Our wonderful partner Cabin Crew Wings joins us once again, this time to discuss the excitement and reality of your first few days in the sky…
Following on from our article from last month, Step Nine – the pre-employment training, we look this month at your big day – the very first flight as Cabin Crew!
It’s normal to feel a mixture of emotions. Nerves, excitement, anticipation – just remember that every member of crew has been in this position before, and use those first few flights as a learning curve for your future Cabin Crew career!
Although things vary slightly from airline to airline, here’s what you can expect…
Getting to know your base
You’ll get the opportunity after you complete your pre-employment training to have a look round the airport ‘base’ you’ll be flying out of.
This will include being shown where to go, how to use any staff accessible computer systems or equipment, and how to ‘check in’ for flights as cabin crew.
It’s a lot of information to take in at once – as with any type of job induction! Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re unsure, or ask the member of airline staff showing you round to repeat or clarify something.
You’ll be told the rules and regulations for flying as crew for your airline, what identification you’ll need to bring and the rules for your carry-on luggage and security checks. Yes, crew need to go through the security process too!
You’ll be flying as an extra member of crew on your first flight, to allow you to observe the existing, more experienced crew members.
At the pre-flight briefing you’ll meet the crew you’ll be flying with – in general you’ll find that they’ll be friendly, reassuring and happy to help! You’ll discuss the proposed flight plan with the Cabin Manager/Supervisor, and go over basic safety procedures.
Your pilot and co-pilot will introduce themselves and confirm the flight times, and also give you any information relevant to the flights ahead, for example if there could be any expected turbulence, or any delays are anticipated.
Once aboard your aircraft you’ll get started with the standard pre-flight checks. This includes checking the doors, toilets, intercom, safety equipment and fire/smoke alarm system. You’ll also look over the seating to check everything is on order, and that there are no items present that shouldn’t be there!
The galley will also need to be checked over to make sure everything is functioning, present and correct for the in-flight food and drink service. If your airline is supplying meals as part of the service this will be the time any special requests are checked over – such as meals ordered in for passengers with dietary intolerances or specific preferences.
Following successful completion of these checks it’s time to welcome your very first passengers on board as a member of crew!
During the flight
When the captain announces that boarding can commence, it’s time to get that trademark Cabin Crew smile on. Great customer service and making your passengers feel welcome are crucial parts of the job.
Once everyone is seated it will be time for the safety checks (you’ll know some of these already from flying as a passenger – seatbelts need to be fastened and tray tables and window-blinds up, seats in the upright position!) before the safety demonstration takes place.
Depending on your airline this may be demonstrated by the cabin crew, or by a video/audio recording.
Then it will be time to strap yourself into the jumpseat, and get ready for take-off – as you would expect it feels very different from taking off as a passenger!
You’ll get the chance to have a go at various duties, but the nature of these will depend on individual flight conditions and circumstances. Always listen to the crew you are working with and respect their requests on those first few flights, and again, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification on anything you’re not sure about!
It’s likely you’ll have to deal with passenger requests and assist with the food and drink, and duty-free services. Stay calm, stay polite, and if in doubt, ask a more experienced crew member. You might find that the majority of the flight passes in a bit of a blur as you get to grips with it all – don’t worry, this is perfectly normal.
If you’re lucky and the flight workload and conditions permit you might get to spend a little bit of time on the flight deck, perhaps even for landing – an experience you’ll never forget!
Landing and debriefing
You’ll again take part in the pre-landing safety checks, making sure your passengers are securely and safely seated, and that everything is safely stowed away.
After you have landed and the passengers have de-planed, there are still plenty of jobs for the crew to carry out – including checking for forgotten items, clearing the cabin of any rubbish left behind, and completing paperwork.
Depending on your airline you could be welcoming another set of passengers on board within the hour for a short-haul turnaround, or handing over to a completely new crew on a long-haul flight.
You’ll take part in a debrief to discuss the flight, what went right, and what (if anything) went wrong. Your Cabin Manager or Supervisor will also give you feedback on your performance, this is great constructive criticism for you to learn from, and also another opportunity to ask questions if you feel the need to.
It will undoubtedly be a whirlwind of a day! But you’ll finish up feeling much more relaxed and confident about your next flight.
Following the successful completion of your training flights (usually at least two) you’ll be a fully-fledged member of crew for your airline – what you’ve been dreaming of throughout the process!
However the learning doesn’t stop there – join us next time to find out the top challenges faced by new Cabin Crew in the early days of their career!
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