This humble little post about our Pan Am captains and how they occasionally got out of hand and were ‘revenged upon’ by flight attendants, generated so much controversy on a social media site among former flight attendants, some of whom had the audacity, the temerity, the gall, to tell me to cease and desist from telling ‘my crazy stories’ that I decided to polish it up, and repost it. I don’t like being told what I can and can’t write about, or that I can’t talk about certain things. What is this, bloody Russia?
I understand much was said about me behind my back too, comments focusing on my character, my antecedents, my parents marital status, etc. My, but some of those ladies of PAA are such Christians, aren’t they? Continue reading →
In September of 2011, a show on ABC aired titled, “Pan Am”. It centered on the flight crews of Pan Am Airlines, mainly the female flight attendant of the sixties.
There is an upsurge of interest in the 1960s, perhaps due to the popularity of the show ‘Mad Men’, a show depicting advertising men of the ’60s, their wives, and sexy secretaries. All the hoopla over the Pan Am Airlines show engendered much fantasizing by the younger male demographic about the ‘good old days’ of the gorgeous flight attendant, and the supposed opportunities businessmen and pilots had with the sexy ‘geisha’ girls of the skies, both during and after a flight, while they got away from the ‘little woman’ for a few days. Flight attendants were fondly imagined to be solely dedicated to the pleasure and comfort of their male passengers.
It was New Year’s Day, over twenty years ago. I was Los Angeles based, and reporting for a Pan Am Airlines flight to New York. I was actually senior on this trip, because most really senior people didn’t have to work New Year’s Day. I chose to work up front, and missed much of the action in back that would make this a memorable flight.
On the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11 there are many memorials around the country featured on television and radio which commemorate the ‘first responders’, the firefighters, and the police. On social networking sites, there are prayers and short memorials for a largely overlooked segment of people who were on duty too, the flight attendants and cockpit crews of the aircraft that crashed into the towers and the ground.
If there was one thing Pan Am flight attendants knew how to do, that was shop. I’ve heard that there is a master’s degree offered for this. People can learn how to shop for the incredibly wealthy: cars, furnishings, art, clothing. I wonder if any former Pan Am flight attendants have looked into this degree. Why, I’ve seen the rumor of a sale bring a fainting, ill, flight attendant right back from the brink of darkness!
It was Christmas season, and we were in India, and it may have been a manifestation of a miracle of some kind, but it was some powerful medicine. We had all congregated in a crew member’s hotel room, and a flight attendant was feeling very punk. She was dizzy and pale. Another flight attendant entered the room and mentioned a sale taking place in the lobby. The dizzy flight attendant was brought back to immediate and rosy health.
When I was hired by Pan Am I was a perfect size 12. I must have had some fat on me somewhere, but it was probably in strategic areas where I may have needed it, and where it was occasionally admired by passing strangers. I had no quarrel with that except in Rome. Rome is a city where men do not recognize any personal boundaries between themselves and the female flesh of a passing woman.
After I arrived at training in Honolulu, I was weighed, and found wanting. I had to lose something like fifteen pounds by the end of training. And so began the odyssey of my cheekbones; in and out, chubby-cheeked, or a la Sophia Loren. I have to say, I preferred the hollow-cheeked look, like a hungry supermodel, to the rosiness of a cherub. I didn’t want to have ’heroin chic’, (or cheek) but neither did I want to look like I was straight out of a Michelangelo painting on the Sistine Chapel. Continue reading →
There are many jobs that require people to be on call. Pan Am, like all other airlines, even today, had a reserve system called the ‘pool’ in order to make sure there were a minimum number of flight attendants on board any given flight. As long as they had every door covered, they could send a flight out with barely enough flight attendants to make a pot of coffee.
Having sufficient personnel on every flight was not the company’s top priority toward the end of its existence. By the time the demise of the company came, we were down to crews of nine or ten, serving four hundred people. Two to four of those crew members had to serve in first class and Clipper Class, which was Pan Am business class. I am positive that if scheduling personnel had been allowed to let a flight go out with flight service for only first class and clipper, and designate some hapless passenger to serve coffee in the back, they would have.
Today, I hopped on my stationary bike, and while I was pedaling away, I read some of a book I had checked out a month or so ago and kept procrastinating reading, ‘The Fall of Berlin, 1945′.
Because of my regrettable habit of procrastinating, I have forgotten the reason I checked out this book. It is buried in the mists of time, but the book remains, silently reprimanding me with the legions of the dead soldiers of the Red Army, the Third Reich, and the residents of Berlin, many of whom did not vote for Hitler, and didn’t like the Nazis being in power. See? I have learned something from the regrettably few pages I have read.
I read recently about a woman, a new mom, in another country who had wanted to have a baby for all of her married life, which was a very long time considering her age as of this writing, but was unable to. Finally, she conceived at the tender age of seventy, or something close to assisted living age.
Pan Am may or may, not have been, the owner of the crew hotel where we stayed in Monrovia, Liberia, but Pan Am crews were the only people who ever stayed there. The hotel was managed by a wealthy African family named Caesar. As you will see, that was a very prophetic name for this family.
Monrovia and our hotel certainly couldn’t be considered a tourist haven, or even a tourist trap. The flight was a very senior trip; the crew members that typically worked the trip were dubbed the African Kings and Queens. They worked just a few trips a month; since the flight departed New York only once a week, crews stayed in Monrovia for a week. The per diem was phenomenal, and all we had to do was enjoy the beach. Sometimes, in the middle of the week, we would work a trip to the Ivory Coast and points east.