I never expected that when I bid for flights to Maui, I'd actually ever discover them on my roster. I'd grown accustomed to the seniority based system of my former airline and disappointment was a usual occurrence. Since everything is new to me and I'm happy to visit most destinations, I wasn't too picky and randomly asked for Maui just to bid for something. I did it as a long shot "wouldn't that be nice" kind of thing, expecting nothing to ever come of it. Imagine my shock when I got not one, but two flights. To Maui.... Hawaii.... the beautiful sunny beach... For WORK. Do I have the greatest job ever?! I certainly can't complain.
I was rather nervous about the pairing, as it would be my first flight without the security blanket that was my onboard trainer. I was a fully trained, capable flight attendant and this time I was flying solo. I made my way to the gate and as usual, I was the first one to arrive. I tend to show up far to early for nearly everything. Not wandering to stand there alone, I awkwardly walked a few laps around the terminal as I waited for the rest of my crew to arrive. Relief washed over me when I met them, and they were great. Things were going to be just fine.
The flight to Vancouver was quick and easy and my crew were great enough to make sure that once we arrived, I didn't get lost getting to the gate for our Maui flight and proceeding through U.S. Customs. Once on the other side, they fled to duty free while I scouted out something to eat during the flight. Sushi in hand, we boarded the aircraft, did our security checks, and waited for our vacationing passengers to board wearing their Hawaiian shirts. A couple of girls came on clutching bags containing wedding dresses, which of course was very exciting for myself, as I'm another soon-to-be married-on-a-beach bride. It was a busy 5 1/2 hours running up and down the aisles, but we finally landed in Maui! Once exiting the airport, I was overcome with happiness as the humid air blanketed me with warmth. The smell of hibiscus flowers lingered in the air, and after 25 years of dreaming of that moment, there I was... in Hawaii.
We got to the hotel and I checked into my room to find that it was not in fact a room, but rather a suite. I'm not sure how I lucked out, but I had my very own sitting area, 2 balconies, and a separate room with my bed. The bed was a sea of pillows and I would have enjoyed nothing more than to have dove into it and spent the remainder of my evening there, but I'd agreed to meet the others for a drink before calling it a night. Normally, I'd just do my own thing, ditch the rest, and enjoy my precious sleep. However, this is a new airline, new places, new faces, and there is nothing wrong with making an effort and perhaps a few friends.
We headed to the hotel bar, where it happened to be happy hour. In the spirit of Hawaii, I ordered a Mai Tai and sipped it over a good conversation with the others. Once we'd finished our drinks, we collectively agreed that it was bedtime. The waiter brought us our bill, and for the first time in my aviation career, I watched as the Captain paid for us all. Sure, there were only a few of us and the drinks were cheap, but such things would never happen at my former airline. In fact, I recall a time or two paying more than my share by insistence of splitting the bill evenly. Perhaps there is hope!
Back in my room, I showered and snuggled up in my cloud-like bed. Pure bliss.
I set my alarm to wake up early the next day, but I didn't need it. I was up at 4 am thanks to the 4 hour time difference from home. I forced myself to sleep awhile longer before finally giving in to the singing birds and getting out of bed. I had a full day to enjoy!
I changed into a pair of shorts and threw on my flip flops while thinking of my hometown that had endured the first snowfall of the season only hours after I'd left. Clutching my camera, I made my way to the beach where I walked along listening to the waves and taking photos, happy as could be.
The weather was perfect and a warm breeze blew through my hair. I was beginning to feel pretty hungry, so I decided to head back to the street in search of something delicious to enjoy for breakfast. As I crossed the street, I heard somebody call my name and turned to see another flight attendant. She was off to the grocery store, so I decided to tag along. I have a weakness for foreign grocery stores and all of the items that aren't available in Canada. The U.S. in particular is home to so many treats that we don't have the pleasure of enjoying across the border. I loaded up my basket with a few sushi rolls to eat before my flight, a container of pre-cut pineapple chunks, and coconut M&M's. By the strong recommendation of the other flight attendant, I threw in a pack of macadamia nut pancake batter and coconut syrup to bring a Hawaiian breakfast home.
I hauled my purchases back to my hotel room and proceeded to eat my pineapple. It was the most delicious, sweetest, juiciest pineapple that I ever did taste. Had I left more room in my suitcase, I certainly would have thrown an entire fruit in it.
For lunch, I pulled out my iPhone and used my Foodspotting app to suggest a good meal nearby. It led me to Maui Taco, where I ordered fish tacos and indulged in the deliciousness.
The wind was picking up and I'm not a huge fan of sand flying at my face, so I opted for an afternoon by the pool rather than the beach. I found my fellow flight attendants parked in lounge chairs and made myself at home next to them.
Sheltered from the wind between the palm trees, we kicked back and soaked up the glorious sun. It was November, and our friends and family back home were shovelling snow. I often wonder what I did to deserve this, or if perhaps I do in fact deserve it. Hula music played softly in the background as I basked in the warmth. After awhile of lying there, my legs were getting rather pink, as I'd neglected to apply sunscreen to them. I said goodbye to the others as I retreated to my room, changed, and headed back outside. I couldn't possibly leave without having some coconut ice cream. It happens to be one of my favourite treats. I came across a gelato shop, where I ordered my ice cream and chatted to the extremely friendly employee who served me. He informed me that he also works as a hair stylist, and we were both shocked to find out that his next client having her hair styled for her wedding happened to be from my home town. What are the odds!? He loaded me up with coupons for my next visit and I promised that I'd return. After a few bites of my amazing ice cream, I knew for sure that I'd keep that promise.
Time had went by too fast, as it usually does during perfect layovers. I had a redeye flight ahead of me, so I forced myself to take a nap in preparation. I sadly closed the blinds to the bright sun, and crawled into my bed, sleeping for a few hours before waking up to put on my uniform and head back to the airport. At the Starbucks in the terminal, our entire crew got our dose of caffeine. I ordered an amazing coconut-mocha frappuchino, since it sounded incredible and isn't available in Canada. We boarded the plane, said goodbye to Hawaii, and flew our 63 guests (a miracle!) back to Canada. Normally I'd be heartbroken to return, but the great thing about working for a domestic airline is that when I go home, I actually go home. Not Dubai, but Canada. Home, to my fiancé and my friends and family. It makes the end of layovers a whole lot easier. This time around was even better, as I was meeting Ryan in Vancouver for a weekend of fun.... but that's a story for the next blog! It's safe to say, I love Hawaii. Of course I knew that I would, but it's certainly nice to be proven right!