It was a welcome distraction from an uncontrollable miscommunication. Everyone happily obliged.
Did you know that you have to be perfectly still to get a good panorama shot?! I didn’t! But THEY did! As I started the left-to-right sweep of my phone, I heard someone calling down a seat mate, “Be still or it won’t come out!” Such a special moment!
The brief flight and abbreviated service went smoothly. Several of our stars said they were surprised to be treated to BusinessFirst…they never expected it. And me? I’m simply blown away by the grace and poise of our Olympic royalty. What an unexpected, irreplaceable experience that 40 minutes was for me, personally.
We landed in GRU and all dispersed to our onward flights for the journey back to the USA. Several of our Olympic guests came with my crew tonight to Houston…as did the wonderful working colleagues who brought my crew down 2 nights ago. Having those folks welcome us who knew what we’d done today eased the way to sharing the experience and excitement with them. Carmen, Christie, Neil, Sue, Nolan, Janet, Kim and Jesus felt like welcoming family, anxious to see us and to hear our news of the day.
I was briefly in the company of 35 medalists; a DREAM come true for a devote of all things Olympic, like me! I made the acquaintance and formed fast friendships with 8 of my new colleagues in the process. In a 32 year flying career, today was a standout day for me, an adventure of Olympic proportion.
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
We had only 9 customers in B Zone on 846 departing Santiago de Chile night before last, so I "floated" to Economy Class to lend a hand. After the service, I sat down with an Economy meal before my break started. Tray, utensils, plasticware, it all looked the same as "normal" but...
The couscous salad was BRILLIANT! Fresh, subtle flavors with just a suggestion of pungent onion and pepper. I haven't enjoyed couscous since my days in the Latin Quarter as a poor college student and NEVER did I enjoy it unheated.
The chicken entree was a Mediterranean preparation of white meat chicken with tomato-based sauce, black olives, capers, and a smattering of goat cheese. It was FRESHLY PREPARED! The clincher on this dish was that I found a whole bay leaf in mine. A bay leaf...whole...in an Economy meal.
The quality of the salad and main more than made up for the choco-flavored (read fake) Cool Whip desert which looked much nicer than it tasted. The "mousse" was underwhelming and left a "synthetic" aftertaste. I stopped after one spoonful and am regretting that one.
Overall though, GREAT JOB!
(I wish I'd had my phone in my pocket for a quick photo of the bay leaf. I'm almost doubting my memory of it!)
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
As Mom, Philip and I had a light lunch, we were mindful of the fact that my aunt has been unable to eat meaningfully for months. She has been so wrapped up in the care of her second husband (my uncle died some years ago), that her own health has suffered without remark, with hardly even any notice. If it weren't for the unusual metallic taste in her mouth and the recent yellowing of her skin, we might still think that Aunt Laura "just wasn't eating right". The fact is, she's hardly eaten at all and her body is noticeably wasted.
To myself, I wonder, "What is the point of sitting with the girls during the procedure?" But the answer is self-evident. It's a demonstration of love and care. It's a repayment of the kindnesses we received when Dad was in decline. It's a distraction from the galvanizing fact that a life we value is about to end.
In a pre-operative appointment, the physician was hopeful that the stint could be placed endoscopically, a quick, efficient procedure from which Aunt Laura could quickly recuperate. Once the duct was open, many of her symptoms would be alleviated. The tumor would still be present. The prognosis would still be grim but she would gain some immediate, day-to-day relief. Most importantly, she would have a bit more time free from disease-related stress to plan and make decisions. If the endoscopic procedure didn't go well, they would place the stint via an open procedure, meaning longer recovery and increased likelihood of complications.
The girls, daughters, daughter-in-law and granddaughter were gathered in support of their mom. A quick pre-op visit revealed that Aunt Laura was at peace. Just the day before, she had secured a supportive accommodation for her husband who suffers from age-related memory issues. Were she able to join him there, the facility would welcome her in an apartment-like setting with her husband. So many concerns were addressed with that one decision and commitment. But the one that mattered most and most immediately was never at issue: Aunt Laura was at peace with the idea that her time on Earth was nearly done; she was confident in her physician and reliant upon the Physician. Her composure must surely have been a gift to the girls. It was to me.
As her procedure began, we sat together in the surgical waiting room, engaged in the idle prattle of the concerned, a thin guise for the fear and uncertainty that prevailed. We reminisced, smiled, laughed and supported those we love with the good-intentioned distractions that serve so well. After an hour or so, we learned that the procedure had gone as planned and that Aunt Laura would be free to go home in another hour, or so. This hurdle had been cleared handily. There would be time and relief now to prepare for the next hurdle and for the end of the race.
In retrospect, what Mom, Philip and I did was so little. In reality, what we did was very nearly all that matters in life.
If, in our very "busy" lives we can't take time to help our fellow travelers along their path, what, exactly, are we here for? We concern ourselves with so much that, in the end, is of little real consequence. Why is that? To distract ourselves from our own mortality?
"Denial is not just a river in Egypt."
To be continued...(thank God!)
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Saturday, April 30, 2016
Monday, April 25, 2016
Saturday, April 9, 2016
Turns out, that was her opening gambit to wrangle an upgrade to one of the Business Class seats she could see going vacant from her vantage point. She wasn't successful.
I had noticed the regal-looking lady in 19F having a fairly intense, one-way conversation with our gate agent prior to boarding. Onboard, I confirmed that she was our only HVC (high-value customer) in Economy this evening (a "1K") who had what she characterized as a "tight" alliance partner connection in Sau Paulo to Salvador. I'm comfortable that we ALL (the crew) were intimately aware of the details of her connection within the first hour of our flight. She was one of those "energy black holes" for whom more is never enough. (The forecast of a significantly EARLY arrival in GRU (Sao Paulo) did nothing to allay her anxiety about missing the connection. Surely, this wasn't her first rodeo!)
And so it began...the Groundhog Day moment of realization that no matter how prepared I think I am or how happy I am to be here doing my thing, the first random interaction seems like sabotage. Do you ever wonder, "who plants these folks in my path to test me?".
We've seen evidence enough lately of what can happen, as unimaginable as it is, when we allow circumstance to overwhelm us. Friends, we have control. Circumstance will only prevail when we allow it.
"I'm afraid that service upgrades can't be handled onboard. I'm sure that my colleagues working this side of the cabin will make you very comfortable." "Shoot. Well, I'm glad we got a nice Flight Attendant, at least."
If she ONLY knew!
"So, you don't think I'll have any trouble getting to my 1020 departure to Salvador?" "Anything can happen. But I can't imagine it being a problem, especially for a seasoned traveller like yourself. It was booked as a legal connection and our arrival should be at least 15 minutes ahead of forecast. Also, there are always at least 2 customer service staffmembers meeting our arrival. One of them assists with connections. I also want to say 'thank you', Ms. Barrera (not her name), for your continued support of our company. We really appreciate your loyalty."
The 9+08 flight rolled on, obstacles presented, obstacles overcome, just like most days at work. But this leg didn't have that "something" that makes it feel special. I didn't know that that "something" was just a few hours away...
We were booked heavily to start with on our return. As we gathered for the hotel van, our ISM (onboard leader) informed us that GRU/Chicago was 13+ hours delayed with a mechanic and that we would be packed to Houston as a result. OK. A quick look at the seat map revealed that it was going to be HVC City tonight, "GS"s and "1K"s all through Business Class and at least 3 "GS"s in Economy. We also had a large group which we learned early on, were Mary Kay conventioneers, many of whom were unaccustomed to flying. The potential for issues during boarding and flight was growing exponentially. And, predictably, the issues presented themselves...
Our first customer was only somewhat ambulatory: he could stand but required assistance to move to his seat (21L with J & K occupied on this full flight). As our ISM assisted his steps, I engaged in a light back-and-forth to establish level of need. "If you need us, just ask. Ozzie and Donna are working this aisle but I will keep an eye out for you too. Just make eye contact and I'll know." What a smile of relief that brought from someone accustomed to being apprehensive in such situations. Apparently, our group members were all close friends or new friends or soon-to-be friends because their entry into the confines of the cabin were an occasion for conviviality and bonding. The aisles were impassable with back-slapping, loud-talking group clots forming everywhere. The young mother with two very small children needed attention. 1 of our 3 GSs in Economy (a displacement from the ORD flight) somehow scored a center seat and wasn't terribly happy, It was a time for pro-activity when avoidance just seemed like such a good alternative.
Issue by issue, my colleagues and I addressed away anxiety, Minute by minute, the cabin filled as did the overhead bins which, thanks to very cooperative students, were arranged perfectly to achieve maximum capacity. That in and of itself is a feat!
As things settled somewhat, I noticed the cute couple in 25JK trying to take "just the right" selfie and thought "we've got this under control, it's time to come out of character a little." The result is what you see in the photo. They couldn't wait to post it and, though they spoke only Portuguese, asked for my permission from a colleague. "Sure! But only if they send a copy to me."
Friends, what you see isn't "typical" me, or just silly me, or even red-faced from steroids for allergies me. That photo is "I love my job" me. When I see it, I remember that moment and how it felt to have things "in hand" again. It reminds me that I'll be doing it all over again tonight, when I return to GRU. And that's so cool.
When you love what you do and feel that you do it competently, even well, that is a success beyond all others. Philip would probably say, "you look high."
Well...if the shoe fits...
(BTW, our 3 "GS"s all remained in Economy and all were ultimately quite happy. We personally thanked each for their business, provided a leftover amenity kit and the commitment that we would do all in our power to assure them a safe, comfortable trip. At the last possible moment, I was able to move Mr. "I" from his middle seat in 17B to a last-minute no-show's aisle seat, 18D.
Our semi-ambulatory customer in 21L didn't eat or drink the entire flight. He confirmed that he'd done so so as not to inconvenience the customers in 21J&K. As soon as we arrived and it was practical, we got him to the toilet. He left us with a water bottle, an amenity kit and prayers for his continuing journey. What a gem of a human being he is. What a privilege it was to serve him.)
Sunday, March 27, 2016
I BELIEVE I CAN FLY (Click the link for video.)
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Friday, March 11, 2016
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
The answer to that question is as varied as the opinion and background of the person you ask it. But the evidence is clear: we have an astoundingly energetic, enthused, tenacious leader at the helm. By all accounts, Mr. Munoz acquitted himself, not just well, but in spectacular fashion at BOTH of his 2 hour meet-and-greet sessions in IAH yesterday. Firsthand accounts are still being posted. I saw video in another venue of a one-on-one that was dauntingly frank, yet also open, candid, friendly and confidence-building.
I say all of this in the context of the day's news. How difficult his task must have been standing on its own. When coupled with breaking headlines that two of our institutional investors were making an "end run" on the boardroom at the same time, it must have been overwhelming to our man. Yet, his poise never wavered. He answered the call with an appropriately confident and confidence-boosting communication to the people who matter most: you and me. Put ALL OF THAT in the context of heart transplant surgery not even 90 days ago and frankly, I don't know of a word that sufficiently characterizes the circumstances. Amazing? Remarkable? Inspiring? Resilient?
I was not among those in attendance yesterday, though I was there in spirit. It's no secret that I am a huge fan of this man, as are many of us. We've wandered around in the darkness long enough.
As much as anyone, I love and embrace my past for what it was and what it has meant in my life. But the past is done. Those friendships will endure. The resolve with which we meet the realities of today will steel us for our future.
The new UNITED has its leader. The UNITED family has its patriarch. It seems a really good time for us to release our pasts and move forward, together.
It's time for UNITED to be united, to quote a friend.
Friday, March 4, 2016
Thursday, March 3, 2016
(Click the link above for video)
At Continental Airlines, the 727-100 had 10 First Class and 95 Economy Class seats, if I recall correctly. The only galley was at midships and everything, First Class and Economy Class, was hand-run from that galley.
We used the aircraft extensively on the Houston/Mexico City route because of its performance capabilities ("hot and high", referring to climate and altitude). Since I started my life as a Spanish-speaker, this airplane was my home for the first year or so (along with the DC10-10 PUB which flew the Mexico City overnight trips). After First Class meal carriers were repositioned by the main cabin door next to the cockpit, the galley Flight Attendant would pull out the fore and aft galley service trays at the galley entrance and invert a meal tray to close the gap between them. Then, s/he would stack meal trays like cordwood, back and forth, for the 1 or 2 aisle Flight Attendants to deliver by hand.
Turbulence = disaster!
Some of these aircraft had closing overhead bins. Some did not. It was quite a challenge, especially at Christmastime, to tell a planefull of folks bringing gifts home to their families in Mexico that they could not stow their portable space heater overhead in the open rack!
Good-bye, old friend! By comparison to today's aircraft, you seem positively Medieval! But, at the time, you were a dream fulfilled.