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In this fifth installment of “Carrie’s Galley Gossip,” TPG Insider Carrie A. Trey — a flight attendant for a major airline — shares some of her favorite stories from life at 35,000 feet. Be sure to also check out Part One, Part Two, Part Three and Part Four.
Horses vs. Cows
Late one Sunday evening in November, I left Amsterdam on the night’s last flight to New York, traveling as a passenger. The 747 was mostly filled with a laid-back crowd of business travelers bound for Monday meetings and such, and the back section had been converted to take large, precious cargo around the world. On this particular evening, horses would be joining us for the trip across the Atlantic.
About five minutes before departure, the Captain came over the PA and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, as you can see out your windows, the weather here in Amsterdam is deteriorating. The rain has turned to freezing rain and our cargo loaders are no longer working properly. There are horses on the ramp waiting to be loaded, but we need to make sure that with the delay we’re now taking, the proper customs staff will still be on duty when we land. We thank you for your understanding and patience as we work out this unusual situation.”
The business folk just rolled their eyes and settled back into their newspapers — what else can you do? — but the ring leader of a group of 30 or so geriatric travelers who seemed to have all been on the same river cruise simply wasn’t having it.
The incensed, silver-haired minx stood up and shouted, “This is nonsense! They’re holding this damn plane for a bunch of horses! We want to leave RIGHT NOW!”
A few of us looked back at her, rolled our eyes, and turned unceremoniously back around, making it clear that we were utterly disinterested in her tirade. I finally stood up and said, “Madam, would you please put a sock in it? Yelling and carrying on will do nothing to help the situation, and none of us — your fellow passengers — are interested in your inability to be patient!” (I love flying as a passenger, because occasionally, it gives me the rare chance to say what I actually think.)
My outburst quieted Evil Edna down for a good two minutes until an unsuspecting cabin crew member came through the curtain from business class and started to walk back toward us. I tried to motion to her to turn around and go back but, sadly, she didn’t see me. The rabid old woman stormed into the aisle and blocked the poor flight attendant’s way.
“You!” she screamed. “I demand an answer! Why is this plane being held for horses!?”
The crew member, God love her, didn’t miss a beat. “Well, ma’am, as you can see,” she said, with a wave of her hand, “we’ve already waited for the cows, so I don’t see why we shouldn’t wait for horses, as well.”
Bam! This zinger elicited uproarious laughter from a man who I assume was Evil Edna’s husband, because she whacked him over the head and shouted, “Earl, it’s not funny!” Well, the rest of us thought it was — and kudos to that poor flight attendant for being able to think so quickly on her feet.
Have a Call Button and a Smile
Some of you frequent flyers may have noticed that there’s a call button in the lavatory. It’s there because sometimes, in the course of doing whatever one does in there, a passenger may realize that they need help. By help, I of course mean that he or she is too sick to move or is amidst some other urgent situation that would prevent leaving the lavatory to procure assistance. This button is not, however, meant for what happened to me (again!) on a recent flight.
The lav call-bell rang, and I went down to the bathroom in question and knocked on the door. “Is everything all right?” I asked.
“Yes,” was the meek answer that came from within.
I pushed the button on the outside that extinguishes and resets the call button, and started to walk away — but it rang again. I turned around and went back, knocked again and asked, “Do you need help?”
“Yes,” they said again, quietly from within the lav.
I unlocked the door from the outside and gingerly cracked it open, asking, “What can I help you with?”
The woman sitting on the can with her pants around her ankles replied, “I’d like a Coke.”
What?! My surprise must have been evident on my face, because she immediately said, “What? It says you’ll bring me a drink. I’d like a Coke!”
I explained that the call-bell button’s image of a person holding a cup did not actually mean that beverage service extended to the lavatories, and unless it was medically necessary, she’d have to wash her hands and come out to get her soda. Fingers crossed that aircraft engineers come up with a different illustration soon…
What’s the craziest thing you’ve witnessed on a plane?
Know before you go.
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