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.

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