Galley Gossip: Taking Care Of Other People’s Kids In Flight

Long ago I was on a flight from Chicago to Boston via New York when a weary woman with an active baby sat next to me. Having much experience babysitting, I was used to babies and thought I might be called upon to smile, wave and cheer up a crying baby, but never did I think that the mother would abdicate her responsibilities to me, a complete stranger.

The mom began to feel airsick (or so she said) and told me she was unable to change her baby’s diaper because she was about to throw up and asked me to do it for her. Guess what? I did it. I just felt so badly for the woman and the baby having to sit in the mess and yes, especially for myself because I could not stand the fumes either.

After the dirty job was done, she thanked me profusely and then said she was exhausted and asked me to hold her baby while she grabbed a few winks. She woke up when the wheels touched the ground to find her baby finally fast asleep on my shoulder. I prayed that they were not on my connecting flight. Am I crazy or just a Good Samaritan? Cheers, Priscilla

I’m going with Good Samaritan. I’m also going to say Thank God for passengers like you. While I can’t say that sort of thing happens often, it does happen, and not everyone is as nice about it as you were. Your act of kindness proves you’re a compassionate human being.

That said I came a cross a child acting out in a seat while we were doing the beverage service not too long ago. I couldn’t help but wonder why the mother wasn’t doing anything to keep her child entertained during the flight. Instead the mother had her eyes closed and ignored the child. Later on in flight the little girl came to the back of the airplane and asked for a soda. I went over to the mother to make sure that was okay. The woman shrugged. Not the response I expected. That’s when I asked a strange question: ​”It this your child?” The woman sighed and said no.Turns out the mother of this hyper six year-old had booked a seat in first class, leaving a complete stranger to sit beside her child in coach. I felt badly for the woman and offered her an adult beverage on the house.

Years ago on a different flight, I felt something between my feet. On this particular day I was commuting, not working, just a regular passenger wearing jeans in coach. So I didn’t necessarily look like someone you could trust. When I glanced down at the floor I found an infant staring back at me. I picked up the baby and looked around the coach cabin for someone who might be missing a child. No one fit the bill. But behind me a woman slept with her head against the window.

I tapped her on the shoulder. “Is this yours?”

“Oh, uh, yeah,” she said. She thanked me and went back to sleep.

“There’s nothing like being a new ‘uncle’ on a plane to a kid you’ll never see again,” wrote Mitch Lacey after I posted a tweet asking if anyone had ever gotten stuck taking care of somebody else’s child on an airplane.

Sonya Hamasaki had a little fun when she found herself seated next to a nine year-old. “He read me dirty jokes from his iPod. I taught him to play Candy Crush saga.”

Hopefully this won’t be a problem for long with airlines like Scoot creating child-free zones and Etihad Airways offering in-flight nannies. Not that this is an excuse to shirk responsibilities as a parent. Still you might consider packing a pair of noise canceling headsets and a nose clip next time you fly in case this should happen again.

[Photo credit: Heather Poole]

What Do You Think Of United Airlines’ New Uniforms?

Courtesy United Continental Holdings.

Starting today, passengers flying United Airlines will see the flight crew decked out in new threads. According to a press release, tens of thousands of worldwide employees – including flight attendants, customer service agents, technical operations and ramp workers – will begin wearing new, sophisticated uniforms with accents of blue, gold, silver and gray.

Although news outlets like Jaunted have questioned United’s choice to go against trend and not enlist a high-profile designer to create the uniforms, such as Banana Republic who recently outfitted Virgin America’s crew, United says the company relied on feedback from their employees to create the stylish yet functional clothing. Pilots will be the last to switch over to the new getup when they begin wearing new, midnight blue uniforms later this year. Once everyone has made the switch, the company’s attire will – for the first time ever – have a cohesive feel across all operations.

Galley Gossip: 9 Safety Tips For New Flight Attendants (And Solo Travelers)

1. “The Gift of Fear,” by Gavin De Becker, should be required reading for all men and women, especially for those of us who travel, particularly for women who travel alone. I’ve recommended this book to more flight attendants and passengers than anything thing else over the years. It’s saved my life more than once.

2. Skip the first floor. They’re easier to break into. That’s why you’ll never find a flight attendant below the second floor in a hotel. There’s a reason for that. It’s in our hotel contract.

3. Leave the lights and television on when you’re not in the room. Put the Do Not Disturb sign on the door. It gives the appearance that someone is occupying the room, so no one will break in.

4. Stay Healthy: Never leave home without a small antibacterial spray. A mini bottle of vodka works just as well. Hit up the remote, the light switches, doorknobs and taps. You don’t want to get sick while you’re stuck at a less than desirable layover hotel.

5. Walk with intent. Walk down the street like you have a place to be, like you know where you’re going and need to get there quickly. Do that and people will leave you alone.

6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you’re walking alone and feel like someone is following you, tell someone! If for some reason you feel scared and you’re all alone, share it with somebody! Trust your gut. Know that most people will help.

7. Treat your hotel key like a credit card. Keep it away from your cellphone. Don’t leave it out for everyone to see. Don’t say which room you’re in out loud when you’re discussing what time to meet down in the lobby. Ditch the paper sleeve it came in. This way if you lose your key you won’t have to worry about any uninvited visitors.

8.. Hide your personal information on your luggage tag. Turn it around so no one can read your name, address, phone number. This way you won’t get a surprise knock on your door – or a phone call on a day off at home from a stranger who knows you by name who’s still mad that all you had left was the pasta in first class.

9. Dress appropriately. You’ll probably live a lot longer if you wear the appropriate outfit in the appropriate neighborhood. Ladies, I’m talking heels. Short skirts. The idea is you want to blend in. You also want to be able to run if need be.

[Photo Credit: Heather Poole]

Flight Turbulence: Just How Dangerous Is It Anyway?

flight turbulenceThe jury is still out on a recent study that says a result of climate change could take fliers on a bumpy ride. Scientists think passengers on transatlantic vectors could experience more unexpected ups and downs, the leading cause of in-flight injury, but agree that more study is needed. But just how dangerous is flight turbulence anyway?

Unexpected turbulence, called “clear air turbulence,” can be surprising when it hits an aircraft before the “fasten seat belt” sign lights up. But aircraft are built to take it and some even know what to do with it.

“Aircraft are built to withstand a 2.5g force load without even any minor damage and, as it is rare for a storm to generate a force that exceeds 1g load on an aircraft, there is no risk,” write the editors of TravelMole pulling from interviews they had with Boeing and the British Airline Pilots Association.

Still, whether caused by invisible air currents that flow over mountains or a natural part of the jet stream, experts agree that the particular aircraft flown can make a big difference when turbulence strikes.

“To ensure the most comfortable ride, it’s best to fly on the largest, most modern aircraft as these are designed to lessen the impact of turbulence on passengers,” concluded TravelMole.When Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner gets back in the air, it may be the aircraft to be on. Like other new aircraft, the 787 is equipped with a system to read the air in front of it, compensating for anticipated turbulence for a smoother ride.

Want to know more about that study? This video breaks it down:




[Photo credit - Flickr user mstephens7]

Embedded Into Finnair’s Flight Safety School

Safety is top priority for airlines around the world, and each crew member goes through weeks of recurrent training to prepare for emergencies. They do it in an a flight training center, where situations such as fires, bail outs and all sorts of other crises can be simulated and practiced.

At Finnair, this place is called the Flight Academy, a sprawling complex on the outskirts of Helsinki airport. Gadling Labs stopped by to get a taste of the action, and left amazed and humbled by the great work underway. Take a look.