Not-so-lonely layovers....

August 31, 2009 1 Comments A+ a-

One of the things I miss the most from American Eagle, the regional carrier I used to fly with, is being co-paired with the Flight Deck. Co-paired is when the Captain, First Officer and Flight Attendant(s) all have, basically, the same schedule for the month.


When the bid is awarded, everyone can see who they are flying with--and in a base like Eagle's in Chicago (ORD), we all pretty much knew each other. If I didn't like my "Flight Deck" or if I was scheduled to fly with a Flight Attendant I didn't care for, I could trip trade out of that trip and into another one. And, vice versa. If someone didn't want to fly with me (impossible, right??) they could do some trip trading themselves. Of course, vacations, sick time and training affected our schedules, but, generally, we would fly the whole month together.

I really liked it because there was always someone looking out for the other. Did your First Officer oversleep and is late for the early morning hotel shuttle to the airport? A quick phone call would remedy that. Want someone to have dinner with? Your crew is there for you. Going through Security at the airport? Your crew waits until the last person is through and all walk to the aircraft together. Captain going to get coffee? He'll usually ask what everyone else wants and offer to buy, as well. Feel like slam-clickin'? Your crew-family can appreciate it.

On a lot of the domestic trips here at my mainline airline, we change crew members more than underwear! After our Flight Attendant briefing with the Purser, we board the aircraft and start the trip with meeting our Flight Deck, and the Captain usually gives us his briefing prior to our passengers boarding. But, when we get to our first destination of the day, the Flight Deck could change--maybe this is their layover, but we're going on. One of the Flight Attendants may be getting off at the next city, and we pick up someone new, who is just coming off her layover...Or, I may be on a "meter," also referred to as the "extra stew" and be the one who keeps changing planes and flies a totally different crew and plane for each leg of my trip. (This happens not infrequently, since I am on Reserve.)

Having been co-paired at American Eagle for so many years, it was culture shock to me to be given a meter to fly when I first started here and be the extra stew. I remember a 4 day meter where I changed planes and crews at just about every leg. I went to my layovers alone. I ate dinner alone. I went to the airport alone. And through Security alone. I hated it. Despised it. Contemplated quitting over it.

I much prefer to be with a crew who is flying the exact same trip with me. Usually, one of us has been to this layover city and knows a great little restaurant near our hotel, or knows which way to the funky little art district, or knows that the hotel restaurant has a separate crew menu with reduced prices for us. We venture out in a new city together, find the fun things to do together. We can sit around the table and always have something to talk about: our jobs and the people we work with. (Flight Attendants can talk for hours about our jobs--it never seems to end--and we all understand. "Well, there was this one flight I worked that...." and "I had a passenger that...." "You did? Me, too, except my passenger did......" Weird, isn't it?)

Having worked a few of these extra stew trips now, I have learned to have an appreciation of them. I just look at it as a few days to myself. On a lonesome little layover, I can finish a book, walk around a garden and appreciate the solitude. I can bring dinner to my room and enjoy a DVD, or watch the TV shows Norm won't watch with me (like Survivor--can you believe he won't watch this show??) I can arrange the pillows all around me on the bed and curl up and channel surf if I want to. Or call my friends and yak . Or even--get to sleep early.

Flight Attendants tend to be very social people. So, while I prefer flying the same trip with the same crew, I can really appreciate a good meter!

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Blondie

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Anonymous
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September 3, 2009 at 5:03 AM delete

hey Blondie!

you just said it all-the main reason why I love love love to fly regional! though at my airline we are only paired for one trip and then will part,I like to have some company with me on my layovers if I want to :)

thank you for another awesome blog-entry!
all the best,

Claudia

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