Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Giorgio Armani - without a voicebox???

Another huge week down and fingers crossed for a blessing from the gods of scheduling tomorrow when the rosters come out.

Just back this morning from a Melbourne/Auckland trip and am super tired. However, I dragged myself, my cabin bag, my 24kg suitcase and toted another bag full of Aussie goodies back to my apartment in good spirits. There's nothing like a trip back to Aus for a bit of a recharge.

Not having Phoebe or my aunt Trish in Melbourne anymore, I realised that I had TWO FULL DAYS of shopping ahead of myself and set my alarm both mornings with glee and bounced out of bed and pretty much ran into town to see what I could find. My bag of goodies was bursting at its paper seams with lamingtons, english muffins, vegemite, bbq shapes, burrito flavouring mix, hot cross buns, mango juice and some chocolates. Following on from my trip to Munich, I managed to find a freakishly large banana. I wish I'd had my camera with me on board when I ate it for brekky, because when I peeled it, my suspicions were confirmed: there were not one, but TWO bananas inside! Kind of level to the weirdness when one of our chooks layed an egg with a TRIPLE yolk. The other crew freaked out and tried to get me to throw it away, for fear of banana genetic manipulation.

I hooted into Auckland, placing a call to my gorgeous friend Jourdi who I used to work with at The Body Shop. I was in for a few lovely surprises. First of all, our hotel is absoultely stunning and the rooms are amazing. Scratch that, the FULLY SELF CONTAINED SUITES/APARTMENTS were mindblowingly plush.

A far cry from our last hotel, this place is right off the high street and even has water views! The bathroom was gorgeous, there were TWO tvs and I found myself sitting on one of the two couches watching Ghost, sipping my cup of earl grey tea and eating turkish delight chocolates hurriedly purchased before the flight. I had the same choice of teas as on board in business class: jasmine green, earl grey, chamomile and ceylon. There was even a washer and dryer complete with washing powder! I usually don’t like the 14 hour direct from Dubai trips, but the new hotel certainly makes it all seem worth it.

Jourdan and his partner Sam picked me up from the hotel and many hugs and 'oh my god look at your hair!' exclaimations were exchanged. I'd heard so much about Sam but hadn't met him and must say he's the most goregous boy and we all got on like a house on fire. The boys took me back to their place and I was in for surprise number three: Giorgio Armani has moved in with them! That's right, Jourdi and Sam have a dog: a teacup chihuahua and he's so gorgeous I wanted to pocket him and bring him back to Dubai.

He was so small, hence the 'teacup' name, that he fit snugly into one of my hands. I sat there in awe of this little creature and didn't want to put him down. I realised as I was nearing the end of my visit that I hadn't heard him make any noise for the whole afternoon - Jourdi joked with me that because he's so small he probably doesn't have a voicebox!

We were all treated to a homecooked Malaysian feast by their neighbour and with full bellies we settled in with popcorn and chocolates to watch some movies on the couch. Well, I was so tired I started to drift off to sleep and the puppy was asleep on my chest when the boys suggested perhaps I should head back to the hotel and grab some z z z z z's.

Being my third flight in business class, I avoided the galley but did take duty free a number of times. I didn't actually sell anything, but have become quite proficient at finding the small, almost invisible items that lurk at the bottom of the drawers and result in hours of time spent looking for things that aren't actually missing. Our passengers were lovely and while I didn't sleep in the crew rest compartment because it's cold and loud and people fiddle with the temperature, I did do a run from the back of the aircraft right up the front and into the cockpit in my pjs. That's right, I looked like a giant smurf hooting from one end to the other, followed closely by the SFS and we scooted into the cockpit to say g'day to the boys.

Our lovely first officer gallantly lent me his jacket when it was clear I had a bad case of goosebumps and I tried on the captain's hat and couldn't resist a photo. We were lucky enough to be inside the cockpit while we were flying through some cloud, and witnessed a very unusual phemonena: St Elmo's Fire.

St Elmo's Fire is an electroluminescent coronal discharge caused by the ionisation of the air during thunderstorms inside a strong electric field. I didn't take this picture, and it's actually an image of the periodic static discharges which are seen to occur across the surface the insulated glass windows of aircraft while experiencing strong electrical charge accumulation from flying through or near electrical storms. Woah! Plain English? It looked like small lightning flashes were occuring ON the windows in the cockpit. While chatting to the boys, these little flashes started creeping along the windshield and we sat mesmerised watching the little flickers.

It was a wonderful trip with a wonderful crew, a wonderful destination and a wonderful amount of shopping was done. I can't wait for my next long haul!

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Odds and Ends

Well, today is the third day of another four that I'm spending on ground thanks to the gods of scheduling and if I wasn't granted these days off I'd be grounded anyway. The dreaded sinus infection hasn't gone away and another trip to the doctor after I returned from Munich confirmed that going to such a cold country probably induced a relapse. Great, just what I wanted to hear.

The doctor I saw was an older Arabic man and he scolded me like a grumpy, overprotective grandpa would. 'You shouldn't have flown like this. No flying for you for three more days!'. I skulked out of there toting another bag of drugs and feeling a little worse for wear. There wasn't a party in my head on landing like there was in January, but it was pretty ordinary.

The good thing about Munich was the supermarket - winter in Europe is like being in the arctic circle if you're from Australia and I donned my new white furry coat and hooted down the road to stock up on goodies. I stacked my little basket to the overflowing level with yoghurt, bread, fresh strawberries, bananas and apples, pork schnitzels, ham, cheese and chocolate. I even added some German beer into the mix and staggered back to the hotel. I realised I didn't have room in the minibar for all my things, but then had a total brainwave: I put the entire bag of cold stuff out on my balcony and when I packed it into my bag about 6 hours later it was all colder than when I'd purchased it! The strawberries and apples were so big that I just had to take a picture. Now, I'm 6 feet tall and my hands are proportionate to my height: these fruit were holy sh*t big.

This was my second flight in Business and true to form I flapped around again, but this time it was a little more controlled. I remembered what I was serving but still couldn't keep up with the girl serving (read: motoring at an uncontrolled speed) on the other side of the cabin. We had a celebrity in First that I didn't even know existed (clearly I'm not into racing cars) and I even landed the dreaded duty free.

We've been back to the tailor to organise some fantabulous creations for the races for the girls who'll be here. I'll be in Brissie for the wedding that day, and I'm very excited about my dress fitting tomorrow.

Today was spent sleeping in and lazing by the pool upstairs and getting some sun on my injured finger. We have a peculiar guy who we see up at the pool all the time and I'm not sure that he's crew. There are a few things that have raised my suspicions, the biggest being: he has long dreads Lenny Cravitz style; he always has a beard; and the BIG give away: he's always here and is NEVER working. Sound familiar?

So, I spotted Lenny and his groupies hanging poolside and their new trick today was jumping off the roof into the pool. The morons were jumping and splashing and sent a tidal wave over Ash and I as we were enjoying a little bake in the sun. The perfect time of year to grow a few more freckles. I was delighted to learn that the pictures taken on my phone are transferable to my computer: I can't for the life of me work out this bluetooth thing, but luckily for this dinosaur my phone comes with a USB cable.

A few nights ago, after a few glasses of wine and a killer batch of spaghetti bolognaise courtesy of Ash, we're all in the kitchen trying to wash up and who should have a sponge shoved into the wine glass and have it crack and embed itself in her hand? ME. well, there was blood. a careful inspection of my bloody hand alerted me to the fact that I've cut a good sized chunk of skin off my finger. Add to that the fact that Ash and now Jena seem intent on destroying my fridge magnet collection. I collect a magnet from each city I visit and for the last week Ash has ‘accidentally’ knocked a few off the fridge door - my Greek warrior and Hamburg shield. That night, Jena swiped my meerkat (favourite from Johannesburg) and his poor little head fell off! So, we're all laughing hysterically at that and how they only jump off the fridge when Ash walks past, while Jena's in Ash's bathroom trying to superglue his head back on when the glass breaks and then I need seeing to. P.s. Jena got so much glue on herself I'm surprised the meerkat's head isn't now attached to her hand. Talk about hilarious. Well, the only bandaids we could find are the resident ones that live in my suitcase and are more applicable size wise to feet blisters or bites from a camel spider. It's more like a bandage really and covered about a third of my hand. Completely over the top, and I looked like a burn victim. I have since bought smaller, more appropriate clear bandaids.

I was approached for a part in a movie today and it was all rather odd. As I was coming out of the lift on the rooftop, a couple wearing sunglasses INSIDE the building were waiting. The guy says to me 'what are you doing Thursday?' I thought he was talking to the girl, but it turns out it was me. Anyway, they tell me that they're shooting a fake documentary (sounds like a genuine fake) and that their actress was sick and they're looking for a replacement. REWIND: let me set the scene. I haven't brushed my hair in two days because it dried naturally and is curly. Today it was all crazy and tied up in a knot and had strands coming out all over the place. I was looking like such a dag, and certainly NOT like an actress. The role involves me pretending I've just come back from shopping. Right, clearly this is a no brainer and they picked a crew building for a reason. He assured me that I will be compensated for my time (4 hours of filming) and then proceeds to ask my fee. Hmmm, all sounds a little suspicious. I headed upstairs convinced I was either going to end up in some Z-grade adult film or have my purse stolen on the 'set'. Needless to say, I won't be following up on that one.

Counting the days till my Melbourne trip, even though I hate long haul flights and end up arriving at my destination looking like an absolute wreck. Certainly not of 'premium cabin' standards. Think smudged mascara, bleary eyes and slept-on-sideways-because-I'm-too-big-for-the-bunks-hair.
I think I might actually have to take off and then reapply my make-up for the non-nap I'll take in the freezing cold/hot as hell crew rest compartment.

Once the Melbourne trip is over, it's 5 days off and then onwards to Brissie!!!

This week's shout out goes to my beautiful Mum, who's celebrating her birthday today:

For reference, camel spiders DO exist. Check out this link:


Thursday, 8 March 2007

You know you're a flight attendant when...........

Having just unearthed an old email from the lovely Phoebe, my old flatmate who defected to Virgin Blue (just kidding Phoebs!), I thought I'd share a few funny thoughts with you. No doubt most of us in Dubai will get these instantly, but for those of you who are less than familiar, feel free to ask any questions you might have.


1. You can eat a 4 course meal standing at the kitchen counter
2. You search for a button to flush the toilet
3. You look for the "crew line" at the grocery store
4. You can pack for a 2 week trip to Europe in 1 roll-aboard
5. All of your pens have different hotel names on them
6. You NEVER unpack
7. You can recognize pilots by the backs of their heads-but not by their faces
8. You can tell from 70 yards away if a piece of luggage will fit in the overhead bin
9. You care about the local news in a city three states away
10. You can tie a neck scarf 36 ways
11. You know at least 25 uses for air sickness bags-none of which pertain to vomit
12. You understand and actually use the 24-hour clock
13. You own 2 sets of uniforms: fat and thin
14. You don't think in "months", you think in "bid packs"
15. You always point with two fingers
16. You get a little too excited by certain types of ice
17. You stand at the front door and politely say "Buh-bye, thanks, have a nice day" when someone leaves your home
18. You can make a sentence using all of the following phrases: "At this time, " "For your safety, " "Feel free, " and "As a reminder"
19. You know what's on the cover of the current issues of In Touch, Star, and People magazines
20. You stop and inspect every fire extinguisher you pass, just to make sure the "needle is in the green zone"
21. Your thighs are covered in bruises from armrests and elbows
22. You wake up and have to look at the hotel stationery to figure out where you are
23. You refer to cities by their airport codes
24. Every time the doorbell rings you look at the ceiling.
25. You actually understand every item on this list

I'm proud to say that I don't identify with every item on this list, but most are very true!

Thanks Phoebe, WE MISS YOU

Lauren, Phoebe & Ash - best flatmates ever x

Tailoring, Dubai Style

While nursing another sinus infection that saw me wake up two days ago feeling like my right notstril was an artery involved in a heart attack - completely blocked and not budging, I've been on the hunt for some comfort food.

Having been grounded for three days by one of the doctors at the clinic, today has seen me hit the vegemite toast, a bowl of strawberries and bananas and then a mad stint in the kitchen whipping up a pot of pumpkin soup. Soup seems to be the flavour of the month - a few nights ago Ash made some seriously good potato and leek soup.

I have a wedding to attend at the end of this month back in Brissie and Jena gallantly offered to take me to her tailor in Satwa. Ash and I do have a tailor in the backwaters of Deira, but it's a logistical nightmare to get there and manage to get a taxi OUT of that area once we're done. Inspired by the fantasies I've been having of a purple v-necked dress for the last two months, I packed my magazines, pictures, one purple suede pointy high heel, material, a dress and a skirt (for copying) and piled into a taxi. We roared down to Jena's building and from there set out on the journey. We arrived and to my dismay we did a small cross-country gravel trek and turned down a small alleyway to find a tiny dingy little shop with a singer-esque sewing machine in the back. Had I not seen physical proof that Jena's had fanastic stuff made there, I'd have turned around and hailed a taxi home!

Assured that this was indeed the place, we entered and proceeded to describe what we wanted and have our measurements taken. Hitesh the tailor was an absolute gentleman and apart from the regular phlegm hacking sounds coming from the other tailor, it was a remarkably smooth outing. We headed across to Deepak fabrics and proceeded to make a big mess of things and drape ourselves in the loveliest silks and satins. We finally decided on what we wanted after much umming and aahing and made our way back to Hitesh for more measurements.

From there, it was a walk to find a Lebanese restauruant Jena had heard about and on the way we came across a real live air force jet! I have a very credible source in the air force and he informs me this little beauty is an F16.

We finally came across Sidra, the restaurant and proceeded to order what seemed like one of everything on the menu. We were starving and rather amused when the complimentary starters came out. I've never eaten at a Lebanese place at home and no other restaurant I've been to gives you a bowl of WHOLE veges to munch on while you're waiting on your meal. We were staring at this bowl, which consisted of a whole lettuce, tomato, green capsicum, two small cucumbers and thin strips of carrot on ice, wondering what on earth we were supposed to do with it. Are we supposed to eat it? Cut it up? Look at it? Take the tomato and put it in our purse for later? We settled on looking at it and were soon distracted by a beautiful cat that was lurking around our table.

A fully grown tabby, we decided it was female and named her Sidra (after the restaurant). She was so affectionate, a little dusty but very shiny. Collarless, I'm sure she was someone's pet, as she was so well behaved and didn't seem starving like many of the cats in Dubai, specifically the once-white male I've nicknamed Tinkerbell that stalks around our building howling at people. Tinkerbell has the biggest cat-balls I've ever seen and is definitely a little worse for wear.

Sidra however won us over and had us reminiscing about our own pets back at home. Jena's just been home on leave and had stories of her cat parking itself on her feet every night. I'm on leave next month and am planning on attaching myself to my favourite cat for the whole ten days.

We started constructing fantastical plans of kidnapping Sidra, putting her in my bag and smuggling her home. We both live in buildings that don't have balconies or opening windows and I knew that Ash would have my guts for garters if I dared to bring a creature home without asking! Jena's flatmate does want a cat, but it was all too hard. We politely asked the owner if the cat belonged to the restaurant and he waved his hand, muttering 'take it, take it' with disdain, like many of our passengers do when they've had enough of their meal trays.

Our fittings should be in a week, with our fabulous new threads ready a week later. Stay tuned for an assessment of their quality.

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Delays, Diversions and Ferry Flights

Those of us who live in Dubai will tell you that nothing ever goes the way it should. We refer to such occurances as 'only in Dubai'. My first flight in business class was certainly one such experience.

Having done my last flight in economy to Kuala Lumpur and doing one last victory lap in the economy galley, I approached my first business flight with about as much terror, trepidation and uncertaintly as a kid on a bike without training wheels. I decided that aside from denial, my best option was procrastinating instead of doing some last minute reading of my upgrade notes. So, I made trans-atlantic phone calls, went shopping and made muffins. I then decided to deliver these muffins down the road to two of my mates at 10pm. Not exactly sane behviour, but I'm not exactly sane these days. I'm a flight attendant.

So, after leaving said building at midnight, I came home and again couldn't sleep. I started to worry, as take off time was 7.10am and I had to wake up at 3.15. So what did I do? Got out my yoga mat and did 100 sit ups. I forgot to think logically that exercise wakes you up, not makes you sleepy.

Suddlenly the alarm went off and it was time to rise and shine - there was no sunlight and it was the ungodly hour of 3.45 by the time I stopped pressing snooze and realised I might just miss the bus if I didn't get up. I arrived at work and was happy to see that my fellow 12 crew were all as bleary eyed as me. Due to an administrative error (no surprise there), I was still listed as economy crew, and not even the most senior. I had a fleeting thought of pretending I wasn't business trained, but realised they were short and that space was all mine.

So, I did my best uncertain face, announced that it was my first flight and may I PLEASE have the position with absolutely no responsibility? Worked like a charm. I got on board and flapped around like an injured bird, juggling menus, towels, newspapers, bags, coasts and people. God, we only had 37 of them, but those passengers created more havoc for me than the 300 down the back!

I was delighted to find that many of the passengers were male Aussies and they made my job very easy. They were all up for a chat once they heard the accent and were pefect gentleman. One wanted to chew the fat about Ralph Fienne's recent high flying conquest and then another tried to convince me that Perth was the best city in Australia.

Our destination: Saana in Yemen. I'd never been there before and was looking forward to adding it to my list of turnaround flights. It wasn't to be. Top of descent came and went and we realise that at 9.30 the screens all said 16 minutes to destination. Aaarrghghghgh! We all started flapping around trying to get things finished when the Purser announced we weren't going to be landing due to poor visibility, dust and fog and that we'd circle for a while. The captain would make an announcement soon. So, we dropped everything and went back to our magazines. Some serious reading goes on up the front.

The captain, an Aussie bloke, comes on and says 'Ladies and gentleman, we will not be landing in Saana right now, the weather's pretty bad. We've entered the holding pattern and will stay here till further notice. Will get back to you when we know more'. This was met with groans from all over the aircraft and there went my hope of a quick day trip.

We had enough petrol for an HOUR, and we used every last drop circling Yemen. So, capitano comes on again and says that surprise, the weather is still crap and p.s. we're going to land in a charming little place down the road that's not EVEN an Emirates destination.

Anyway, to cut a very long story significantly shorter, we touched down and then watched a number of other aircrafts drop from the sky like flies and come to rest next to us. After an inordinate amount of time, the captain comes on and announces that we're just waiting for an imminent weather update and with any luck we can take of and ATTEMPT another descent into Saana. I love the use of that word, attempt. Like how doctors 'practice'.

So, update comes and goes and we are not attempting another take off. Or landing. Or descent. We continue to sit on ground for hours, during which time we are offering drinks to our lovely passengers. I had my half of the cabin to look after and was wrestling with thoughts of which glasses to use for which drinks.

Time passes and the passengers start getting rowdy. Some Arabic speaking men are chasing our Arabic speaking girl around and it's getting heated. Front row tickets please! Lucky they stopped in the business galley and I didn't have to give chase for some goss. Soon after, the purser joins the party and I knew it was serious. Her opening line: "How DARE you THREATEN MY CREW!!!!!" Shit. Back away now Lonnie, back away.

It goes back and forth for a while, including rapid fire Arabic/English translation, until the purser announces that if she has to get the CAPTAIN down here, security will be called on arrival (if we ever leave) and they'll be arrested. He tells her bring it on. I thought they were going to bring back the biff. No joke. The reason for this altercation? These passengers were deluded in thinking that they were powerful enough to have the entire crew fired (flight deck included). Naturally the diversion was all our fault, and circling until we ran out of fuel and fell from the sky to our deaths was a more desirable option. Not to mention the dust dance I did that morning to induce the weather.

While attempting to ascertain what our passengers were doing, I was toting my passenger card around identifying my people. I thought I'd lost two of them when I realised the rather mature looking Arabic men in front of me fit the bill. I asked what their names were and was met with a blank look and Arabic speaking between them. I try again, and this time hear 'Australian' in amongst the gibberish. The next thing I know, one of them is in my face and is poking (yes, POKING) me in the chest, on the soft-fleshy-almost-boob area! I was outraged, drew myself up to my full height, said 'Excuse me, DO NOT TOUCH ME' and walked away. That was assertive Lonnie.

Well, we'd been on ground for so long that the time went into captain's discretion and we decided to ditch all our passengers in our new destination (yes, I'm serious) and ferry the flight back to Dubai. Our constant tarmac companion had enough empty seats on their A310 to take ALL our passengers to the original destination. Not sure why they could make another attempt at approach, but by that time, none of us cared!

I happened to glance out the window to see that all our cargo had been unloaded on the tarmac and passengers were identifying their bags. Some of them were climbing INSIDE the containers and lugging bags out! Absolutely outrageous.

The beauty of a ferry flight is that you fly back empty and are free to do whatever you want. We set up camp, watched movies and raided the galley. I managed to watch half of the new 007 and must say that after initial skepticism regarding a blonde Bond, I was quickly won over by his striking eyes and sensual pout.

Time for take off, snoozed back to Dubai and disembarked feeling rather fresh for someone who'd been in uniform for more than 12 hours! In my mad nervousness that morning, I somehow forgot my cabin shoes - which meant I pranced around the cabin at a height of 6 feet and 2 inches.

Moral of the story: there's always a possibility of delays, diversions and ferry flights. Ladies, the most important thing (not the sexiest) in your bag are your cabin shoes.