A former TWA flight attendant describes the freedom of air travel in a new memoir. In the news, Delta says it will pay flight attendants during the boarding process, a resurrected Jet Airways says it won’t hire male flight attendants, American Airlines fires some reserve flight attendants, a custom 747-8 with 42 hours goes to the boneyard, add fuel shortages to the list of summer air travel challenges, and the F-15EX program faces some headwind.
From the time she graduated college in 1978 until 1986, Ann Hood was a TWA flight attendant. In her new book Fly Girl: A Memoir she reveals how she went from being a small-town girl with big-time dreams to flying 35,000 feet up in the air.
In Fly Girl, Ann gives the reader a look at the freedom and love of life that aviation offered. She tells us how the job empowered her, despite its roots in sexist standards where stewardesses were part of blatant innuendo in airline marketing.
In our conversation, Ann describes how air travel was different in the 1970s and 80s when passengers dressed up for the flight and wrote letters onboard for the cabin crew to mail. Of course, the food served was something altogether different, even in coach.
Ann observes how life unfolds on the airplane, meaning that the passengers all have different life stories, emotional states, and reasons for traveling. Flight attendants learn how to understand that and be compassionate and respectful of the passengers. She also comments on the qualities of a really good flight attendant and talks about long layovers and the L-1011.
As a bestselling author, Ann has written 14 novels, a collection of short stories, some nonfiction, a book series for middle readers, and much more. Find her and where to buy Fly Girl at her website AnnHood.us.
Delta is the only major U.S. airline whose flight attendants aren’t unionized. Delta has more than 20,000 flight attendants. The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) wants to change that and a union campaign is underway. Now Delta says that starting June 2, 2022, they will pay their flight attendants while the plane is boarding, upending the block-to-block standard. However, the pay will be half the hourly rate.
India’s Jet Airways went out of business in 2019, but investors are trying to bring it back to life. They want to do everything they can to keep costs down, so they plan to have flight attendants share hotel rooms. That’s fine, as long as the roommates are of the same gender. Otherwise, the airline would have to pay for two rooms. Their solution is to start with a flight attendant staff of just one gender, only allowing males into the company once a certain operational scale is reached.
When called, flight attendants on “reserve duty” have to be at work within two hours. If they are commuters (not living in the city of their assigned airport) they are expected to stay within two hours of travel to that airport. It seems some flight attendants were staying at their home location, betting they wouldn’t get called. The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) is warning its members that American is investigating no-show reserve flight attendants to see if they were AWOL. In an internal memo, the union told members, “During this investigation, they will pull all your travel benefits history, including past, current AA listings, travel, and other airlines. They will use other evidence to substantiate their claim that a Flight Attendant was not in a position to report within the contractual timeline.”
In 2012, a new Boeing 747-8 was delivered for the personal use of Saudi Arabian Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Before the full VIP refit was accomplished, the Sultan passed away and the jet was abandoned for a full decade. N458BJ only clocked 42 hours of flight time. Recently, the 747 was flown to Pinal Airpark in Arizona.
A number of factors have conspired to limit Jet-A availability at some airports, including weather and the process by which pipeline operators allocate pipe capacity to different fuel types.
“We’re sorry to let you know that your flight has been canceled because of an airport-wide fuel shortage at Johannesburg Airport. We are closely monitoring the situation and we will resume operations as soon as possible.”
Officials in the U.S. Air Force are examining options for canceling the service’s new F-15EX Eagle II fighter program. Originally 144 aircraft were planned, but now the U.S Air Force is considering capping the program at 80 aircraft, making more funding available for the F-35A.
Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, October 1-9, 2022.
Brian’s notes to airline crews:
Hosts this Episode
Max Flight, David Vanderhoof, Brian Coleman, and our Main(e) Man Micah.