The primary role of Cabin Crew onboard any aircraft around the world is safety. Forget your life jackets, safety cards, oxygen masks and seatbelts; should the proverbial hit the fan, we are the only piece of safety equipment passengers will need to help them off that aircraft.
Cabin crew, no matter what airline they work for, are trained to the highest standards in emergency and standard operating procedures and of course first aid. What does differ from airline to airline is the inflight service. From the low-cost carriers whose crews provide a buy-onboard service, to the ‘legacy’ airlines with their first, business and premium cabins, offering a vast array of fine dining, endless free drinks and countless other perks to entice you to fly with them.
One of the most enticing things about working in aviation is its variation. You can start your day in a grey and gloomy London and end up on a beach in the Bahamas. Shopping in New York, partying in Paris or sight-seeing in San Francisco. Every day there’s something new and exciting to look forward to. There’s also the people. We come in to contact with literally hundreds of different people every day, from the crew we fly with, to the ground staff we interact with and of course the passengers we carry.
To give you a taste of what it’s like to be Cabin Crew for various different airlines, I asked my lovely Trolley Dollies via social media to reveal what ‘A Day in the Life’ at their airline is like.
Thomson Airways, the worlds biggest charter airline and the third largest carrier in the UK by passengers carried, can trace its history back to 1962, when a small airline called Euravia commenced operations from London’s Luton Airport. In August 1964, Euravia became Britannia Airways and the rest, as they say, is history. Over the years the carrier grew to become one of the largest and best-loved airlines in the UK. Sadly in 2005 the iconic Britannia name and livery disappeared from the skies after the airline was re-branded as ThomsonFly; before eventually becoming the Thomson Airways we know and love today in November 2008, after merging with First Choice Airways.
The airline currently employs around 2500 cabin crew, operating across its fleet of Boeing 737, 757, 767 and its new state-of-the-art new 787 ‘DreamLiners’, for which it was the launch customer in the UK.
Here, one of my lovely Manchester based Thomson dollies talks us through their typical day.
“Our crew report times vary widely, from as early as 03:50 to as late as 22:00, so when you get your next roster it’s always interesting to see what flights you’ll be working on. Last season I operated mainly early check-ins.
First day of a run of early flights, I never sleep before the first early, but then again who really does right? Most people don’t rush to get out of bed so early in the morning, however for my job, I’m only too happy to and I love getting ready for work, uniform on, hair styled. Also not forgetting to double-check everything is ready in the crew bag before I leave for the long journey to Manchester Airport. It’s best to learn which is the best way to get from the parking area to the terminal if you’re based there, i.e. which bus goes to which terminal as several airlines staff use the staff west parking area. This isn’t only for your benefit, but once people see you in uniform, you’ll be inundated with questions on which bus goes where and how frequent they are, in fact any question you can think of.
After making it from my car to the terminal, the first port of call is the crew room. Once there I store my crew bag in the storage area and take a look in my drop file (pigeon-hole) for anything from the base managers or other crew members. After that’s done I log onto my crew emails and crew portal to check for any safety notices or operational changes. Then I’ll complete the relevant paperwork for the flights, both inbound and outbound.
Once all the crew have arrived at the briefing table we take part in a pre flight brief. The brief is led by the cabin manager, who will cover all the information about the flight and ask each crew member two questions, one on safety, the other on first aid in order to check our safety and medical knowledge is maintained to the highest standards. We then go through what will happen onboard the flight such as, who’s operating which position and the services we will complete onboard.
Once the brief is done and the aircraft has arrived on stand we make our way to security and down to the aircraft. Thomson Airways operates an all Boeing fleet. For me it could either be one of our 737-800, 757-200 or 767-300ER series aircraft.
Once onboard we stow our bags in our crew stations and carry out our stringent security checks. This involves checking the overhead lockers, seat pockets, toilets and various secret compartments in the galleys. Once the safety checks have been completed and passed on to the cabin manager, the seat pockets have been redressed with neat eatery guides, safety cards and Inflight magazines, we begin boarding our passengers. During boarding we great each passenger individually, show them to their seats, ensure their hand luggage is correctly stowed, seatbelt is fastened and offer any assistance when they need it. Once the doors are closed and the safety demo has been completed, or video, depending what aircraft we are on, we will complete a cabin secure check, then it’s cleared for take-off!
After we have roared into the skies over the north-west of England, we pass through the cabin to take any hot food orders. Long haul flights and Cape Verde’s operate differently, as they are fully catered with passenger meals. Once the food is cooking in the oven we will go out in the cabin and complete a drinks and snacks service. Dependant on the destination this can either take 15 minutes or an hour! Either way the service can be enjoyable as it gives us a chance to interact with the passengers. Once this is complete we pass through the cabin to collect any rubbish. The next service will be the duty-free and then before you know it we get the announcement ‘Cabin crew prepare for landing’.
Time really does fly and soon we have landed at our destination. We have a one hour turnaround our short-mid haul flights. Dependant on which aircraft we are operating on, it can sometimes take slightly longer for the larger aircraft such as the B767. During this time we disembark the current passengers, the cleaners then board and clean the cabin, remove the rubbish, clean the toilets. We then check the seat pockets and complete another security check like we did at Manchester. Then it’s time to board our new passengers and do it all over again and take them back to Manchester”.
A massive thank you to the crew member, who wrote their Thomson story.
If you would like to be part of our Confessions of a Trolley Dolly ‘A Day in the Life’ series then please send me an email with your story to confessionsofatrolleydolly@
©by Dan Air.