Turbulent Skies : Run-Away Thoughts from a Senior Flight Attendant

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Did you know that Bajans were the first to produce rum? Or that the grapefruit was bred in one of our gullies? Our statue of Lord Nelson was erected 27 years before the more famous one in London. Barbados is also an island full of colour. The first colours you will see as you fly down the west coast are the sparkling turquoise and deep blue of the water and the dazzling white brilliance of the sand. After you have landed and are en route to the hotel, the view of the countryside will include the subtle greens and browns of the sugar cane fields.

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Depending on the time of year, you may enjoy the vibrant reds and oranges of the flamboyant trees, the rainbow of colours that are lilies, or the soft whites of the Snow on the Mountain. If you are lucky enough to visit during the annual carnival, you will be treated to an explosion of colour, music and dance. Barbados really is a feast for all of the senses.

This book doesnt include every beach, rum shop or building that the Queen or George Washington ever stayed in.

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Instead, its your personal tour guide to some of the best that Barbados has to offer. But after flying for so many years, the idea of hanging up his sparkling wings is hard for him to fathom. He added that he would miss the people he works with, the passengers he meets and the routine he goes through for every trip, laying out his uniform and packing the night before. Decades ago, hiring policies ensured that the ranks of flight attendants remained young. Stewardesses faced mandatory retirement by If they married or became pregnant, they were out.

Stewards like Mr.

Akana were not subject to quite as strict regulations. In , he married a fellow flight attendant, Elizabeth Ann Ebersole.

Turbulent times, turbulent skies

They met on Waikiki Beach six months earlier when a colleague played matchmaker. He continued to fly. She promptly quit. Her colleagues will not let her forget that she has a father who is famous at United. View all New York Times newsletters. As No.

Turbulent times, turbulent skies | Reveal

Akana always gets the schedule he wants. Lately that means three three-day trips a month from Denver to Kauai or Maui. He spends one night on the island, squeezing in lunch with old friends or perhaps a round of golf before heading back home to Boulder, Colo. He has the rest of the month off, giving him time to work on his golf game, hop in his RV to visit a national park with his wife or take advantage of his United travel benefits to fly someplace new if seats are available. Over the years Mr.

Akana has taken his wife and two children all over the world free, including vacations to Australia, New Zealand, Europe and Hong Kong. There were also weekend jaunts to Chicago so the children could try deep-dish pizza.

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Akana was a fresh-faced year-old when he — along with others — applied in for one of eight steward positions United wanted to fill to represent each of the eight major Hawaiian Islands. Akana, who was born and raised in Honolulu.

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All I had was an aloha shirt. But after the first cut, he began calling the hiring manager weekly to check in. His persistence paid off, and he was soon taking off on his first flight to the mainland.

How Pilots Annoy Flight Attendants / Cabin Crew

Back then, the Boeing Stratocruiser, a long-range propeller plane powered by four piston engines, was state of the art, making the trip between the islands and the mainland in about 10 hours, roughly double the time it takes today. Seats were all first class, with four bunk beds up front and a private stateroom in the back with its own beds and bathroom.

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  7. A circular staircase led to a lower-deck cocktail lounge, and flight attendants prepared hot meals for the 52 to 54 people on board. Passengers dressed up to fly. Akana recalled.

    Celebrity sightings were common, too. Skelton, sitting in the seat next to where Mr. Akana delivered the life vest demonstration, mimicked the entire routine. Akana said, grinning from ear to ear. It was not all enchanting, of course. In the early days, Mr. Akana recalls, cigarette smoke filled the cabin as passengers lighted up after takeoff. And between flights, the aircraft was sprayed with pesticide while flight attendants were still on board.

    He has lived through decades of deregulation and the turbulent industry economics, including bankruptcies and cuts that stripped flights of most services. As a result, he said, the job has fundamentally changed and service is no longer as important as it was when he started 63 years ago. All along Mr. Akana has remained a loyal company man, but he is beginning to think about retirement. After so many years of flying, he and his wife want to see the country by RV and perhaps take a cruise.