|My first flight, and my birthday in Saudi and Dubai
||[Apr. 17th, 2004|05:20 pm]
Remember how I said I'd fly to Riyadh and Hyderabad, if God be willing?
Well, I guess he wasn't! My birthday turned out quite differently than I expected. Pay close attention - I'm only going to tell this story once!
I did fly to Riyadh for my first supernumary flight. Actually, it went well. I sat in the cockpit for takeoff and landing. I could have stayed there forever. We took off and sunset and flew west, causing to sun to actually rise. (Really! It moved because of us! I feel alive if I have seen the sun rise twice in a day.. -Nelories) Between takeoff and landing, I served hot towels, drinks, and meals to the 385 people in Economy class. I felt a little lost at times, but the flight was too short - 1 hr 35 min - to fret about it.
The passengers disembarked, and we ate crew meals while the cleaners worked. Then it was time for the return flight. This one was full, too. I never knew how long boarding could take. Millions of pax. The volume of baggage was greater than the amount of space overhead and under seats; not a simple puzzle to solve, but we did it. Started heating the meals, distributed hot towels, and prepared for take-off. This flight would be even shorter - 1 hr 15 min. We'd return home at 11:30 on the eve of my birthday.
A call from the Captain came. "You need to serve drinks on trays," our seniors told us. "Drinks on trays?" Everyone's faces fell. "We're going to be here a while," they explained as they arranged the silver trays.
15 minutes later, an announcement was made that there was a technical problem. An error had come up on the A/C which cools the aircraft's computers.
1 hour later, passengers were getting irate. My job was to stand by the open door to the airbridge, ensuring that nobody boarded or de-planed. In fact, EVERYBODY wanted to de-plane. In case you didn't know, everybody who flies to Dubai has a connecting flight. Many of them had been downgraded from First or Business class for lack of space. They wanted refunds, exchanges, cigarettes. Everyone seemed to assume that smoking in the lavatory or near the door was permitted. I had to play goalie to the zillions of children trying to escape.
2 hours later, the cabin looked like the aftermath of an outdoor concert. They'd finished all our juices, cookies, and savory snacks. The power was going to be shut off, and we had to deboard everybody.
For the 2.5 hours that followed, we listened to many possible outcomes. A part would be flown from Dubai. Another aircraft would arrive with a fresh crew, and we 18 would be put on reserve to deadhead back. We would cover ourselves and ride in a windowless bus to a hotel - a layover in Saudi. Some people slept. Some smoked on the airbridge. Everybody sang, and everybody shared pictures in their bags or their digital cameras. It came out that it was my birthday, and when I wasn't expecting it, everybody burst into song.
Suddenly, the order came to re-board. Again we greeted their weary faces, again we found spaces for their excess baggage, again we distributed hot towels, and 4.5 hours after the Standard Time of Departure, we took off. Reheated the meals we'd heated earlier, served them, and arrived home at 5:15 in the morning (13 hours after I'd been picked up by the transport). I'll be paid for 3 hrs 25 min flying time.
So that was my first flight! Of course I couldn't fly to Hyderabad the same day, so I was given the 15th as a rest day and the 16th off. Tonight (at 1:30 a.m.) I'll fly to Karachi, Pakistan, for my second supernumary flight.
And I got to have a birthday party! It wasn't easy because everybody's flying now, but my friends really helped it come together. So thanks, everybody!
By the way, the crew were awesome!
Some people, such as Nissrine, could only pop in for a moment.
We went dancing at The Lodge.
Back in my room, Samuele took a lot of art pictures.
I was asked to delete this one.
Jihad expresses his feelings about my failure to invite him.
No candles, but there as a birthday cake!
My friends all around me. If your face isn't here, I sure wish it was!