Monthly Archives: May 2014
Turbulence during flight is something we ALL have experienced at one time or another; as a passenger or a working crewmember. And as most people know, there are many causes of turbulence due to the fact that our “friendly skies” consist of ever changing air pressures, temperature changes, precipitation, wind speeds/ directions, and other aircrafts!
The dangers mostly lie in the types of turbulence that can’t be predicted and really come out of nowhere…
Clear air turbulence
This type of turbulence occurs when the winds change direction and the air masses moving at different speeds meet. Usually there are no visual clues, i.e. clouds. Its also most common in areas of jet streams and over mountain ranges. Corporate jets, flying over 40,000 feet are less likely to experience this but climbing through altitude, we can still hit it. When clear air turbulence occurs, it literally feels like the plane just “drops”. So imagine a poor flight attendant walking around doing their service and “out of the clear blue sky” this happens…
Simply put, this type of turbulence is caused by one plane flying too close to another. ATC will generally specify the distance two planes need to take off, land, or fly near each other, but sometimes, they just get too close.. Picture the wake of a boat, and the effect it has on another one as it passes… In the take off and landing phases of flight, the vortex ( air flow generated by the wingtips during lift), are usually stronger, and can make wake turbulence more dangerous to another aircraft that may be be following too close behind.
Stormy and severe weather
In the event of a thunderstorm, snow, hail, or strong winds, pilots have restrictions to follow as to if, when ,and where to fly. They do their best to avoid certain cloud formations, altitudes, and any flying pattern that can be hazardous. However, not all situations can be avoided. All of the above conditions would cause some level of turbulence.
Severity Of turbulence
Turbulence can also vary is severity between- “mild”, “moderate”, or “severe”. Light bumps or mild turbulence are usually harmless. But moderate and severe levels can really do serious damage to passengers, crew, and even the aircraft. I have served full meal services in mild turbulence, but anything heavier, you can bet your “you know what”, I will be sitting down.
All too often, Flight attendants are walking around an aircraft at 45,000 feet and prioritizing their passenger’s comfort and needs over their own safety. When turbulence occurs out of now where, most of us at least TRY to pick up loose items- anything that can potentially go airborne! This is the time so many are injured …
I have been lucky enough, thus far, to have never experienced an injury from turbulence. I have bumped around a bit, but that’s pretty much it. Others have not been so lucky.
A flight Attendant recently wrote me with her own horrific story of a turbulent flight which resulted in permanent neck injury! Her story actually inspired me to write this blog.
With her permission, I will share it with you:
“I was working a flight between BWI – SAN and the weather was horrible we were delayed hours before takeoff. When we finally were cleared to get up and serve our passengers we hit a pocket of turbulence. I bounced up and got slammed in to the floor. It felt like someone dumped ice water down my neck and back. I just laid there for a few moments frozen. I remember the screams from the scared passengers as things were getting tossed around. I got up and struggled to keep working. I did my company irregularity report and ended up having to work the rest of my trip because the lack of coverage due to the fact we only had a 7 hour layover and no base in SAN. I saw the company doctor as soon as I got back. My severely injured neck went in diagnosed for months because they never got me an xray or MRI. I progressively got worse and started losing my balance I was falling down and ended up losing most of the feeling in my right arm and hand. I went for an emergency MRI and was sent to surgery within days. I had my cervical neck fused with a titanium plate and screws. It’s been a rough recovery and my range of motion is bad. I will forever have neck problems now. I’m slowly getting back into flying, but it’s not the same. 4 ounce of soda and a bag if pretzels is NOT worth breaking your neck. You’re number one. Use your judgment and sit down if it’s not safe. Learn from my experience!”
AS you can see from the pictures, Michelle was lucky to be alive.
My message to all of you is this:
No glass of wine, plate of oeuvres, or “bag of pretzels”, is worth your safety and life. If it’s too bumpy to keep a glass steadily on a tray, sit down! Wait for it to pass, and resume your service.
If any one else would like to share their stories on this topic, please feel free to post a response!!
Cobblestones and Heels
So, my book is now officially out! You can find it right now on amazon.com, kindle, and BN.com. Soon to be its way to local stores and hopefully B&N store!! It has been a dream of mine to create a book/manual, that my fellow and aspiring Corporate flight attendants can learn from, and enjoy! I have had some wonderful editorial reviews so far from “non-aviation” people as well who have said they couldn’t put it down !!
I would love to hear feedback from all of you out there! And a sequel may just be in the works as well 🙂
Cobblestones and Heels
I finally joined the world of Instagram !! please join me there and feel free to share with me your pics as well!! 🙂
Cobblestones and Heels
Crafty, creative, and resourceful, are 3 words that can definitely describe some very important corporate cabin attendants attributes..
On the normal days, we present and serve pre-requested meals without a hitch. We have properly calculated exact portions needed and even have a bit left over for seconds and crew meals. The clients are happy because they received EXACTLY what they asked for and we are happy because THEY are happy!
On NOT so normal days, we run into some snags: extra pax may show up when its too late to order more catering, the request details were not communicated perfectly ( IE. An allergy or vegetarian was not accounted for), or simply- the clients have changed their minds once in flight! These are the flights that make us nuts.. However, if we ALWAYS plan for these possibilities, we may never have to break a sweat!!
So how do we plan for these kinds of things?
First, most of us have learned the hard way in the beginning so we almost never fall for the same problems again. We do things like: order a little extra in case of those surprise guests, We have staple food items such as veggies to make salads and deli meats and cheeses to make some sandwiches if needed. We also carry with us a variety of herbs, maybe a mini cookbook, and our own crafty minds that can create new meals, sauces, dressings, and condiments out of everything we have on board!
I was once flying a group from Paris to New York. It was a well-known pop star and her “entourage”. They had ordered a great deal of food and I was successful in getting everything they requested. What I had not planned on was their late night needs for new munchies ( after lots of drinking!) They began asking for things that I had definitely not brought onboard due to the fact it was NOT requested..
Of course I must point out that many of our clients, specifically the ones that fall into the “ entourage” category and do not fly private often- honestly think that we have some sort of restaurant stock on board.
They began ordering things like chicken tenders with honey mustard sauce, nachos, and macaroni and cheese ( like I said, “ munchies food).. At first, I didn’t know if I should laugh or just flat out say- sorry!! But then the professional in me realized that neither of those responses would have been acceptable and both would have gotten me in some trouble. So, I said; “ OK.. Give me a few minutes”..
I went back to my galley and started pawing through my cabinets, plane stock, and left over catering.
“Kathryn, you can do this I said to myself, and began with the chicken tenders..
I did have some left over chicken and bread onboard so I created a breadcrumb mixture with some herbs I had. I sliced up the chicken I had left, and created the tenders. I baked/broiled them to crispy and it worked! Then I used honey, mustard, some lemon and sugar and created the honey mustard sauce. Wow.. I impressed my self at this point and knew I could keep going!
The macaroni and cheese was created using uncooked pasta I had in the cabinet and boiled it in the microwave. I have a few different types of cheeses (which I combined), and since milk is always a staple on board, I was able to properly complete the mixture. Then baked that mac and cheese to perfection!
The nachos? No sweat! I had chips on board and just through together all different toppings I knew would go over well.
I presented the new munchies to my clients and they were satisfied.
I was too… At the way my mind, resourcefulness and creatively took over!
When you are new at the job, you start off a little limited in thought to the basic catering protocol of seeing a meal request, ordering it to the best of your ability, and not planning for the above changes and challenges. After you have been in the game for a while you slowly realize “ nothing is constant but change”! You begin to plan meal services with all the necessary backup and contingency plans. And you also develop your own creatively skills.
Cabin attendants begin to travel with a ” culinary emergency bag” so to speak. If you are a contract flight attendant and constantly work on planes that are unfamiliar to you, then you NEED this bag more than anyone! The part 91 cabin attendants that are assigned to one aircraft know what is onboard because they have put it there.. but still need to plan on additional catering and staple items to create more food if needed.
What was in MY bag?
An herb variety kit, a wine opener, disposable cutting boards, gloves, a mini book containing recipes for fast meals, sauces, etc, a portable omelet maker, poached egg maker , natural cold remedies, nail clippers, a flashlight, and a CPR mask.
All I needed was a cape right?! ☺
Those of you newbies that may read this, I encourage you to create and carry with you- your own bag of goodies.
For all of you seasoned FAs, I would love to hear your stories and comments!!!
Cobblestones and Heels