My horizons have broadened quite a bit in the last six months, I’ve been to a whole bunch of new countries, seen the greener grass that everyone always talks about and I’ve spent time with a whole bunch of different people. Whether they are on the aircraft with me or on ground in the hotel or in another country altogether, people are different.
I’m walking through the aircraft introducing myself to my guests, one after the other… A honeymoon couple, a doctor, a business woman, a staff travel user, another couple and a VVIP. Everyone gets the same greeting, tweaked to fit them personally. I ask how they are, where they’ve been or where they’re travelling to, I briefly discuss the menu and I joke a bit to break the ice.
The couple are travelling to Paris for their honeymoon. It’s freezing there now, but I guess the city is still beautiful to a couple in love. They order yogurt and fruits, champagne and a bowl of cereal for after takeoff.
The Doctor is on his way to a massive conference about cancer. He keeps it simple, just a cup of tea.
The business woman settles herself into her suite and looks at the menu, says she is vegetarian, doesn’t eat spicy food. I will tailor make a menu for her. She is on her way to Dubai for a meeting, and will be working and sleeping. Eat. Work. Sleep. Repeat.
The staff travel user keeps quiet, places his luggage under his seat and only asks for some orange juice. He says to tend to the other guests before him. I like this guy, he knows my world. I walk away wondering who he could be. Management? Nah he is too young. Maybe a sibling or a friend. Anyway.
The other couple orders before I can introduce myself, the husband says nothing. She asks for tenderloin, potatoes, vegetables, wine, no dessert. She thanks me, hands me her Louis Vuitton carry-on and smiles.
The VVIP laughs, he doesn’t want anything now, he also doesn’t speak much english. He just wants and a cheese sandwich. Later, he says. Now, he wants to watch a movie. He points at Frozen. I smile as I walk away.
After takeoff I prepare everyones aperitif orders, I start setting up for service and I make sure to give everyone everything they asked for. It’s not too busy, the guests are content, the cabin is quiet, everyone is either eating or relaxing. Just as I finish serving everyone and the crew clears all the tables, the honeymooners walk into the galley asking for me, so I take my gloves off and I follow her into the cabin. She asks for lunch. Lamb shank, potatoes, sauce. Beef cheeks, parsnips, vegetables. Wine. I’m sure they JUST had breakfast. So lunchtime is 10 minutes after breakfast. Ovens on!
The Doctor would like to sleep, so we do his turndown, as well as the VVIP’s, the staff travel guy and the business woman. Her door gets stuck when we try to close it, she doesn’t like that. Lights off in the cabin, only the couples’ IFE screens are on. After serving the honeymooners their extended breakfast / lunch, they watch a movie and they also then retire. The other couple however, are restless. They ate a bit later than the other guests, made them a special starter and after the palate cleanser I served the lady her main course. When I returned with her husband’s fillet steak, she had placed her plate in front of him. She was crying and staring at her phone, trembling, clenching her jaw. Her husband has no words, he asks to take her food away. He eats.
There is a medical emergency in Business Class, we get busy, the flight crew keeps calling to know whats going on and my cabin is still quiet and my guest is still crying and her husband is still eating. I walk past their suite and she is throwing her salt and pepper shaker at him, knives, forks, plates everything. Okay. Her husband hands me his plate. I ask if there is anything I can do, she just shakes her head and continues crying. I go back to clean up the mess, wipe up the spilt wine and find the missing salt shaker behind the seat. She is putting up the divider between their suites and he is pleading with her not to be like this. We offer to turn down her suite, she only wants a pillow. He stands quietly while we do his turndown and listen to his wife cry.
After a couple of hours of sleep and much needed quiet, the cabin slowly starts waking up, the VVIP wants his cheese sandwich now. The Portuguese crew member is talking to him, they laugh and I know everything is fine.
After asking for a doctor on board, my guest offers his assistance and after seeing his license and passport we realise it is his twenty-fifth birthday. So needless to say, I start preparing a birthday cake. After he has his lunch, I give him his tiramisu birthday surprise. I’ve never seen anyone this happy about a tiramisu. Apparently it’s his favourite, he is amazed at the fact that I knew that. Convinced I had called the ground from the cockpit to find out what his favourite things are, he happily sits and eats his birthday cake, drinks his espresso and smiles at me every time I pass his suite.
While preparing a cup of vanilla rose tea for the business woman who just woke up, the Portuguese crew member walks into the galley with the VVIP and he drops down on one knee. She says he wants to marry me. YEAH I think I can understand that part. He says a bunch of stuff and she translates. Says he has never met anyone more beautiful (oh I am flattered) and he wants to buy me a jet. Hang on, WHAT?! The guy wants to buy me a plane? Goodness. Uhm, how do I keep him happy but deny his expensive proposal? So I tell him he is more than welcome to buy me the jet, but I would never be home, so I would have to think about it. 10 minutes until top of descent.
The business woman is drinking her tea and complaining about her back pain, says she wants to land right now and she wants to get off the plane straight away. Unfortunately we are still 30000 ft in the air, so no doors will be opened anytime soon, but I offer her some painkillers and show her the massage function in the chair.
The staff travel guy awakes from his 10 hour nap and he asks for something to nibble on, anything, doesn’t want too much trouble. So I give him breakfast. Fried eggs, sausage, turkey bacon, mushrooms, toast, pastries, juice and coffee. He is clearly appreciative, we start talking and I find out he is a flight attendant for Emirates. His dad is a captain with Etihad. I knew he was one of us. Cabin Crew UNITE!
After making sure that the wife didn’t physically harm her husband in his sleep, showing the guests to the dressing room individually, securing the cabin, handing out last minute coffees and juices and asking my guests if they had a good trip, we strap ourselves in for landing. I have a big day ahead of me, I’m meeting a new person. I’ve perfected my makeup, I’ve made sure my house is perfect, I’ve planned the week ahead in perfect detail. I’m smiling at what lies ahead, laughing, dancing.
We’ve landed and the doctor has given me his email address, the VVIP has been picked up by his pre-ordered Mercedes, the flight attendant has thanked me and told me how amazing we look in our new uniforms, the honeymooners ran out to be the first ones in the lounge, the business woman shouted at her phone and the couple stormed off. I go to get dressed, turn on my phone and wait for 16 hours of missed messages to catch up with me while I do my security searches.
The messages caught up with me. I stand and listen to the de-brief. I walk away, go through security, collect my trunki. I walk to the bus, the crew wondering why I’ve gone from dancing and laughing to quiet. I tell them I’m just tired. I lied. The bus takes forever to get home but when it does I walk up the stairs into my apartment and I turn my music up as loud as I can. Broken. Jet lagged after a long day at work.
Every person is in their own world, wrestling with their own problems, laughing at their own jokes and expecting nothing less than first class. People just have different perspectives. Some people will eat EVERYTHING that they can possibly manage, others will not want to trouble us with anything but a bottle of water every now and then. Some people complain about the little things and other people appreciate them. Some people cry and make a scene and others stay quiet and keep out of the public eye. In the end everyone gets off of the plane and goes about their lives as usual, but sometimes they need to be nudged into the right direction.
Even though all of this didn’t happen on one flight, this is in a nutshell what my days are like. Compliments, complaints, happy and sad. But I recover from the jet lag and I laugh at the messages from the people I care about and I know that tomorrow’s flight will be perfectly crazy, and that I’ll meet a new guest going somewhere else wanting something different. My life is almost perfect right now.