Tag Archives: flying

Coffee? Tea?

PBair female flight attendant at work on board...

Image via Wikipedia

Years ago, while I was living in Dallas, I briefly considered becoming a Flight Attendant for Southwest Airlines.  A brief look into it revealed very low hourly pay – about $8/an hour. 

Fast forward ten years, and I’m unemployed.  Several friends, separately, have suggested I look into becoming a flight attendant – evidently, they think I would love it and/or be perfect for it.  I admit, I think I would enjoy the lifestyle, but I still had that $8/hr figure in my head, and I also know that a Flight Attendant’s “hours” include only door close to door open of the airplane – in other words, they don’t actually get paid for the time people are boarding and deboarding, only for the time spent separated from the terminal.

Both Delta and US Airways have announced openings for flight staff in the past couple of months.  And the position pays about $20/hr.  I admit, I seriously thought about it.  But then I got onto some of the message boards and found out more information.  Like, the fact that most FA’s have second jobs, just so they can support themselves.  Many FA’s only log 80 hours a month – 80 hrs x $20/hr = $1600/mo.  Pre-tax.

And then there are those pesky passengers, you know the ones.  The ones who don’t quite grasp the concept of their chairs and traytables being in their full upright position.  The ones that can’t seem to understand that when the pilot turns on the “Fasten Seatbelt” sign, it’s probably a good idea to Sit Your Ass Down.  The ones who think that they are the only person on the airplane, and because they want to do XYZ, they should have the right to, since they “paid for the damn seat.”  This is one case that I would probably better to be able to handle the privileged set in First Class, because at least they have less to complain about.

So, yeah, no, I’m good.  Until I have no need for more than $1000/mo net, I’m going to pass.  But maybe one day…

Now I know where to go to get some action!

2 7 10 Bearman Cartoon Airport Body Scanner

Image by Bearman2007 via Flickr

 

I got into a debate on Facebook last night about the new security measures in place at airports in the US.  It started when one guy, Cowboy, posted to his wall that he had one thing to say to all the people posting articles and complaining about the new security measures:  “don’t fly.”  He said this is being done to protect us from terrorism, and as long as he gets a pat down from “a hot female with TSA,” he’s okay with it.

Both sides weighed in on this, and it was, for the most part, a cordial discussion.  I was actually quite surprised that no one started hurling insults.  Both sides stated their opinion and made points, and argued against the other side’s points.  There was only one issue, I think. 

I don’t think most people who were arguing for scanners and enhanced pat downs had any idea what they were talking about.  I will admit, when this was first instituted, there was an email discussion amongst several friends.  Two were very unthrilled with the new security measures, and one who went through the scanner said she “felt dirty.”  (I hope I’m quoting her correctly!)  My opinion, at the time, was, “Eh.  Whatever.”  I wasn’t happy with it, but I didn’t really see the big deal.  However, since then, I’ve read more about them, done some research, and read firsthand accounts of the “enhanced” pat downs.  And now I can say, with full sincerity, that I am not okay with this, and I am not looking forward to the next time I have to fly (Christmas).  In fact, I’m starting to get a little sick about it – not quite to the extent that Nicole  is, but talk to me again as the date gets closer.

Here are the main points brought up in the FB debate:

I agree with the original Facebook post – If you don’t like it, don’t fly.  Some people don’t have that option.  This can affect people’s livelihoods – do I want to continue working to support my family (by traveling, as my job requires) and give up on these civil liberties, or do I want to stand up against it and not fly (and lose my job in the process)?  Here’s the point:  DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH.  Know what you’re facing the next time you go to the airport.  Have all the facts.  This is your body, your health, and damnit, the government has no right to tell you what to do with those two things.  Once you know the facts, then make an INFORMED decision based on your personal belief system.  If you want to debate the merits and/or faults of the new system with me, please have something more to say than, “TERRORISTS!  9/11!  The sky is falling!”

Wednesday, November 24th (yes, the day before Thanksgiving, yes, the busiest travel day of the year), is National Opt Out Day.  The organizers are urging everyone flying on Wednesday to “Opt Out” of the scanner and instead have the “enhanced” pat down.  They want people to understand what the pat down entails, and to determine for yourself if you are okay with receiving it…and if you’re okay with your spouse, mother, father, and children (the 15 year old girl, the 4 year old boy) receiving it.  

I was listening to the radio today, to some radio personality on AM radio (sorry, I couldn’t figure out who it was).  The guy was telling people, don’t opt out.  It’ll only slow everything down, and it won’t make a statement of any kind.  He was recommending, instead, that people go through the scanner and salute the TSA – with one finger (guess which one).  “Free speech!” he said.  “Make a statement!”

All due respect, but what exactly is that going to do?  I have nothing against the TSA agents themselves – they’re just doing their job (although, if it were me, I’d be looking for another job right quick).  Flipping off the TSA agent is not going to make any statement, other than, “I’m an immature asshole.”  Let me explain the idea behind Opting Out:

IT’S A FREAKING BOYCOTT!  Why do people boycott a business?  To make a statement.  To make the business sit up and take notice.  To make them realize that people don’t like what they are doing, people are doing something about it, and it’s going to affect the business’ bottom line.  This is what the Opt Out Day is for.  Although the organizers state that the intention is not to slow down air travel, it will obviously slow down the security lines if even half the people going through decide to opt out of the scanners.  It will show TSA (and the government) that we don’t agree with the scanners.  It will show other people that there are people willing to make a stand against them, which will in turn make others more likely to do so.  It will affect the airlines, possibly causing delays, certainly upsetting passengers when they miss their flight due to the long wait, who will demand some sort of compensation.  It is the American people, en masse, saying, “We are not going to put up with this.”  And just like with a boycott, if enough people do it, maybe someone will take notice.

I don’t think we’re getting the full truth.  I was going to do a summary of what TSA says about the scanners and what I’ve heard and found, but I’ve spent way too long on this post, and besides, this post does that pretty well.

Some additional interesting links:

  • Ron Paul has introduced H.R. 6416, The American Traveler Dignity Act, to the House.  You can read about it here.
  • FedUpFlyers was started by a pilot, and has several first-hand accounts from crew personnel and passengers about the security measures.  I suggest you read them.  Yes, they are touching your genitals.  If you’re a woman and you wear a skirt, they WILL slide their hands ALL the way up to your panties.  If you wear skimpy underwear, your labia may be touched.  Are you okay with that?  Are you okay with your wife, your daughter being subjected to that?
  • WeWontFly – Act Now.  Travel with Dignity.

As a final note, let’s look to the people who do this for a living – the pilots and flight attendants who go through this daily.  Pilots unions are urging pilots not to go through the scannersFlight attendants have contacted the ACLU and may file suit.  These are professionals, and they’re not okay with it.  I’m not either.

***ETA – OMG!!!   I just found this online, and laughed hysterically. 

Tahoe, Part 2

Travel Fun

We were supposed to leave Thursday night, on a direct flight from CLT to Sacramento, arriving at 11:30 Thursday night. We were going to stay the night in Sacramento and drive in to Tahoe Friday morning. The Pilot worked all day Thursday and got caught in some storms. “It’s okay,” he said. “We’ll take a flight to Reno in the morning.”

Now, I was slightly panicked, based on my aforementioned OCPD tendencies. But I had faith that everything would work out.

Our flight Friday left at 7:30am, connecting through PHX, arriving in Reno at 11:30 am. Perfect, I thought. We could have a leisurely lunch, enjoy our drive into Tahoe, check into the hotel with enough time to shower, and make the boat in plenty of time.

The flight took off on time, and we were on our way. My ears were popping weird, and I was hoping I wouldn’t have a problem the whole flight – that would suck. But, no.

“We’re having a problem with the cabin pressure, we need to turn around and go back to Charlotte.” So, an hour after takeoff, we landed back in CLT. Since our connection through PHX was just over an hour, we’ve now missed our connection. We might be able to get another one, though, so I’m not worried yet.

Except, instead of switching planes in Charlotte, as I expected, the flight was cancelled. The Pilot says we still have one chance, and if it doesn’t pan out, we’re screwed. We hightail it over to the San Francisco gate, which was boarding in about half an hour, and he sweet talks us onto the flight. It was due to arrive in SF at 11:30am, and the 200 mile drive should take us about 3 ½ hours, so we should still be good. Cross your fingers.

The flight was uneventful, but arrived a little late due to us being 15th in line for takeoff, and a “strong, unexpected headwind.” We got in just before 1, and booked it to the car rental. The Pilot throws his crew badge to me and asks me to take care of the rental car, he had a phone call to make. I get the car, no problem…but now can’t find him!

Finally, he walks out. And says he has to go back to Charlotte.

“Why?”

“My uncle died.”

Well, shit.

Stay tuned for Part 3

Can’t I just take the simulator?

The Pilot is in training this month, getting ready for his “transfer” to Philly.  For a lot of Pilot’s wives and girlfriends, training is really tough, because their pilot’s are gone for a month straight, rather than coming home every few days.  But since training is based here in Charlotte, I don’t really have that problem.  In fact, I’ve seen The Pilot more this week than I have in the previous month, I think! 

This morning I logged onto the Charlotte Observer online, and found they had done a story on the training simulator.  I thought I’d share:  http://www.charlotteobserver.com/123/story/639987.html  Be sure to also check out the slideshow.

In other flying news…

I used to love to fly.  I loved traveling, getting on a plane, watching the world slide by underneath me through the window.  But over the last few years, I’ve really hated flying, and I couldn’t figure out why.  I blamed it on the airports, and the other people flying.  The long security line, the cramped space, the layovers, the overweight guy next to me crowding into my space.  Living out of a suitcase, not having the comforts of home, having my time not be MY time.  My patience level was tested (and failed) each time I’ve flown over the last few years.  And I determined, it’s not flying I don’t like, it’s the hassle of the airports.

But today it occurred to me that perhaps it’s not even that.  Perhaps it’s just that every time I fly, I’m going to the same dull place.  Yes, I’m going home to see my family, but Little Rock is a small city, with nothing to do.  It seems that my entire time there is spent eating, going to the grocery store (my mother can spend 3 hours in a grocery store) or waiting around trying to go somewhere.  “What do you want to do?” my mother asks.  What is there to do?  Nothing!  The Clinton Library – done that.  Hiking, sure.  Shopping – I can’t afford to shop.  Movie?  I can do that at home.  I don’t have many friends there I need to see. 

I feel bad saying that, because Little Rock really is a great place.  I highly recommend going there if you haven’t gone.  It’s just…I’ve seen it all.  I’m bored.  I’m sure if I was going someplace fun, on a fun vacation, someplace I haven’t been before, I would love traveling again.  But until then, I hate it.