Galley Gossip: Snacks on the plane

“Diet Coke,” says the passenger after I ask him what he’d like to drink. While I’m filling a plastic glass full of ice, he asks the question I hoped he wouldn’t ask, “Can I get a sandwich?”

“Oh…ummm…I’m sorry.” I make a face, the I’m-sorry face, because I am sorry. Really, I am. I’m sorry I have to say I’m sorry all day long. “We ran out,” I continue, and before I can tell him that we actually ran out of anything and everything edible on the airplane, he asks “What else do you have?”

I take a deep breath, because I really don’t want to tell this guy we have nothing, not one thing, so I make the face again, the I’m-sorry face, and decide to make light of the situation. “Diet Coke. Sprite. Diet Sprite. Pepsi. Diet Pepsi. Orange juice. Apple Juice.” He’s looking at me like I’m crazy, so I make the face again, oh you know the one, and say, “I’m sorry, but we ran out of everything. There’s no more food.”

“What do you mean there’s no more food!”

“We ran out of food,” I say again, as I oh so gently place a can of Diet Coke and a glass of ice on his tray table. What I don’t say is that we ran out of food hours ago, due to the fact the passengers were starving because of the hour and a half weather delay we took on the ground. What this passenger and I do not know, and will not know for another hour, is we’re going to have another hour and a half delay in flight because the airport in New York is closed due to more bad weather . “Sorry,” I say again, and I am, sorry I’m forced to say sorry all day long.

“This is ridiculous!”

I agree, it is ridiculus, but that’s the way it is.

Last week Iva Skoch wrote about Passengers Revolting on a flight out of Beijing that was canceled due to weather. Fifty-two pasengers refused to leave the aircraft, so they slept on the plane for over twelve hours. “The biggest irony,” Iva wrote, “And something I can’t see happening on America’s cash-strapped airlines, the flight attendants kept serving food and drinks to the protesters.”

Well there are two reasons you won’t see flight attendants in America serving drinks and food to “protesters” onboard a canceled flight throughout the night until the wee hours of the morning, when the airline is finally able to get people onboard another aircraft.

  1. No food. At least there’s not enough to serve to everybody onboard. Sorry. These days flights aren’t catered full. Why? Don’t ask me. I’m just the messenger. But I’m sure it has something to do with those silly fuel prices. But who wants to eat airplane food that’s been sitting on an airplane for hours anyway? We’re talking astronaut food, people! We’re talking there’s a reason the fruit in first class doesn’t turn brown by the end of the flight.
  2. No money. Flight attendants aren’t making a dime until the aircraft door has been shut and the airplane has backed away from the gate. Now keep in mind we’ve already worked the first hour of our day for free, which is by far the most chaotic part of flight – boarding. And you’re right, we did agree to work that first hour for free when we took the job, but there’s no way, no freakin way, we’ll work one hour more. Would you?

Which brings me to the point of this post (there is one, I promise) – snacks. I’m talking food. You should bring some the next time you travel. At least something. Anything! An apple, a cereal bar, instant oatmeal, whatever.

I know exactly what you’re thinking. Why should you have to bring your own food when you paid for a ticket? Because you paid for a seat. That’s it. And as soon as you realize that, the better your flying experience will be. I’m sorry (always sorry) but that’s the reality of the situation. Unfortunately traveling today is like a real life episode of Survivor. You never know what’s going to happen next and you never know when you’re going to eat again.

Oh I know it’s inconvenient to pack food. Trust me, I’m right there with you, carrying a white plastic grocery bag full of Jiffy peanut butter to-go, a brown banana, two slices of multi-grain bread, and an old package of instant oatmeal, as I undress my way through security and make my way through the terminal – Just in case! Forget the clothes, the books, the DVD – pack the food! Mechanicals, weather delays, and cancellations do happen, and they happen often.

Take my five hour flight yesterday that turned into seven and a half hours of starvation for the people onboard who didn’t bring food, or purchase food when they had the chance. Me, I had a chorizo and egg breakfast burrito from La Salsa at the San Diego airport early that morning and I was STILL starving by the end of that flight! I actually got down on my hands and knees and dug through a dirty first class cart looking for something, anything, to get me through the last hour. But there was nothing – not one thing to be had. Which is why most flight attendants I know always – ALWAYS – bring their own from home.

Oh hold on a sec, my cell is ringing… “Hello?”

“Flight Attendant Poole?” asks the stern voice on the other end.

Oh no. The company. What now? “Yes, this is flight attendant Poole.”

“Your flight to San Francisco tonight has been delayed.”