Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sao Paulo in December..

One good thing about being Junior is that during the month of December I could hold a line that I would normally hold. I held 5 day Sao Paulo trips. This trip consists of working the red eye from MIA-GRU leaving at 8pm and arriving into GRU around 7am... I usually get to the hotel, take a shower, turn on the computer, read a little and go to sleep for about 5-6 hours. I try to wake up and workout. Afterwards I would usually go to dinner w/ a crew member or two... The crews I've been with have been great! Juliette from Boston (another commuter...) has made the trip fun going out to eat, shopping, exploring. One trip, Nick, Diego, Jenny and I went to dinner and then walked along Paulista... looking a the lights. This current trip is my Christmas or Feliz Natal trip. Everyone is in great spirits... and enjoying the holidays... Feliz Natal!!!

Tee visits SJO!!!

One of my dear friends finally got a SJO layover and so J and I had to show her a little of CR. We picked her up from SJO ( I too was on a layover.. just a different trip) and drove out to the beach. We stopped on the way to look at some houses, buy some orchids, and then onto our yummy seafood dinner at Leta's... We had lobster, jumbo shrimp, fish, veggies, and rice. Oh.. we ate so much! It was so much fun to have Tee there!!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

AA SJO Layover

I had the great fortune to hold SJO 2 day trips in November and towards the end of the month almost the entire crew decided to visit La Paz Waterfall Gardens. We ended up having 5 f/a's and 2 pilots. J picked us up from the airport and we went straight there. After eating a nice buffet lunch we started exploring! It was beautiful and even more fun to share it with some friends! I took MANY pics! After getting back to the hotel... a few of us decided to go for Sushi... A great Layover~

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Accounts from Crew Members in Mumbai...

I have paid very close attention to the attacks in Mumbai. I find it very sad and unnerving to say the least that at no time are you 'really' safe. I do believe that our Heavenly Father is there to watch over and help us in situations as he did for these people...

From a NWA flight attendant:

For those of you who don't know, I was on a layover at the Oberoi
> Trident hotel in Mumbai when the attacks occurred there last Wednesday
> night. Some of my memory of some of this is sketchy but here's what I
> remember.
> Had a great, uneventful layover...the usual, massage, lunch at Trishna
> etc. Napped from about six pm to 9 pm. I received my 9:50 pm wakeup
> call from reception, reminding me of my 10:50 pm pickup time. I left
> my room for the lobby about 10:35 and saw one of my flight attendants
> standing at the elevator bank. He said the elevators for some reason
> weren't working and that his calls from the house phone adjacent to
> them was going unanswered. My initial reaction was Oh God, am I going
> to have to carry all my bags down stairs??? I was heading back to my
> room to try calling from my room's phone when we heard a tremendo us
> explosion that shook the building. We were on the 18th floor, and
> unaware of what was happening in the lobby and outside the hotel. I
> ran to my room and dialed reception, and again, no answer. I went
> back out into the hallway to see what we were going to decide to do
> when we heard another huge explosion followed by very loud screams.
> At first I
> thought that an elevator had fallen as the screams seemed to come from
> the elevator shafts. Suddenly doors in the hallway were opening and
> heads were sticking out wondering what was going on. All of a sudden
> a young woman comes out and starts banging on other doors in the
> hallway screaming that the hotel was being attacked. Apparently she
> saw it on
> TV. My coworker and I ran into my room and turned on the television
> and on one of the local channels it was being reported that there were
> "firings" outside of some hotels. It was running across the bottom of
> the screen but the TV still had regular programming on. I wasn't sure
> what they meant by firings, but I couldn't help but wonder if that is
> what the explosions were. Everyone was confused about what to do, but
> my coworker said he was going to go down the stairway adjacent to the
> elevators to see if it was safe to get out. He was turned back by
> hotel staff several flights down. By this time I had that hall crowd
> of people in my room watching the news on TV that attacks were being
> carried out at several locations in the city. All of a sudden one of
> the women who was a Lufthansa flight attendant got a call on her PDA
> and screamed that the hotel was on fire and we had to get out.
> Although we didn't know it at the time, it was actually the Taj Hotel
> on fire. But we decided to head down the stairs. Instinctively, I
> grabbed my passport, crew badge, wallet, and cash, and locked my
> luggage in my room. Some of the women were crying but it was orderly
> going down. Strangely nobody from above followed the 16 of us. We
> made it to the pool level which is on the rooftop of the third floor,
> but the all the glass doors to the outside areas were locked. That
> floor also has banquet and meeting rooms and we found all the doors
> locked. Inside the ladies room the towels are cloth, so we grabbed a
> bunch of them and wet them in case we had to breathe through smoke.
> But we hadn't smelled any if the hotel was indeed on fire. We were
> trying to figure out where to go at that point when we encountered a
> hotel security guard. He WHISPERED (which began to scare me even
> more) for us to stay there as there was an "incident" in the lobby.
> We cut through a linen tied to the insides of large bronze handles of
> the doors to one of the banquet rooms. He to
> ld us to be very very quiet, and to stay there until someone came to
> get us. He also told us to stay on the floor. We were in that room
> for over an hour, and several of the Lufthansa crewmembers with us had
> PDA's, and were getting information from outside sources, so we
> learned the situation was not good. Eventually hiding in the dark
> there, we barricaded the door with
> a large table and waited.....then we heard voices. My heart I swear
> stopped for a few seconds. We were all on the floor holding hands,
> praying, some were crying softly etc.... Turned out to be that same
> security man. He was like he was sent from heaven. He said there
> were men here to help us evacuate. There were about a half dozen guys
> in camo with large automatic rifles. We were then led through a long
> set of offices, storage areas etc, until eventually we came out into a
> mezzanine level in the lobby through the hotel's business center.
> There was a Van Cleef and Arpels store and a Brioni mens clothing
> store
> and all the windows were shattered, as were all the windows to the
> outside. Apparently grenades had been thrown in some lobby areas.
> There was glass EVERYWHERE! They told us to stay closely together,
> and QUIETLY but quickly follow them. But every time we encountered a
> turn in the hallway, or an open area, they halted us and the military
> guys aimed their rifles in all directions. We had to descend a large
> staircase into the open main lobby of the hotel, and RUN past the
> front desk, the concierge, and out the main doors. There was not ONE
> window intact, there was blood everywhere, and the restaurant called
> Opium Den next to the elevators had at least a dozen bullet holes in
> the glass. Apparently several people were killed there. Everywhere
> we stepped there was glass.....on the furniture, the carpeting, the
> marble floors...everywhere. There were also NO people....anywhere.
> The huge glass doors to the main entrance were reduced to about six
> inches deep of glass pieces similar to a windshield break. It wasn't
> like sheet glass. It was weird.So we didn't have to open any doors to
> get out.
> We were halted in the entrance area and the rifle men repositioned.
> That was perhaps the most terrifying part. Not knowing where the bad
> guys with guns and grenades were, or if we were going to get shot from
> someplace or somebody that as hiding. We ran across the street and up
> about three blocks to a movie theater complex's parking ramp where we
> were in the company of several hundred people....guests and hotel
> staff both. We got there at around 12:30-1:00 am. We found our two
> first officers, and one of them had an international use cell phone
> that ended up being our lifeline. We were on the phone with the state
> department, headquarters in MSP, and several others so our exact
> location could be known and monitored. Since the whole area had been
> cordoned off, there was no traffic movement so we ended up there until
> dawn, when after a very confusing and chaotic shifting of groups, we
> finally got a private bus company to shuttle us from outside the
> locked-down area to a destination which changed three times enroute.
> It was to a hotel near the airport where we eventually met up with the
> crew that brought our outbound plane "in". It was pretty much carte
> blanche with meals, expenses, and phone calls to family, etc.
> Exhaustion was setting in, as were emotions, and I didn't sleep that
> whole day but a shower made all the difference. EVERY sound outside
> my room sent the adrenaline pumping. At that point we were missing
> flight attendant Daryl Jones, and our captain, Tom Cook. The state
> dept. assured us they were in contact with them every half hour even
> though they were still trapped inside the beroi. About 5:30 pm, we
> got calls saying they were evacuating us out of India, and to be in
> the lobby at 6:05 pm. We finally took off without Tom and Daryl at 8
> pm, and landed in Amsterdam at around 3:30 am. It is about a nine
> hour flight, but I slept the whole way. We supposedly had 15 people
> in coach and only WE were seated in first class. Thank God those
> seats lie flat. We were met in Amsterdam by several KLM managers,
> grief counselors, and clergy of about six different faiths. That was
> good, as it turned out, one of our flight attendants was in the lobby
> when the shootings took place and saw several people killed. nother
> had actually called an elevator to her floor and found it empty, but
> with a pool of blood on the floor, so she ran back to her oom. We
> were all given emergency clothing kits of underwear, socks, and KLM
> sweatshirt and sweatpants, along with amenity kits of basic sundries,
> at least to get us home. Since we were given the option of staying in
> Amsterdam to rest, counsel, have clothing purchased for us, or
> whatever, and fly home the next day, or to continue on to our home
> cities. Out of the nine of MY crewmembers, and the 11 crewmembers who
> landed in Mumbai about the time this started, only two chose to stay.
> They also said a large group of reporters was waiting for us to exit,
> so we were sent off the property a different way, to a hotel nearby
> for a four hour layover until the first flight to Detroit departed,
> thank God. I was OUT that entire flight as well. A glass of wine and
> a xanax works wonders! We were then met in Detroit by several NWA
> senior management personnel and Employee Assistance Program
> psychologists. We were quickly and quietly expedited through customs
> and immigration and offered the chance to talk to anybody we wished,
> but my flight was leaving for Milwaukee in 40 minutes so I had to
> decline. Turns out that crew to Milwaukee had been told of my
> presence and they went out of their way to make me comfortable, as did
> the crews of every flight that got me home. As a matter of fact, I
> have never seen such kindness and compassion extended to us, like it
> was by everybody we encountered, from hotel staffs to Airport and
> airline personnel. It was truly extraordinary. Some processed it
> differently, and at different times, but I finally broke when I
> learned that Daryl and Tom had finally been released unharmed and were
> preparing to board a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt before catching the
> NWA flight to Detroit from there. We left Mumbai with little more
> than the clothes on our backs, but Detroit inflight has been in touch,
> and they said they will replace EVERYTHING we lost, and at full
> monetary value, no questions asked, or receipts required. They have
> also dropped most of my December schedule with pay. I lost my
> TravelPro luggage, garment bag, laptop, cell phone, ipod, Nikon
> camera, skype phone. clothing, leather coat, uniform pieces etc, but
> I came out of there unharmed, and with my LIFE, which is what mattered
> most. Since I sat in row 1 on my flight to Milwaukee, I was first
> off the plane. Jimean met me at the end of the jetway and burst into
> tears, which turned on the water for me too. Then the gate agent
> started in, and I think everybody in the gate area waiting to depart
> was wondering what the hell had just happened. lol It was only when
> Jimean offered up "let me help you with your bags" (I had ONE small
> plastic bag with a handle), did the laughter emerge through the tears.
> Outside of security in Milwaukee we were met by Pamela and Larry, and
> Vicky and Bob. I wanted to get home and up to the farm to be with
> Keith, but I agreed, thankfully to stop over at Amelia's by the
> airport for a bloody mary. MAN, that tasted good! Special thanks go
> out to you guys......that small gesture did NOT go unappreciated! So
> tonight I'm able to finally sit here at my desktop PC and finally get
> back to you. Thanks for understanding.

This is the story of a very lucky Canadian, Jonathan Erlich, who
escaped from the Oberoi hotel just as the attacks began. He was seen
on both Canadian and US TV (CNN)during the last few days. Harv

Hey guys.

Got all your notes. Thank you. I'm ok. A little shaky to be honest but
really just happy to be here. I can't thank you enough for your notes.
You have no idea what the mean to me. Hope to see and speak to you
all soon.

I wrote the following on the plane.

It's 3.33 am Thursday Nov 27th. And I am writing this from Jet Airways
flight 0227, First leg of the Mumbai – Brussels - Toronto –
Vancouver journey . It is a stream of "adrenaline" piece. I apologize in
advance for the grammatical errors. But I wanted it raw and unedited.

First, some context.

I have always been truly blessed. Lucky to be born to the most love a
child could ever wish for. Luck to be born into a family that prided itself on
teaching me how to be a man. Lucky to have been protected and
sheltered by three strong, decent brothers. Lucky to have found and married the
kindest heart on the face of the earth. Lucky to be blessed beyond blessed
with four healthy, beautiful children. Lucky to have wonderful friends who
tolerate my idiosyncrasies.

Tonight, these blessings, these gifts of love and life bestowed upon me,
this incredible good fortune, saved my life. And I honestly don't
know why.

The details.

I am in Mumbai on business. I'm staying at the Trident hotel. It's
sister hotel, the Oberai, is right next-door and attached by a small walkway.

I had dinner by myself in the Oberai lobby after some late meetings.

I retired upstairs to my room. About 10min later my colleague, Alex
Chamerlin, text-ed asking me to join him and his friend in the Oberai
lounge for a drink. I started to make my way out the door but decided that I
was really too tired. I had a 7am flight, and needed to be up at 5. Rest
beckoned. I closed the light, got into bed and quickly fell asleep.
Lucky life-saving decision number 1.

About 1hr later there was knock at my door. A few seconds later, the
doorbell rang (they have doorbells for hotel rooms here – who'da
thunk?). I thought – who the hell is knocking at my door? Turn down service? This
late? Forget it. So I just lay there and hoped they would go away. Lucky
life-saving decision number 2.

Five minutes later I heard and felt a huge bang. I got up and went to
look out the window. A huge cloud of grey smoke billowed up from the road
I thought. Fireworks? I didn't see anyone milling about so knew
something wasn't right. I started to walk to the light switch when - BANG –
another huge explosion shook the entire hotel.

Oh XXX I thought. Is that what I think this is? I opened the door to the
hallway. A few people were already outside.

I heard the word "bomb".

Oh XXX. Oh XXXX I thought.

I'd like to tell you that I calmly collected my myself and my things and
proceeded to the exits.

I didn't. An adrenaline explosion erupted inside me and almost lifted me
off the floor. And I began to move. Really move.

I went back inside, quickly packed my stuff and went back into the hall.

I ran to the emergency exit and started making my way down the stairs
(I was on the 18th floor).

There were a few people in the stairwell. I was flying by them. I
swear I could have run a marathon in 2hrs. I felt like pure energy.

About halfway down, I called my friend Mark, told him what had
happened and asked him to get me a flight – any flight – the hell out of Mumbai.

I got to the lobby level. There was a crowd of people in the corridor.
No one moving. No one doing anything. No hotel staff. No security

XXXX I thought. We are sitting ducks.

I decided to get out of there. First, into the lobby.

I stepped through the door into the silent lobby. My first sight was
a blood soaked plastic bag and bloody footsteps leading into the reception
area. I proceeded forward. The windows were shattered and glass was everywhere.
There wasn't a soul around.

Bad decision, I thought. I quickly retreated to the corridor. The
crowd of people had grown.

We've got to get out of here I yelled. Let's go.

I looked around for the emergency exit and started running towards it.

I made my way through the bowels of the hotel and out into a dark
alley. It was empty and silent. I looked to my left and about 100m away saw a few
security guards milling about.

Run they screamed. I began to move toward them.

I reached the main street and was immediately swept up into the Indian
throngs (for those who have been to Mumbai, you know what I mean).
People everywhere. But they were all eerily quiet. No one was talking.
No car horns. Nothing.

I started yelling "airport airport".

Some one (a hotel cook I believe) grabbed me and my bag and threw me
in a rusty mini-cab.

As I sped away, I didn't see a single police car nor hear a single
Just the sound of this shit-box car speeding down the deserted road.

Traffic was stop and go. I made it to the airport in about 1hr, cleared
customs and buried myself in a corner of a packed departure lounge,
called my wife, called my parents and brothers and started emailing those
friends who knew I was in Mumbai.

Sadly, Alex - my colleague who texted me for a drink – and his
friend were not so lucky. The terrorists stormed into the lobby bar and killed
several people. They took Alex and his friend hostage and started to march
them up to the roof of the hotel.

About half way up, Alex managed to escape (he ducked through an open
door and hid) but his friend was caught. And as I write this, that poor
man is still on the roof of the Oberai.

Alex is safe but as expected, extremely worried about his friend.

I'm telling you right now. If I decided to meet Alex for that drink
tonight I'd either be dead, a hostage on the roof of a building 30 hours away
from everyone I love or - if I had the balls of Alex – a
stupid-but-lucky-to-be-alive jerk.
And remember that knock/ring at my door? Well, I subsequently learned
that the first thing the terrorists did was get the names and room numbers of
western guests. They then went to the rooms to find them.
Ehrlich, with an E, room 1820.
I'll bet my entire life savings that they were the knock at my door.

Thank god for jet lag.
Thank god for "cranky tired Jonny" (as many of my friends and family
know so well) that compelled to get into and stay in bed.
Thank god for being on the 18th floor.
Thank god for the kind kind people of Mumbai of helped me tonight. The
wonderfully kind hotel staff. That cook. My cab driver who constantly
said "relaxation" "relaxation" "I help" and who kept me in the cab when we
hit a particularly gnarly traffic jam and i wanted to get out and walk. And
for other people in traffic who, upon hearing from my own cab driver that
I was at the Oberai, literally risked life and limb to stop traffic to let
us get by (as again, only those who have been to Mumbai can truly appreciate).
Mumbai is a tragically beautiful place. Incredibly sad. But I am
convinced that its inhabitants are definitely children of some troubled but
immensely soulfully god.
I'm sitting on plane (upgraded to first class….see, told you I'm
lucky ☺).
Just had the best tasting bowl of corn flakes I've ever had in my life.
Hennessey coursing through my veins. Concentration starting to loosen
and sleep beginning to creep onto my horizon.
I still feel a bit numb. But mostly I feel like I've just watched a
really really bad movie staring me. Because right now, it all doesn't feel
Maybe a few hours of CNN will knock me into reality. But the truth is
numb is fine with me for a while. If I do end up thinking about the what
if's, I don't really want to do that until I'm much much closer to home. And
I have 30 more hours of travel time to go. But before I sign off, let me say this.

The people who did this have no souls. They have no hearts. They are
simply the living manifestation of evil and they only know killing and murder.
We – all of us - need to understand that. Their target tonight was
first and foremost Americans. Why? Because they fear everything that America
stands for. They fear hope and change and freedom and peace. Let's
make no mistake; they would have shot me and my children point blank tonight
without a moment's hesitation. Most of us sorta know that but sometimes we
equivocate. We can't equivocate. Not ever.
I know that I want to go back. Lay some flowers. Wrap my arms around
these people. Say thank you. Spend some money on overpriced hotel gifts and
tip well. And generally give the bastards who did this the big fuck you
and show
them that I am not – I repeat not – afraid of them.

But first I need to go squeeze my wife. Dry her tears. Then have her dry
mine as I hold my beautiful beautiful babies who will be
(thankfully) oblivious to all of this. Because isn't that what life is
really about?
I appreciate you taking the time to listen.

With much much love.

Jonathan Ehrlich
President & COO

T 604.453.4873
F 604.453.4871


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Help with a name...

I have been able to purchase name brand perfumes for a few months now at wholesale and non tax prices due to living in CR. I'm trying to pass on the saving to friends, family, associates and anyone else who enjoys perfume without paying retail prices. I'm at a total loss however on an name... and to keep things low cost and effective for myself and anyone making a purchase I'm right now just posting the items available on a new blog.

If you are interested in any new perfume or restocking up on your current scents... Let me know and I'll see if I can't help you! I'm not into making millions just a little so I can help pass on the saving to you. If you have friends, associates, family, strangers (j/k) that is looking for some nice scents... please let me know if I can help!

The prices I can get things for are WAY below even the price at duty free and discount stores....

Plus if you are interested in tapping into the perfume market... let me know...