Trip Report: Gibraltar and A Chicago off Standby. Lucky Me!

Hello everyone and thanks again for visiting Crewfie101. Its time for the 1st trip report of this blog. I write this post on-board my commuting sector from Edinburgh International to London Heathrow a couple of weeks after the trip I am writing about. The night before a 4 day block of work for me, including more standby!
We start on Monday 13th November where I had a busy two sector there and back to Gibraltar (GIB). This is notorious as one of the busiest there and backs we do, with one of the highest possibilities of a diversion due to the strong winds that come off the Rock of Gibraltar. This usually ends up with us and our passengers in Malaga, not exactly ideal. We departed London’s Heathrow on time on-board our Airbus A320 Aircraft off of Runway 27L. After the initial climb myself and the crew began our service selling our wares most of the way down over France and Spain and we eventually got finished around 40 minutes prior to landing into Gibraltar. So at 40 minutes we started to prepare the cabin for the arrival. This had been a busy sector but the way would be something else. After all the passengers had disembarked, I had asked the flight crew if I could join them for the exterior check of the aircraft. As a plane geek and trainee Pilot I always try to take any opportunity to learn more about the aircraft and aviation in general. They said I was more than welcome. This was a very cool experience and also allowed some very cool pictures of the aircraft plus the rock of Gibraltar. I hopped back on-board and got the aircraft ready for the departure back to London. A swift boarding process was followed by a very quick departure this mainly being due to the fact that we were the only aircraft on the ground in Gibraltar that was actually going anywhere. The sector back to London was a lot busier in terms of sales on the way down however the flight time was significantly longer as well so we had the time. We landed back into Heathrow on the same runway as we departed off, 27L. The 2 runways switch from arrivals to departures and vice-versa at 3pm and had switched whilst we were away. After checking nobody had left anything on-board, we headed on the crew bus back to the terminal.

I collected my suitcase from the crew centre and joined one of my colleagues who was staying in the same hotel as me, plus one of my best friends, who happened to tag along. We all had dinner, a good laugh and a catch up.
The next morning I started a 3 Day Standby block, my worst nightmare. I started at 09:50 and was covering the 787 flight to Austin, Texas, which would have been a new destination for me. However 09:50 rolled on by without a phone call, and whilst sat watching the Wonder Woman movie time ticked on until 10:35 when it rang. Now on standby when your phone rings, it creates a feeling of dread. I answered and was told I had an immediate report. I had a brief look at our report times, I was either going to Helsinki or Chicago. Helsinki would probably be a there and back, however Chicago would cover all my Standby. I was praying for Chicago. I get to the desk and I am handed my paper work.. this was it. I look and I saw ORD. I was off to Chicago! I was smiling from ear to ear. This was my first time I had ever been called off standby for a long haul ever. So now I had to gather myself for the flight across the pond.
I head into the pre-flight briefing and they are already midway through. So I find out my position which is the business class Galley Lead downstairs on the Boeing 747 with 66 business seats. My favourite position, when I am prepared. I was not. We all get on the aircraft and I try to get the galley set up the best I can before we start boarding and the mayhem begins. We set off and the flight goes off without a hitch, a really nice sector with a lovely crew.
After arriving into Chicago O’Hare International Airport we all pass through customs and immigration and I am sent down the corridor towards the exit. I get out and I wait for the rest of the crew. Around 10 minutes go by with no sign of the crew and I begin to panic.. Where are they? They eventually come out of another exit asking where I have been. I ask them the exact same question. We hop on the bus and get stuck in traditional Chicago traffic. We arrive at the hotel and one of the crew and I agree to meet back in reception around 30 minutes later to walk down North Michigan Avenue to see the Bean.
We head down and Chicago’s reputation of being the Windy City certainly did not disappoint. It was Baltic. However despite the cool temperature the city did look beautiful. As soon as Halloween is over, Christmas takes over and the decorations were out in full flow. We got down to the Bean, a giant, reflective metal “Bean” which reflects the Chicago Skyline. We took some pictures then headed back towards the hotel, fighting bracing winds.

I am making it far more dramatic than it actually was, but it was bitterly cold. We arrived back at the hotel and I had an hour until I was due to meet the crew for a Cheesecake Factory dinner. This proved to be far too long for me. I fell asleep within half an hour of getting back, waking up at 4am fully clothed, scarf and all.
The next day I didn’t really see any of the crew until our pick-up time, which can be pretty normal. Being a huge plane geek, I headed to the Boeing HQ building which is surprisingly in Chicago and not in Seattle where they build all of there aircraft. I hopped in a Uber and went down in the pouring rain. I went in to the shop and found Paradise. So much to choose from. I ended up buying quite a lot.
I bought: 2 Christmas Tree Decorations, 2 Notebooks, 10 Pens, A Watch and a 747 pin for my work bag. I did get 25% off however it still totalled around $80. Oops.. I don’t go often so when I do, I go big.

I wandered back up North Michigan Avenue and back to the hotel. I managed to get a couple of hours pre-pick-up sleep, which is crucial before a night flight. Even if you don’t sleep, it is still important to have a couple of hours down time. So around an hour before pick up, we receive our wake up call and that’s when I start to get ready for the way home.
We meet in the lobby of the hotel, hop on the bus back to the airport and get ready to do it all again. The flight home again ran smoothly with a quick time of just over 7 hours. After landing back into Heathrow, I pop upstairs to departures, hop on my much smaller aircraft (A320) and head back to Edinburgh for some time off.

Well that’s the first trip report done, I really hope you enjoyed it. There will be another post in the coming days, thanks for reading Crewfie101.

Roster Night: Joy and Despair

Hello Again everyone. I had to post about the despair but very occasional joy of “Roster Night”….

In any other job getting your schedule is really not all that special, its like YAY I’m working 9-5 AGAIN. However to Crew getting our roster brings a huge amount of excitement. Where am I off to this month? Anywhere new? How many earlies? Any Standby? And most importantly, Have I got what I bid for? The answer to the last question is probably not..

I am based at London Heathrow however I commute from the North East of Scotland, via Edinburgh. I primarily bid (I shall explain in a later post) for long haul which suits commuting more as it gives better report times and I don’t have to stay down in London in hotels, which I would have to do if I had there and backs. So for me a successful roster is minimal short haul, minimal standby and plenty of Long haul plus as a bonus new destinations.

In my company we receive our rosters for the next month at 10pm 12 days before the start of said month. I say 10pm. If you manage to get on at 10pm, you have been exceedingly fortunate. You usually get on between 10:30 and 11:00. This is due to the fact that there are thousands of people trying to get on at once.

On roster night, there is a build up of a combination of nerves and excitement. So far I have had 17 Roster Nights and bar 2 I have been on the ground either in London (where I stayed for my first 11 months in the job), back home in Scotland or down route. I think that I have only received my roster once down route and that was in San Diego in January. For the other two I was flying home or out to a destination so had no way of checking. On the plus side didn’t have to wait long the following morning!

I will always remember my first roster night, July 22nd 2016. I was still in the middle of training, and having spent the night studying the business class service, 10 o clock had rather snuck up on me. I was totally unprepared. So I got the laptop, iPad and phone all logged on to try and see where my first month of flying was going to take me. It took me all of 20 minutes to get on and what a shock I got. My first flight was to Stavanger in Norway on a there and back, the day after training finished. The following day I had San Diego, California and then another San Diego. Some more amazing trips followed that but those two will always stick in my mind. It couldn’t have been better. Since then I have had good rosters, I have had terrible rosters and some that have made me want to cry. But every month I still look forward to 10pm on Roster Night.

On November 17th 2017, we received our December Rosters. This is the one where people, including myself, get properly nervous as it effects Christmas and New Year. Last year I was lucky enough to get our Singapore and Sydney Trip leaving Christmas Day and returning the second of January, which meant New Years Eve in Singapore and what a night that was. However this is a story for another day..

Anyway back on track..

So my Dad and I had 4 devices all trying to get on to the roster at 10pm. I got the first glimpse at 10:13pm.. I saw a 4 day block of Standby beginning on the 3rd of December. Not overly enthusiastic about that. Then I saw PEK, which is Beijing, China. I was so excited, a new destination on the Boeing 787-9 plus the opportunity to visit the Great Wall of China, something I have always wanted to see. Next up a training day for our new Airbus A320Neo Aircraft which are arriving in the New Year straight into a 3 day MCT, Muscat, Oman. Another new destination, I was beginning to think this is shaping up to be a brilliant roster. Then a 3 day ABV, which translates to Abuja, Nigeria. A trip I have not heard too many good things about, however its another New Destination for me! 3 in one roster!

This got us up to the 23rd of December, and we got logged out. I was not amused. Eventually we got back in, and my dreams had come true. Leaving Christmas day to.. CAPE TOWN, South Africa. I couldn’t believe it. Cape Town was my top bid as I wanted to take my Mum away with me. It is the one place I had always said that my Mum would properly love and now I have the opportunity to take her. Plus this means I have New Years Eve off, not sure about New Years Day yet though!

So December 2017 has shaped up to be incredible!

Welcome Onboard

This is my very first post. I am Ray, a 21 year old Cabin Crew Member for an international airline based out of London Heathrow. I have wanted to make a blog for a very long time about my adventures across the world and after seeing Scotland defeat the Qantas Wallabies I have decided to do so.

It has been 478 days since I received my Wings which signify the completion of the 6 week training course, and what a 478 days it has been. I have travelled to 6 out of the 7 continents on 56 routes travelling over 530,000 miles spending almost 50 days in the air.

As I’m sure every crew member does, I have favourite destinations and least favourite destinations. My favourite would have to be Cape Town in South Africa where I have been lucky enough to go 3 times. The food out there is fantastic and there is so much to do. You can ascend Table Mountain and Lionshead, go and see the penguins at Boulders Beach and run along the shorefront of both Bantry and Camps Bay. My least favourite would have to be Lagos or Luanda, for no other reason than that you can’t actually do anything. You can’t leave the hotel for security reasons and as a person I like to be able to explore the cities that I visit.

Other notable entries for my favourite destinations would have to be Toronto, Canada and San Diego in the USA. San Diego is up there as it was both my first and second long haul flights, and as a city it is lovely with a very chilled out atmosphere. I have been to Toronto twice, admittedly both times in Summer when it was warm, not sure how much I’d like it right now when the temperature can get as low as -40 with wind chill. The city is very pleasant with a gorgeous coastline which gives gorgeous sunrises.

As crew we operate on a variety of different aircraft both the long haul Boeing and our short haul Airbus A320 family aircraft. As a bit of a plane geek, I do love this part of the job. I still get the thrill of the Take-Off and the sights out of the window never, ever,  get old. I am lucky enough to fly on both the old and the new, the Boeing 747,of which some of them are older than I am, to the Boeing 787, one of the new generation of aircraft taking to the skies.

My intension with this blog is to describe what we as crew get up to when we are down route and try to explain what life as crew is really like.

If anyone has any questions related to anything crew related, send me any questions below.