Mandy Smith spent 12 years as a Virgin flight attendant. Her memoir, Cabin Fever, recounts the good, bad and inappropriate, from dealing with projectile vomit to celebrity tantrums as she also searched the globe for Mr Right and even joined the Mile High Club. She also met a couple who loved drinking more than each other…
I could hear the tipsy couple’s conversation from the back of the Upper Class cabin, where I stood greeting the remainder of our passengers boarding the Las Vegas flight with face-achingly smiley recitals of “Good morning.”
She was young – early twenties – scrawny, perma-tanned and clogging the gangway with her shocking pink case-on-wheels and plastic garment carrier.
“Oh look, Daz, we even get our own pyjamas,” she said, parking her bony white-jeaned bum on the armrest and riffling through her complimentary amenity kit. “And an eye mask… and spa products…”
“Never mind the pyjamas,” said “Daz”, “where’s the free booze? I’m gasping.”
“’Ere, lads,” came another man’s voice from the seat behind Daz’s, “Who’s got the duty-free? Old Daz here is in need of some Dutch courage.”
“He’ll need it, marrying her,” said a further pal.
“Oh f*%k off, Gaz,” snapped Daz.
“Yeah f*%k off, Gaz,” echoed the scraggy girl, dropping into her seat, leaving her luggage in the aisle.
Already I could tell it was going to be an arduous flight.
Before starting the safety demo, I needed to sort out Skinny Minnie’s luggage, which meant consulting the passenger list; in Upper Class we always addressed passengers by their surnames. I scanned down the list to row four. There they were: Cindy Morris and Darren Smythe.
I walked over to their seats to find Cindy lying on top of Darren, reclining on his chest as he fondled her breasts. He had one of those tufty boy-band hairdos – waxed into peaks like little meringues.
“Good afternoon, Miss Morris, Mr Smythe,” I said. “I’m Mandy and I’m your attendant for today’s flight.”
Daz winked. “Alright Mandy, any chance of a drink?”
“The full drinks service will begin once we’re airborne, but would you like a champagne or soft drink?” I explained. “Now, Miss Morris, would you like me to place your luggage in the overhead locker for you?”
She glowered, orange face framed by masses of frizzy, badly highlighted blonde hair. “Ain’t you supposed to call us by our first names in first class?”
“If you wish, madam,” I said.
“Yeah, well, it’s Cindy … Cindi with an ‘i’. And he’s Darren … with a ‘z’ – Daz.”
“As you wish, Cindi,” I said, lifting the shocking pink case. I picked up the garment carrier. “Shall I hang this in the wardrobe for you?”
Cindi-with-an-“i” suddenly sprang to life. “That’s my wedding dress – don’t crease it. We’re getting married … at the Little White Chapel – the one where Britney Spears got married.”
“And Joan Collins,” added Daz.
“Sounds like a dream wedding to me,” I said.
Daz, Gaz and their party of pals with similarly abbreviated names laughed and jeered all the way through the safety demo, singing “Get Me to the Church on Time” interspersed with chants of “’Ere we go, ’ere we go, ’ere we go,” while Cindi-with-an-“i”, outnumbered by lads, pored over photographs of celebrities sporting cellulite in Heat magazine.
Cindi and her gang wasted no time getting stuck into the booze as soon as the seatbelt signs had gone out.
“Remember, one drink in the air is equal to two on the ground,” I warned, delivering a third round of champagne to the wedding party.
“Nice one, we’ll get drunk quicker,” said Gaz, who I’d since learned was Daz’s best man.
About two hours into the flight, Cindi and Daz changed into their sleep suits, even though it was still daytime, and paraded back to Economy Class to visit their “poor friends”, returning with tales of misery, muttering: “You get what you pay for.”
Cindi was slurring and Daz sounded as though he’d had one too many, too. I made a mental note not to serve them any more drinks.
“We’ll need to keep an eye on that wedding party,” I told Sharon as we prepared dinner in the galley. “They’re getting pretty rowdy back there.”
“Bloody chavs. I’ll go and check on them.” Sharon pulled the curtain aside and immediately burst out laughing. “For f*%k’s sake … that girl’s trousers have just fallen down … oh, and so has she – quick, look.”
I put down the packet of prosciutto I was trying to open and turned to check out the scene: Cindi flat on her back, pyjama bottoms ruched around her ankles, legs spread with only a skimpy white G-string to hide her modesty.
“Oh Jesus,” I muttered.
“You can see all her breakfast,” added Sharon.
Gaz and his pals were in fits of laughter. Daz, also laughing, got out of his seat and helped Cindi back on her feet, slapping her bum before he pulled up her trousers.
“I can’t work it out,” I said.
“Work what out?” said Sharon.
“They’ve only had a few glasses of champagne.”
“Yeah, right, and the rest: they’ve also been drinking their own duty-free – I saw one of them opening a bottle earlier, and I told them to put it away.”
“Mmm, what a bloody pain,” I said. “Let’s get them fed – maybe that’ll help.”
Cindi didn’t like prosciutto. “I can’t eat raw bacon,” she complained, eyes rolling. She picked at the fillet of poached salmon and refused to touch her pecan tart and custard, whining, “I’ll never get into my dress.”
Daz insisted on calling me “Treacle” and demanded more champagne. Somewhere between dessert and the cheeseboard, all hell broke loose. I was serving passengers towards the front of the cabin when I heard the commotion.
“Oi, Cindi,” hollered a lad called Ad – short for Adrian, apparently. “Why don’t you get your minge out again. We could do with a laugh.”
“Yeah, go on Cinds,” piped Gaz, “Show us your minge.”
“Nothing you ain’t seen before, eh, Gaz,” said Ad.
Daz dropped the piece of Stilton he was about to devour and turned to face his best man. The cabin fell silent. Daz stared Gaz in the eye, nostrils flaring, lips pursed in fury.
“What the f*%k is Ad talking about, Gaz?”
Gaz tried to laugh it off.
“Don’t be daft, mate,” he said, “Ad’s pulling your leg … he didn’t …”
“‘Nothing you ain’t seen before,’” he said. “You’ve been with my bird, haven’t you. My best man – how could you?”
“Look, calm down, mate,” said Gaz. “It was years ago. It didn’t mean anything.”
But Daz was already clambering over his seat, raining blows on Gaz’s head while Cindi sobbed.
Daz jumped on top of Gaz, dragged him to the floor, where the pair wrestled in a drunken tangle of limbs. Blood spilled from Gaz’s mouth following a blow from Daz’s ringed fist. Cindi jumped on top of the fighting pair, trying to prise them apart as the other passengers watched in horror.
I dashed back into the galley. “Quick, get the guys from the back galley to bring the restraint kit,” I said to Sharon, “We might need the handcuffs.”
It took four of us to restrain them. Cindi left the fight of her own accord and returned to her seat – she wasn’t achieving anything, anyway.
We asked them a series of routine questions, and, when they didn’t answer, we pounced on the brawling men, two of us applying short, sharp shocks to pressure points on their necks while two stewards cuffed their hands behind their backs. Then we sat them down away from each other, cuffing their tied hands to their seats amid a tirade of foul-mouthed insults.
Cindi wept, hiccuped and gurgled. Then she projectile vomited, a fountain of acrid champagne mixed with slithers of partly digested poached salmon splattering the floor and the seat in front of her, soaking her pyjamas and marinating her frizzy hair.
“I don’t feel well,” she moaned, retching again.
“Serves you right, you slag,” said Daz.
I gave Cindi a fresh sleep suit and let her use the bathroom to clean herself up. Fortunately, exhaustion overwhelmed the inebriated mob and, one by one, they fell asleep, the bride-no-longer-to-be clutching a sick bag, the cheated groom snoring and the reviled best man sporting a black eye and busted lip.
The quickie Vegas wedding was over before it began.
Edited extract from Cabin Fever: The Sizzling Secrets of a Virgin Air Hostess by Mandy Smith, published by Nero and available in bookshops now.