NWA flight #71 DTW
Aircraft: 747-400 "old bowling shoe livery"
Seating capacity: 65 WBC and 338 Main cabin = 403
29 April, 2006
Scheduled times: 1555 dep 1815 arr
Actual time: 1552 dep 1736 arr
based pilots, 12 DTW
's, and 3 IFSR's NGO
I was one of the twelve US based FA
's. I was assigned this trip at the last minute around 1300 due to a sick call. Even after 9 years I am still junior and therefore on reserve. I made it from laying in bed watching television to the inflight briefing room in 1.5 hours. Our purser and one inflight manager went over the flight information, order of service, safety items, and all usual stuff.
By this time I got possesion of the crew organization chart (aka the bid sheet) which showed the remaining work positions on the aircraft. Since I was the most junior I had to take the last open position. To my surprise and mild amusement I was going to be working in WBC (World Business Class). My assigned jumpseat would be 1D. Next to Door 1R. This also made me relief Purser. When the Purser went on thier assigned break, I would be in charge. I was surprised since this positon is generally taken by the seniors.
I was a bit nervous since I hadn't worked in WBC in over 5 years. As we took the tram to gate A35, I ran through all the possible opportunities I would have to F*** up the service. I decided that although I hadn't done the service in over 5 years I would be okay, besides I always work doemstic first class. I have kept up with the changes over the years through vaious emails, letters, and manual revisions. I was also anxious to see the new WBC seats in person and how it looked on the 747. I boarded the aircraft through the WBC jetbridge and was impressed with what I saw. The WBC cabin looks very nice. I prefer it to the A330, because the aisles are much bigger on the 747.
I checked all the emergency equipment in my jumpseat area, made sure I had my cabin key (doesn't open flight deck door anymore), stowed my luggage, and immediatly began setting up for the predeparture service in WBC. One cart contained the Champagne (on the ground its an Italian sparkling wine), sparkling water with lemon wedges, beer, and orange juice. We use real glasses in WBC on the ground. At this point customers were boarding. Determined to make a good impression I greeted each customer and offered to hang thier coat, and assist them with finding a spot for thier luggage.
We use two jet bridges in DTW
one for WBC, and main cabin. The Purser and one IFSR are at the WBC boarding door, and one FA
and another IFSR are at the main cabin door.
We get everyone settled in WBC and then offer menus, slippers, headphones, newspapers (English and Japanese), and amenity kits.
We then collect all the glasses, close the overhead bins, and get ready for push back.
The Puser annouces "FA's prepare doors for departure and cross check". I lifted the protective cover, removed the lock out pin, stowed the pin and streamer in a pouch inside the door, and moved the arming lever to "automatic", and then cross-checked the door opposite me. The Purser made the welcome annoucements, which were repeated in Japanese by the IFSR's. On this flight we had 3 FA
's (including the Purser) working in WBC on the main deck, two FA
's in WBC on the upper deck, and seven FA
's in the main cabin. The three IFSR's take meal orders in WBC, pass out immigration forms, make annoucemnts in Japanese, and other things like offer tea and coffee, pick up trash, help with duty free sales, etc.
Anyway, back to my world. I and another FA
stand at the video screen at the front of the second WBC cabin during the safety demo as we taxi out to the runway. Sometimes I feel silly standing there, but I do since its required. After this was done we did our safety checks in the WBC main deck cabin. We had three FA
's to serve 41 main deck WBC customers, each seat was filled in WBC both upper and main deck. The puser, myself and the other WBC FA
met in the door 1 galley. The purser made a joke about taking extra care "not to make anything look raggedy". We laughed because it just so happened that all three of us black and knew exactly what she was inferring. I won't say african-american because two of us grew up in other countries, and she commutes to Germany.
After a good laugh, we took our jumpseats in preperation for departure. One of the IFSR's joined me at door 1R for takeoff. Flight time was 12:33. After a few minutes the purser made her annoucements. I was feeling much more confident at this point since everything went so smoothly on the ground.
I took and minute to familarize myself with the wines on offer so as not to look silly when someone asked what we had. We had a Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon, and Perrier Jouet Champagne. I had 15 customers in my section.
First we offer oshibori's (hot towels)
Next we offer beverages. 14 had wine and one had gingerale.
Next we reoffer beverages and remove dirty glasses.
Next was the tray delivery. From a cart we laid down a clean white linen, and offer a tray which included appetizer, salad w/choice of dressing, and choice of bread. One of the choices is a Japanese meal which require a different tray setup. If is a challenge to lean over a reclined seat, with AVOD monitor pulled out to reach the tray of the person in the window seat. Most cutomers recognize this and help out.
Next we load our carts with hot entrees. We know exactly what we need from the meal orders taken earlier.
I feel much more at ease since I haven't F***ed up anything yet. I make light conversation with customers who are receptive to it and deliver the hot entrees after removing the salad plate, and soup bowl and soba noodle dish from the japanese set up. The hot entree goes on a base plate which makes for a nice presentation. I was impressed with the apperance of the beef entree, although I am hesitant to eat airplane beef. I also refill wine, and water glasses and reoffer bread and rice.
Next we collect the tray and offer fruit, cheese, cookies, ice cream, desserts, coffee, tea, green tea, and after dinner drinks.
We then collect all remaining service items, making sure everyone has what they want. Some people like to savor a cup of coffee, or wine. We then pass out individual water bottles to each customer. This entire process takes about 1.5 hours from start to finish. I am relieved that I didn't F*** up anything. The service went smoothly and I was proud of my work. We started cleaning up the galley, and moved the three carts containing the dirty trays to the second galley and replaced them with carts for the second service. It was time for the crew to eat before breaks began. I didn't have to sell dutyfree since all the seniors signed up for it. I guess they need the commission to make up for the 20% pay cut we took recently.
Our breaks would be over 3 hours today. I have first break, so I walk all the way to the back of the aircraft and climb the ladder into the crew bunk area. The ceiling is about 4.5 feet high so you can't stand up straight. I remove my shirt, tie and vest and try to sleep despite the turbulence. The bunk resembles a coffin with a curtain on the side.
While I was trying to sleep the other half of the crew offered a midflight snack and drink service. I would now be relief lead while the Purser was on break. No problem there, I am always in charge on domestic flights. I did a quick check of my apperance in the WBC lav. I am convinced that plastic surgeons should contract with Boeing the have a similar mirror and lighting installed in thier offices. They would get a lot more business. My point is make you look old and tired in those mirrors. Which I am neither. The A330 lavs are much nicer compared to the 747.
Convinced that it was the mirror, I did a check of the cabin to see if any of the WBC customers needed anything. Everyone was sleeping. I then went back to the main cbain to see how everything was going and to scavenge leftover snacks from the midlflight service. Hopefully no major executive decisons would have to be made. The next 3+ hours go by smoothly. It is now 1.5 hours until landing.
We offer the second service which is a wide variety of breakfast items. (I won't bother with too much detail). Although we land in Asia in the evening we always offer breakfast. In a way it makes sense for those who have been sleeping during the flight. We obtain our shore passes which we are warned to be careful with. You have to return them when you leave the country. Word is that if you loose it you have to write a letter of apology to the Emporer of Japan. The bus ride to hotel seems like an enternity.
I wish I had remembered to bring my camera to take pictures for this report, but I can't iamgine taking pictures while I was working.