Nothing is consistent but change..
If you are a corporate flight attendant you may have fallen victim to the following work scenario:
It’s last day of your trip, and you have a departure ( ETD) of 1400. You have just checked out of your hotel, and about to go pick up your catering. Your PIC calls to inform you that the departure is now 2200, or possibly 0900 the next day. So, you re-check in for an extra half day, and try to figure out if you should cancel the catering or have it stored..
If this, or any version of this scenario has happened to –please you raise your hand. OK, since I can’t see any of you, I am taking an educated guess that almost all of you would have hands raised. This is the part of the job we may despise, but have grown accustom to. The constant change of departure date and times, catering order changes at the 12th hour, and the over all inconsistency in our lives! What’s the pay off for all of this? Free travel, great money, and the crazy thrill of it all! Those of us who get an adrenaline rush from all of it -know intuitively that we were born to do this job!
My true intent for writing this blog is to give some helpful hints to those who are new at dealing with last minute changes of this job. Here are the most common inconsistencies:
1.The waiting game of trip confirmation–
Example- you get a call on April 10th that there is a trip April 17th “ that may, or may not go”. It’s a 8 day trip so that means great money (if you fly contract). The dilemma is- do you accept the trip and give your commitment in hope that it confirms, OR , do you not accept because it may not go and something else may come up in that time frame that is a sure thing.. Unfortunately we can NOT give the following answer : “well, I will take the trip if it goes, but if something better comes up I will let you know, I cant commit at this point “..
So what should you do?
My suggestion: think about the odds with this particular client/ operator. Is it common for trips with this client to cancel, or is he/she pretty consistent? Do you have a lot of work consistently coming in so it won’t financially hurt you to say no? Are you trying to fly more consistently with this particular operation and therefore saying NO will work against you? Weigh out all the facts then make a decision you will feel good about and stick with. From a moral and good work ethic standpoint, once you accept a trip, only “Ebola “ should keep you from fulfilling that commitment.
2. The last minute catering change-
Example: ETD is 1800 pm. You arrange catering to be ready at 15:30 for pickup. Of course you have put this order in the day before or in the am so whomever the catering vendor is,- you know they will have already made the food by 1500 ( usually). Now, at 1300 , your principal pax ( passenger) has changed his mind and has requested a whole new order.(let me add that you are in a foreign country). How do you handle this?
My suggestions: Prior to your trip, do some research and figure out the different cuisine catering choices in that area so if you have to choose a completely different vender, you already know your options and where they are located, have their contact info , and also their menus!
Once you have chosen a specific vender for the first order, ask them how difficult it may be to change orders “if needed”. (Catering companies have grown accustom to this happening so they will be a bit ore flexible). Find out if delivery is an option with all the venders you may use, and how long it takes them to get to your airport. If you do your homework and prepare for this scenario, it will be a lot easier to deal with instead of letting it catch you off guard.
Always put every order and re-order ,in writing. Copy in your PIC or anyone else that needs to know you have taken care of it. Rush the new order and tip well if it is a complete change at the same vender.
Final note: always be extremely polite when dealing with any catering vendor, you never know when you will need special favors from them!
3. Earlier Departure change –
Example: you have been assigned a trip for the next day. Your ETD is set for 1200 so you plan a lunch service and order your catering. At 1900 the night before, you are told that the pax now want to leave at 0600 ! “And breakfast was requested”. OMG! You know that you will have to be at the airport at 0400 and nothing will be open to pick up that early. What do you do?
My suggestions: I hope you can cook ☺. Really. If your clients have now asked for eggs, bacon etc.- find out if there is a skillet onboard and plan on a grocery store run to pick up everything you will need to cook breakfast the next morning on the plane. If the request is simple, IE. yogurt, fruit, granola, etc. -Run to the store. Of course, cancel your other order so hopefully you wont be billed.
4. Last minute passenger additions-
Example: your trip departs in 2 hours. You are already at the plane getting organized. Your PIC tells you that there will be 3 extra pax coming. You already have your catering. What do you do?
My Suggestions: First, ALWAYS plan on having a little extra food (especially if it’s a long flight_. You never want to run out of food! In this specific case scenario, lets hope there are big portions that you can split up. You will also need to run to a grocery store and buy items that can fill in your original order. For instance, if they ordered chicken, buy extra at the store and cook it in the oven, using sauce that came with the catering order. Or if available, buy premade cutlets. Also buy extra staples like salad ingredients, deli meat for sandwiches, and extra desert. You will have to ask your pilots to pitch in and help set the plane while you run to the store! Worst case0 no store near by, well, maybe last minute delivery is an option.. Again, if you prepare for this scenario, it will never beat you!
In this career we live by the “Murphy’s Laws” and plan on change happening in one way or another. All we can do is be as prepared as possible and go with the flow.. It may be tougher for the A type personalities out there but sooner or later every FA (flight attendant) learns to go with it or give it all up.
If you love it as much as I do, it will just become the norm, and you will see your way through anything that comes up!
If you have some crazy stories to tell on his topic, or additional advice, I would all love to hear it , so please feel free to comment!
With love and patience,
Cobblestones and Heels