Friday, March 15, 2013

No two rotations alike (My sky-high life)

For a pilot, no two flights and no two rotations are identical although they are similar, in a “same same but different” way. But sometimes you and your crew simply have a
“once-in-a-lifetime” trip.

First Officer Mathias Iwersen

When walking through our Operation Center (this is where all of our trips start and end) the place is always crowded with hundreds of pilots and flight attendants, all either checking in for their journey, taking a short break or checking out and going home for a well-deserved rest.

I usually see a lot of people about whom I can say “I have met this person before, but I don’t recall when and where it was and I definitely don’t remember their name”. Well, that is quite natural, because we fly with constantly changing crews and spend a maximum of four days together, and sometimes as little as half a day and only two flights. That makes for over 500 different crewmembers within just one year, making it impossible to remember everybody by name.

On some rare occasions it may even be a case of saying “Hey! We were flying together last week, but where have we been and what was your name again?”

But on the other hand, there are a lot of very likeable colleagues whose name I will never forget. And I was lucky to get to know five of them on one of my recent rotations. We were scheduled to fly 11 flights in four days together and from the very beginning (our crew briefing in the Operation Center) we all “clicked” and became a perfect team immediately.

“We” consisted of a captain from Geneva, a young maître de cabine, a French flight attendant, one young flight attendant with Indian roots, one flight attendant from Venezuela and I, the first officer, from Germany.

Already on the first flight we were spoiled by our flight attendants with self-made beverages (apple juice with lemon) and a nicely arranged lunch. The first evening we had a night-stop in Geneva and went for a late dinner in our crew hotel, without our captain, who lives close to Geneva and so spent the night at home. On the second day with a night-stop in London the whole crew had dinner together in an Indian restaurant in Kensington. There we spent a very nice evening and met up again fully motivated the next day for three flights with another night-stop in Geneva.

This time our captain suggested having a drink with us together before going home. After discussing the when and where for a while, we finally ended with the captain inviting his crew to his home.

While in London, our maître de cabine managed to organize a rental car for us in Geneva and so it was only one hour after landing that we found ourselves in the beautiful home of the captain. Still astonished by his hospitality we gave him a little present (we bought some chocolate from our duty free sales) which he in return didn’t expect. We spent another amazing evening together, talking a lot and simply enjoying the extraordinary team spirit.

On the last day of our rotation we only had two flights and everybody was already in a sad mood because our four days were about to end. And so in the evening it was time to say goodbye.

Amazingly, every crew member said that they would waive their free days and even continue to work the next day if it was with this very same crew.

Those are the moments that make our work really desirable and simply wonderful! A big thanks to all of my colleagues, who make every rotation unique. I am looking forward to flying with you!


  1. Kristopher Urech15 March, 2013 17:13

    You know what? It's true what he is saying here. Yes a job is a job anywhere. You do a task and get paid for it. Mind you he is doing a dream job of mine, however it's the people you work with that can make it "going to work" or going to do something you love and could do it all day long.

    Thank you for writing this and I love how positive you are.

    Now for my really bad German.

    Danke veil mal und Tchuss...

    Kristopher Urech

    1. All my respect for the pilots, the co-pilots and the cabin crew. They do a great job. I woke up over Libya on our way to Europe many years ago and peeped out of the galley porthole. We were flying low over a brightly lit city in North Africa on the Medditeranean coast. I asked the cabin staff in the galley, which city is this? I could see brightly lit palm-lined streets below and a dark coast line ahead. The hostess picked up the phone to the cockpit to enquire. "Tripoli", she replied to me and hung up. I was savouring the sight below I am sure, together with the cockpit staff, and I realised, this is one helluva nice job, I am sure!