Countries Visited (not including Turnarounds): Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Great Britain, Greece, Iceland, India, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Libya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Monaco, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, North Korea, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United States, Vatican City
London | Perth | Sydney | Melbourne
Seatguru - Most Comfy Seats On Any Airline
pprune.org - Pilot's rumour network
Kangaroo with a Sweet Tooth
Kronicles of Kris
The Adventures of Alle Malice
Joel's trek across Asia/Europe in a Hilux
Phil's Wine Site
I Can Has Cheezburger
The Flying Pinto
Girl on Raw
Things Bogans Like
Bobby at Up, Up and a Gay
Straight Guy in the Queer Skies
Skin by Falter
Saturday, February 25, 2006The last couple of days have been quite scary in Dubai. It's been pouring down with rain, which may happen once a year with just a slight drizzle, but nothing like what it is now. You would think that with global warming and such that it would get hotter, and don't get me wrong, I'm not oblivious to the fact that here it can go over 50 degrees celcius. But rain? In the desert? Oh dear.
Yesterday I was on standby from 23.00 to 11.00, and luckily I called up scheduling 5 mintues before duty started. They'd already assigned me a fight, to Cochin. I tried to sleep, but was awoken by the golden girls - Bridgette, Lana and Ivana. Only got half an hour sleep in total.
So yeah, went to briefing, boarded the plane, did all the prep. Then when I sat on the jumpseat I felt really ill and I didn't want to vomit in from of passengers. I felt so bad. We were on the bloody runway and I had to call the SFS, and she stoped the plane from accelerating! I had to swap seats and felt so bad. I ended up deadheading to Cochin in first class, but didn't get any sleep because I felt so awful. It was a good idea though - I felt a little better in Cochin and worked the return leg.
Now I'm on my first day out of 3 days off, and I should get my roster, as well as my paycheck, plus a day free to shop around. I need a warm coat,m scarf and gloves if I'm going to have a look around Cadbury Wrold in Birmingham. 2 comments
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Yes, so, here's me at Buckingham Palace. Definately a shot for the photo album. It was just a pity that everyone else was too knackered to actually go and have a look around the city. That shot was taken around 3pm London time, and I'd been up since 11 am London time. It was still pretty cool though :-)
BTW, it was VERY cold.
Here's a shot of the Big Ben clock tower.
It chimes every 15 minutes. The guy I was with, Claudio, the First Officer, had his video camera on him and struggled to capture Big Ben chiming. I don't know why he didn't wait for the proper time.
And here's a shot of me next to a proper English telephone box. They're much nicer than the ratty ones by Telstra back home, that's for sure. Mind you there's nothing special about them on the inside.
So here's one of the newer Double Decker buses. I don't have a picture of the older one, they were hard to find.
Here's Westminster Abbey. It's not a very good shot, but we were up very close and it's so big and magnificent. And historic. A lot of people were there too, and it's hard to take a nice picture when you have other tourists walking past the lens all the time.
And here's the ever famous Harrods in Knightsbridge. They had everything there, including this petrol powered kid's hummer worth 22000 pounds. And the largest plush elephant I'd ever seen. Plus the cutest teddy bears, and all this gorgeous designer gear. Good thing I wasn't getting paid until this week.
Here's a shot of the Wellington Arch. To be perfectly honest with you guys I have no idea about the significance of this monument, nor did I have time to find out with only 24 hours in London. I'm sure I'll get more flights to London though and so I hope to make more of an effort to learn about the historic stuff. Nice area though.
Here's a photo pf the Big Wheel. Is that really it's name?
Last photo! You can't go to London without going on the tube!
Monday, February 20, 2006Ahhh. I'm so glad I'm home, in French Connection again typing away.
On the 18th I had airport standby from 6-9am, one of the busiest times for departures. It's not always good to get when you're cabin crew, as you have to be at the airport dressed in full uniform with a very heavy suitcase not knowing where you're going. You could be assigned anything from steamy Bangkok, to Perth where it's currently 38 degrees Celcius, or to Moscow where it's snowy. You have to pack for anything, for an 8 day trip AKL-BNE-SIN or even a turnaround. You could be in the new Airbus 340-500 and have to pack special blue pyjamas for the Bulk Cargo Rest Comparment, otherwise you miss out on 3 hours rest. On the upside you can score some bonza flights.
I did airport standby with Melanie, a Saff-er from my batch, and Daniel, from Sydney, who graduated a week after I did. The lucky guy scored Rome. I don't know what Melanie got, but I ended up getting London Gatwick.
And I know I've only done 5 flights, but that was by far the best I've had. The crew got on really well, the passengers were really talkitive and friendly, the trip back to Dubai was only a third full in Economy. Once service was over we could play around on the ICE system and see how it worked. Soooo cruisy. No prep had to be done for the next flight.
I ended up replacing a New Zealand girl who left her handbag at home, with her passport and documents etc. They put me on a door, and I stuffed up one of the checks. :-( Oh well it was my 4th flight and the first time I was on a door.
The hotel we were staying at was just gorgeous. They put nice little touches on everything to make up for the fact that they had a view of nothing but the airport and drink prices were greatly inflated. The Room service was particularly nice. The food was sometimes lacking in quality and slow but set out so well, especially breakfast. Little notes and messages. Wooden service trays. Glass jam jars, which I stole because we don't have jam back at home. It's the small touches that make the difference.
Went out to the city. Travelling on the tube was very confusing. Luckily I went with Claudio, the First Officer, who looked as if he knew what he was doing. We ended up seeing Big Ben & the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Harrods, Hyde Park, the largest Burberry store I've ever seen. Considering I'd been up since 3 am Dubai time (11pm London time) and sightseeing till 4pm I was very knackered. Went back to the hotel, ordered room service, watched the Curling on TV and slept very very well.
The trip back to Dubai was even better than the one to London. One meal service, ate ice cream during the flight. Met a guy travelling to Perth who was staying in Ocean Reef! He wouldn't stop talking though, and I had work to do. Ella signed him up to Skywards which is good - which I'd thought of that. Economy class only had 130 passengers, so any service we did went really fast. Bought something from duty free - a Mont Blanc Passport cover, to keep all my flying cards and such in. very nice.
Didn't sleep well though - Bridgette had to get ready for her Paris flight. Poor girl, hope she packed something warm. I was freezing my tits off in London and I imagine she'll be doing the same. 0 comments
Tuesday, February 14, 2006Things I love about Dubai that I would never find at home
1. Everyone delivers. All you need is a phone and an unlocked door and you'd never have to lift your arse off the couch. Everyone from McDonalds, KFC, Nandos (my favorite), Starbucks, Kenny Rogers Roasters, pharmacies, supermarkets, everywhere delivers. At least in Australia the obese have to get up and walk to the car to get a bag of corn chips from the deli. Here you don't even need to do that.
2. Pharmacies. It's kinda scary too, but you do not need a perscription whatsoever to get the medication you want. Mind you, there's a lot of stuff that's banned, like codeine, but on the whole, if you need it and it can knock out a rhino, they'll have it. And they'll deliver it. And cheaper than you would get it in Oz.
3. Weather. It rains once a year here. Nuff said.
4. Shopping. I'm a bit shitty that the Shopping Festival got cancelled this year, but I can wait another month before my flying pay kicks in to buy the things I need. Like a sports bra. Or a passport protector to store all my licences and stuff when I fly.
5. Architecture. The Dusit Dubai and the National Bank of Dubai are just stunning.
6. Mocktails. No alcohol and they taste sooooo good.
7. Food Portions. As yet when I've eaten at a restaurant I have yet to eat my plate clean the servings are so large.
Things I love about home that I have yet to find in Dubai
1. Dance Dance revolution. Have fun and get a workout at the same time! Definately something to do when I'm in Singapore, Bangkok or Jakarta
2. Discount at Metro or Velluto. I miss those club sandwhiches and the Sirloin steaks. Lily, Yann and Jorg were the best at curing those tummy blues.
3. Lack of anime. To date I have seen only one box set, and that was only Initial D. Very disappointed. Need to rip Darren's collection me thinks when I get back home.
4. Fog. It is everywhere. I can't see the other side of Sheikh Zayed Rd.
5. Frangelico. They don't sell it here. I'd rather kill myself before getting smashed on vodka and tonics.
6. Hot chips. They taste REALLY funny here. They coat it in something, and it doesn't taste the same. Aussie Nando's chips were the best, but Dubai Nando's chips are the worst.
7. Bacon. Apparently images of pigs here are really offensive, so god knows what will happen if I fry some up. I miss dad's roast pork too :-(
8. Lack of good quality hair removal facilities. Maybe it's time to invest in an epilator... 0 comments So I'm really, really annoyed. Miss out on seeing my USYD mates. Miss out on seeing the Opera House. Miss out on operating a door by myself for the first time. Miss out on over 1000 dirhams of flying pay. Miss out on staying in a five star hotel and having the company pay for room service. Miss out on eating bacon for the first time in 2 months. It's not at the moment, that's for sure.
I start work again on the 16th, and I don't know where I'm going, so hopefully it won't be Hyderabad or somewhere strange. I have Karachi on the 21st, which I'd like to avoid, but I have this Hygiene session on the 19th that I can't reschedule and if they move my flight then I can't do the hygiene thingo.
I'm missing home a lot, now that I have more time to waste getting rest. Especially Darren. He's such a sweetie. Called me the other night and I'd nearly forgotten how much I missed talking to him. I guess you realise it more when things go pear-shaped closer to home.
Saw a movie the other night too - Memoirs of a Geisha. So beautiful, I nearly cried. I'm a sucker for soppy movies. 0 comments
Saturday, February 11, 2006Wow, I got a lot up today, I'm surprised. French Connection has a habit of letting down their wireless networks every now and again, but today I've had no problems.
I came back from Tehran yesterday afternoon. I'm starting to detect a pattern in terms of passenger behavior. so far all those passengers leaving Dubai tend to be the most troublesome, whereas those heading to Dubai are really nice. The Cairo flight in general was awful, but on the way there I had to deal with a vomiting passenger (first flight - how nice an introduction) plus kids screaming and babies that wouldn't shut up, and passengers who would ask us to tell the kids to shut up. Thanks mate, I'm sure the parents would love to hear that.
On the flight to Tehran though there was this American guy who complained about everything, from this Malaysian cabin crew who offered him Pepsi instead of Coke, to the drinks not being chilled enough (we can only carry a small amount of dry ice), to not having a sick bag in his seat pocket (he was next to a lavatory which has shitloads, plus that's the ground staffs fault). He told me "I wanna talk to your senior" to complain about someone else, which was annoying because he gave me the impression that I was doing something wrong. And not only that another passenger wouldn't give me a cup because he saw a bug in there and wanted to take it to complain. We took a polaroid but he kept asking for more booze and didn't want us to open it, which means he has some sort of stash.
Meanwhile, the crew have been soooo nice to me. I hope I get them again real soon, especially the Tehran crew. Haven't come across anyone who's too precious yet, which is good.
I've got a Sydney flight on Monday - my first operational flight and my first layover. I need to sort out some cabin shoes though as the ones I have are at least 2 sizes too small and are VERY painful. Yowee. It will also be the first time I can stock up on alcohol and tampons. And pizza shapes. And to catch up with my Sydney Liberal mates who I haven't seen in 2 years. 0 comments Service training was, without a doubt, the least likable subject I had to do at Training College. From day one I felt like an absolute ning nong, thick as two short planks. Considering at my previous job we were supposed to be the best and the most heavily drilled team in Perth, I'd never been so embarrassed.
The trainers were alright. There was Mignon, who was probably the most stunning looking Indian woman I've ever seen. Hotter than that former Miss World in Bride and Prejudice. She also had the highest hairstyle I've seen. And our other trainer was Danny, Lebanese, alright looking, really nice and approchable, but in the end it was his feedback that made me feel like crap.
Most of the time Service training was a joke. Some of the stuff we were 'taught' I expect at a motivational seminar or youth group. Not at the training college of possibly the best Airline worldwide. I came to Dubai to work, to serve passengers, and to earn a little dough at the same time. I didn't come here to be told I wasn't emotionally intelligent or that I had no maternal leanings (they knew that at the interview when I wanted to leave the 9 year old to die during the desert island scenario).
Not only that, when we were told what was in each storage box, on the first day, they expected us to know the location. Personally, I have to physically see where things are before I know the location. So when you tell me "aft of Business Class gally inboard doghouse" it doesn't register until you show me. And they make you feel bad if you don't get it. On the first day!
Feedback was awful. I got pinned because they didn't think I was participating in class. I told them that if someone is talking, or wishing to speak, I'd rather let them speak because I've been raised to believe that interrupting someone is rude without proper reason. Not only that, if 10 people are all saying something at the same time, I'd have to raise my voice to be heard. The trainers still said that I needed to speak up. I said that I'd try, but I wasn't going to change what I was doing, particularly since I'd come off rude if I did. After that I don't think they liked me very much because my reports still had defective comments at the end of training which wasn't good. Academic wise I had the highest mark in everything and at the end of the day that's what counts come promotion time.
Just a note of warning, try not to order a special meal when flying. They're the least fresh. And don't eat the scambled eggs during breakfast. Try the omlette. It's much more satisfying. 0 comments This will probably be a short post compared to the SEP one, as there wasn't a lot of enjoymented to be had. But hey, I can do CPR and all that stuff now.
One thing that became apparent was that I got crowned the class hyperchondriac. They brought up every kind of condition we're expected to come across on board, and I had my hand up the most. "Who here has asthma?" "Who's had a fracture?" "Who's had nosebleeds before?" "Who's fainted before" It was kind of embarrassing, but kinda cool, because when we had mock ups to do I only had to be cabin crew once, every other time I was the affected passenger.
I had the same problem in first aid as I did in SEP, but I told the instructors that I felt really sleepy every now and again, and I assured them it had nothing to do with the subject material. They put it in my final report though, but put a positive spin to it. And they suggested some diet changes too. More omlettes for Melissa. I was stoked.
Something else that I realised was that the company really like to use Jepardy and Who wants to be a Millionare as learning tools during training. I got partnered with Ruth, from India, who had a habit of irritating me because she always butted in with answers without giving anyone a chance. But that afternoon we kicked arse. But that afternoon there was a bit of a silent cat fight between these two Irish girls, Aisha and Grace. Grace is so sweet and kind and caring, and Aisha made her out to be this horrible person. Since then she's turned on me, but that's another post in itself. Tis a lesson that you really have to be cautious in choosing your friends here, because when things go pearshaped, your family are an 11 hour flight away.
Final First Aid result - 98%. Came second, but the chick who was first had done nursing for 10 years. And I don't mind being beaten by another Aussie. 0 comments Currently at French Connection Internet Cafe, finished all my training, graduated and everything...yay!
Since I've been a bit of a technophobe since I got here (Darren would be a little unimpressed) I thought I'd give a little update about my training. Training takes about 5 weeks and consists of SEP (Safety and Emergency Procedures), First Aid and Service, and it's usually in SEP where the class loses the most trainees. Usually it's because they don't do well inside the simulator, or they're too afraid to go into the water for ditching so they skip class. Or they get really homesick, or can't cop constructive critisism and ask to go home. So I was really glad, that during SEP especially, I didn't get pulled back, and that I was mentally strong enough to stick it out for the full 5 weeks, getting marks no lower than 93%.
Before this job, I used to work at the Perth Convention Centre as a Banquet Waitress. It was okay, not the best job but better than working as a council garbo. It also had one of the best hourly rates, second to the Burswood casino. The job was extremely active, and I got to a point where I could go 9 hours without sitting down, without the legs feeling like jelly. So when I did SEP, it was like high school again, except I didn't move around as much. We just sat there being lectured for 6 hours. And because I wasn't moving around all the time, I had the tendency to doze off every now and again. It happened also during First Aid, but not so much Service.
SEP was, by far, the most enjoyable subject, if only for the sessions in the simulator. The sim cost the company several million dirhams, and was used regularly by Etihad and Gulf Air, and had been known to have been hired out by BA. The ex-flyers in our group, from Gulf Air, Philipine Airlines, Jarways, Air Malta and Slovak Air, were pretty pysched. I just wanted to pass.
The first thing we were trained on was turbulence, since that was what we'd most likely encounter. I fucked it up though, by making a full cabin announcement that was not only uneccessary but also would have caused widespread panic in real life. I probably would have spilled a whole pot of coffee onto a passenger causing a PR problem. But hey, it was my first day.
The next day we were trained on decompression, which, if my experiences in the sim are anything to go by, is extremely scary. Considering I'd be most likely standing when a rapid decompression occurs, I'd be dead, however, whenever I'm travelling as a passenger I'd be strapping myself very tightly in the seat. Think of what happened in Lost, the first scene they play in every episode during season one. That my friends is a rapid decompression. Fortunately, our airline has a perfect safety record with not even a recor of a crack in the window, but I don't feel anymore comfortable on the aircraft knowing that. Training for that was much better though, and I was one of the few people that actually knew how to work the oxygen bottles properly. Go Miss Chemistry :-)
The best part though, was the sliding and the ditching. The water was around 10 degrees but it was a lot of fun. I kinda wished I hadn't worn jeans though, as these prevented me from getting inside the slide raft. Had to get the trainer to haul me in I was that stuck. And for the record, Kris, because I know you'll tease me about it, I didn't get stuck because I was too chubby, I was waterlogged, and I was wearing jeans. So there.
That was pretty much the practical side of SEP. The theory side is very boring, but you have to know it, like the location of the emergency equipment etc. I got caught out on it during my first supy flight and even though my SFS was lenient and nice, she was still unimpressed. I'll have to leave it there for now though and write about First Aid and Servcie another time. 0 comments
Friday, February 10, 2006
“Hello there! I’m Melissa. I’ll be taking care of you on today’s flight.”
I’m a twenty-something international traveller.
I’m half Thai, half Australian.
My home City is Perth, Western Australia. My current city is Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
I’ve been a flight attendant with a Middle Eastern carrier since 2005, hired from a worldwide cattle call day. I currently work as a First Class crew member.
I blog about in-flight dramas, but my main passion is what a city and its people has to offer.
I travel to a different city on average about 5 times a month.
I love learning languages, though I usually give up after knowing the standards. At the moment I am learning German, but would love to be fluent in Japanese, Arabic and Thai. Maybe French as well.
My blog has been mentioned in printed media such as Gulf News and CLEO Singapore.
I love to twitter – follow me @melissaecholima
I also answer emails wherever I can. – tampaxtowers[at]gmail[dot]com Please try to be specific with your questions, if you simple write “How do I get into XXX airlines?” I will procrastinate, and more than likely not reply back., since there are quite a few I have pending at any given time.
If you wish to discuss advertising or promotions on the site, please feel free to email me – I’m always welcome to new ideas
Labels: Random Thoughts
Wednesday, February 08, 2006Hello all you beautiful people!
Just decided to start this baby up, as livejournal really suck arse. Plus my ex has one that looks nicer, really good, so yeah I'd thought I'd do my bit as well.
Labels: Random Thoughts1 comments