2017, what a year it’s been.
America’s Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un continue to act like a couple of silly school children, albeit silly school children in charge of nuclear weapons. There have been horrific terrorist attacks in the UK and across the globe. One of the world’s most eligible bachelors Prince Harry, is officially off the market – much to the dismay of girls and gays dreaming of becoming a princess. Everyone is sick to death of Brexit, Brexit and more bloody Brexit and Australia finally agreed to legalize same sex marriage.
In our aviation world we’ve lost some iconic airlines, airlines which have graced our skies for years; while also welcoming new ones hoping to fill their void. Iconic aircraft have taken their final flights. There has been IT “glitches” at British Airways, endless cancellations at Ryanair, countless disruptive passenger incidents and carriers fighting for survival in this cut-throat industry.
Indeed our aviation world has never been far from the headlines, usually for all the wrong reasons.
So sit back as we take you through some of the highs and lows of 2017.
Back in January I asked my lovely Dollies to tell me some of their true cabin crew confessions, What they REALLY get up to down-route and on board. And tell me they did, from eye drops in annoying pilots drinks and meals – rendering them incapacitated, to playing Russian roulette with beer cans and passengers.
“I didn’t like a passenger very much. He’d been rude from the moment he boarded. So, I switched his inflight entertainment off every 10 minutes until we landed. And what a shame…it was a full flight with no spare seats”
“I once had a VERY persistent guy who kept trying to get my phone number. Instead he ended up with one of the male crew members and had already text by the time we arrived at our hotel. Funniest conversation ever as we wound the unsuspecting and rather creepy gent up”
“I was dead-heading on a live flight. I was sitting on an aisle seat. This kid kept running up and down the aisle, so I just happened to stick out my foot at just the right moment and he went flying. He got up and went back to his seat and remained there for the rest of the flight much to the relief of those sat round”
For more ‘Confessions, of Trolley Dollies’ click here.
In our ‘Style in the Aisles’ we’ve seen glamorous new uniforms from Air Canada, FlyDubai, Eva Air and Loganair.
Air Canada was first to unveil a new ensemble back in February to coincide with their new livery. The outfits combine an international flair with a contemporary and timeless style and were designed by Vancouver born fashion designer Christopher Bates.
flydubai teamed up with A. Ronai LLC, to create their new look, it’s first redesign since launching in 2009. The new uniform will be worn by more than 2,500 staff across the network; including Pilots, Cabin Crew, Training, Engineering and Maintenance staff as well as members of staff at the airport and flydubai Travel Shops.
On August 24, 2017, Taiwanese carrier Eva Air unveiled its stunning new staff uniforms, created by fashion house Shiatzy Chen. Replacing the current outfits introduced in 2003, the uniforms were showcased at a special retirement ceremony for the carriers Boeing 747-400 aircraft.
But one of my favourite new uniforms came from Scottish airline Loganair who, after 23 years of operating as a franchise carrier, finally began operating independently. To celebrate this milestone in their history they teamed up with Paisley based Matrix Uniforms to create a distinctive new image for its flight and cabin crew, ground staff and engineers. This included stunning tartan dresses, jackets, wraps and waistcoats, tartan ties for pilots and a range of red and black outfits including weatherproof garments for ground staff and engineers.
Indeed, so popular was the Loganair uniform that the airline even made it on to our ‘Style in the Aisles Top Ten Cabin Crew Uniforms of 2017′ our annual look at some of the finest flight attendant fashion from around the world. To find out the other airlines which made the list click here.
But from the glamour and glitz to the reality of our job. This year flight attendants have hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons. As if our role wasn’t sometimes difficult enough, we now live in an age where passengers, armed with their phone cameras, are filming every minuscule incident and sharing it across social media. Before long said video goes viral and EVERYONE has an opinion on a poor quality, few minute long clip.
On April 9, 2017 a “disruptive and belligerent” (as described by United CEO Oscar Munoz), 69-year old Asian man was dragged off an overbooked United Airlines flight. Video footage quickly emerged from inside the plane of Mr David Dao being forcibly removed from his seat before being dragged down the aisle, visibly injured and utterly humiliated. It is difficult to watch.
Then on April 21, all hell broke loose on board American Airlines flight AA591 from San Francisco to Dallas Fort Worth when a crew member (once again doing their job), was vilified after a fight almost broke out between the crew member and a passenger over the removal of a push-chair. Once again the whole sorry scene was caught on camera.
Following these incidents and the vilification of us cabin crew I wrote ‘Now, More Than Ever We Trolley Dollies Must Stick Together’ I received quite a backlash over the piece – with people telling me to go fuck myself, saying I was a disgrace to our role, that I should find myself another job and calling me a dictator – all for defending my cabin crew colleagues, something I will ALWAYS do.
Following all the negative press on July 24 we celebrated our first annual ‘Angels of the Sky Memorial Day’. Ever since I created Confessions of a Trolley Dolly I have wanted to show the world that Cabin Crew are more than just the boys and girls in the glamorous uniforms, who serve you tea and coffee, stow your luggage, serve you meals, sell scratch cards and wave our arms about doing the safety demonstration. We are there for your safety. We are the most important safety feature on-board any aircraft.
Not only was this a day to celebrate heroes such as Uli Derickson, Dorothy Kelly and Ruth Carol Taylor, it was also a day to celebrate each and every one of us crew, who put on our uniforms every day, go out and do our job to the best of our abilities; despite airlines eroding our terms and conditions, the threat of terrorism and the constant rise in disruptive passenger incidents. We too are heroes, each and every one of us and ‘Angels of the Sky‘ was created for us too. Stay tuned for more on our 2018 memorial day.
Ryanair continued to be portrayed as the world’s worst airline for both its passengers and staff. A leaked letter to the Guardian newspaper revealed that crew had been told they could face “disciplinary proceedings” and have their working hours forcibly changed unless they sell more perfume and scratch-cards. One crew member said: “We have targets including duty-free, scratchcards and food. If we didn’t sell enough we have to explain why. When you’re bottom of the monthly sales chart you get a letter asking you to improve your performance or they’ll reconsider your position”.
But for once I actually agreed with Michael O’Leary, after he publicly stated that drunken airline passengers pose a threat to safety. In an interview he said, “Our challenge is – we have passengers, particularly during flight delays, stuck in airport bars drinking six, eight, 10 pints. They get on board, particularly in groups, and they’re rowdy and they’re a threat to safety. That needs to be regulated. Nobody wants to be on a flight with a couple of drunks on board creating trouble”. The airline is calling for boarding passes to be marked each time the holder buys a drink. But it is unclear how it would work for passengers whose boarding passes are on their mobile devices.
As I’m sure you are aware, disruptive passenger incidents are something I feel VERY passionately about and something I will continue to campaign about. On August 14, I was very proud to feature and work with the producers and research team of BBC Panorama on a programme – ‘Plane Drunk’ regarding alcohol fuelled disruptive airline passengers. Hopefully by raising awareness of this growing issue we may finally begin to see some changes.
One of the saddest parts of this year was the demise of Air Berlin and of course our very own Iconic and much-loved Monarch Airlines.
The last flight of Germany’s second largest airline landed at Berlin Tegel at 23:45 on the night of October 29. The airline has now been carved up between Lufthansa and easyJet, with yet another iconic name being consigned to the history books after almost 40 years of operations.
Just a few weeks earlier, on the morning of October 2, Monarch airlines announced they had ceased trading, just a few months before its fiftieth anniversary. The outpouring of grief in the UK was incredible and it’s loss was a huge blow, both to its incredible staff and the airlines loyal passengers. Here at Confessions of a Trolley Dolly we put together a special video with pictures sent in from its wonderful staff.
Although we lost some incredible airlines we also gained some new ones too. IAG launched its low-cost, long haul subsidiary ‘Level’ in June while Air France’s new low-cost arm ‘Joon’ – aimed at millennials – took to the skies on December 1.
Keeping the ‘British Midland/bmi’ name alive, bmi Regional celebrated five years of independence on November 30th – congratulations and here’s to many more years!
While airline’s came and went, those that remain face a constant battle to survive. In May, Etihad removed its backing to struggling Alitalia, after the carriers board asked to be put under special administration. Alitalia then went on to file for bankruptcy protection while searching for a suitable buyer. But in true Italian style – showing the world how to do bankruptcy properly – the airline announced at the end of November that Italian designer Alberta Ferretti would be re-designing its staff uniform, its second redesign in as many years.
British Airways has had its fair share of woes this year too. In May a massive IT ‘glitch’….more like IT disaster, caused worldwide disruption for thousands of passengers just in time for the bank holiday get away. More than 1,000 flights were affected. In August a similar event at Heathrow and Gatwick, caused even more bad press. And it’s not just BA’s passengers who were unhappy. In August the airlines ‘Mixed Fleet’ cabin crew went on strike over their pay and conditions.
A number of iconic aircraft were also retired around the globe during the year. Swiss International Airlines and Brussels Airline’s retired their Avro RJ fleets this year. According to Brussels, the ‘Jumbolino’ was part of their fleet for 15 years and the 32 aircraft in the fleet transported 31.5 million passengers over the course of 606,000 flights to 89 destinations.
KLM ordered its first Fokker aircraft in 1920, marking the start of a shared history that would last until October 28 2017 when the airline retired its last F70. Over the years KLM has purchased more than 160 Fokkers and as part of the farewell, the airline has painted a portrait of Anthony Fokker on a KLM hanger near Schiphol Airport, where Fokker once delivered newly built planes to airlines. The same portrait also adorned the last F70 which operated flight KL1070 from London Heathrow. Although the manufacturer itself went bankrupt in 1996, its aircraft have remained tireless workhorses for KLM and its memory will live on forever.
But of course it was the retirement of the incredible Boeing 747 ‘Jumbo Jet’ in America by United Airlines in November and Delta Airlines in December, that really grabbed everyone’s attention. The ‘Queen of the Skies’ was of course designed and built in the US. It was a game changing aircraft, taller than a six-story building, carrying enough fuel to power a small car round the globe 36 times. It remains one of the most recognisable planes in the world, with only Concorde able to match its iconic stature.
Following the terrible terrorist attack at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester back in May, two of the cities biggest airlines went all out to show their support to the city and those affected. Thomas Cook painted one of their aircraft in a special ‘I ❤️ MCR’ livery.
y, while one ‘Queen of the Skies’ is retired, another refuses to hang up her wings. The formidable Bette Nash, 82 years young, has been an American Airlines flight attendant for an incredible 60 years and on November 3 was honoured by her airline in a special celebration of her career.
“Bette has taken care of millions of our customers, around the world, for the past six decades” said American’s Chairman and CEO, Doug Parker. “It’s the simple things that she does each day, like greet customers with a warm smile, friendly hello and thanking them for their business that has added to her legacy and ability to create an airline that customers want to fly”.<<<<<<<<<
een the aviation industry change dramatically over the decades. She began flying in 1957 when Dwight Eisenhower was president, flight tickets cost $12 and tickets required no reservation. Bette fondly remembers this era as aviation’s golden age when she flew with the Kennedys and served lobster and carved meats on platters.
n’s most senior flight attendant, Bette can fly any route she’d like. Since 1961 Bette has often chosen to fly the shuttle route between Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Boston taking customers back and forth all day.
Over the years, Bette has made several lasting relationships with customers on board the shuttle that have become like family. Simon Johnson flies the shuttle weekly and has done so since 2008. “I think what is most amazing and impressive about Bette is the way she warms up the entire aircraft. You walk on, you meet her, she knows your name, she remembers the conversation that she was having with you yesterday or last week or a month ago”, he said.
Bette and a few of her colleagues who work together regularly are affectionately known as the “Nash-Dash.” Instead of making a mad-dash between Washington D.C. and Boston, customers aboard Bette’s flight make the Nash-Dash.
“Bette has always looked pristine” remembered fellow Washington-based flight attendant Helen Waters. “When Bette started flight attendants had to wear gloves, and she used to bring two pairs, just in case one got dirty while working”.< em>“I’m so pleased to be here in the terminal where I decided I wanted to be a flight attendant, and to be here celebrating my 60th anniversary still wanting to be a flight attendant means the world to me”, commented Nash. “My favorite part of flying over the years has been greeting my passengers as they board and deplane. People really are fascinating and it’s truly been a joy”. What an incredible woman.
So there we have it, our 2017 review. Here’s to 2018 lets hope it’s a great one for us all!