Melissa's Flight Attendant Blog

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Name: Melissa

About Me

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, Moldova, Monaco, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, North Korea, Philippines, Romania, 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

My Perfect Day in -
London | Perth | Sydney | Melbourne

Site Feed -

My Email -

My Facebook -
Tampax Towers

My Twitter -

Links -
Airline Uniforms
Airline Meals
Seatguru - Most Comfy Seats On Any Airline
Trip Advisor
Airtoons - Pilot's rumour network

Friends -
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

Blogs I read -
Tray Table
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

Credits -
Skin by Falter

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Latest Updates
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Hey guys, just thought I'd give you all a quick update on how things are going within these "Tampax Towers."

  • Just this morning I came back from Johannesburg, and now I'm on annual leave! I'll be spending it in Perth, nowhere different or exciting, but I have only seen my family once since my last leave so I think it's about time I make an appearance. Plus I have stupid errands to run like dental check ups, and bank stuff, and there's only so much I can do from here in Dubai.
  • At the moment here in the sandpit it's Ramadan, so no eating, drinking, smoking (not that I do) and basically no impure activity during daylight hours. Every day off I have in Dubai, I hang around at home waiting until around 6pm, then head to mOre in time for Iftar. Every time I'm there with my laptop I usually make good progress with the blog and churn out a few posts, which is why the month of August has a couple more posts than the regular post-per-month rate. Hopefully this trend will continue :-)
  • The last couple of months have been insanely busy for me, and I've been consistently working 90-100 hours a month. It's so different now compared to when I first started flying - calling scheduling to give me flights to alleviate my boredom! Next month I'm barely doing 50 hrs, I have 10 days off and I cannot be more relieved! I'll hardly be resting though, I have both my Dad and one of my best friends from Perth paying me a visit.
  • I'm also messing with the idea of doing Videocasts (a.k.a. Vodcasts) in the near future, kind of along the same lines as the "My Perfect Day" post a week ago. At the moment it feels like a massive mountain to climb, especially since I've never really operated a video camera before, so for the time being I'm messing with my LX3 and seeing how things work, and hopefully over time this will come into fruition.
Anyway, I'd better start packing! See you guys later :-D

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Saturday, August 21, 2010
So I just came back from a layover in Heathrow, and since I generally follow the same routine every time I visit the city I thought I would share it all with you guys ;-) And to make it easier for you guys, I'm going to adopt The Flying Pinto method of what the cost of everything was too...

It starts out quite pathetically at the local McDonald's, because I like to surf the net in the morning to work out where I am going to go. Most maps I come across of the city are not that detailed, and I end up getting lost at some point, so at least if I look it up on Google Maps that morning it's all still quite fresh in my head. Pair this with my Bacon and Egg McMuffin (the cravings for pork always seem to peak during Ramadan) and I'm set for the day. (£2.99 for the meal)

I then take the London tube (£12.60 for a full day ticket from Heathrow) and head to Russell Square. The station is a strange one - there are three different lifts operating at the same time to take people to the street level, but when I was there the queue was massive, and I saw a few people take the stairs that were a lot older than me - mostly middle aged; so I thought if they can take the stairs alright then fit as a fiddle me can take them...

I was absolutely struggling! Very surprised I didn't have an asthma attack going up, it was 176 stairs!!! So after that workout I was very deserving of a coffee, and the best place for it in London is The Espresso Room.

It's run by Ben Townsend, who is clearly very passionate about his coffee, but after the StairMaster test and nearly passing out in his cafe all I wanted was something, anything to drink.

Best. Coffee. Ever. So good I even bought some beans for my French Press at home. The smell of the beans permeated my bag, and my cabin bag so much it made all the crew jealous on the flight back from Heathrow. (£2.70 plus £8.00 for the beans)

So after the coffee did its job I took the tube again, and asked the officers which station was closest to Tate Britain - my map had the location of the gallery but conveniently cut out the closest tube station. He told me to got to Southwark, and I did, only to find out he had directed me to Tate Modern instead. Oh well, I guess I had to look at Dali and Picasso instead of Bacon and Hirst.

The Turbine Hall at Tate Modern.

I quite liked the gallery, especially since entry was completely free! My only disappointment was that I didn't have a lot of time to enjoy the gallery to the extent I would have liked, but I'm still glad I went.

Top floor of Tate Modern

Wallpaper, and Self Portrait by Andy Warhol

Light installation by Glenn Ligon

Claes Oldenburg's Giant 3-Way Plug Scale 2/3. Quite possibly the coolest thing I'd seen all day...

The Red Star Over Russia display. Believe it or not my bedroom kinda looks like this...

So after the aimless wondering and window shopping at the gallery store (which I love doing, regardless of the city - some of the best things I've bought have been at art gallery stores) it was back on the tube again to Angel station, and a quick stroll through Camden Passage in drizzle to Elk in the Woods. Last time I was here I ate a more upmarket version of bangers and mash, but they've changed the menu since then, so I decided on some Frikadeller and potato salad.

I love this place - I guess if you were into animal rights and what not I'd advise not going here, but the food is consistently tasty. Their specialty is in game, which they source from Suffolk, and the decor is just oozing with charm. (£14.50)

I don't really know what was in the shot glass - apply brandy maybe? Regardless I was under my no-booze flying curfew so has to leave it alone :-(

Even the toilets are pretty - and a chain to pull too :-)

So after my pork pig-out (very fitting during Ramadan) I went back on the tube to Magma bookstore, on Clerkenwell.

This store is perfect to browse and waste time in, and has every type of design magazine I've ever seen - no InStyle or Hello here. Nice gifts as well, but I settled on a book by ReadyMade magazine. Might try the CD Jewel Case mural when I can find a suitable artwork to convert... (£14.99)

A quick look at my watch, and I decided that if I wanted to get to work on time well groomed I'd have to make my way back to Heathrow, so my day ended there. Considering my allowance for the trip was £58.50, and I spent £55.78 I think I did very well! The downside to the trip, as with every layover I do, is that 24 hours is not enough to cram in all the things I would have liked to do... but hopefully for those of you who are taking a holiday here in the future it will give you an idea of what can be done without spending a ton of money, and give you a few ideas as to what is on offer should you venture beyond the well-beaten tourist track.

If you have any suggestions or know of anywhere cool I have to try out next time, feel free to leave a comment!

View My Perfect Day - London in a larger map

UPDATE! 23/8/10 - Thought it might be a good idea to include the address of the places visited!

The Espresso Room - 31-35 Great Ormond Street, London. Open Mon-Fri, 7.30am to 5.00pm). Russell Square tube station.

Tate Modern - 53 Bankside, London. Open Sun-Thurs 10.00am to 6.00pm, Fri/Sat 10.00am to 10.00pm. Southwark, London Bridge, St Pauls or Mansion House tube station.

Tate Britain - On Millbank, London. Open everyday 10.00am to 6.00pm. Pimlico tube station.

Elk in the Woods - 39 Camden Passage, London. Open 9.00am to 6.00pm. Angel tube station.

Magma Books Clerkenwell - 117-119 Clerkenwell Road, London. Open 10.00am to 7.00pm. Farringdon or Chancery Lane tube station.

Magma Books Covent Garden - 8 and 16 Earlham Street, Covent Garden, London. Open Mon-Sat 10.00am to 7.00pm and Sun 12.00pm-6.00pm. Covent Garden and Leicester Square tube station.

And BTW the liquid in the shot glass in Elk in the Woods I later found out was Gammel Dansk, so thank goodness I didn't drink it!

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010
I'm sure that there has been a day at work where you've wanted to do something as crazy as what Steven Slater did.

And I'm sure if you troll the FA blogosphere you'll find stories from fellow Flight Attendants as to what they've had to endure, the assaults, the name calling, the f- and c- bombs, the sexual harassment from passengers day in and day out. For those of you who have been following this blog since the beginning, and think that I've seen some rough days, there are still some things I have had happen to me that I don't actually write about on here, either because the matter is pending in court, or it's so well known it will instantly identify my employer.

This job is first and foremost about safety. If my job was just to get you your coffee, I'm sure there would be airlines keen to have vending machines in the galleys for passengers to serve themselves, especially if it meant saving on cabin crew wages and benefits.

That doesn't mean I don't value service in the job, I personally take a lot of pride and passion in making sure that as many of my passengers leave the aircraft satisfied with their flight and a smile on their faces. But we cop a lot of abuse nowadays. And most of the problems stem from a passenger's failure to comply with safety instructions. It really shouldn't have to be this way.

Personally, I don't agree with that Steven Slater did. I think it was inappropriate to announce the f-bombs over the PA, especially if there were small children on the plane. I personally wouldn't have taken the beers off, and I'm still undecided about the blowing of the slide. Clearly this was one very frustrated man who had enough of being treated like dirt by someone with complete disregard for their own safety.

If this woman had hit him on the head with luggage stowed in the bins, and disobeyed his instructions, the best thing to do would be to call Security and have them meet this woman once the aircraft reached the final gate. I find it hard to believe that this would have not been satisfying enough for Slater to see, the woman being led away by heavies in handcuffs. But he was not in a decent frame of mind, and his subsequent actions have made him an internet sensation.

What also hasn't been mentioned as of yet, is that whilst he had a number of personal issues he was dealing with at the time, quite a few airlines have a welfare or counselling department. If he had personal problems that were preventing him from doing his best at work, there are people around to talk things over with. The situation may not have escalated the way it did and Slater might still have had his job, or at least have had it long enough to complete his one month resignation period.

I would love to see how this story develops over time, and I do hope things work out for him in the end, even if his days in the not-so-friendly skies is over.

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Friday, August 06, 2010
So I recently came back from a Houston flight, and apart from getting my suitcase locks broken, and seeing Inception for $5 USD at the cinema (it costs 30 AED here!), it was a relatively uneventful trip.

Security is notoriously picky in the US compared to everywhere else I fly, though if you ask the majority of my workmates they will almost always say that the Australian and UK security are the most strict. But there was something I saw on my Houston trip that annoyed and flabbergasted me at the same time. But before I tell you guys I’ll let you know about my pre-security ritual.

Before I leave home – I do two things that really saves time at the airport. First thing I do is wear a watch with a non metal strap. Whilst there are still metallic components within the watch mechanism itself, I find that most airport metal detectors don’t pick up on it. If I wear a watch with a metal strap, I almost always need to remove this.

The second thing is that I pack my laptop within my checked luggage. I know you’ll freak out, and think “What if it breaks?” “Won’t it get stolen?” But honestly most of my computer malfunctions have happened after carrying my laptop in my cabin luggage during a work trip. It gets bashed around the crew bus, it gets shoved to the side of the hat rack when a passenger wants space for their own oversized bag. It also weighs a ton and takes up a lot of space in a bag that is already supposed to be carrying our safety manuals, service jackets, cabin shoes, and if we’re on long haul, our bunk pyjamas. If I pack the suitcase right, I can cushion the laptop (which already travels in its own neoprene sleeve) in between my day clothes and my uniform and as a result I have NEVER had my computer malfunction after it’s spent a trip in the hold. Since I cannot use my laptop during the flight anyway whilst at work, its just dead weight I’m lugging around. Obviously not everyone can do this, especially if the flight you’re taking is a work trip and you need it during the actual flight, or if you’re flying to a dangerous place where there is a very real possibility of the laptop getting stolen and traded for livestock at the local market. But if you’re doing a trip from, say, Frankfurt to Amsterdam, just consider whether it is worth lugging around for a 1 hour flight.

So now we move onto the actual airport screening, and this brings me to what happened at Houston. To be honest after 5-6 trips there now I find the airport staff to be alright, they don’t appear to be on massive power trips like their colleagues at JFK International. Anyway us crew line up to use the scanner and X-ray machine, which is usually the same line that is used by unaccompanied minors, diplomats and wheelchair users. There was a lady who was classed as a wheelchair user, looked to be about 55 years, but was able to walk through the metal detector. She was getting beeps every time she went through the machine. Each time she went through she removed one item only, first a belt, then her watch, then her shoes, then her glasses, then her necklace. Each time leaving us super frustrated that she couldn’t do all this the first time she got beeped. Eventually she removed all she could possibly remove, went through the machine, and yet again it beeps. She was in tears, yelling in (I think) Espanol at the security guards who were frustrated themselves and just trying to do their job. However the offending material was something that could not really be removed without protecting this woman’s modesty - and it was so obvious, it burned into the jetlagged retinas of all of us cabin crew who now feared she was going to delay our boarding.

Well these aren’t the exact jeans, the ones she was wearing were more of a “Mom jeans” cut, and the bedazzling above the knee rather than below. But she still was wearing enough metal to set the detector off through the jean studs alone. It beggars belief – if you’re going through airport security, through a metal detector (sometimes 2 or 3 depending on where you are) why on earth would you wear studded jeans??? They’re not even comfortable to wear inflight!

So think about what you wear for the flight - you want it to be comfortable, smart and most importantly NOT LADEN WITH METALLIC STUDS!!!

Regarding shoes - I know ever since Richard Reid tried to light up explosives hidden in his shoe back in 2003, US security have made it a requirement to remove shoes to be scanned in the X-ray. But everywhere else this isn't a requirement, quite often when I've taken off one of my work heels to go through airport scanners, a guard stops me and tells me it's not neccessary. I then say to him, yes it is, my heels have metal inside.

I guess what many of us ladies don't realise is that to make heels more stable to walk on, there is a metal bar fitted within the shoe, used either to support the heel, even the entire heel could be solid metal in itself, which would set off any decent airport metal detector. It doesn't happen with flats, or any men's shoes, just heels of any height. If you find it neccessary to wear heels for your flight, then at least have a bit of forethought to put them in the X-ray tubs first as a matter of habit. And any advice that Ryan Bingham says in Up In The Air is spot on - invest in a pair of slip on shoes rather than anything with buckles, straps or laces. Time is precious, and the amound you save by doing this is astounding.

I guess the last bit of advice I can give was something I learnt myself from a security guard in Dubai. One day I was on airport standby, and got called out for some horrible 12 hour turnaround. The crew were already on the aircraft, and with me assigned to the trip it would fly with the absolute minimum crew, just enough to man the doors. I was rushing through the security sreening, and stormed through the metal detectors, and kept getting beeped even though I had nothing metallic on. And like the lady in Houston, I was getting frustrated as well. The security screeners said all I needed to do was walk through the metal detector more slowly. Slow - as in you're walking down the aisle at your own wedding slow. And you know, it worked. I don't know what it is, or why it does work, but consider it a flight attendant trick of the trade.

If you have any tricks you think people should know about, feel free to leave a comment!

(images from Mango and Up in the Air)

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