Trip Report: Beijing, China

Hello everyone and welcome to those joining us for the first time on-board crewfie101. This is my first long haul trip of New Year 2018 and what a good one to begin with. It was a new destination, a five day trip with the bonus of only operating one way and being to one of the top destinations I have been waiting to visit.

The day before we departed for Beijing, I operated a short haul service to Stuttgart and back, a nice way to get back into the swing of things after the New Years break! The way out was nice and empty with the way back a little busier but nothing a very experienced crew couldn’t deal with. We arrived back at lunchtime and i didn’t report to head to Beijing for another 24 hours so I decided to take it nice and easy and catch up on some much needed sleep.

So to Beijing! We flew out on-board the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner with a whole crew positioning with us. Positioning is when Cabin or Flight Crew fly as passengers to operate the next flight or position home after operating the way out. This is for whatever reason the airline requires, so on this trip we were positioning home from Beijing after operating the way out. A great way to start the New Year. The flight out was nice and easy with a great crew and a light load of passengers. We arrived in Beijing and after taxing for what seemed like an age due to Chinese Air Traffic rules which state that you are not permitted to cross runways meaning you have to taxi to the end and then back on yourself, not particularly what you need after a 10 hour flight, we disembarked and headed on the train to the bus and baggage reclaim. This train was possibly the slowest in history. I could have run faster, maybe not after the flight but in general, yeah. We got on the bus and fell asleep very quickly, I was knackered. After a rude awakening from my colleagues on the bus, we booked our tour to the Great Wall of China for the following day and headed to bed.

That evening we met at 7 to go for dinner and guided by one of our Beijing based crew, went to the Restaurant. This restaurants menu was as thick as a brick. Now as a particularly indecisive person, this raised several issues. In the end I went for the Peking Duck to share with one of the crew, and it was phenomenal! We all ended up feasting on food from all around the table as everyone had ordered far too much. What a night it was. We walked back to the hotel and I decided to head straight to bed as we had to meet at 7am the following morning. My sleep lasted all of 3 hours as it often does in the Far East. I was up at 1 and stayed awake to when I would’ve had to get up anyway. Slightly frustrating.

At 7am we got picked up and headed out on the death defying car ride to the Great Wall. There were more near misses on this drive than Kim Kardashian has had with the paparazzi. We headed past frozen waterfalls and elephant playgrounds before reaching the bottom of the wall. The driver took our money and wandered off, we hoped to get us the chairlift tickets and returned ten minutes later, luckily with the tickets. We hopped on the shuttle bus and made it to the chairlift up to the wall. Now. This may seem quite odd, given the fact that I work at 36000ft, but I am petrified of heights, so the idea of dangling above the ground doesn’t thrill me. Luckily Hannah came with me and kept me sane. As much as I didn’t want to look the views were incredible.

We got onto the wall, and what an amazing experience we had. For me, this was definitely a Bucket List moment. A wow, speechless and breathless moment. I have wanted to go to the Great Wall for years and actually get to get to do it, well it was incredible. We took so many pictures and if you are currently cabin crew or becoming crew the phrase “doing it for the gram” is a daily phrase for you that you will hear several times every trip! The Great Wall, according to my Dad, is the only man made structure visible from space. It stretches 5,500km along China and we walked around 1 mile of that, so not a huge chunk. We climbed and descended many steps, my Apple Watch loved me, and the views were some of the best I have ever seen. We were walking up the glass steps with a “Carefully Slip” sign. I do love the translations between English and Chinese.

The “Best” bit of the wall or the bit was really looking forward to was the toboggan back down the hill. We lined up and off we went…. for around 30 seconds. These two Women ahead of us quite clearly didn’t understand that if you lean forward and push the stick forward, YOU GO FORWARD!! I am usually quite a calm person, except when people really don’t understand simple things and it ruins it for others. We all were screaming at them, pretty sure I was called Jay at some point but the whole situation really did make us laugh, (afterwards).

We hopped back in the “Death Cab” for the journey back to the hotel and on arriving we headed to McDonalds.. I know, don’t need the hate. After McDonald’s I headed for a sleep before we met again for dinner. Everyone always asks about your sleep patterns in this job and the truth is you don’t really have one. You go from Timezone to Timezone, city to city so your body really doesn’t have much time to adapt to whichever zone you are in before moving onto the next. My philosophy is sleep when I need to on trips as sometimes it works out better like that. It does mean that you are often awake in the middle of the night, but hey perfect time to watch catch up TV, just not in China where you cant access anything due to the internet being so restricted.

So we ended up going back to the same restaurant for dinner and ordered the exact same food, just because it was so good the night before. We got in and all headed to bed. Once again did not sleep, and FaceTimed my cousin at 4am to watch the Liverpool vs Everton football match, yes I did get that desperate.

The following morning the 4 of us met at around 10am to head to the Forbidden City in downtown Beijing. The taxi ride there felt slightly safer but not a huge amount. To be honest it was a shock that the whole crew made it to the aircraft for the journey home, given some of the stories of the various car journeys. We arrived to what looked like the Chinese changing of the guard, however they were a lot more musical than there British counterparts. We watched that then headed into the City itself. This was a very impressive place. The temples were so well looked after and the artwork decorating them was absolutely immaculate. Temple after temple we went through and looked in awe at them all. My only criticism of the place was that, all the temples were very similar, so once you had seen one, you had seen them all. Still it is definitely something I would highly recommend to do when in Beijing.

From the Forbidden City we attempted to find a cheap taxi to the Pearl Market, to pick up some cheap clothes and stuff. This was a bit of a mission. They tried to charge us huge sums of money when we knew it would only cost us around 40 Yuan. We obviously declined until we found a taxi that would take us for 50, which we figured was as good as we were going to get. We got down there and I got my bartering hat on. I got a lovely hoodie down from 1000 Yuan to 100 Yuan. Was happy with that effort. If you ever find yourself in Beijing, Shanghai or probably anywhere in China, you have to visit these markets. You can pick up ridiculously good deals, but you do have to barter otherwise they will take you for a ride. My style is asking the salesperson what it costs and then when they give the huge price, saying no and beginning to walk away. They begin to chase you and lower there price and somehow it works a charm. We bought a few things then headed back to the hotel before going to get some early dinner and going to the supermarket to pick things up for that night as none of us really wanted to go back out.

The next morning it was time to head for home. As we were positioning home out of China we have to get to the aircraft in our uniform then change into our comfy clothes when we get onboard. As positioning crew we are booked J or Business Class seats but only if there are enough seats. Throughout this trip, I had been saying to our Customer Service Manager that I would be happy anywhere as long as I wasn’t in a middle seat in Economy, wasn’t trying to be a snob, just a ten hour flight in that seat makes me feel ill. So we get to the airport and we all know that we are going to be in Economy as the flight is full. Three seats came up in Business class so the guys with the highest seniority got them. Seniority is really the only fair way to decide it, as I have been with the airline only a year and a half, on the Boeing 787 that isn’t going to get you very far in the seniority scale. To be trained on the 787 you have to have been flying for at least 6 months or so. Within my fleet of crew, it is the one with the most experienced crew which is great for working as everyone knows what they are doing but not for positioning. I was 6th on the list out of 8. So I get to the desk and check in, get given a boarding pass for seat 30E. The middle seat. I was not happy. I asked if there were any other seats, but as I was the last to check in there wasn’t. The only positive was that the 4 crew in Economy were at least all sat together, but still was ridiculously uncomfortable for the length of flight that it was.

I couldn’t wait to get back to London. We arrived back and collected our bags before I had to make the mad dash to catch my commuting flight back home! I just made it and got a window seat! Couldn’t have been a better result!

That was my Trip to Beijing, China folks! Next up is where I am writing this from, an incredible 9 day trip to the other side of the World. Singapore and Sydney. I am currently on my final day in Singapore and am flying back to the UK tonight so the post on this trip will be posted in the coming days. Safe to say its a good one.

I hope you have enjoyed this trip with me onboard Crewfie101, and if you have any questions on the job, lifestyle, destinations or anything don’t hesitate to let me know!

Thank you everyone and see you next time onboard Crewfie101

A Cabin Crew Christmas: Abuja and Cape Town

Hello again everyone and welcome to those of you joining us for the first time on-board Crewfie101. Firstly I’d like to wish everyone a very Happy New Year and all the best wishes for 2018. My New Year was a quiet one at home with my Dad before meeting up with the rest of the Family on New Years Day…

This week I am planning to do this post plus a Trip Report on my trip to Beijing, China, from which I returned to the UK yesterday. That will come either later today or tomorrow.

So to this post. In the week building up to Christmas, I was very busy. The Monday before, I returned from Muscat in Oman to then head up to Aberdeen to celebrate my Mum’s Birthday, in the way only we can, by making our homemade Macaroni and Cheese. It doesn’t get better than that.

The day after I headed for my first trip to Africa of the week and I was off to Abuja, Nigeria. Now, amongst my fellow Cabin Crew this trip is definitely not the most popular on the network. However, being a new destination for me, I had absolutely no reason to judge it. I flew down from Aberdeen to London and headed to the report centre and caught up with a few friends before briefing for the flight. We were taking a fully loaded Boeing 777-200 down to Nigeria with a nice and short flight time of around 6 Hours. I would be the Business Class Galley Lead for this trip and was working with a great team of 4. We got on-board and settled in for the flight down. We arrived nice and on time, collected all the suitcases and hopped on the bus to the Hotel, a journey I recall absolutely nothing of due to being practically unconscious. What a sleep. We arrived at the hotel and had our free breakfast before getting some sleep and heading to the pool. I have to say it was strange spending the week before Christmas in 33 degree heat, not that I was complaining. We chilled in the sun, listening to the best Christmas songs in history before heading to get ready for dinner. Most of the crew made it down for dinner, I ate the prawn curry which came out looking a little different to what I was expecting. I was expecting creamy and golden, I got lumpy and brown.. Tasted good looked absolutely vile. Now for crew to be discussing sport is quite a rarity but when Arsenal take on Liverpool, apparently it erupts. As a Chelsea fan, I think I was hoping for Liverpool to win and to be honest I thought they would. Four of the crew and the Captain gathered in the Crew Room to watch and what a game it was. It went one way then the other eventually ending up in a 3-3 draw. I headed to bed at full time and got some sleep as it was an early start for the flight back to London Heathrow. The flight home was one of the longest flights I have operated, despite it being less than 6 hours in duration. I just couldn’t get into it. It was a tough day at the office and I couldn’t figure out why. But when I got back to London, the best thing was waiting for me. My Mum.

With my Airline we get a special standby ticket at Christmas which allows us to take any family or friends away with us. Last year I took my Dad to Singapore and Sydney and this year I was taking my Mum to Cape Town. Its definitely one of the perks of the job. As I commute from Scotland, I wasn’t going to fly back home on the 23rd to fly back down on Christmas Eve so we booked into a hotel for Christmas. That evening we headed to one of the best pubs in the Heathrow Area, The Pheasant for Dinner. You always get a good meal in there and a big one at that. On Christmas Eve my Mum and I headed into Central London to go around all the major sights taking pictures with our funny Christmas Hats on. We went to the Ritz and met an England Rugby Legend, Big Ben, Covent Garden and then ended up in Primark on Oxford Street as my shower gel had leaked in my bag.. Rookie Mistake. That evening we headed to the Royal Albert Hall, feeling very fancy with my Primark bag in hand and in my jeans and T-Shirt, for Carols by Candlelight with a full orchestra. It was an incredible evening.

On Christmas Day we got up, opened our lovely presents and headed for a run. Our Christmas Dinner was definitely unorthodox, McDonalds. We turned up with our Christmas crackers and made a meal of it. From there we headed back to the hotel to get ready, me for work and my Mum to get on the flight and enjoy it. I headed off to Terminal 5 and my Mum to Terminal 3. I met my team and we got completely “Tinselified” and yes I know that isn’t a word. Being a standby ticket, there was always a chance my Mum wouldn’t get on but luckily enough she got on and got a business class seat. I was so made up for her, she really deserves it after all she has done for me in my life. I was working upstairs on the beautiful Boeing 747-400, Queen of the Skies, with one of my good friends, Amber and we had a blast. We flew down to Cape Town and on the short journey to the Hotel we completed our Secret Santa.

We arrived at the hotel and for Mum and I there was no rest for us. We got changed and headed straight for Lions Head Mountain. Yes, we climbed a mountain after an 11 hour flight. Yes, we crazy. We headed straight up the hill and climbed as far as the chains where neither of us felt like that was an option. The views from Lions Head are spectacular. You get the view down to Camps Bay and the Cape of Good Hope, and on the other side you see the City itself plus Table Mountain. The most iconic sight in Cape Town. We managed to weave our way down the Mountain and got ready for dinner. We met the crew for dinner and headed to Café Paradiso for dinner, my favourite dinner at that. A South African Steak dinner, and damn it was good! We chatted for a good couple of hours and headed back to the hotel to get some very deserved sleep. I really needed it.

The next morning it was another very early start, to climb ANOTHER Mountain. This time the morning before an 11 hour flight. We headed to the base of Table Mountain and started the ascent. Now this was something that I had wanted to do since I started my job and to do it with my Mum made it all the more special. The path winded left and right and at times didn’t seem to go very far uphill. I will tell you something, that climb made my legs turn into jelly. The higher we got, the better the views got. Once we got to the top after 2 hours of solid climbing, we took pictures in the most dangerous of places but it had to be done. We had an Ice Cream and being a proud Scotsman, had a lovely can of Irn Bru at the top. This made for some lovely pictures. We walked round the top and encountered some of the of the Wildlife on the top of Table Mountain. We saw some Dassie’s and I managed to get up close and personal to get some absolutely stunning photographs. We descended down the mountain on the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway, which I would recommend to absolutely everyone who visits Cape Town. From Table Mountain we headed to the coastal suburb of Camps Bay for lunch at the Hard Rock Café, another steak was devoured.

From there we headed back to the hotel, got some sleep whilst Mum headed for a run around the coast. I got ready for the flight home before heading back to the airport and as an added bonus, my Mum got the chance to sit upstairs so that I could serve her. This was a great experience for both of us and one that I won’t be forgetting for a while.

After landing back in London we hopped on the flight back up to Aberdeen and lucky for me, I got a lovely Business Class seat. I needed it. But before boarding the flight I found out that I had got my days leave for New Years Day, which was a huge relief.

Both these trips made my Christmas extremely special. This is why I love my job and the people I work with. Yes, we were all away from our family at Christmas time but we became a family on-board the aircraft and made it a special time when we were away. As Cabin Crew we sacrifice a lot. We miss Christmas and Birthdays, Family Weddings and Events and just miss our family and friends in general. However in that briefing room we form friendships and bonds that often last longer than the flight and get us through some of the toughest times because it is hard at times. That is definitely one of the major drawbacks with this job however one which crew definitely embrace and try to make the most of by supporting our colleagues.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas.

See you next time on-board 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!