Friends and family members of cabin crew staff often have the view that our job is more like a holiday than real work and that all we do is enjoy ourselves and have no idea of what stress means. Although it is exciting to discover new destinations, our job is certainly not about just taking it easy.
When I was recently assigned to a Montreal rotation that included a two-night stay, I immediately asked my mother if she would like to accompany me. Since parents of staff enjoy travel at a reduced fare, a weekend trip to Montreal really sounds attractive, right?
My mother accepted my invitation. Even though her dream destination is Hong Kong, I wanted to see how she would cope with a relatively short flight to Montreal before letting her sit in a jump seat on a flight to the Far East for 12 hours. The low fare is available on a standby basis, which means that a seat is not guaranteed. You take what you can get. And a jump seat is better than no seat, which would mean not flying at all.
The predicted availability on the outbound flight, however, was poor, which prompted me to “sign up” for duty in the Economy Class galley. I thought that if my mother was given the jump seat then I would at least be able to brief her on the procedure and attend to her en route. Personally speaking, I find daytime flights in Economy Class much more demanding than in Business Class, where passengers often prefer to sleep between meal services. There is always a lot going on during a daytime flight in Economy, which is fun but much more tiring. But as it turned out, my mother was in luck on the flight to Montreal and was even able to travel in Business Class. So while I spent the seven hours of the flight organising and serving, my mother was pampered by my colleagues.
We really enjoyed our time in Montreal. After arriving we went out for a meal and on the next day explored the old town quarter. The French influence is clearly visible and we partly felt as though we were in Brittany. Our return flight was on the third day. This was an evening flight with a very short flying time, which meant there was barely an hour between the first and second meal service. This time I was on duty in Business Class, with a positive attitude as always. The flight was fully booked, however, and my mother this time travelled back seated in the Economy Class jump seat.
After the first service I made a quick visit to Economy Class to see how she and my colleagues were doing. Everything was fine but I could sense that the stress level among my colleagues was on the high side. Preparations for the second meal service were in full swing. My mother was impressed by the amount of organisation and teamwork required to keep things running smoothly, along with the pace at which my colleagues had to work. She got a close-up look at the demanding side of our job. And even though the comfort of travelling in a jumpseat is rather limited, I think it’s good for family members to see what a day in the life of a cabin crew member is really like. All in all, this was a unique experience, and not only because of the great time we had in Montreal.