Tuesday, August 30, 2011

We know what happens to passengers during bad weather, what about flight crews?

We all know what happens to regular passengers when bad weather happens at busy airports and flights can't come or go....they get stranded. But what about the crew members....what happens to them? Do they get paid if their trip doesn't fly as scheduled? Do they get hotel rooms?

Each airline and their respective unions have their own rules regarding what happens when a flight cancels due to bad weather such as snow cancellations, hurricanes, or severe weather. Just this past week, we had Hurricane Irene make it's way through the east coast of the United States, wreaking havoc in majority of states from North Carolina all the way to Canada.

With these severe situations, we have to think about what goes on with not only the people on the ground, but the people in the air. I often laugh at people who complain about snow delays. Mostly because I ask them how did they get to the airport, did they go fast or slow....majority of the times, they say that they left earlier than they would have and drove slow, watching people slide into the median or elsewhere, so I ask them how do they expect aviation to go faster when it's snowing...same thing applies, the airport has to clear the snow, the airlines have to de-ice the planes and because of the antiquated Air Traffic Control, planes have to be separated a bit more so they don't run on top of each other in case there is a mishap.

So what about when a Hurricane happens? This past week we had Irene come through. Sure, it's upsetting when your travel plans are disrupted due to delays and/or cancellations. You can't fly to your destination to board your cruise ship, or even get the chance to get there due to everything closing.

This year, we saw something that hasn't happened ever. New York city closed down in preparation of Hurricane Irene. Sure, we were coming up to the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, but we never saw the 'City that never Sleeps', sleep. Mayor Bloomberg chose to shut-down all ground transportation by noon on Saturday. This was the Metro Transit Authority, the PATH trains, and all air traffic into the 3 major NYC airports...LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark.

Thousands of flights were canceled and Amtrak adjusted its service to avoid the area. Airports all along the East Coast closed as the hurricane passed into each area, with thousands of national and international flights affected.

Most carriers canceled flights in advance of Irene so equipment would not be stranded, and planned post-hurricane schedules to recover as quickly as possible. Carriers like United, which uses Chicago as a hub, announced a travel waiver to let customers make changes to ticketed itineraries without incurring fees.

Airlines declined to say how many passengers were affected by the hurricane, but the numbers likely reached into the millions because so many flights, both domestic and international, make connections through major East Coast hub airports. Even passengers not flying anywhere near the East coast could be delayed for days as airlines work to get planes and crews back into position.

So what about the crew-members? As I said earlier, many have rules regarding Irregular Operations. Some crews get paid, while others do not. Some have to put themselves on a 'Make-Up' status in order to make up the lost time, while others just pay their crews even though they don't have to make-up the flying.

Here is a time-line of one Union who did an awesome job of keeping it's members informed of the path of Irene, and possible delays, cancellations, and what their members need to do in order to be paid.

Well folks, for those of us living in the NorthEast, it looks like we might have our first Hurricane since the early 1900's.

As of 5 p.m. Wednesday:

Strength: Category 3 hurricane, with sustained winds of 120 mph.

Path: Irene is moving northwest at 12 mph.

N.J. Impact: The center of the hurricane is expected to move slightly east of New Jersey around 2 p.m. Sunday.

WX Call 1447hrs EST

This call was strictly about the operations in PHL/JFK/BDL/LGA/EWR

***NYC will be shutting down all public transportation effective 1200 ET/27AUG.***
***A mandatory evacuations has been ordered for low levels of Manhattan.***

BDL/PHL-Will have no terminating aircraft tomorrow night, no operations on Sunday, planning on resuming with arrival flights on Monday.

EWR/LGA/JFK-Will cancel all flights arriving/departing after 1200ET 27AUG, as well as all flights on Sunday, and planning to start operating with arrivals flights on Monday. JFK’s last flight will cancel after 1000ET/27AUG.

There are concerns with crews, airport employees and TSA arriving to work via public transportation as well as our commuters.
Crew schedule is monitoring this very closely.

1416hrs EST
“The city's transit system will be coming to a halt Saturday as the city prepares for the arrival of Hurricane Irene.
Governor Andrew Cuomo says the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will institute a system-wide shut down when trains and buses begin their final runs around 12 p.m. Saturday.
It includes all subway lines, buses, Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad, and Access-A-Ride services” 


WX Call 1954hrs

Information is subject to change depending on Hurricane Irene's path
LGA – last departure will be at 09:50 on the 27th.  First departure will be at 09:50 on the 28th
JFK – last departure will be at 09:55 on the 27th.  First departure will be at 09:00 on the 29th.

EWR Information
Courtesy of NY & NY Port Authority Website
concessions; Termianl A Tony Roma's and Terminal B Subway Sandwiches will be open 24hrs with 3 days food supply.
NJ Transit; will suspend train at 12 noon tomorrow. Bus service will be suspended at 6 pm.
PATH; service will be suspended at 12 noon Saturday.
Amtrak; last train schedule into rail link into NY at 1822hrs.
Airtrain to Rail link will be suspended after 1900hrs. All airtrain service will be suspended at 2300hrs.

Sometimes the airlines schedulers will try to violate the contract they have in order to maintain some sort of service...or make sure they have enough flight attendants on hand.

Last 5 Days of the Month Pay Protection

It has been brought to my attention that Scheduling is calling F/A's who are in lat 5 days of the month with cxl's and telling them they must call them back. This is not true. ARTICLE 9.P is different than ARTICLE 9.P. 6 last 5 days of the month.
Article 9.p.6 states you must put yourself on the makeup list and accept any flying that is offered. DO NOT FALL INTO CREW SCHEDS TRAP. You only need to call crew sched during a missconnect, cancellation, or illegality during the first 25 days of the month.

9am SoC Operations call regarding tri-state operations

Here is a recap of this mornings SOC conference call:
CLT/RDU/RIC/BWI/IAD/DCA are all open and operating arrivals and departures.      
ORF airport only has partial electricity, some minor flooding, plans are currently to operate F682 DFW-RIC.
JFK/LGA/EWR/BOS/BDL/PHL are all closed. SOC is awaiting information to see what will be decided with public ground transportation to determine when they can successfully start operations.   
PHL airport has reported good conditions.
JFK has reported no structural damage and LGA has reported just a few manageable leaks as of 0900CT. 
JFK has several long haul arrival flights that will be decided later to determine if they will operate or possibly land in Chicago.

NY Area Airports Up and Running.....limited public transportation

Irene has finally left the area, and the NYC airports have announced plans to open in the morning:  LGA at 0700, JFK and EWR at 0600.  The LGA MOD office will open at 0600.
The M60 and Q33 buses to LGA began operations late this afternoon.  While many other modes of transportation are still suspended, please allow extra time for travel to the airport.  

 So you can see that even though passengers are stranded, so are the crew-members. It takes a lot to maintain the other side of the coin as well.
You have regular line flight attendants, then those flight attendants on Reserve (FAs who are sitting waiting for other FAs who call in sick or irregular operations such as bad weather) There are crews who are stuck at hotels, airports, and cities they weren't scheduled to land in. 
Now that the Hurricane has passed, the airline has to make sure they get their employee's back to where they need to be, as well as get their passengers where they've been wanting to go since the disruptions.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Traveling as a Non-Rev (non-revenue) passenger

One of the benefits of working for an airline is you receive certain amount of travel benefits. Majority of non-airline people think airline employee's travel for free, when in fact, majority do not.

At the airline that I work for, you, as an employee, are allowed unlimited travel. However it does come with certain restrictions. There are certain criteria you have to meet, as well as departure taxes you may have to pay to the airline...depending on how long you have flown with the company.

For us, employee's who have 25 years or more of actual company seniority, will fly service charge waived in the coach cabin system-wide. If the employee has five (5) years or more, but less than 25 years of actual company seniority, they will fly service charged waived in the coach cabin on domestic flights only. Otherwise, you will pay service charges for personal trave.

Now we have several designations as an employee when travel as a non-rev. Your travel privileges vary based on the Company you work for, your current company seniority, workgroup, and your employment status. You, your spouse or Company-recognized Domestic Partner (DP), and your dependent children are eligible for unlimited D2 classification service charge passes. Additionally, you have an annual travel pass bank of 24 one-way service charge passes to be used by your parents, other family members or friends (if eligible for D3 travel) in any combination you like. (this is when you get friends you never knew you had)

Most airlines have negotiated reciprocal reduced rate agreements with Other Airlines (OAL). These agreements are intended to extend travel opportunities to parts of the world not served by your specific airline and, like travel within your company, are provided to employees and retirees as a privilege, not a right.

Generally these agreements offer flat rate service charges based on the nonstop mileage of each ticketed segment. These are referred to as Zonal Employee Discount (ZED) fares and are available for unlimited travel by the employee/retiree, spouse/Company-recognized Domestic Partner(DP), and dependent children under 23. In some cases, travel is also extended to the employee's or retiree's parents, Registered Companion(RC), but on a limited basis.

Some of Airline agreements provide Industry Discount (ID) rates, usually 75% (ID75) or 90% (ID90) off of the transporting airlines unrestricted published fares. ID90s are generally limited to an annual allotment of tickets per year for the employee, spouse, and dependent children under 21. In some cases, parents, Company-recognized DPs, and retirees may also be eligible for ID90 travel. ID75s are usually unlimited for the employee, spouse, and children. The agreement with the airline will specify exact eligibility and allotments.

Travel conditions vary from carrier to carrier and are specified in each airlines' agreements. These conditions include eligibility, dress code, flight listing, minimum service requirements, embargo periods, applicable fares, and restrictions. Employees must check the conditions for travel on the intended airline before beginning a trip. Failure to do so may lead to being denied travel by the OAL. When traveling on a reduced rate ticket, employees and their eligible travelers must adhere to the same rules of conduct and dress code as specified for travel on their particular airline, unless otherwise noted in the reduced rate agreement for that carrier.

While ID tickets (such as, ID75 and ID90) are only valid on the airline listed in the carrier code box of the ticket, ZED tickets are interchangeable on any airline that operates in the same market, provided your own airline has a ZED agreement with the carrier at the same or higher fare level. Employees must not use space available tickets if space has been booked on another airline using frequent flyer miles or any revenue ticket on the same day between the same cities.

Employees on reduced rate travel are not entitled to denied boarding compensation or any of the amenities provided to revenue paying passengers (for example, accrual of frequent flyer points, access to club lounges, pre-reserved seating, special meals). Abuse of reduced rate interline travel privileges could result in the loss of your on-line travel privileges, a financial penalty and/or possible termination of employment.

Majority of airlines have a dress code while traveling on their airline. Here is an example of a Dress Code while traveling:

You must ensure that your pass travelers adhere to the dress code. Pass travelers who are improperly dressed will not be accommodated on the flight. If a traveler is properly attired for coach but not for first or business, and only first or business is available, the traveler will not be accommodated in first or business class.

Mainline First Class attire requirements also apply to non-revenue customers who are accommodated in the First Class cabin of an Regional aircraft.
Additionally, once you or your guests have been accommodated for a flight, it is a violation of travel privileges to change into clothing that does not meet the appropriate dress code. The dress code as listed below applies to travel on a major carrier.
  • Attire for all cabins must be well groomed, neat, clean, and in good taste. (If in doubt, wear something else.)
  • Traditional or casual business attire is required for first or business class accommodation.
  • Coats, jackets, and ties for men are not required.
  • Hosiery and socks or collars are not required for men or women.
  • Women's style of shoes or sandals such as open toe, sling-back, and clogs are acceptable.
  • Capri pants are acceptable in all cabins.

Do not Wear
The following are examples of unacceptable attire.

Not Acceptable in Any Cabin

Shorts or T-Shirts
Sweatshirts or tank tops
Micro-mini skirts
Jogging suits, workout clothing or leggings
Bare-midriff or provocative/revealing/see-through clothing
Beach clothing or footwear, flip-flops
Clothing with offensive terminology or graphics
Clothing with holes/ragged or cutoff edges

Not Acceptable in First or Business

(acceptable for coach cabin only) 
Denim clothing of any kind or color 
Athletic footwear/casual sandals
Split skirts above the knee 
Note: Children age six (6) and under are permitted to wear shorts in coach.
Due to the diversity and constantly changing nature of fashion, we will never be able to cover all possible types of attire. We rely on you to carefully consider the intent of the dress code for the class of service you desire when selecting clothing to wear on a trip.

When traveling as a non-rev, you should really know when it's safe for you, and your family or whomever is traveling, will be ok to travel. Otherwise, they will end up in Stand-by hell...waiting for days to get where they want to go. I end up telling my friends that it's cheaper to buy a ticket than it is to fly stand-by because often times, they get stuck and have to pay on overly priced hotel room!  Either way, you don't want to run into weather delays (which are out of your control) and get to the airport and see the lobby like the pic to the right. 

Also, when you get to the airport, be sure that you are 'listed' for the flight. What this means, the employee who you are traveling on their passes, has 'meal listed' you for the flight, indicating your need to travel. This saves the agents a LOT of time. Instead of going to an agent at the departure lounge, plan on going to a KIOSK and printing out a "Priority Verification" card which indicates you are planning on traveling today, on a certain flight when you have to go through the Security Checkpoint. 

When you do make it to the gate, don't go to the agent to ask for a seat, they already know you're on the list. They will generally process the Stand-by fliers about 10 minutes prior to departure (if there are seats available). Don't hover over them either as they don't like this. Just take a seat, or stand away from the counter and keep an eye on the 'Stand-by' screens.

If you don't get called, don't threat, you will be transferred to the next available flight, however, if you are lucky and you do get called, and the agent tells you that you must check your bag, BE SURE TO INFORM THEM of your final destination.

Follow the rules of the crew, and everything should be fine. Don't be a pest, don't demand things, and most of all, remember to be polite. Always treat someone as how you would like to be treated!!! (gifts to the cabin crew are often rewarded ;-p)

The Minnesota Great Get-Together! MN State Fair

Gopher!Having grown up in Winchester, Virginia, we were approximately 2hrs away from Richmond, our State Capital. Even though I remember our county (and surrounding Counties) had their Fairs, I don't ever recall us actually making the trip to Richmond to the State Fair.

After I moved to Minnesota, all I kept hearing about in the month of August was "Are you going to the Fair?" Now, remembering back home how much of a joke our County Fairs were, I initially thought, "Of course not", but soon realized that the State Fair here in Minnesota, was not your typical Fair.

I soon realized that the Minnesota State Fair was, and still is, one of the largest Fairs across the Country. It truly is an awesome experience, I believe I was overwhelmed the first time that I went. There was so much to see and do, and even over the course of the last 14yrs, it's amazing to see how much it has changed.

I really enjoy going with my friends, but this year looks to be either just myself, or with one other friend. not the group of 4-6 of us that usually go. One of the first things we try to do when we enter the Fairgrounds is get a small bite to eat at this really awesome taco stand. From there, we just walk around and try to see as much as we can. Usually going into the Horse Barn, Sheep Barn, Cow Barn, Pig Barn, Poultry Barn to see all the different animals.

Once we're done checking them out, we try to find a place for a nice cold beverage and rest for a bit. A couple of years back, we stumbled upon this one food vendor with Pot Roast sandwiches where the meat is so tender and juicy. So, we try to make sure it's still there and get a sandwich.

One of the fun activities to do is visit the Minnesota Heritage area where you see how many of the settlers lived and survived back in the Prairie days. How they traveled, lived, cooked, and worked.

Another fun thing to try at the Fair is all the food. Many places try new things, like Fried candy-bars, or "something' on a stick. We do try to walk around the Midway where all the amusement rides are, but don't ride them.

This year there is so much road construction going on in the area, I think if we go, we'll do what we've done the past few years....ride one of the buses. For just $5, you get a round trip ride from many locations around the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and surrounding suburbs to the Fair and back. It's well worth the price as you don't have to worry about finding parking and fighting the traffic.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Starting to feel like Marching Band Season

There are times when the temperature feels a certain way, or there's a certain smell in the air that takes you back to a time from your past. This morning was one of those times for me.

As I was waiting for the Light-Rail to take me between terminals in Minneapolis Airport, the cool, crisp, air took me back to the days up of Camp Frame for band camp. (no, this isn't going to be one of those "This one time, at band camp" jokes....LOL)

Band camp was always the week following Drum Corps International World Championships. The band would gather at our High School early Monday morning, then travel to Hedgesville, WV (about 30 miles away from Winchester, VA) for a week of learning music, drill (for our field show), and discipline.Often for Freshmen, this would be the first time they ventured away from home. So this was often a very hard time for them. Each class would have their own cabin, and of course, were separated male/females.

When I first went to Camp Frame, it was more of a rustic 4-H Camp that had old cabins. The upper, Boys, class-men cabin was down a hill, while the Boys Freshmen were next to the parade field and dining hall that is pictured above. The females all had their own cabins as well, and were a good distance away from the males.

In 1987, Camp Frame began a building program to replace the old boy’s cabin (left photo), which was built in the late 1920s to early 1930s.  Although the original boys cabin had running water, the building’s capacity was limited to around 50 boys, and had only a “community shower” with 4 shower heads, 3 sinks, and 3 commodes. Originally, in the early 1930s, it is said that the old boys cabin was the girls cabin, and that the boys stayed in tents.  The old boys cabin no longer exists at Camp Frame, but many still have fond memories.  The new boys cabin (right photo), built in 1987, sleeps 100 boys, has 12 individual showers, 8 sinks, and 8 individual commodes.  The “bath house” is located in the center, has 4 divided sections, and 12 bunk beds in each section.  Because Camp Frame is primarily for camping, the boys cabin is not heated or air conditioned.

I remember going back the following weekend with my parents in '87 to show them Camp Frame, and they had already started renovations to build new dorm-style cabins with updated showers/bathrooms. (actually was a lot nicer when we went back in '88)

There were 4 different buildings that the girls who attended Camp Frame would stay in.  None of the 4 buildings had running water.  To shower, etc., girls would have to leave the building and walk outside to the girls bath house, which was under one of the buildings. Along with the removal of the boys cabin, in 1987, the old girls cabins were replaced with a "twin" to the boy's cabin, capable of sleeping around 100 girls. It has 12 showers, 8 sinks, and 8 commodes. The "bath house" is located, much like the boys, in the center and has 4 divided sections, 12 bunk beds in each section. In 1995, a 5th sleeping section was added to the girls cabin, so it now holds 146.

For our band, as a Freshmen, you were given a hat that you had to wear anytime outside. The practice of requiring new members to wear hats at all times (except inside buildings) during camp week was designed to help leaders and senior band members easily identify those who may need a little more direction. The down side (for the bearer) was that these hats served in much the same manner as a bulls-eye making new members targets of unwanted attention by more senior members of the band. This attention would often be Upperclassmen hanging around the cabin entrances to see if those wearing hates would forget to put them on when going outside, or take them off when going indoors. If I remember, Freshmen wore blue hats while Sophomores wore yellow hats and also for those students who hadn't completed their 3rd-Class musicianship tests.

Camp was actually a fun time for me. We learned our music for the fall field shows/competitions, and really bonded with all the other classmates. Band Camp usually started a few weeks before school, so it go you excited for school to start...but also made you sad because it signified the end of summer. Band camp was one of the huge requirements to be a member of the band. If you missed it, you had better had a pretty good darn reason as learning the drill often counted towards your grade.

Another requirement while at band camp was to memorize your music in order to attain your band shirt. You had to either play your music, by memory, to one of the Directors, or to an upperclassmen who already played for their t-shirt. There were rules while wearing the band uniform, you were either in full uniform, or out of full uniform, non where in-between....UNLESS you had a band t-shirt. At which time you could take off the blouse while keeping the pants on. This helped considerably at parades, or competitions where we had to wait to either perform or warming-up.

Friday was our last day of band camp. Usually by this time, we would have learned our entire show, along with the music that we would perform at competitions every Saturday. Once dinner rolled around, we would pack up and clean up the camp, ensuring the camp was left cleaner than we had found it...almost much the way the Boy Scouts of America motto is about camping. "Leave the area cleaner than you found it"

Saturday we would spent the entire day at our practice field at school. Finishing the week long rehearsals with a start of the year Banquet, along with putting on a 'show' of what we learned to our parents.

During the week, the Band Officers would nominate certain 'squads', students, or sections who really improved from start to finish. These 'awards' would be given out to those who got the most votes at the Banquet and would receive a plaque on the wall in the Band Room.

Now that Camp was officially over, we would still meet at least once more before school started, then of course have our rehearsals during our class...usually right before lunch. Our band was very competitive in the Virginia Band & Orchestra Directors Association. We had won Virginia Honor Band (receiving Superior rating for both Field and Concert competitions) 13 times.

It seemed like every weekend we were off to a competition somewhere in the tri-state region. Just like Drum Corps, the season starts off a bit slow with low scores, but each week we would keep improving the drill as well as the music dynamics. Towards the end of the season, we were pretty good.

Many Friday nights we would have to go to our home football games to support the football team. I think it was pretty sad that the majority of the crowd would come to only watch us perform during  half-time, then leave. (football team didn't win many games) but it was all good.

Many competitions would have that cool, crisp feeling that I felt this morning while waiting for the train. Since the competitions for us were usually September and October when the temperatures were dropping. I even remember one place where it was nearly 80 degrees for the afternoon parade, then the temperature dropped so much that it started snowing later that night after the competition.

I think for musicians, the ideal temperature was right around 60-65 degrees. Especially since the uniforms are made up of polyester that was very warm. Add to that marching around and playing, you got pretty warm. However if the temperature was lower, it made for a great night of Marching Band.

Especially if the field was on astro-turf.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Are You Ready for Some Football?

Hard to believe that ESPNs College Football is gearing up for another exciting season already. Seems like we just finished watching the NCAA Championships, (as well as the Super Bowl for the NFL). Having never been to college, I never really got into the games until I was in the Air Force and a few of us would get together every Saturday to watch the University of Michigan Wolverines dominate someone.

If it wasn't it wasn't Michigan, then we'd watch Penn State University Nittany Lions dominate. Can't forget the Fighting Irish at Notre Dame, they were (and still are) a dominance in College football and always a treat to watch.

Being from Virginia, I always kept track of the Virginia Tech Hokies, The University of Virginia Cavaliers, and the James Madison University Bulldogs. My mom always loved it when Tech would beat the Cavaliers because she worked for an Orthodontist who was a die hard Virginia Cavalier. (at least I think it was the Cavaliers....been so long)

I still keep track of my home state teams, however living the past 15 years in Minnesota, I've now become a fan of the University of Minnesota Gophers. They've had their ups and downs just like the rest, but this state really seems to get behind them completely.

I did want to become a Badger at University of Wisconsin, not for football, but for their Music program. They really have an awesome program, as well as a top notch football team. I think it's funny that my 2nd brother and his family are diehard Cornhuskers for the University of Nebraska. They really dress up to the hilt in Husker outfits and red to support their team.

Another great team that I remember from growing up, besides the Virginia teams, was the West Virginia Mountaineers. They had a very good team and was always one of the top contenders in College Football.

When I was in the Air Force, I did follow the Fighting Sioux from North Dakota University. They played hard, but always came up short on the rosters I felt. Even though I never went to a game in North Dakota (too cold) I always rooted for them when they were in playing at home.

I still love to watch College Football. I often think it's more exciting to watch College football than it is professional football. Maybe it's because the players in the pro-teams get paid too much money to run around a football field, while those at the College level are going to school in between games.

So with that, I'm ready to hopefully be home on a Saturday afternoon, watching a bit of Football, drinking some cold beer and rooting for my favorite team(s)!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Have I mentioned how I dislike Lazy Flight Attendants?

Ok, let me back up a bit here. I was, at one time, a lazy Flight Attendant. Sure, I have only been working the skies for 11yrs, so why was I so jaded?

I remember being that energetic new hire trying to please everyone...doing all the required phases of flight.....hmm, let me see if I remember what they are. Phase 1: Pre-boarding/boarding, and taxi-out. Phase 2: Take-off, beverage service, meal service. Phase 3: Chat with the passenger when all service is complete. Phase 4: landing, taxi-in, deplaning.

Well, not sure if that was right, but it was something similar. Anywho, being based out of Chicago (with my airline), you have a lot of up and down flying. If you were flying to the East Coast, you pretty much had less than 2hrs to do a full meal/beverage service, while going to the West Coast you had an extra hour to do it all. One of the things that I really disliked was the back-n-forth flying. We really repeated a LOT of the same routes, over, and over, and over, and over. It got to be boring, not only for the passengers, but for the flight attendants too.

However, the Phase 3 portion was always the fun part. We would try to engage in the passenger, ask where they were going, or who they are going to visit with. The only problem? Majority of the passengers were businessmen who didn't want to be bothered and just wanted to work on their presentations. (this was before inflight wifi became available)

When the pax start to snarl at you to leave them alone, you just learn not to bother them. Yes, we were still required (and still are) to do walk-thru's every so often to see if someone needed a refill. However even then, a lot of the businessmen just wanted to be left alone....with a full glass of liquid. So with that, I started to sit after I was finished, only to get up when a passenger rang the Flight Attendant Call-Button.

Then chaos broke out in the aviation industry. The worst disaster hit and things started to change. Airlines were laying off employee's to try to stay afloat; reducing options on flights they once had: Caviar, Lobster tails, Smoked Salmon, Assortment of morning breads, liquor/wine/spirits in half bottles...ALL GONE. Now, to stay afloat, many airlines filed for bankruptcy.

I was unfortunately laid off from my employer, but thankfully only for 5 months. When I came back, I was based at a different base than I was laid off from. I was 'thrown' to New York City due to staffing needs. But I had a job. I just didn't care much, and still having the mentality from Chicago, I would do my service and sit on the jumpseat when I was done.

This didn't last long though. I started to feel really bad when I would be shown up by a Senior Flight Attendant who shouldn't be a spry as she/he was. If a call-light went off, before I could even figure out where it was coming from, the flight attendants that had been flying for 30+yrs wold already be out in the aisle checking on the light. From this, I told myself that I would not be that lazy again....(so far I haven't)

I've always wanted to be an International Flight Attendant. Flying on the Domestic side of things at our airline, the service is just sub-par. It's nothing to brag about, however if you flew International, then the service was still extraordinary. The planes were bigger, longer routes, and longer lay-overs at the city you flew into.

Recently, I transferred to another base. This time, I was going Internationally. I was able to go to this locations that I have always dreamed about. Luckily, I'm a Lead Flight Attendant. I get to set the tone of how the service is going to be, and do all the paperwork that needs to be done regarding catering issues, or passenger misconduct.

For the first couple weeks, things were going perfectly. I was learning the ways of the road in my new 'digs', until  I encountered my first lazy flight attendant. With the majority of the flying that I'm doing, the meal service pretty much mirrors that of what I was going out of New York. At one time, I remember talking with a supervisor about why we had carts in the aisle for meals, when I kept hearing about the good old days when the flight attendants would hand-run the trays. Of course, they didn't have any good answer, but I soon would find out.

Flight Attendants started cutting corners to make their jobs easier during the service. This would also be true in taking a cart out into the aisle and serve beverages and/or meals from the cart. One thing that hasn't changed is carts still aren't allowed in First Class on a 3-Class airplane. However, one loop-hole is the Purser can say what goes to change things up a bit. For me, I like to hand-run the trays and meals. It makes the flight go by so much faster, and you can give the more personal attention to the passenger.

Last week, a flight attendant yelled at me saying that I should be using the cart in the aisle (on a 4hr flight) and not make the other flight attendant run so much. Yes, our manuals do say that you can use a cart to deliver trays, I personally feel that is tacky and down-grades the service...so I like to run.

I spent a few months as the 'running' flight attendant and it was awesome. The passengers enjoyed it, I enjoyed it, and the service was done very smoothly. So back to a couple of flight attendants, they don't like to hand run because their feet start hurting, and they don't like walking back and forth to deliver the drinks, then the trays, pick up the salad plates, deliver the meals, pick up the trays, deliver the deserts, pick up the deserts. So I finally told them that if they wanted to do the service that way, then they can apply to be a Purser and do it the way they want.  Until then, it's going to be my way in the First Class cabin.

Now keep in mind, there are moments where you would need to deliver using a cart, but that is very seldom (in my eyes) or that's what the service calls for in Business Class.

Ok, I know I'm just rambling on now, but I guess my standards are just too high for some of these people.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Cadets' "Angels and Demons" rise to Glory

Cadets surpass Blue Devils by 0.55 to take 10th World Championship title

Copyright © 2011  DCI.  All rights reserved.
(all info/pics is/are used for promotional purposes only and is/are owned solely by DCI)

The Cadets
For the tenth time in the organization’s history, the Cadets can again call themselves World Champions. The corps proved that “Between Angles and Demons” lies a corps with unparalleled talent and dedication, earning a score of 98.35 and the 2011 World Championship title on Friday, Aug. 14, at the Drum Corps International Finals.

“It was the best performance I’ve ever seen in Finals, by far, in 29 years,” said Cadets director George Hopkins. “If you can get the audience to stand up for two minutes at the end, I don’t know what else you can do.”

“It was so electric in here when the corps members were performing,” said Cadets brass caption supervisor Gino Cipriani. “I’ve never seen them feel the way they felt when they came off the field. They worked so hard and they deserve everything they have; I was very happy for them.”
The 77-year old corps also earned two caption awards, which are determined by averaging the scores in each area from the Prelims, Semifinals, and Finals; the Donald Angelica Best General Effect Award and the Best Visual Performance Award went to the Cadets, reflecting the stunning visuals the corps created by clothing half the corps in maroon uniforms—the “demons”—and half in cream uniforms—the “angels.”

Just before taking the field for the corps’ encore performance Saturday night, color guard member Elizabeth Blackford described the feeling of being a champion as incredible; “it is the most amazing feeling in the entire world. I am so happy to be here. A lot of hard work just paid off,” she said.

Blue Devils
The two-time defending World Champions Blue Devils fell just shy of taking home the Champions trophy for a third time with a score of 97.80. Though they are one of the winningest corps in DCI history with 14 titles to their credit, 2011 marked the fourth time the corps has fallen short of a three-peat, also occurring in 1978, 1981 and 1998.

Devils’ director David Gibbs explained that he has been telling his corps members that they have been his heroes all season long. “There is a lot of risk to join the Blue Devils after going undefeated for two years and after winning two World Championships. They took the risk; they met the challenges. They started the season a little rough, at the end they were one of the most awesome Blue Devils drum corps ever. They’re my heroes.”

Blue Devils euphonium section leader Zak Stillwell said that “there was something in the air from bus to field” that made the day so special. “I’m so proud of this corps,” he continued. “We were counted out early, so just to be in contention has been great. It’s been an unforgettable year.”

The Cavaliers
The corps’ color guard impressed during its “The Beat My Heart Skipped” program, taking home the George Zingali Best Color Guard Award.  

The Cavaliers ended the season in third place, earning a score of 96.90. The corps also took home the Fred Sanford Best Percussion Performance Award, a prize they last earned eleven years ago in 2000.

“The show was the best of the season, and there was no better time for us to peak as a group,” Cavaliers front ensemble section leader Anthony Jackson said, adding that he can’t help but smile when the crowd cheers for their performance. “This has been a very special year because the group of guys I worked with never had a rough spot, all season long. Just being able to perform for 11 minutes one last time with these guys was something special.”

Fourth place went to Carolina Crown. The “Rach Stars” earned a 95.30 along with the Jim Ott Best Brass Performance Award with their blend of sensational music, old and new.

Carolina Crown
“The audience got up on their feet more than once — when we took the field, about halfway through, and then at the end all three levels just stood up,” said euphonium player Jonathan Morgan.

After six years with Crown, Morgan is aging out. “My goal was to have a performance to remember for the rest of my life because it’s the last one I get to do. This was my last shot and I gave it everything I had.”

After ending the show with dagger raised the entire season, Phantom Regiment’s Juliet character finally took her life on the podium in the final moments of the corps’ 2011 show, “Juliet.” The corps took fifth place with a 95.05—a score more than a point above its score from Friday’s Semifinals competition and the highest score increase of any corps.
“The young men and women who marched this show took all their love of each other and for the program and told the audience all about it — sold it to the audience,” said Dan Richardson, Regiment’s program adviser. “I cried through the whole show. It was a completely emotionally-draining show taking the audience to another time and place. And at the end of the show, the performers were rewarded by a huge audience response.”

Santa Clara Vanguard
One of the best moments of the evening, front ensemble member Taylor Brinneman said, was “when the crowd stood up at the end of the opener. That’s never happened before. ”Santa Clara Vanguard ended its 2011 season with a sixth place finish. They demonstrated remarkable consistency, earning the same score at both the Semifinals and Finals competitions—92.20.
“They were phenomenal and played from the heart,” remarked Tour Director JW Koester. “Putting power and emotion behind it, like Santa Clara knows how to do, they were Santa Clara tonight.”

A score of 92.05 landed the Bluecoats a seventh place finish. According to Bluecoats director David Glasgow, emotion made the corps’ Finals performance better than any other of the season. “The emotion that’s run through the hearts of our members these last couple days has been amazing. The emotions are what they are going to remember their entire lives,” he said. “Tonight they were able to share that emotion and that love they have for each other, for the Bluecoats, with the audience, and the audience responded. It was just a wonderfully emotional performance.”

The Boston Crusaders’ show, “Revolution,” featuring music from “Les Miserables” and the “1812 Overture,” took the corps to eighth place with a 90.65.

Boston Crusaders
“Our performance tonight was amazing. There was so much energy and everyone just came together as a group. It was absolutely the most unbelievable feeling in the world,” said Camaryn Speranza, a Crusaders guard member. “There were just so many incredible shows and incredible people and things that I experienced this summer that it is simply irreplaceable”

Boston Crusaders’ director Tom Spataro — who won the Dr. Bernard Baggs Leadership Award, as the World Class director of the year — explained that the last show of the season is always special. “We’ve come an incredibly long way this year and the corps took it to another level tonight. They did something I haven’t seen all season and what a night to do it.”
Ninth place went to the Blue Knights, who earned a score of 89.20 with their program, “An English Folk Song Suite.”

Executive Director Mark Arnold said 2011 was a significant year for the Blue Knights; “We’ve had a beautiful show put together for us this year. The music was incredible, and it was something that we knew the crowd, our fans would really love,” he said. “This is kind of a watershed year in where the Blue Knights started making their fans love them, and it was something that we’ve been aiming for with the changes we’ve made. This corps has grown together and they are still very young, and they’re all excited to keep this going.”

Madison Scouts
Ending in 10th place, the Madison Scouts earned a score of 87.55 with their show, “New York Morning.” As baritone-playing, age-out member Corey Jahlas explained, the season was about so much more than the results of the competition. “We’ve seen people crying in the audience and people have come up to us and said, “I was there [in New York on Sept. 11]. Thank you.” That means more than any placement or points. It was really cool just to have that connection with people and be able to give that to them,” he said.

 Michael Boo, Ryan Cain, Johnny Gilbert, Jeff Hartowicz, Jeff Langan, Christina Mavroudis, Linda & Sid Unser, Chris Weber, Kate Weber.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

DCI World Championship Finals

What an exciting summer in Drum Corps. I was able to see my boys in Green, The Cavaliers, at the end of June, and was able to spend a couple of days watching The Cadets rehearse their show prior to DCI's first Regional of the summer at the University of Minnesota.

It was truly shaping up to be one interesting battle for the top, and I must say, from DCI Minnesota all the way through tonight's Championships, I was on edge. I knew I wasn't going to be able to watch via the DCI Fan Network due to me flying, but once I was able to get to a hotel and/or get back to an internet connection, I would get the scores and recaps of that nights performance.

I was pretty upset when my computer wouldn't connect tonight in our crew lounge in Miami operations, but once I was able to, I quickly was able to get tonight's updates. I know how hard every member of every corps worked this summer, and I must first congratulate The Cadets for taking their 10th Championship!

Copyright © 2011  DCI.  All rights reserved.
(all info/pics is/are used for promotional purposes only and is/are owned solely by DCI)

DCI World Championship Finals

Place Corps   Score
 World Class
1 The Cadets 98.350
2 Blue Devils 97.800
3 The Cavaliers 96.850
4 Carolina Crown 95.300
5 Phantom Regiment 95.050
6 Santa Clara Vanguard 92.200
7 Bluecoats 92.050
8 Boston Crusaders 90.650
9 Blue Knights 89.200
10 Madison Scouts 87.550
11 Blue Stars 86.200
12 Spirit of Atlanta 85.350

It started with the Kingsmen in 1972. And it stretches in an unbroken chain from then until this day. Every summer, the top corps in the country gather in one place to vie for the title of DCI World Champions. In our Hall of Fame, we are pleased to salute the latest winner and honor all those who have come before. To be listed here is no small achievement. The following corps names reflect the efforts of many individuals. Who have worked hard. Struggled long. And achieved much.
Year Corps                              Location                Score
2011 The Cadets                      Indianapolis, IN     98.350
2010 Blue Devils                     Indianapolis, IN     98.900     
2009 Blue Devils                     Indianapolis, IN     99.050 
2008 Phantom Regiment         Bloomington, IN    98.125 
2007 Blue Devils                     Pasadena, CA         98.000 
2006 The Cavaliers                 Madison, WI           97.200 
2005 The Cadets                     Foxboro, MA           99.150 
2004 The Cavaliers                 Denver, CO             98.700 
2003 Blue Devils                    Orlando, FL             98.800 
2002 The Cavaliers                 Madison, WI           99.150 
2001 The Cavaliers                 Buffalo, NY            98.350 
2000 The Cadets                     College Park, MD   97.650 
2000 The Cavaliers                 College Park, MD   97.650 
1999 Blue Devils                     Madison, WI           98.400 
1999 Santa Clara Vanguard     Madison, WI           98.400 
1998 The Cadets                      Orlando, FL            98.400 
1997 Blue Devils                     Orlando, FL            98.400
1996 Blue Devils                     Orlando, FL            97.400 
1996 Phantom Regiment         Orlando, FL            97.400 
1995 The Cavaliers                 Buffalo, NY            98.300 
1994 Blue Devils                     Boston, MA            98.400 
1993 The Cadets                      Jackson, MS           97.400 
1992 The Cavaliers                  Madison, WI          97.500 
1991 Star of Indiana                 Dallas, TX             97.000 
1990 Cadets of Bergen County Buffalo, NY          97.700 
1989 Santa Clara Vanguard     Kansas City, MO    98.800 
1988 Madison Scouts              Kansas City, MO    97.100 
1987 Garfield Cadets               Madison, WI          97.900 
1986 Blue Devils                     Madison, WI          98.400 
1985 Garfield Cadets               Madison, WI          98.400 
1984 Garfield Cadets               Atlanta, GA            98.000 
1983 Garfield Cadets               Miami, FL              94.400 
1982 Blue Devils                     Montreal, Canada   95.250 
1981 Santa Clara Vanguard     Montreal, Canada   94.000 
1980 Blue Devils                     Birmingham, AL    90.600 
1979 Blue Devils                     Birmingham, AL    93.550 
1978 Santa Clara Vanguard     Denver, CO            91.550 
1977 Blue Devils                     Denver, CO            92.050 
1976 Blue Devils                     Philadelphia, PA     92.700 
1975 Madison Scouts              Philadelphia, PA      92.500 
1974 Santa Clara Vanguard     Ithaca, NY               89.500 
1973 Santa Clara Vanguard     Whitewater, WI       88.650 
1972 Kingsmen                        Whitewater, WI      88.100

Love when a hotel offers free Breakfast

Yesterday when in San Jose, I was excited to go down to the restaurant for the free breakfast buffet, however I got there a little late because after my awesome adventure walking around in Quito, my sunburn started peeling so I had to do a little exfoliating of my scalp.

I should have started a little earlier, but it was unfortunate that the hotel didn't give any of us crew-members the required wake-up call on our phones that we all requested. One of my crew-members called me to ensure I was awake since I wasn't already down at breakfast and when I did finally make it down, WOW....what a spread!

I didn't get any pictures of the spread, but on the way down, I caught a glimpse of an awesome view. It really made me wish I had a longer stay to enjoy what the hotel had to offer. I don't believe it was an all-inclusive resort, but it was pretty much close to it.

With outdoor pools, a golf driving range and the Kuo Spa the luxury San Jose hotel is perfect for an ideal Costa Rica vacation. I'll have to really enjoy my next two trips here when I can. The weird part was it was very rustic and the smell reminded me of Puerto Vallarta. I truly can't wait to go back and take in more of what the hotel has to offer!

DCI World Championship Semifinals Recap

The top 18 corps finished in the same placement as in the Prelims.

The Cadets (1st-97.80) received a perfect 20.0 from one Music Effect judge on the way to winning both Visual Effect and Music Effect. Visual Performance and Music Ensemble took 1st and Visual Performance and Music Ensemble took 2nd. Percussion was 3rd, 0.30 under 1st place Cavaliers and Color Guard took 3rd, 0.50 under 1st place Blue Devils.

Blue Devils (2nd-97.30) took 1st in Visual Ensemble and Color Guard, 2nd in Visual Effect, Visual Performance, Music Ensemble and Percussion, 3rd in Brass and 4th in Music Effect. The most noticeable change in score was Visual Performance, which increased 0.60 over the Prelims.

The Cavaliers (3rd-96.90) took 1st in Percussion and 2nd in Music Effect and Color Guard. Visual Effect was 3rd as was Visual Performance and Visual Ensemble. Brass was 4th and Music Ensemble 5th, both down from 3rd in Prelims. Still, the corps maintained a 0.90 deficit to Cadets, the same as in the Prelims.

Carolina Crown (4th-95.65) was 1st in Brass by 0.10 and 3rd in Music Effect and Music Ensemble. Visual Performance dropped to 4th from 2nd in Prelims, while Color Guard and Percussion moved up to 4th from 6th and 7th. Visual Effect ended 5th, as did Visual Ensemble, both the same placement as in the Prelims.

Phantom Regiment (5th-93.95) was 4th in Visual Effect, Visual Ensemble and Music Ensemble, 5th in Music Effect and Visual Performance, 6th in Color Guard and Brass and 7th in Percussion, the last two captions slipping one spot each from the Prelims.

Santa Clara Vanguard (6th-92.20) was 5th in Color Guard and Percussion, both dropping from 4th in Prelims. Visual Performance and Visual Ensemble took 5th and Visual Effect, Visual Performance and Visual Ensemble 6th. Music Effect and Music Ensemble finished 7th and Brass was 8th, up from 11th in the Prelims.

Bluecoats (7th-91.60) was 5th in Brass, 6th in Music Effect, Music Ensemble and Percussion, 7th in Color Guard, (up from 10th in Prelims), and 9th in Visual Effect, Visual Performance and Visual Ensemble, the latter two down from 7th in Prelims.

Boston Crusaders (8th-90.35) was 7th or 8th in all captions except for 10th in Music Ensemble and 11th in Percussion, each of the last two captions down two placements from Prelims.
Blue Knights (9th-89.40) was 8th through 10th in all captions.

Madison Scouts (10th-88.35) was 8th through 10th in six captions, 11th in Color Guard and 13th in Percussion, both those last two captions up from Prelims.

Blue Stars (11th-87.00) was 9th in Percussion, 10th in Color Guard, and 11th or 12th in all other captions.

Spirit of Atlanta (12th-86.55) increased its score from Prelims by 1.05, the most of the top 18 corps. This increased the corps’ cushion over 13th place from 2.55 to 3.15. Percussion was 8th, Music Ensemble 11th and all other captions 12th, except for 13th in Visual Ensemble, the only caption not in the top 12.
Glassmen (13th-83.40) was 14th or 15th in every caption. 
Troopers (14th-83.20) was all over the board, from 11th in Visual Ensemble, (the only caption in the top 12), to 18th in Percussion.

The Academy (15th-82.65) was 12th in Percussion, the corps’ only caption in the top 12. Brass and Music Ensemble took 13th and the remaining captions placed between 14th and 17th.

Colts (16th-82.25) was 13th in Music Effect and Color Guard and 15th through 17th in the remaining captions.

Crossmen (17th-81.05) was 14th in Visual Ensemble, 15th in Color Guard and 16th or 17th in everything else.

Pacific Crest (18th-77.75) was 18th or 19th in every caption except for 20th in Visual Ensemble and 22nd in Percussion.

Blue Devils B (19th-76.45) moved up from 21st by adding 1.30 to its Prelims score. Percussion was 17th and Visual Effect and Visual Ensemble 18th. All other captions were 20th or 21st.   
Teal Sound (20th-75.75) was 19th in Music Effect, Music Ensemble and Percussion. Color Guard and Brass took 20th, and the remaining captions 22nd through 24th.

Mandarins (21st-75.70) was 23rd in Brass, 22nd in Music Ensemble and 19th through 21st in everything else.       

Oregon Crusaders (22nd-75.15) had a wide spread of placements; 18th in brass to 24th in Visual Ensemble and Color Guard. Remaining captions placed 19th through 22nd.  
Vanguard Cadets (23rd-72.85) was 22nd through 24th in all captions except for 25th in Brass.
Cascades (24th-72.20) was 22nd in Visual Performance and Brass and 23rd through 25th in all other captions.

Jersey Surf (25th-71.35) was 21st in Visual Ensemble, 23rd in Color Guard and 24th or 25th in the remaining six captions.