Being Cabin Crew is fun career especially on days you have a newbie operating their first flight. Years in aviation have passed and many sky legends have come and gone however the initiation pranks on the first flight are as necessary as pledging into a Sorority. The initiation is the most important thing that happens in the first 6 months of probation period, and is a story that will be told for generations to come.
Back to our business, as promised, the second part of collection of the pranks we play on all new Crew aka Supernumerary Crew. There is no escape!
See part 1"What Cabin Crew Initiation Is Really Like : Part I"
5. The Aircraft Door Key
On the way to the aircraft Crew introduce themselves to you and they try to include you in the team. This is not only because they are nice, it's well known: a good team will perform better and, why not, have good fun on board.
That particular day all the crew, you included, are heading to the aircraft parked on a remote stand. When so, the aircraft is not attached to an air bridge that pours passenger directly from the gate to the cabin. The plane has to be opened by the Captain using the retracting stairs and passengers are to come walking in the tarmac or by bus.
You have tried to figure out how your day will be and make an enormous effort to remember the others' names that you don't care about anything else during that walk. It took about 30 minutes from the Crew room to the aircraft, or at least this is what it feels like for you as the nerves are pumping.
Once in front of the marvellous beauty as a bright shining jet aircraft can be, so close and right in front of you, your supervisor grabs your attention.
- "Claudio, we have a problem"
- "A problem?"
- "Yes, look, we have to open the aircraft but the Captain forgot the keys, would you be so kind to run back to the Crew room and ask the Operation Officer for them? Please be quick or we are gonna be late this morning."
You don't believe it on the first day. You don't recall any movie or any other video among the thousands you've been watching on YouTube about aircraft's in which a key appeared. Not to mention, in the training no one mentioned aircraft keys.
So why you run to the Crew Room like a mad axe murderer was chasing you!! Because you can't allow yourself to speak up against them -with 'them' I mean senior crew members or pilots. Not only because they're Aviation Gods but today because the complexity of the whole morning is still beyond your comprehension. So you think: " Whatever!! I don't want to be the one blamed for a delay! Not on my first day for God's sake!".
You reach the Crew room and open the door again. Everything seems more calm and relaxed, it's almost empty. Through the glass, you can clearly see the Operation's room with few people at their workstations. There is a sofa and two colleagues are glued on their mobile phones.
Knocking on the glass door, I make my way in front of a guy at a desk and try to explain:
- " Hi, sorry, I need the keys of the aircraft. The Captain forgot them here"
The guy: " Sorry, what?"
You repeat in a more intelligible manner.
And he's still - " The keys for what?"
- "The keys to open the aircraft, they are waiting for them, I need to be quick"
- " The key to op... oh I see..."
- "hahahahahahahahaahahahah" - he can't help laughing in your face!
I take no time and to realize that:
1 - You were right there was no freakin' key -they have fooled you bad;
2 - You have got to be quick on your way back and run. Again.
3 - You are neither the first nor the last looking for the keys;
6. The Rambo Seat Belt Head Band
The first part of the flight of the day is done. The first of many to come. It feet like the roller-coaster had stopped to let the children out, ready for the next round. To you, it's more like a big blender.
The crew are busy with the 'turnaround' (the duties between getting the passengers off and preparing for the new lot) and although your hands are inexperienced, they need you. They're rushing around. Some rubbish has been collected from the cabin and a big bag has been positioned in the middle of the aisle to be trashed.
A colleague come towards you with a yellow extension seat belt and says:
- "Claudio, do you see this big black rubbish bag? It has to be offloaded and I am going to show you how that has to be done. But you need to wear this"
- "What do I have to wear?"
- "You don't have time to pick up you Hi-Viz Jacket and you need to be visible on the ramp. You will need this. Take it with you, put it on your head so that the ground staff will notice you"
- "Really?", you are adamant it's not the procedure.
So why you end up wearing an extension seat belt buckled on your forehead just like Rambo and offloading the thrash bag? This is still an aviation mystery.
7. Countless Stirrers
We are in the air again and we are preparing for the bar service. One of the more senior Crew proceeds to help me out by shooting a helpful tip in my direction;
- "The service is a very important phase of the flight for us. The Company expects you to be professional, the passenger expect you to be quick and effective"she proceeds ."And we need to record everything we use, I need to know how many..."
- "How many... what?"
- "Don't tell me you didn't count them yet?".
She opens a compartment and takes out a fistful of little wooden sticks, the ones used for stirring sugar into tea aka paddle-pop sticks.
- "Count them and tell me how many we have, I need to report the amount to the catering company"
I think you have got to be kidding me; but I still proceed to count the wooden sticks and present my numbers to the Senior Cabin Crew. She doesn't need to say anything, just the look of pity that she gives me says it all.
8. Unlucky 13
Drinks have now gone and been collected, stirrers were unnecessarily counted but let's not dwell on that, surely the pranks are now over. It is time for the meals to be served. Special meals are sent out first, with crew coming back and forward from the galley for their next pick up and then directed back into the cabin to the food drop off. Before I know it I'm up and I have a seaming hot vegetarian meal tray in my hands.
- "13 Bravo" The Cabin Senior directs me.
I head quickly into the cabin, get to the emergency door, row 14, pass the emergency row to the back of the first section of economy, row 12.
I go back to the emergency exit, row 14. And back to the first cabin again, row 12. What is going on? I start sweating and feel myself start blushing as I feel the passengers watching me walk up to row 14 and back to row 12 like a headless chicken. I give up, and turn back to see the whole crew in the galley watching the show in hysterical laughter.
The little edge between the useful and the useless it's hard to spot sometimes. Good luck Supie's !!