Give it a GO From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2001, 138 posts, RR: 0 Posted (9 years 8 months 3 weeks 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 9788 times:
Following on from Speedwing's excellent report on his/her role as LH cabin crew, I thought I'd let you guys have a taste of how different life can be working for a UK charter airline, as opposed to a German scheduled airline!
For a start, during the winter season we don't work as hard as Speedwing, but during the summer (01 May - 31 Oct) we work equally as hard (I would never say harder!).
At the moment my roster is showing just over one flight a week, a total of five flights this month. However, during the summer we may work 4-5 flights a week. Such is the way of charter airlines!
I've chosen my most recent flight, which turned out to be a typical day at work for the crew!
I was allocated this flight during a period of five days on standby. Crewing phoned me on the first day of the standby period and gave me almost 24 hours notice of the flight - which was nice!
For a 14.05 departure the crew were required to report to the crew room at 12.50. I arrived at just before 12.30, and today I was the first of the crew to arrive, followed very shortly afterwards by the Captain - the first good point of the day, as it was my favourite Captain at the base. A real team motivator, who helps the cabin crew with their duties on turn around, makes tea for the entire crew, and makes us all feel valued by introducing us all by name on his PA's. (The Captain and Cabin Manager really set the atmosphere for the day, and today it was to be a good day!)
All the crew had arrived well before our report time of 12.50, and dead on time we sat down to commence the briefing. Today, in a very unusual occurrence the number of male crew exceeded the number of females! We had 1 male pilot, and 3 male cabin crew, and one female pilot with two female cabin crew. I was the youngest crew member, at 20.
The first disappointment of the day was that on today’s flight we were only operating with minimum cabin crew, which for our Boeing 757-200 is 5. On such a flight during the winter season we would expect to operate with 7, so 5 was quite a shock. One crew member had gone sick, but that’s the reason I was called from standby, so for some reason the flight was only crewed with 5 cabin crew. Never the less, we all agreed that 2 crew down or not, we would not let it affect us or the enjoyment of our passengers! Aren't we good!?
At the briefing we discuss the nature of the flight, the flight times inbound and outbound, the expected passenger loads (today we had 225 outbound, and 235 inbound), any special needs or special requests from passengers, the catering, in flight entertainment, the service delivery order and anything else relevant to the flight. We are also asked safety related questions by the cabin manager, and must answer correctly in order to be allowed to operate the flight.
One burning issue today was that the runway at Stansted was due to close at midnight for routine maintenance. It would not be kept open any later than midnight, and diversions were expected to go to Luton. We were scheduled in as the last flight of the evening, at 23.55
Another thing that the crew are often keen to discuss is who will operate in which position that day. The cabin manager always operates as the "number one", and the two senior cabin crew decide between themselves who will operate as the "number two", and who will be the "number three". The juniors (me included) then decide who wants to operate as each of the numbers "four", "five", "six", and "seven". On today’s flight there were no senior cabin crew, so out of us four juniors, the most experienced two had to fly as the numbers 2 and 3. This was quickly decided, leaving the other two of us to fly as the 4 and the 5.
Today I was the number 5, meaning I would be in charge of doors 3, and seated at door R3, knee to knee with the passengers who had paid £30 extra to sit in row 32DEF, at the emergency exit!
At 13.05 we made our way out the very short distance to our aircraft, B757-200 G-BYAE, one of our more elderly old ladies, still proudly wearing the slowly disappearing old Britannia livery.
The aircraft had night stopped, so it was
B) Very cold!
The first thing we do on boarding any flight is check our safety equipment is still there and working correctly. This is done quickly, after which we check every seat pocket for security reasons, but also remove any rubbish which our truly fantastic cleaning staff somehow missed! We also replenish the toilets, and again, clean any rubbish "not seen" by the cleaners!
When all the ground staff other than our dispatcher have left the aircraft we carry out security checks, to make sure none of the little darlings have left us any special little packages, and then we can give the go-ahead to commence passenger boarding. This sounds a lot, and it is, but we only get around 15 minutes to do it! (5 cabin crew, 235 seats, 4 toilets, 2 galleys, 41 rows!)
Today boarding started on time at -40 (40 minutes to go until STD, which was 13.25). During boarding the cabin manager sorts out paper work and prepares the galley in the front, the number 2 does the same in the rear galley, and the numbers 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 stand either at the entry doors being used, or in designated areas in the cabin to greet and assist passengers. With just 5 crew on board today’s flight, I stood by the toilets in between rows 31 and 32, whilst my colleagues numbers 3 and 4 stood at door L2, which is the door we always use to board passengers, in between rows 11 and 12.
With boarding complete, we were able to shut the doors and push back on time, if not slightly ahead of schedule.
Our Captain introduced us all by name, and explained that we would be working incredibly hard today as just five of us were doing the work of 7. He kindly asked passengers to bear with us if they were kept waiting for longer than normal, then requested everyone’s full attention to the safety demonstration.
On Britannia, happily the safety demonstration is in the form of a video, and all we as crew have to do is point out the exits, then walk away.
As soon as the safety video was finished I started from row 41 checking what we call 'cabin secure' - which is to make sure all passengers have their seat belts tightened, etc etc, there are 13 things we look for, but I'm sure you get the idea!
I took my seat at door R3, and informed the cabin manager via our interphone that the cabin was secure.
Take-off was from runway 23, a very short taxi distance from our stand B21. The runway at Stansted is very long, and take-off was leisurely as usual. The weather was dry but very very windy, and as such the climb was considerably more bumpy than usual.
When we were allowed out of our seats the first thing I did was check on a lady seated in my section of the aircraft who was an extremely nervous first time flyer. The initial turbulence during the early part of the climb hadn't exactly helped her situation, but she was feeling OK.
Myself and my colleague (also friend) at the back, worked quickly to start the in flight entertainment, offer passengers headsets, and prepare and start a drinks service. Our three colleagues at the front worked just as quickly to do the same.
After drinks we served meals to the passengers who had chosen to pre-book them, whilst offering those passengers who had decided against a meal the option to purchase more drinks or sandwiches / snacks.
We then did everyone’s least favourite service, clearing in!
Followed by a Britannia promotional scratch card sale, with money going to Britannia’s charity, the Born Free Foundation, and instant win prizes for passengers.
Then we did a duty free service, selling cigarettes, alcohol, fragrances and gifts.
This was followed by another drinks service.
Somewhere we fitted in a very quick break when we had the opportunity to pull the curtains separating us from our passengers, sit on the jump seats in the rear galley, and scoff some delicious crew food!
Flight time outbound was 04:10.
We arrived in Tenerife slightly ahead of schedule, and said goodbye 225 times!
Then we got off the aircraft and enjoyed a leisurely week in Tenerife......
Oh no... sorry... that was in my dreams...
What we really did then was security check the aircraft again, and welcome on board our team of about 10 cleaners.
We re-check every seat pocket again, replenish toilets again, grab 5 minutes for a drink and a snack and a chat with the pilots, say good bye to our cleaners, security check yet again, and start boarding!
TFS - STN
In Tenerife we had no jet bridge, so we were connected to two sets of steps, one at door L2, and one at door L4. Passengers boarding at door L4 have to walk through our galley, so we can't work in the galley during boarding.
Because of this, the number two stood at doors 3 where I had stood for boarding on the outbound sector, and I stood at the top of the steps at door L4, smiling my cheesiest grin and saying 'hello' around 120 times.
Again, we shut the doors and pushed back ahead of schedule.
We repeated the same services inbound, minus one drinks service due to a shorter flight time. (Only 03:45 inbound).
Most passengers chose to sleep as it was a night flight and they were tired after their holidays. Due to everything going our way, an excellent highly motivational Captain, a hard working crew, a lot of luck, and passengers playing the game, we made it back to Stansted at 23:15, 40 minutes ahead of schedule, and with a lot of time to spare before the runway shut!
We were connected to a jet bridge at Stansted, and I stood at doors 3 again for disembarkation saying good bye and STILL smiling hard!
No sooner were the passengers off, than we were, but not before security checking one final time!
A quick hop onto the crew bus, back to the crew room to count and bank the money, on the staff bus to the car park, and home and in bed by 01:30!
Demoose From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2001, 1952 posts, RR: 25 Reply 3, posted (9 years 8 months 3 weeks 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 9554 times:
Excellent insight into the goings on behind the scene's. Sounds good when you get a captain who likes to make people feel part of a big family on board. Had a similar captain on my last flight with BA, took the time to introduce every crew member and made all us passengers feel welcomed too.
Have you ever had any unusual experiences, say an emergency or diversion?
Bmi From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2002, 321 posts, RR: 0 Reply 4, posted (9 years 8 months 3 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 9526 times:
good to hear a different view for once, esp for a part of tui (i work for them too) but feel like as a decent crew member, you are being let down by a alot of other Britannia cabin crew across the company.
I deal with complatints week after week about cabin crew member(s) on our flights across the network and indeed those from other charter airlines we deal with.
Last sunday I flew from MAN-LGW-MLE with Britannia and MLE-MAN direct with them last night and now I know what people mean. The cabin crew were disgraceful, very rude, aggressive and bitchy with some of their backchats. The first sign of trouble was when the passenger sitting next to me needed assistance, he was ill and was feeling very light headded, so he pressed the crew call button and it took someone 43 mins before he was noticed and received help - which obviously he didn't need now, I sorted him out with the aid of a passenger in the row infront.
When I arrived in resort I just gave it a quick once over with the rep and she said oh all of our comaplints are usually about the crew. how inviting. to see there is someone on britannia who cares about the passnegers is fantastic, though i have yet to see it myself. Two years i've worked selling people onto these flights, and how the hell i'm meant to promote Britannia's crew is beyond me.
My issues with the crew of BY196A/B will be taken up with head office and lets hope we get somewhere, as the last thing they were on our flight for was for our safety.
Give it a GO From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2001, 138 posts, RR: 0 Reply 6, posted (9 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 9451 times:
Thanks for all your comments guys, much appreciated!
So far, luckily (and touching wood!) I've not had anything unusual or disturbing happening on any flight I’ve been on... sorry that’s quite boring for everyone reading this!
Thanks for your comments, what you are saying is a shame, and obviously I can't speak for any crewmember other than myself, but it really is saddening to hear that passengers are complaining regularly about our service.
Obviously passengers don't know the background to their flights, and it may be that the flight you were on was also significantly under crewed, as many of ours are at the moment. A lot of our Captains won't announce this fact over the PA if it is the case for their own personal reasons.
However, a flight being under crewed is not the passengers fault, and nothing about the on-board service should be changed as a result, (other than the speed of the services obviously!) and I don't wish to make excuses for the crew on your flight if they were not acting in the manner in which they should!
On a purely personal note, I'd be very interested to know whether your crew were MAN or LGW based?
May I just say to everyone, that regardless of the airline, the passenger call bell should be answered immediately, in case the passenger wishes to alert crew to an emergency (this would include the situation described above, as this would count as a medical emergency). Please, if ever you should find yourself in a similar situation, press the call bell repeatedly in quick succession, trust me, that will get crew running!
PS: If I was on my way to a MLE layover, I'd be smiling!
Jaspike From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2008, 1 posts, RR: 2 Reply 7, posted (9 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 9437 times:
Never the less, we all agreed that 2 crew down or not, we would not let it affect us or the enjoyment of our passengers! Aren't we good!?
Yes Britannia are my favourite charter airline, always have been! Brilliant
Great report, makes a change to see something like this
On Britannia, happily the safety demonstration is in the form of a video, and all we as crew have to do is point out the exits, then walk away.
Unless it all goes wrong.. http://www.airliners.net/discussions/trip_reports/read.main/32036/
That was quite funny The video messed up and we were told we were going to TFS instead of ACE
Anyway, brilliant report, hope to see more in the future!
Worldoftui From Sweden, joined Aug 2007, 0 posts, RR: 0 Reply 11, posted (9 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 9363 times:
Excellent report. Makes you understand what hard work it is. That is a long day start to finish. Question: is that about as far as you would go without a stopover? For example, UK-Gambia, or UK-Egypt which come in at around 6 hours. They don't make you do both flights on the same day, do they?
From my point of view, again, like Bmi, I worked for LP for quite some time (can you guess by my username?!).
I have to say though, for me at least, selling a Britannia flight was a doddle. Great reputation for service, a really strong brand name that I think is associated with quality more than any other UK charter airline. The punctuality record over the last couple of years has been excellent (you've gotta beat Thomas Cook next year - PLEASE!) and your trophy cabinet keeps getting fuller. The Telegraph Award was a real achievement. Professionally, I rarely had issues with Britannia. More often than not, any flight issues were with different airlines. Either Britannia handled issues well on - board, or there just weren't any. Which ever it was, staff had confidence selling BY. Having flown many times with BY, I have to say that I have been nothing short of delighted with the service and friendliness of the crews. Even the breakfast which you have to pay for is good!
Bmi : there are bad eggs in any company - see the latest TTG / Travel Weekly or ask for the latest myst. shopper reports from the region! If you are having complaints week after week something is very wrong. Ideally, the shops should not even get to see these complaints as they should be handled on board or in resort if possible. If it cannot, then of course contact the Tour op or shop. You had issues on your flight which were unacceptable, and by seeing complaints in store, your confidence is further dented. Not good for anyone. I worked a season out in Croatia with Thomson, when the resort was serviced by European Air Charter. (Apologies to any EAF fans..) I am sure you can imagine the problems associated with using a sub-standard airline with an unreliable, ageing fleet of 737-200's. The customers perception is poor right from the start, and that's before they get on board. Then add lack of duty-free service, poor reliability, terrible food, and lack of pre-bookable services and things just go from bad to worse.
Don't be too dis-heartened Give_it_a_go, I am sure that the complaints ratio is very low, and would like to say that, for myself, and for many of the customers in my old job, Britannia was the preferred holiday airline, lots of people choosing flights carefully to ensure that there were BY operated.
Chepos From Puerto Rico, joined Dec 2000, 6097 posts, RR: 11 Reply 12, posted (9 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 9327 times:
Very interesting trip report, I've heard it's quite hard to be a flight attendant and I guess it's true- after reading this. Do the junior f/a's get to fly on long hauls to the caribbean, florida and Mex?
Give it a GO From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2001, 138 posts, RR: 0 Reply 13, posted (9 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 9286 times:
Great feedback, thanks a lot
For those of you that asked me if I go to exotic places, for the majority of Britannia crews the answer is yes, they get some FANTASTIC layovers in beautiful hotels in amazing locations.
However, the majority of the crews are based at the larger BY bases, namely MAN (Manchester), LGW (London Gatwick), BHX (Birmingham) and LTN (London Luton).
We all pick where we want to be based, and at the moment I've chosen STN. STN is a short-haul only base so the furthest we go is PFO (Paphos). Also, BY have two bases where the only aircraft they operate is the 757-200, that’s STN and BRS (Bristol). Therefore, staff who opt to be based at these bases are only qualified on the 757-200, and therefore cannot operate the long haul routes on the 767-200's and 767-300's out of the larger bases.
The only time a STN based crew would ever night stop is if we operate out of other UK bases or stations, which we regularly do. This would include, for example, NWI (Norwich!). Or occasionally we get sent to the some of the larger bases to do some of their 757 flights, whilst the based crew operate the long haul.
I like STN, its a TINY little base with only one aircraft and hardly any crews, so we all know each other and its really good fun and very friendly. You always go to work with your friends!
All ranks of crew operate all flights, you need more juniors on a long-haul than any other rank!
Great name and thanks for an excellent reply!!
Just to answer your question, Gambia is a layover for LGW based crews, not sure how long they get there, but its likely to be a few days.
Egypt is a there-and-back trip operated by lots of bases (thankfully not STN at the moment), and usually works out in the region of 5 and a half hours each way, with one hour turnaround. (Plus we report an hour and a half before, and typically don’t go home until an hour and half after we've landed!) It's a long day out for the crews! So please be nice to us, Egypt passengers!!!
Bmi From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2002, 321 posts, RR: 0 Reply 16, posted (9 years 8 months 1 week 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 8776 times:
Hi there following my previous message the crew onboard these flights were Gatwick based. The captain did also say we were going the the Seychells rather than the Maldives too which made us chuckle.
I passed on my comments to head office, who contacted me and apologised for the crew operating this flight, though as they cant do this every time something like that happens - I wonder how many customers Thomson/Britannia have lost over bad customer service.
Never the less it was a fantastic trip and shouldnt let that be a damper on anything. Beats flying with MYT or MON on the route anyway lol Its nice to see we have good crew too working in the company keep up the good work mate
DoorsToManual From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 17, posted (9 years 8 months 1 week 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 8748 times:
Just to say a big thanks for such a great report; as you may have noticed, I've decided to join the club with my own report, so thanks for the inspiration. It's great to read about the procedures at another airline, I often wonder what it's like working for anyone except my own airline.
I also think it's brilliant that BY SOPs require the Senior to answer SEP questions too, this is something that is sadly lacking at easyJet, and I think it would be useful to question the Senior.