Flighty Cartwell wakes up at 4 pm and bolts upright in bed, seriously disoriented. The confusion only lasts a few seconds, but it’s enough to get her heart racing. Not exactly an uncommon occurrence – she often forgets where she is. Not surprising, considering she is a true gypsy of the skies.
Turns out she is in a hotel room in Phoenix. It’s all coming back to her now.
She’s showered, dressed and eaten breakfast by the time the van shuttle shows up outside her hotel (a Holiday Inn, and not one of the nice ones) to carry her to the airport. It’s a quick hop, skip and a jump away (it’s a very bouncy ride).
Upon arriving at around 5:30 pm, she meets with the pilot and crew she’ll be traveling with. She then boards the plane with the other flight attendants to perform a routine safety check. They go row by row, seat by seat, checking out the life-vests, flashlights and other safety equipment to ensure it is all where it’s supposed to be, and that it appears to be in proper condition.
And then here comes the stampede. Boarding begins, and a flood of travelers gradually fills the plane. Flighty says “hi” or “welcome aboard” roughly 200 times in the space of 20 minutes. At least it’s better than the “buh-byes” she’ll have to utter in a few hours…
Several passengers board with luggage that won’t quite fit in the overhead compartments. Flighty gets to break the bad news to them that their bags will have to be sent to gate check.
“But if I just push it a little bit harder…” argues one passenger.
“Sir, it’s not going to fit.”
“It fit on my last flight…”
“Was your last flight on Air Force One?”
Air Force Two is totally jealous.
And so on. Once everyone is seated (except for that rambunctious kid who one of the other flight attendants is attempting to herd back to his proper place), Flighty begins demonstrating the safety instructions. The actual instructions are narrated by a pre-recorded video that is playing on the plane’s television monitors, but she has to act out what is being described, and then indicate where the exit rows are located. Flighty does so with a unique comic flair that would make Buster Keaton proud.
Finally, the heavy metal bird gets off the ground at around 6:30 – only five minutes behind schedule. They’ll make up the lost time – and then some – on the way to… where is it again? Ah yes – Dallas.
After they have reached a sufficient altitude, Flighty and the other attendants begin wheeling their carts down the aisles to serve coffee and other beverages to the parched travelers (they are coming from Phoenix, after all).
It isn’t a long flight. The plane starts its descent at around 8, and Flighty walks up and down the aisles checking to see that all passengers are following the rules in preparation for landing. Seats up, electronic devices turned off, etc. She actually likes it when someone isn’t paying attention. She enjoys the opportunity to rap some knuckles, metaphorically speaking.
The plane lands safely at 8:35, then taxis into the gate at 8:50. The passengers disembark, and it’s cleanup time.
In addition to picking up after the bunch of slobs that have now departed, Flighty has to perform another set of safety checks to make sure the plane is ready for its next trip. Just because everything looked good a few hours ago doesn’t mean that one of those hooligans didn’t maliciously puncture a life vest with his penknife or something crazy like that.
Once she confirms that everything is in tip-top shape, it’s on to Chicago. Then Pittsburgh. Then Washington. It’s going to be a long night. Flighty is about to experience firsthand why they call these things red-eyes.