2018. What a year it’s been.
Everyone in England thought football was coming home, it didn’t. The UK baked in one of the hottest summers on record, but we still moaned that it was too hot. The royals enjoyed two family weddings. Mary Poppins has returned and Theresa Mays ridiculous dancing has been immortalised in countless hilarious GIF for our endless enjoyment. Oh and we won’t bother mentioning Brexit.
It’s been a busy year in our aviation world too and as we hurtle towards 2019 we take a look back at some of the highs and lows this year has brought.
Flight Attendant fashion has once again been hitting the headlines with some major carriers unveiling their stunning new uniforms.
It all started with Alaska Airlines, who teamed up with fashion designer Luly Yang to debut a modern, West-Coast inspired, custom-designed uniform to clad the 19,000 Alaska, Virgin America and Horizon Air uniformed employees starting in late 2019. For a more detailed look at the fabulous new uniform click here.
Alaska had announced it would be unveiling a new look following its take over of Virgin America, with the final flight of the short-lived but iconic airline taking place on April 24 with Flight VX1947 from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Chris Barone, who’s been with Virgin for nine years, said that the airline was a special family. “We all look forward to coming to work,” he said. “We have the ability to wow our guests and elevate each other.” “Nobody heard of Virgin at first. To see how it grew was something to be proud of,” said his colleague, Zoe Martinho, who had been with the airline six years. “I cried a few times today,” she added, “it’s bittersweet.”
Alaska Airlines was also in the news but for all the wrong reasons in August when an airline employee stole a Bombardier Q400 aircraft at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The aircraft, belonging to Alaska’s sister carrier Horizon Air took off from the airport at 20.00 local time before crashing in to Puget Sound a short time later but not before being caught on camera by terrified onlookers as the plane performed some very out of the ordinary manoeuvres across the Seattle skies.
Turkish Airlines unveiled their stylish new uniforms in September, created by Milan-based Haute Couturier Ettore Bilotta. The design celebrates the airline’s 85 year history and will be worn by crew from the opening of the Istanbul New Airport. While Uber-glamorous, it didn’t go unnoticed that the new pieces bore a striking resemblance to the Bilotta designed uniforms for ailing Italian carrier Alitalia. Although Turkish Airlines design incorporates traditional patterns found in artisanal Turkish glassware, ceramics and calligraphy with contemporary textures and details.
And speaking of the Alitalia, they too unveiled another new uniform update, despite their continued precarious financial state. Revealed at the start of Milan Men’s Fashion week, Italian Alberta Ferretti was the chosen designer, coming less than two years after the Bilotta creation which – according to Reuters, was due to the fact that staff had complained about that uniform being too uncomfortable. A particularly noticeable detail is the new silk twill foulards and ties, along with the gros-gain ribbons that feature as part of the women’s jackets and while the carrier may not have a pot to pee in, at least the crew look incredible.
But one of the most anticipated uniform redesigns was that of Delta Airlines, three years after designer Zac Posen first announced that he would be creating the new apparel. It was the first uniform refresh the airline has had in over a decade, but it was certainly worth the wait.
Indeed, so stunning was the new Delta outfit that it made it on to this years Confessions of a Trolley Dolly ‘Style in the Aisles’ Top Ten Cabin Crew Uniforms 2018. The list also featured apparel from Norwegian, Hawaiian Airlines and Virgin Australia. Click here for the full top ten.
This year Czech Airlines (the World’s fifth oldest airline still in operation) celebrated its 95th birthday and in honour of this milestone birthday, the carrier produced a video showing the changes in cabin crew uniforms over the last 95 years.
British Airways also announced this year that they would be redesigning their iconic Julien MacDonald uniform in 2019 with the help of Saville Row Oswald Boetang OBE.
Meanwhile IAG sister airline Aer Lingus is re-enlisting the help of Irish fashion designer Louise Kennedy to re-create their uniform, 20 years after it was first introduced. Stay tuned during 2019 for all the latest on this.
He handled the heights of rock stardom as lead singer of Queen, but few are aware that Freddie Mercury actually worked as a baggage handler at Heathrow Airport. So this year to celebrate the rock legend’s birthday on September 5 and the upcoming release of Twentieth Century Fox and Regency Enterprises film ‘BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY’, the staff of British Airways and Heathrow ‘escape from reality’ to pay tribute to Freddie in spectacular fashion. Check out the video below.
As well as some stunning uniform rebranding we’ve seen a number of airlines updating their image with new liveries and cabin interiors, some slightly more successful than others.
Meridiana can trace its history back to 1964 when the airline was created as Alisarda. But in February 2018, following a restructuring by its major shareholder Qatar Airways, the airline was rebranded as Air Italy, with the new branding campaign and name change being part of an effort to target the “next generation of traveller”, with the airline “aimed at positioning itself as Italy’s leading airline”, a clear assault on Italy’s iconic flag carrier, Alitalia.
Meanwhile Lufthansa’s paint scheme update was met with a much frostier reception when it unveiled the new livery back in February, its first significant revision since 1989. Moving from its iconic yellow, blue and white colour scheme to a frankly bland and boring blue, after only a few weeks Lufthansa quietly admitted it had ‘got in wrong’. It seemed that Lufthansa felt the new blue appeared like black in poor light. To some this gave its aircraft a funereal appearance. The first aircraft (a Boeing 747-400) to be painted in the “revised” blue scheme appeared later in the year, but to be honest it’s still pretty uninspiring I think you’ll agree.
WestJet on the other hand unveiled their striking new ‘The Spirit of Canada’ livery, logo and cabin interior to coincide with arrival of its new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners in early 2019. The logo and livery update uses Bliss, giving the WestJet wordmark “a more uniform and current style, while retaining the Maple Leaf symbol in a more contemporary and bold look.” The logo also now uses a single colour to soften the regional emphasis on ‘west’, according to the carrier. There’s an updated stylized Maple Leaf on the aircraft tail and a Canadian flag at the front of the aircraft. One side of the aircraft reads “The Spirit of Canada” and on the other side, “L’esprit du Canada”. The new livery has been gradually appearing across WestJet’s fleet as new aircraft were delivered in 2018; with the Boeing 737 MAX-8 becoming the first aircraft in the new scheme in June.
While some airlines were expanding and updating, others were jetting off in to the proverbial sunset for the final time.
On October 2, Primera Air suspended flights. The Danish airline had been in operation since 2004 but only entered the consciousness of the UK travelling public over the past year with the launch of low-cost transatlantic flights from Birmingham, Stansted and Paris (CDG).
This was followed by Cypriot carrier Cobalt Air who entered administration on October 18. The airline, which was created in 2016 had expanded rapidly and was looking at filling the gap created by the demise of flay carrier Cyrpus Airways. Reports in Cypriot media outlets suggested Cobalt’s mainly Chinese backers had difficulty channelling funds to the airline, which operated with six leased Airbus aircraft.
Closer to home, Flybe announced that it had put itself up for sale in November, following years of financial woes and after issuing yet another profit warning. The airline confirmed it is talking to “a number of strategic operators” about a possible sale of the group, one of which is Virgin Atlantic, who confirmed that they were in talks over a possible take-over. FlyRed? FlyPurple? FlyVee? Only time will tell.
In September Flybe also unveiled a new ‘streamlined livery, which it said would be gradually rolled out across the carrier’s Bombardier Q400 and Embraer 175 aircraft over the next six years.
While some airlines took to the skies for the final time, others were reaching farther and wider, shrinking the globe one flight at a time.
The first ever direct flight between the UK and Australia touched down at London’s Heathrow on Sunday March 25, following a 17 hour, six-minute journey across 9,240 miles (14,875km) from Perth. Qantas flight QF9 was operated by a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner with more than 230 passengers and crew on board, marking the first commercial passenger jet journey direct between Australia and Europe and described as a “game-changer” by some in the aviation industry.
Later in the year Singapore Airlines re-took the title of operating the ‘worlds longest flight’ after re-launching flights between Singapore and New York, five years after it was cut because it had become too expensive. Flight SQ22 departed at 15:37 GMT with 150 passengers and 17 crew on October 12 operated by the airlines new state-of-the-art Airbus A350-900 ULR (ultra long-range) aircraft.
‘There’s no such thing as bad publicity’ was certainly a saying for Ryanair this year, who once again continually hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Back in February the carrier announced they would be closing their Glasgow base with the loss of 300 jobs, cutting the number of routes it operates from 23 to just three.
In August the airlines disgruntled pilots in Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands staged a 24-hour walkout over pay and conditions causing 396 flights to be cancelled. Cabin crew in Spain, Italy, Portugal, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands followed suit, also walking out for 24 hours causing around 250 flights to be cancelled.
The airline hit the headlines again when six cabin crew were picture sleeping on the floor at Malaga Airport following a number of diversions from Porto on October 14. The image was widely shared online but was later revealed to be staged by the crew, in order to demonstrate the poor working conditions at the airline. The crew were subsequently dismissed following an investigation by the airline. The ‘protest’ received mixed reactions from their colleagues but one thing is exceptionally clear, things at Ryanair need to change.
Ryanair’s crew were also bought in to disrepute in October after failing to remove a passenger from a flight after racial abuse of a woman in her 70s. The incident, on a flight from Barcelona to Stansted on Friday, was recorded by a fellow passenger and shared on social media.
But while the airlines staff have been vilified by some, their professionalism was shown in July following the ‘explosion’ of a mobile phone battery at Barcelona Airport. The aircraft was bound for Ibiza and was taxiing for take-off when the incident happened. All passengers were evacuated safely following the prompt actions of the cabin crew.
Indeed, 2018 turned out to be quite a bad year for aircraft incidents
It began back in January when Pegasus Airlines flight 8622 operating a domestic flight from Ankara to Trabzon, Turkey ran off the runway at Trabzon and partially slid down a cliff. Thanks to the quick response of the crew no one onboard was injured but the aircraft was declared a hull loss.
US-Bangla Airlines Flight 211 was a scheduled international passenger flight by US-Bangla Airlines from Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka, Bangladesh to Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal. On 12 March 2018, the aircraft serving the flight, a 78-seater Bombardier Dash 8 Q400, crashed on landing, and burst into flames. There were 67 passengers and 4 crew members on board; 52 people died, while 19 survived
On May 18 a Cubana de Aviación Boeing 737 crashed shortly after take-off from José Martí International Airport, Havana, Cuba, bound for Frank País Airport in Holguín, Cuba. Of those onboard 112 passengers perished with only one survivor.
On July 31, an AeroMexico Embraer 190 operating flight 2431 to Mexico City crashed in the Northern Mexico State of Durango after taking off in stormy weather. All 99 passengers were evacuated safely before the aircraft burst in to flames.
On September 1, 2018, Utair Flight 579, a Boeing 737-800 on a scheduled domestic flight from Moscow to Sochi, Russia, with 164 passengers and 6 crew, overran the runway and caught fire while landing at Sochi, injuring 18 occupants. One airport employee died of a heart attack.
On October 9, a Fly Jamaica Boeing 757 made an emergency landing at Cheddi Jagan International Airport, in Timehri. The aircraft, carrying 126 people, including two infants, returned after experiencing hydraulic problems. All passengers were evacuated safely.
Sadly on October 29, the 189 people onboard a Lion Air Boring 737 MAX aircraft were not so lucky, when their state-of-the-art new jet crashed in to the Java sea shortly after take off from Jakarta. The preliminary report has revealed that the air flight maintenance log showed six problems had been identified on the plane since 26 October, including errors with its airspeed and altitude information displays. Serious questions have been raised about the safety of Lion Air since the crash and more information is expected in early 2019.
December 21, 2018 also marked the 30th anniversary of the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over the small Scottish town of Lockerbie. The explosion claimed the lives of 270 souls, 259 on the 747 and 11 on the ground in Lockerbie. To mark the anniversary we put together our own tribute to ‘The Crew of Pan Am Flight 103’
These incidents simply further highlight the crucial role we cabin crew perform onboard aircraft and this why flight attendants from around the world once again celebrated our second annual ‘Angels of the Sky Memorial Day’.
I was once again overwhelmed by your continued support for this special day with so many of you sending in messages of encouragement, requests for black ribbons and your #crewfies of you proudly displaying your ribbons. Please stay tuned in the new year for much more information about our 2019 Memorial Day which will be bigger and better than this years.
Drunk and disruptive passengers have continued to cause mayhem on flights, something as you know I feel very passionately about.
In June easyJet was forced to cancel a flight from Bristol to Prague due to a group of passengers behaving appallingly. The airport’s police team said on Twitter: ‘Disappointing behaviour of a few who ruined a Friday flight from #BristolAirport, not just for their mates, but for the 140+ who’s flight was cancelled as a result of their follow-up actions. ‘It’s an aircraft – not a nightclub. #Respect #Families #CabinCrew #DrinkResponsibly.’
Policeman Nick Falconer described it as a ‘pretty eventful’ night and shared photos online which showed cars and officers at the side of the runway.
However, there was light at the end of the tunnel when it was announced in November that new plans were being ‘mooted’ by the Home Office to shut air side bars before 10am, in an effort to combat ‘disruptive behaviour’. The Civil Aviation Authority says there were 417 reports of disruptive passengers last year, up from 195 in 2015. This proposal follows concerns about passengers stocking up on duty-free and binge drinking before they get on a flight. While it won’t completely eradicate the problem it is certainly a step in the right direction and one that we here at confessions of a trolley dolly will continue to fight for.
In a rather hilarious ‘disruptive’ passenger event back in February, a Transavia flight from Dubai to Amsterdam was forced to make an unscheduled stop in Vienna after an elderly overweight man reportedly refused to stop farting. Chaos had erupted after two Dutchman who were sitting next to the flatulent man told him to stop and complained to Transavia Airlines crew. Yet despite repeated requests and even a direct order from the pilot the man carried on and a fight broke out. Officers boarded the plane with police dogs and four suspects were escorted off the plane and banned from ever travelling with Transavia again.
The run up to Christmas is always a hectic time in our industry and this year it was made particularly worse by the dreaded Gatwick drone. The device was first spotted at 21.00 GMT on Wednesday December 19, causing the runway to be shut and hundreds of flights to be diverted and cancelled. The whole drama lasted for a number of days with the airport finally re-opening on Friday evening. Investigators are still trying to discover who was behind the chaos, after a couple who were initially arrested were later released without charge.
So there we have it, our 2018 review. I’d just like to thank all my amazing followers, my ‘Dollies’ for all your continued support through the year, without you lot there would be no Confessions of a Trolley Dolly so thank you.