Turnarounds

Not all flights last long enough to entitle cabin crews to a queen size bed at the Mariott with 25% crew discount on room service. The monthly roster is not filled with awesome layovers where you wake up to an incredible view on Hyde Park or Marina Bay Sands. 

One of the many joys of being a flight attendant (or so I heard) is that you get to travel all around the world. Truth is you don’t always get out of the plane to see the world. You are either rostered or get a call during an airport standby for a casual turnaround. Casual? More like being held hostage by a bunch of zombies to whom you can’t escape although there are EXIT signs all over the place. If you suffer from claustrophobia please refrain from reading this post. 

Turnarounds are as hard as long haul flights. Or even worse. The first leg might be over but you won’t get off the plane behind your tormentors. You are stuck in that tube for a whole day. You see the same seats, the same aisles, the same overhead racks, the same crew, hear the same voices for a whole day.

You won’t get to stretch your legs further than the catering truck  which is connected to the aft door. Sometimes I wish a fellow crew would push me through the open door. Not bungee jumping. But smashing to the tarmac and have the same consistency as the scrambled eggs I’ve been serving this morning. At least I would skip the zombies sucking on my brain for the second leg. Freeeeedoooooom.

Aren’t we all mad at the blond dumb girl who gets killed at the beginning of a horror movie because she ventured exactly where she shouldn’t have? That’s exactly how you feel during the second leg. She didn’t get there on purpose, same for cabin crews. We don’t jump for our deaths. It’s right at every corner of the plane. You can’t escape your fate. 

You’re already exhausted, you’ve been confined in that plane for hours. You were meant to be eaten alive. You can’t fight zombies. So you just surrender. The weird thing is that contrarily to the one zombie rule. You don’t turn into a zombie. You’re still a cabin crew until the whole leg is over. 

The good thing about turnaounds is that you get to come home. The bad thing about turnarounds is that when you’re home, you’re in a coffin. It can’t be that bad. Home and dead. The meniscus is at perfect equilibrium and I’ve never seen the glass so full and so empty at the same time.

During turnarounds, a few passengers try to get chatty with their cabin crews. Between two “water” requests with no please and “I want my vegetarian” they beam with that dumb expression they have the secret to and ask “how many days did you get to stay in the city?”

Days? I can’t even remember how many hours there are in a day. I try to catch a regular night sleep between time zones from different hemispheres. I don’t have a single clue what’s a day. In your day you have your meals at times your body needs it, call your relatives anytime to catch up and sleep when the moon is up. In my day I nibble whatever is leftover so I don’t faint, I talked to my mum 6 weeks ago and slept from 10 a.m to 10 p.m not because I was tired but because that’s the only thing I have enough energy for. That’s what my days are made up of.

Passengers think their cabin crews look fresh because they got a good night rest. If you want the same fresh morning face as your cabin crew, try not to piss them off. The less they’re pissed, the more they look fresh. No full coverage makeup can beat that. 

While you were checking in at the the airport your cabin crew was touching ground and will be ready to fly back one hour later for the 4th leg of the day. If you think they had time to take a break in between the first flight and the next one to gossip about the best shopping malls  in their favorite city. You are wrong. Catering, sweep checks, newspaper display, child kits, galley preparation, cleanliness checks, grooming check… What Jack Bauer does in 24, your cabin crew does it in 60 minutes.

Your crew has been up since 3 a.m and is very much eager to get home after the first leg of a turnaround try not to get the plane delayed. When they announce boarding. Get your ass off the duty free shops and stand in line. You still have time to shop duty free on board or on arrival.

“Ladies and Gentlemen the flight has been delayed because we seem to be missing one crew member. If..”

-I’m back, I’m back! I’m sorry but there was a queue at the counter. I would not have missed buying sirloin from Big Five duty free. They say south african beef is among the best. We don’t get any layover here, I couldn’t have missed that.We can close the door.

That’s why I hate turnarounds. The only spot you get to breath out of the plane is at the duty free . So little time to pick between The body shop, peri peri sauce, amarula liquor and biltong at the price of south african rand dropping you want to buy everything. I forgot to buy some wine for my boeuf Bourguignon. Gotta find one during my turnaround in Dijon at the end of the month. I heard Burgundy is great at that time of the year.

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