AN INSIGHT INTO WHAT HAPPENS BEHIND THE CURTAIN…
One thing I’ve realised about my job is that there is a lot more to it than meets the eye, much of the hard work cabin crew do is overlooked, a lot of people see the travelling as something of a dream (which it is, of course!) but a lot of hard work goes on behind the scenes. This, I guess, is why I had 6 weeks of training. So I thought I’d take the opportunity to share what we really do… From waking up in the morning, to boarding the plane, carrying out the inflight service & arriving at my destination, I’ve broken my ‘everyday’ down into little stages, I hope you enjoy it!
The majority of my airline’s long haul flights depart in the evening, so I tend to set my alarm a little bit later than usual to give myself a lie in so I’m fully rested for the night flight ahead. If I have enough time, I’ll pop to the gym for an hour or so of cardio or a swim, nothing too intense though! If I don’t have time to get to the gym, I usually try to do some sort of exercise in the morning, whether it be a short run or a mini workout in my garden. I feel like working out motivates me for the rest of the day!
I commute from Staffordshire down to Heathrow so I try to prepare as much of my packing, food, uniform etc the night before so I’m not rushed the next day. I usually rely on trains to get me down to London as my fare is so cheap & it gives me a little bit more time to rest both before & after flights! I’ve also only recently passed my driving test (finally!) so I wouldn’t feel confident letting myself loose on the motorway just yet ha!
My commute takes around 3 hours, maybe a little less (door to door), which can be tedious at times. It’s great on the way home as I like to wrap myself up in a blanket on the train & have a nap after a long flight. (I always set my alarm to wake me up just before my stop, don’t worry!)
ARRIVING AT THE AIRPORT
I give myself around four hours to get to work, just in case I’m delayed. This means I usually arrive with an hour or so to spare once I get to Heathrow. I use this time to get myself a salad for my dinner after I’ve finished the service on the aircraft (that’s if I haven’t already brought my own food from home) I then head up to departures to check my bag in (yes, I’m ‘that’ crew member who always checks in a bag for a 24 hour layover… this means I’m not limited on my liquids though – if I take just a cabin bag, all the liquids have to go through security, so they have to be under 100ml in a clear plastic bag & that’s too much effort for me!) I then head to the Crew Report Centre (CRC)…
PRE FLIGHT PREPARATIONS
I use my work ID to check in for my flight, I’m assigned a briefing room & I read any special notices regarding SEP (Standard Emergency Procedures) or the Operations Manuals, as these procedures change regularly, I’m required to update myself on any notices & usually we’re tested on these topics once we’re in the briefing room.
Depending on how much spare time I have before I report to the briefing room (usually an hour or so before the flight), I catch up with my friends on standby, grab myself a drink & sit & read through my aircraft specific notes so I’m ready for the flight ahead! I also update myself on any changes to the on-board service, so I know what I’m doing once we’ve taken off. I send a quick text to my parents, sister and boyfriend to tell them I love them & I’m ready for the work to start…
At this point I shut off from the outside world & everything is taken up a notch, from now until I reach my destination, everything is fast-paced and scheduled down to the minute.
Each briefing lasts around 20 minutes; during this time we meet the rest of the crew & flight crew on the flight – the briefing is lead by the manager of the flight. We are allocated working positions for the trip – each position has a number & each number has a different responsibility, whether it be a piece of equipment to check pre-boarding (for example, the defibrillator or medical & resuscitation kits), a door to arm & disarm, it also dictates which cabin we’ll be working in, where we will stand for the safety demonstration, what time we go on break, which side of the aircraft we work on etc etc. We are also asked questions regarding the SEP notices, aircraft, medical equipment & procedures. Of course, we spare time to talk about the customers we’ll be serving on the flight & how many of them to expect in each cabin, whether there are any customers with reduced mobility, specific medical requirements or if we’ll be having any babies on-board!
After the briefing, we head through security and walk through the terminal to the aircraft we’ve been assigned to.
Once we step onto the aircraft, we have to perform our safety, security & equipment checks before the passengers can begin boarding. We check the catering for the flight, ensuring we have enough for all the passengers, and we’re ready to board!
Once the passengers have boarded & any pre-take off service is completed, the doors are armed & crosschecked, we carry out the safety demo, check the cabin and galleys are secure and we’re ready to take our seats for take-off.
After take-off, we begin the service as soon as it’s safe. Each cabin service is different, so the unwritten rule goes that once you’ve finished in your cabin, you help in another. Somebody once told me that we resemble swans during the service… Paddling like crazy under the water (behind the curtain) but graceful and calm above the water (in the cabin) and I couldn’t have put it better myself! Sometimes it feels like a workout!
After the service it’s break time! Half the crew head to the bunks on-board for a nap, (this can range from 30 minutes to almost 5 hours, depending on the flight time) I always take my pyjamas to the bunks with me & sometimes a hot water bottle too as it can get a bit chilly in there. After the first half of the crew have finished their break, the second half take theirs.
Once ‘second-break’ arrives back, the second service begins. This is around 1 hour 30 mins before landing, and usually involves waking up a lot of tired customers, unfortunately.
Once the service has finished, we are usually about 40 minutes from landing. This is the point where I start dreaming of my hotel bed, whilst we start to secure the cabin and get the customers ready to land. 20 minutes to go & it’s time to take our seats!
Once we have landed & reached our stand, the customers disembark & we security check the aircraft before we accumulate our belongings & head to immigration & onto the crew bus to the hotel, ready for our layover! By this point a group WhatsApp chat has usually been set up to make plans for the trip & everyone usually heads to bed for a couple of hours of well-earned sleep (especially after a night flight) ready to meet again later…
And there you have it, a day in the life of me! I hope you enjoyed my little insight into a long day at work, feel free to ask any questions over on my Instagram or in the comments if you have any!
Thank you for reading,