(Here's a copy of the article featured recently in the New York Times no, not that article...)
With my line of work, I’m often in and out of airports, sometimes in Europe, Asia or the Americas, all in the same week.
It’s not new to me. My mother, Juanita, is an Air Canada flight attendant. My father, Trevor, and stepmother, Allana, both work in the airline industry. My Auntie Norah is a flight attendant, too. And my Uncle Stuart was a founder of Air Transat. With a family history like that, it’s no surprise that flying is second nature to me.
That doesn’t mean that I really like it.
I just know too much. I don’t like to see flight attendants using the phone. That’s because it’s usually an emergency. I know that every airline has specific alarm codes. So if I hear a lot of buzzing or ringing, I always start to wonder what’s going on. And, of course, I always think the worst.
In the old days, before Sept. 11, my mom, who was a single parent, would often bring me on the long-haul flights to and from Asia. For a little girl, and even now as an adult, these flights seemed to last forever. And usually, all I wanted to do was find somewhere cozy to fall asleep. A few times, that meant the cockpit. The pilots were great. But I was always afraid that I would bump my head on a button and wind up crashing the plane.
Even though I was just a kid, I often flew alone since one parent was in Toronto and the other was in Vancouver. During the flight, the crew kept watch over me. It was like having a giant, extended family. And since everyone knew my parents, the crew wasn’t averse to letting my parents know exactly how I behaved on the flight. I couldn’t get away with anything.
Even now, years later, a lot of the same attendants are still flying. It’s kind of embarrassing. My mom likes to show her friends when I’m in a magazine, and sometimes she cuts out my pictures and puts them in a scrapbook and shows that off, too.
So I always hear about that when I fly. It may be a little embarrassing, but deep down I like it. For me, flight crews will always be extended family.
I remember one trip when I was a teenager. I was on a flight home from Asia, and my mom happened to be working that flight. As we were about to take off, there was a strong smell of smoke wafting through the cabin. Every passenger, including me, started to panic.
I was seated in the back of the plane and I overheard my mom talking to another attendant. Both of them were in the galley area. My mom said that she had noticed this smell on prior flights and she was sure, and I quote, “Everything was fine.”
I didn’t feel so confident.
I then overheard the pilot talk to the attendants over a speaker. He said, “If Juanita says its O.K., it’s O.K.”
I started to freak out. I kept thinking terrible it was that he was listening to my mom. I figured everyone would ignore protocols and we were going to crash — all because of my mom.
I later found out that they had followed appropriate protocols and the smell was the byproduct of the engine being cleaned.
I’m happy I didn’t make a scene. Like any family, I’m sure my extended family of flight attendants and crew would never let me live it down. Neither would my mom.
By Coco Rocha, as told to Joan Raymond.