If you are any of my work friends, my family members, or my boyfriend, then you have already heard a mouthful over these past 24 hours. This was the most exhausting trip I have had so far and the first time that I actually felt like quitting. Everyone tells you that this job isn’t always glamorous and I completely understand that, but this trip was beyond brutal.
Now, that I am home and I have calmed down a little, I want to share with you my experience so any of you who think that this job is simply easy, fun, and exciting will get a little insight into what its actually like. Keep in mind, I do want to keep my job and will not be quitting anytime soon, so this post is going to be mostly facts and not much about my opinions about what happened on this trip.
Last night I was supposed to be going to Amsterdam. Great. I go to Amsterdam more than any other city in our system, so even though I like the trip, I wasn’t going to be devastated if I got pulled off of it for something else, which is what happened. Due to short staffing and too many call outs, I was needed for another trip and the Amsterdam trip was going to go out with the remaining crew members since they technically only need “minimum crew”. The trip that I got assigned to instead was a “leanover”. A leanover is a trip that crosses over 2 calendar days, but stays within 1 duty-day period. A duty period can be scheduled up to 14 hours, so a trip like this signs in, flies you to a city, gives you less than your minimum rest, and then returns you back to your base before the 14 hour mark. These aren’t my favorite trips in the world, but they really aren’t bad because you get home around 8am and have the whole day free. Unfortunately, thats not what happened.
At 3:50am I got a phone call saying that I had been rerouted from my 1 day trip, to a 5 day trip (for my non-airline friends, I was on-call so I wasn’t being forced into working my days off). At this point, I am already awake, drinking coffee, and getting ready to go back to the airport because I had a previous pickup of 4:45am. I began to think that what I was being scheduled for wasn’t right, but due to only having a 3 hour nap, and not a full nights rest, I was a little confused. I tried to rationalize how it was legal for me to work this and actually started seeing where they were coming from. I tried to go back to sleep thinking that I better do what I can because I had another 13 hour day ahead of me. After trying to sleep for about an hour or 2, I gave up and tried figuring out my schedule again.
Since I was working a leanover, my duty day really never ended. This means that I technically didn’t have my minimum required rest and was unable to work the trip they were putting me on. I called scheduling to get it fixed and was met with several arguments until I spoke with a supervisor. As I spoke with the supervisor, I heard that “ah-ha” moment where it clicked for him and he realized that they messed up. I was told that my schedule was being reviewed and that I would get a call back.
About an hour later, my schedule was updated to get me back home, and I wasn’t working any of the flights anymore. Which is good right? Well, not entirely. I was still not going to get home until 5pm after signing in at 6pm the night before. I knew this was the only way to get home so I didn’t say anything else and started my journey back home.
You are probably thinking to yourself right now, “This really doesn’t sound like the worst day ever”. But for me, my worst days are my longest days and this was my longest day at work so far. I actually was on duty for a full 23 hours with only a 3 hour nap somewhere in there. I had not had a meal in over 24 hours because I had made lunch yesterday and was expecting to eat on my way to Amsterdam (we get a crew meal for international trips). Since I got rerouted, I was not provided dinner and didn’t have time to grab dinner before my new trip. Someone in the lounge was nice enough to give me their apple, so I didn’t starve, but I made it to New York and everything was closed at that point. I thought, oh well, I can make it until breakfast. Well then I was rerouted and didn’t have time to grab breakfast. After dealing with scheduling I didn’t have enough time to grab food before my flight to Detroit left, so I had a pack of cookies on the flight and didn’t get a meal until 3pm today. Now, after being completely exhausted and hungry these past 24+ hours, I have finally made it home only to be on-call again at 4am!
I am sharing all of this with you because I don’t hate my job. Honestly. However, I think it’s important to understand that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. No company is perfect and there clearly needs to be significant improvement, but there are great days, and awful days, and every type of days in between with this job, and at the end of the day, after all my venting and tiredness, I come home and I think about the good things about this job. I think about how I only have to work 6 days this whole month. I think about how I get to take my boyfriend to Hong Kong and Japan at the end of the week. &I think about all of my amazing friends that I have met who have struggled with me and kept me sane throughout the bad days, and I realize that it’s not completely awful. I could quit, and I would be easily replaceable in this industry, but I choose to be here. I know the things that can happen in this industry and they are frustrating no doubt, but I have been here for a few years now and have seen the good and the bad. They say this industry goes through waves, and I have a feeling that this is just a bad wave. I see things getting better in the future and I am hoping to stick around to see when they do!
Wish me luck for my next 3 days! I will need it!