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Monday, July 9, 2012

SUMMER READING: Fly the (Not So) Friendly Skies

Hi there!
Welcome back to the site that cruises the friendly bookish skies every day of the week….Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers.

So, how was YOUR weekend?  Good I hope.  Mine was mostly spent at the hospital (Mom’s still in there, *sigh*) but I did manage to get in a goodly amount of reading.  One would presume today’s title came from that “read” stack but…not so fast.  The featured title today is actually one I finished several weeks back but has just been hanging out waiting for a good time to review it.  *looks around*  Yep, looks like today is a good time to me, how bout you?

At first glance, one would think…oh yay, a biography/memoir…whoop-de-do.  I know, this category gets a bum wrap sometimes, even from yours truly back in the day (wasn’t a genre I delved into…at all at that time), but I’ve learned the error of my ways since then and have enjoyed many a story that I might have missed out on otherwise.  Same goes for this little gem and aside from the many laughable moments, you’ll learn a thing or two as well…for better or worse.  Let’s just say you might look at your flight attendant crew on your next trip just a wee bit differently considering the “power” they have… *-*.  Without further ado, today’s book of choice is…

Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet

From the publisher
Flying the not-so-friendly skies...

In her more than fifteen years as an airline flight attendant, Heather Poole has seen it all. She's witnessed all manner of bad behavior at 35,000 feet and knows what it takes for a traveler to become the most hated passenger on board. She's slept in flight attendant crashpads in "Crew Gardens," Queens—sharing small bedrooms crammed with bunk beds with a parade of attractive women who come and go at all hours, prompting suspicious neighbors to jump to the very worst conclusions. She's watched passengers and coworkers alike escorted off the planes by police. She can tell you why it's a bad idea to fall for a pilot but can be a very good one (in her case) to date a business-class passenger. Heather knows everything about flying in a post-9/11 world—and she knows what goes on behind the scenes, things the passengers would never dream.

That should really say “lived by Heather Poole” because this is not merely a story of the funniest, the most outrageous, the most scandalous things to occur in her long lived, high flying career (though it DOES contain all that and a bag of chips…or peanuts…), but a look behind the scenes at the nitty gritty of what is seen by many as a glamorous career.  Trust me, it’s not as hot shot as it might first appear.  There is A LOT of training to be done, including “molding”.  That’s right.  Ever wonder why most of the flight attendants can be interchangeable presentation wise?  It’s all a part of the package deal.  No, really!  They are trained to look a certain way, respond a certain way, carry themselves a certain way…not that it always works out, and there of course is where a lot of your attrition rate comes into play.  From the million and one ways to great each passenger, because they have to be individually greeted with DIFFERENT greetings, to the proper way to load, serve, and deliver drinks to the sometimes less than patient plane loads of flyers, you’ll be shocked and amazed at how much goes into creating the in-flight crew we depend on for our comfort, information updates, and random questions. 

I don’t know about you, but when I was younger, I remember my Mom actually considering this as an option for a future career for me.  *-*  Not that there is anything wrong with that, I have the utmost respect for this frequent flyers (especially after reading this book!) but I just knew there was more to it than meets the eye.  I mean really, getting to fly all over the world as a part of your job?  Yes…but they fail to mention that actually obtaining the desirable flight paths takes time, tenure and tenacity.  Quick trips to the islands, Europe, or the far reaches of the US at a moments notice?  Umm, yeah…its more like last minute notice to get your butt to the airport STAT or your slot will be filled by someone who CAN get there in no time flat…and let’s not even touch on the “it’s-my-weekend-off-let-me-see-where-I-can-fly-today” because weekends off are a myth and that “free pass to fly” is almost in the same status category.  How about all the money you’ll make and be able to sink into a nice house to wile the hours away at least…or raise a family?  Yeah…let’s just say the pay is not what you’d expect, the living arrangements more transient than the local shelter and as far as that family time (or “me” time for that matter), might want to make more room in that “myth” category.  Like I said…SO much more than the “glamorous” side many were presented with once upon a time….and then you have the passengers.

Now, it’s like any other business in the customer service industry, phone calls can be tough because they don’t have to look you in the face when they are tearing you a new one, but face to face encounters don’t stop some people from showing their behinds either…both figuratively and literally.  Besides showing courtesy to your attendants because for crying out loud, they are people too….you might want to consider everything they have their hands in before making that BIG SCENE you were so keen on making…not that they would do anything to your food, or luggage, or anything…but why tempt them?  Also, tricks of the trade like oh, say you wanted that steak medium well and it came out to you medium.  They can’t put it back in the oven, it doesn’t work that way as they have a whole plane full of people waiting on their trays….but a hot glass of water to turn it from red to pink to brown works wonders.  See?  Eye opening, is it not? (If not a bit scary… *-*)

In conclusion, this is one flight you’ll be glad you took.  There won’t be turbulence, drink shortages, or rowdy kids kicking your seat, but you will leave with a better understanding of those that help make the skies so friendly in the first place; the people behind the plastered smiles and overtly coiffed hair.  Those that despite the 100+ degree weather can still pull off a three piece suit with stockings, heels, and neck scarf…without breaking a sweat.  Amazing in and of itself, yes….but there’s a whole lot more that happens both behind those closed plane doors and once home base has been reached.  You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be grateful that it didn’t happen to you…or at least I was…and you’ll know better next time you board a plane than to be so persnickety because those ladies and gents walking the aisles have paid their dues ten fold.

Recommended read for older teens and beyond due to some content (not bad, not more “adult”) and potential interest in the industry.  Review copy courtesy of Mary at William Morrow Paperbacks / HarperCollins Publishers. (THANKS!) For more information on this title as well as their complete catalog, feel free to visit them online, like them on Facebook, or follow along on Twitter.  This book was released March 2012 and should be available on a bookstore shelf near you.  To discover more about author Heather Poole’s life and times, feel free to visit her official website, Facebook page, or Twitter feed.

Until next time…happy reading!


Melanie said...

I once thought about being a flight attendant but realized my customer service skills are not quite up to par. Those cranky fliers... I'm not sure what I'd do with them.

Alexia561 said...

Really enjoyed this book, so glad that you liked it as well! Loved Heather's stories, and came away with new respect for all flight attendents!

Melissa (My words and pages) said...

First, I hope your mom gets better. Sorry to hear.

And thanks for the review. My husband worked for the airlines as a mechanic, before 911 happened. And yeah, no weekends. He got Tuesday and Wend. off in the week. Hard life. But he also enjoyed the work. But yes, he made trips for fixing other planes as well. It's crazy the time frame they give. Great review. :)

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