Sunday, April 1, 2012

31. Travel: Alaska

The crew desk called that afternoon.  “MOV, we have your assignment.  One leg to Anchorage, one leg back.  The trip ID is 9638.  Check-in is 2100.” 

Anyone else would be thrilled to go to Anchorage.  Anyone else might get to stay in Anchorage for longer than two hours, and they might go in the daytime when they could see Anchorage.  No, for this flight attendant of MarkAir, the Alaska flights meant nighttime flying with no layovers, no time to soak in the beauty of Alaska. 

I was used to it by now.  I tricked myself into thinking it was not Anchorage, it was someplace else cold, dark, desolate, bleak—like the moon.  I told myself I wasn’t really missing out on glorious mountains, glaciers, ocean, trees, and eagles soaring above it all.  If you couldn’t see it, it wasn’t really there.

But other people knew what Alaska was, people like the passengers.  I’d overhear them, giddy with excitement, about the cruise they would be boarding tomorrow morning, or the hiking trip they were going on.  Once I walked past the airport gift shop (closed) and stared through the glass at the Alaska souvenirs.  The postcards on the metal rounder mocked me with their saccharine beauty:  This is what Alaska looks like when you’re not here.

What I remember most about that year in my life, living in Seattle and flying at night, was how bitterly cold it was.  We’d arrive in Anchorage and the gate agent would maneuver the jet way to the front airplane door.  She’d give the “all clear” knock for me to open the door after she had attached the springy overhead canopy electronically.  It never lined up perfectly, and snow would creep through.  I wore my uniform blouse and pants, tights underneath, a heavy wool sweater on top, a scarf, a lined full-length regulation overcoat, plus two blankets.  No one ever questioned the blankets.

“Goodbye, thanks for flying with us!  Have a great day!  Thank you!” the other flight attendants and I would chirp at the passengers as they left our 737 and walked into the frigid jet way tunnel.  They grunted pleasantries back at us, half asleep.  It was, after all two in the morning. 

We’d pass out on the floor of the crew lounge for a quick nap before it was time to fly a new group of semi-conscious passengers back to Seattle.  It was dark and cold, just like I felt inside.

I didn’t become a flight attendant to sit in an airport and never get to see the place I’m flying to, I’d lament to one of the pilots later.  He’s merely shrug.  Then he’d say the polite, “I’m sorry.  Guess that’s just the job.”  All of our pilots had trained for a month in Alaska, they had seen it in the daytime.  They could not commiserate with me and the other flight attendants. 

“MOV, time to go,” the purser tapped me on the shoulder.  “Wake up, get up off the floor.  You need to brush your hair, and then we’re going to start boarding in 20 minutes.” 

“Okay, okay, Tammy.  I’m up now.” 

Maybe I’ll get to go to Alaska again some other time.  



  1. I'm sure you'll get there on your own time. I've always imagined how cool it would be to be a flight attendant because I love to travel. But when you put it this way...well, that's not how I imagined it!

  2. Great use of "a." Looking forward to hearing more of your travel stories.

  3. There's a drawback to each job, I guess. At least you saw the pictures of what Alaska looked like.

  4. And I see you have double the challenge! Good Luck!
    Hope to see you around!

    English Speaking Zone

  5. All the best with your challenge this month!

    This is me, Duncan D. Horne, visiting you from the A-Z challenge, wishing you all the best throughout April and beyond.

    Duncan In Kuantan

  6. I hope you will get to see Alaska sometime. It really IS lovely in the daytime - and in the warmtime. Right now She is a bit ugly with melting snow and dust swirling around the puddles. We've had so much snow here in SouthCentral that we will be blessed to see green grass by the end of May. Come see us - I will show you more than Anchorage.

  7. I've wanted to visit Alaska since I watched "Northern Exposure" as a kid. It looks like it could be a very interesting place if you were prepared for it and had the time to explore.

    I look forward to more of your travel picks! (I've always wanted to go to Egypt, too!!!) Thanks for the comment on my blog.

    Happy A to Z'ing!

  8. Thank you to all who wrote. I am honored that you would read my blog and take the time to leave comments! I really appreciate it, and I read every one. Now I am off to check out your blogs too!


  9. Hello! Returning a visit from my blog - and I'm your lucky 50th follower! Huzzah! I like this post - intrigued to work my way up the alphabet with you! Cheers!


People that leave comments usually* win the lottery.
(*Usually= not very often)