Thursday 25th of January, Newport Beach, Sutton Place
We are in trouble we have 3 cabin crew that are "out of order" and we have a full load of passengers to Tahiti tonight. I helped Dadou, our Chief Purser deal with the doctors for our injured crew members.
Tahiti called back, Hana who was scheduled to fly the next evening to Papeete will join our crew and Marie-Pierre will be our Tempo purser for tonight.
I will have a nap before the wake-up call. ZZZZZ at around 1830, I opened my eyes, I'M HUNGRY ! Room service, can I have an Oriental Fried Rice please ? In 25 minutes sir. Thanks !
2010, Good evening sir, this is your wake-up call, do you need help with your bags ?? YES ! I have mine plus Lynda's one of our injured cabin crew, a very dear friend of mine.
I had my bags ready and packed and it was just a matter of a few minutes, shower, shave, teeth, hair, face, SMILE, pick-up my shampoo and stuff in the bath-room. Don the uniform, is the tie straight, where did I put my wings now ?!? On the desk, ok.
I check everything is packed and ready for the bell boy to pick-up, I also have 2 bags to put in storage and I am out of the room. 6th floor, room 633, this was my home for the last couple of days. The lift, push lobby, down. The suitcase's wheels are rattling on the terracotta tiles of the passage that leads to reception. there are already a few cabin crew members waiting there, I check out, pay for my fried rice and seat next to the girls and have a chat. Our bus is here and we are due to leave the hotel at 2110, one hour after the phone rang to wake us up. The Tahiti female crews are stunning with their flowers in the hair, you feel you are a bit in Tahiti already.
The bags are loaded in the bus and we all seat in, LAX please !
people are chatting in the bus, the journey is as long as usual, 50 minutes to an hour.
We are there, its chaos to get dropped off close to the AF counters, people park everywhere ! This is a loading and unloading zone sir !!! You can't camp here ! AAGGHH
Gate 101 ! That's the end of the world ! ok, we go through security, I didn't ring, it speeds up my passage there.
We reach the gate, people are seating around already, the plane has arrived its F-GITB which will take us to Papeete tonight. we seat down in the boarding lounge and wait for the ground staff to give us the green light to board the plane, Caterers, cleaners and mechanics are all buzzing in the cabin for the moment and the aisles are full of carts and vacuum cleaners. It's OK ? We can go ? We get in the jetty and do our briefing there. Dadou is in charge and will do the briefing with Marithé and Marie-Pierre, our 2 pursers. They assign us to our position and I get P5, l'Espace Affaires galley slave on the main deck with Christelle, my Tahiti crew for the flight. I know her well, It's great.
Same story for now on, We get on the plane, check our safety equipment, nothing is missing, everything is working. Food ! I count the trays, the menus are ready, tonight service is easy, it's a supper due to the late departure of the plane. We have joining passengers and transit passengers from Paris on this flight which will see the cabin on the main deck nearly full with 2 spare seats.
Passengers ! ia Orana, Welcome on board.
Turn on your right here sir, you have seat 25b.
Wheel chair ! Can you walk to your seat madam or do we have to get the onboard wheel chair ? You have seat 8B, it's not far, last row of Business Class.
Doors are closed, boarding is finished, we are on our way, Madame, Monsieur bonsoir, mon nom est Dadou C. et je suis votre chef de cabine principal.... the annoucements are starting, the champagne and orange juice is flowing, we are going !!!
Departure is on time, everybody is starting to fall asleep. Our transit passengers have been on the plane for now 11 hours and the 2345 departure time is also a late hour for thejoining passengers. The demos are on, a few passengers are sipping their drinks while we point to the emergency exits.
Cabin crew take your seats for take-off 2 minutes. We are going to align our 747-400 with the runway, will be on our way to Paradise on earth soon.
Full throttles, the plane is jetting towards the Pacific, nose up, it pushes itself up from the ingrate turf and goes back to its element. Flight.
Your Menu for tonight madam, you don't want to have dinner ? Should we wake you up for breakfast upon arrival ?
I am pouring a few more glasses of Champagne before the supper.
Choice of Hors D'Oeuvre :
Medallion of foie gras, fillet of smoked duck, cured ham and melon, ratatouille
Salmon coulibiac, lobster medallion and shrimp.
Choice of Main Courses :
Tournedos of beef with herbes de provence butter, duchesse potatoes and meditteranean vegetable confit
Victoria-style fillet of sole with newburg sauce, buttered steamed baby vegetables
A selection of cheese
Kiwi, Lime or strawberry flavoured sorbets served with cookies
Fresh fruit basket
Coffee, teas and herbal teas.
The wine list included the following :
Heidsieck Monopole Gold Top Vintage 1995 Champagne
Chateau de Rully 1998 Maison Antonin Rodet was the white Burgundy wine,
Moulin-à-vent Domaine du Petit Chêne 1998 Maison Bouchard Père et Fils was the red Burgundy wine,
Le Haut Medoc de Giscours 1998 was our red Bordeaux wine
Dinner goes fast as half of the passengers either refuse to eat and fall asleep or those who elect to have supper stop after the main course.
We switch the lights off and its time to go and rest, 1 hour and 10 minutes each group. I am first to go.
When I come back its still night outside. The sun is not set to rise until we start our descent to Tahiti.
Christelle has got the breakfast trolleys in our galley and has tended to the bar, every passenger is peacefully asleep in the cabin, the movies are showing on their PTV's, a give a couple of glasses of water to the night owls...
30 minutes before Christelle is woken up, I start to dismantle the bar, or more like remove everything from it. gone are the glasses, soft drinks and liquors.
I load the ovens and turn them on, 12 minutes at 150°, that will do it. It gives me time to seal the bars, and get the paper work done. I fold my table clothes and pour the hot water for the tea and coffee, run to Tempo to get a second carton of apple juice and I start to dress my trolleys. When Christelle emerges from the crew rest area, I am loading the trolleys with the hot plates and I put the croissants in the oven for them to warm up. 5 minutes and we are in the cabin. Do you want some coffee Christelle ?? No, anything else ? Some cantaloupe ? I've got some left from the fruit baskets from Supper, let me get it, I know it's in the trolley behind this one.
Lights on low, the trolley is being pulled back into the cabin. Bonjour Monsieur ! Did you have a good rest ? Can I serve you breakfast ? Tea ? Coffee ? Orange or Apple Juice ? Do you prefer the eggs or the french toast ?
Breakfast's menu was as follow :
Coffee, tea, hot chocolate
Orange and grapefruit salad
Scrambled eggs garnished with fresh tomatoes, bacon and roesti potatoes
French Toast served with fruits
Fresh bakery selection, breakfast pastries, butter and preserves
Have you finished sir ? I'll get you some more coffee, give me your cup.
We clear the cabin from all breakfast trays and we hand out landing forms for entry into French Polynesia. The usual person say "do I need it ? I'm American ?" everyone needs it madam, even the tahitians. The sun is rising and I want to arrive. It was a nice short flight but at night, it is tiring I am looking forward to my hotel bed. We all start to run around as the paperwork needs to be finished, I pick-up all my belongings from the galley and close my bag. we have 45 minutes before arrival. The tahiti female cabin crew dissapear and reappear in their formal AF uniform. They wear the most beautiful, colorful tahitian dresses after take-off.
People are queueing for the toilets and the occasional Tempo passenger tries to come and use the l'Espace restrooms. I have to ask them to use the Tempo ones as there are loads of people from Business already waiting to use them. He's upset, I can't help, I don't want my Business passengers to get upset because they are waiting.
Seat belt sign is on, we are approaching tahiti, under the clouds on the left hand side of the aircrafts points the east-coast of Tahiti, sonn we are flying over Mahina, the Matavai Bay where cook and Bougainville arrived in Tahiti for the first time, the city of Arue, Pirae, we are now low over the harbour of Papeete, the capital of my homeland.
Cabin crew landing in 2 minutes, we are all strapped in and Moorea is still beautiful on the right of the aircraft.
We touch down, we clap, people respond. they are all clapping. I love that !
Ladies and Gentlemen, Welcome to Tahiti where the temperature is 28°.
The Hawaiian DC-10 is still parked infront of the control tower and is awaiting its departure home.
We do our turn into the parking area. next to us is a Corsair 747-SP and the AOM A340 will follow us soon afterwards.
The plane comes to a full stop, the stairs approach the aircraft, the doors are unarmed. We open the door, It's tahiti, the smell of the ocean, the flower of Tiare and its fragrant smell is present. Aurevoir, good-bye... Everyone is out ?!?
We are going to, 'Morning, the cleaning ladies are here and are starting to turn the 747-400 around for its departure to LAX and PPT at 0950. Its now 0655.
I walk into the terminal, there are the tahitian orchestra playing some joyful songs. I used to work there, with the girls handing out a flower for each tourist.
I get my bags, go through customs and on the bus. The drive is short here, 10 minutes to the Sofitel Maeva Beach. We get a welcome fruit juice drink. I swallow mine and head towards my room. It's humid in Tahiti, my uniform is starting to weight a ton ! Shower ! AAAHHH, It's relaxing and refreshing.
I'll go downstairs in a minute for a nice breakfast with my cousin. She dropped off my godson at school and will join me for breakfast. hummmmmmm, rest.....
AF Cabin Crew.
Photo © Alain Mengus