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In the airline industry, seniority is everything. It dictates the trips you fly, the days you have off, the amount you get paid and the vacation weeks you hold. Seniority decides where you can be based, the flexibility of your schedule and the likelihood of getting on a flight when flying standby.
As new hires, seniority is often our biggest hurdle and, because of it, we are often relegated to flying the least desirable routes, with the shortest layovers and the earliest sign-ins.
We mostly fly the trips that other more senior flight attendants don't want, and spend our layovers in places like Akron, Ohio or Little Rock, Arkansas. It doesn't take long for us to realize that it will be years before we can regularly hold trips to places like Paris or Bangkok.
And while many of us newcomers find tricks and tips to better our schedules, there are few ways to negate seniority and hold the types of trips we often dreamed of when we applied for the job.
I soon realized that if I wanted to have any luck at being able to go overseas regularly for work, I would have to become an LOD. An LOD is someone who takes part in the airline’s language of destination program. Since flights to certain countries require translators who speak the local language, working as an LOD is often the key for more junior flight attendants to work the coveted transoceanic routes.
When I joined the airlines, many people initially tried to convince me to forego the language test, stating that the qualification would relegate me to flying the transoceanic flights to Italy and limit my ability to hold routes to other destinations. And perhaps this is true. Perhaps flying routes to Italy has limited my ability to fly elsewhere.
But, when I think that that my alternative could be flying four flights a day with a short layover in Minot, North Dakota, flying to Italy suddenly doesn’t seem so bad.
This past summer, my regular route was to fly between New York and Rome or Milan. Though I have been to these cities many times in my life, I have used my layovers to become even more familiar with them and have used them as a springboard for visiting the surrounding towns and villages. On Milan trips, in particular, I have used my layovers as an opportunity to spend time around Lake Como and immerse myself in some of Italy’s most beautiful mountain scenery.
Lake Como is a Y-shaped body of water that snakes through the craggy mountains of Northern Italy. While it is often known as a famed retreat for the wealthy (including George Clooney and Madonna), it has also become a common tourist destination for visitors from around the world.
Much like the popular beach-side towns of the Cinque Terre and Amalfi Coast, visitors to Lake Como enjoy wandering around the lake’s picturesque villages and taking in the beauty of the surrounding mountains.
On my first trip to the Lake, I traveled with my crew to the colorful town of Varenna. We spent the day meandering along the town’s cobblestone streets, sipping wine at one of the many outdoor cafes and taking in the lakefront views.
After exploring Varenna for a bit, my crew and I decided to take a short boat ride to Bellagio--another well-renouned gem along Como's lakeshore.
The short ferry ride afforded us spectacular views of the surrounding towns from various angles.
|View of Bellagio from the Boat|
We walking around the narrow streets of Bellagio and admired the town's ornate villas and hotels, before returning to Varenna for a bite to eat. Though my meals while on layovers in Italy usually consist of a cone of gelato and a piece of pizza on the fly, it seemed almost sacrilegious to leave Varenna without at least sitting down and absorbing the view for a bit.
So we sat and we ate and we talked, hoping to prolong our visit to the lake as best we could and trying to forget that we had a return train back to Milan.
But reality got the better of us so, after a wonderful dinner, we traveled back to our hotel in order to catch up on enough sleep for our long return journey home the following morning.
|Mountains around Lake Como|