spacecadet
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The Pre-flight F/A "huddle"

Mon Jun 27, 2011 10:30 pm

Not sure if this is the right forum for this, but it seems like it'd be operations-related.

I am not sure if other airlines do this, but whenever I fly ANA, the F/A's all gather in advance of the flight in an empty gate area and meet in a huddle for literally about 45 minutes. They speak in hushed tones and they all furiously write things down on little notepads during this meeting. (I happened to be sitting right next to their meeting on my last trip.) A thought occurred to me as I listened to this, which is that they're all assigned to this route (JFK-NRT) and they must fly it at least twice a week - what could they possibly be spending so much time going over that wasn't covered during whatever training they had?

So what actually gets discussed at these meetings? Is it mostly the F/A equivalent of the passenger safety briefing, ie. is it all stuff they already know but company policy dictates they need to meet over? Or is there actually that much that changes from flight to flight on the same route (and with the same crew)? Do other airlines have these pre-flight cabin crew huddles (and for this long)?
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BMI727
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RE: The Pre-flight F/A "huddle"

Mon Jun 27, 2011 11:20 pm

I don't think it is always in the gate area, but based on documentaries I've seen they discuss pax counts, introductions, flight time and weather, special needs pax, etc.
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Starlionblue
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RE: The Pre-flight F/A "huddle"

Tue Jun 28, 2011 12:04 am

Quoting spacecadet (Thread starter):
A thought occurred to me as I listened to this, which is that they're all assigned to this route (JFK-NRT) and they must fly it at least twice a week - what could they possibly be spending so much time going over that wasn't covered during whatever training they had?

At most airlines they would not be assigned to a route but are on different routes all the time. Also twice a week sounds like way too often for an F/A to fly such a long route. I would wager max once a week.

Heck, many of them might never have met before.
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alasizon
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RE: The Pre-flight F/A "huddle"

Tue Jun 28, 2011 2:33 am

I know with DL in SLC, that there are often InFlight crew meetings on C or D (It depends from what I've noticed). Whether or not they are actually in the gate area, I am unsure as I'm not an inflight crew member. Though I would imagine that also F/A's tend to get to know each other during this time, discuss relevant flight information as well as slightly gossip.
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Lufthansa411
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RE: The Pre-flight F/A "huddle"

Tue Jun 28, 2011 4:15 am

Quoting spacecadet (Thread starter):
So what actually gets discussed at these meetings? Is it mostly the F/A equivalent of the passenger safety briefing, ie. is it all stuff they already know but company policy dictates they need to meet over? Or is there actually that much that changes from flight to flight on the same route (and with the same crew)? Do other airlines have these pre-flight cabin crew huddles (and for this long)?

Crew briefings on long-haul flights are pretty normal at most airlines, however each airline has a different way of going about it. Some airlines like CX, LH and BA have more formal briefings, while others such as OS and SV have short informal briefings to make sure each crew-member is on the same page. Most of the time, crews either brief in the station office, on the aircraft, or in a pinch the terminal. From experience, longer crew briefings are not related to overall company policy except when a telex comes to the station stating that something has changed effective immediately.

It is really up to the purser to decide what gets covered in the briefing. Most of the time briefings cover issues both large an small that would help make the flight go smoother: when pax can visit the cockpit, how often the FA's are expected to make drink runs, how to overcome XYZ that was not put on the aircraft, what VIP is flying, etc. Also, any special circumstances that are expected are discussed, for example I overheard one crew mention that because 90% of Y was full of a group of Hasidic Jews, "normal" meals would be handed out personally like special meals are normally, and the food trollies would then serve all the Kosher meals. Finally, most of the time the crews are given a chance to speak up about problems they have had previously, like reminding other crew members to check the lavs, or making sure that the towels are warmed at the right time. Mostly little things.
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Jackbr
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RE: The Pre-flight F/A "huddle"

Tue Jun 28, 2011 8:58 am

Never seen it done in a gate area. Normally aware of briefings on the bus from the hotel to the airport (or at the hotel) or on the aircraft
 
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RE: The Pre-flight F/A "huddle"

Tue Jun 28, 2011 11:17 pm

Quoting Jackbr (Reply 5):
Never seen it done in a gate area. Normally aware of briefings on the bus from the hotel to the airport (or at the hotel) or on the aircraft

I've only seen it flying ANA, which is why I didn't just think of it as a normal thing. I think they may just not have their own space to do it at JFK; they fly out of terminal 7 (the BA terminal) and they only have that one flight per day. So I always see them do it over at an adjacent gate, which is generally empty except for me and anyone else who's trying to get away from the crowd.

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 2):
At most airlines they would not be assigned to a route but are on different routes all the time.

We were in an exit row and talking to one of our F/A's during an earlier flight and at that time, at least (this was about 5-6 years ago), they were assigned to the route. It was considered the top assignment for F/A's at ANA, the JFK-NRT route. She did say, though, that some F/A's either turned it down or just didn't want to do it (but did anyway) because of the length of the flight. But it was a route that they actually put them on semi-permanently, it wasn't just a random thing. I don't remember how often she said she flew it but I thought it was more than once a week because she said she didn't ever really get to do a lot of sightseeing, it was just arrive, sleep for a while and then fly again. I'd guess the off days are mostly on the Japan side.

The F/A across from us on our flight back to NYC this time was an F/A we'd had before; some of the others may have been too but I know I recognized at least one of them, and I only do this flight once a year.

Quoting Lufthansa411 (Reply 4):
when pax can visit the cockpit, how often the FA's are expected to make drink runs, how to overcome XYZ that was not put on the aircraft, what VIP is flying, etc.

Do the F/A's then operate basically autonomously during the flight? I always assumed someone was calling them up and telling them to do things during the flight (I see them on the phone, but I have no idea who they're talking to or about what). If the briefing says "drink service 30 minutes after takeoff, meal service 60 minutes after takeoff, cabin runs every 30 minutes", do the f/a's just do those tasks on their own without further guidance during the flight?
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Starlionblue
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RE: The Pre-flight F/A "huddle"

Tue Jun 28, 2011 11:32 pm

Quoting spacecadet (Reply 6):
Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 2):
At most airlines they would not be assigned to a route but are on different routes all the time.

We were in an exit row and talking to one of our F/A's during an earlier flight and at that time, at least (this was about 5-6 years ago), they were assigned to the route. It was considered the top assignment for F/A's at ANA, the JFK-NRT route.

Ah. Thanks for info. I do know that at AA the most senior F/As tend to bid on, for example, JFK-LHR and JFK-CDG, since they can pack in their flying in a minimum number of days.

Quoting spacecadet (Reply 6):

Do the F/A's then operate basically autonomously during the flight? I always assumed someone was calling them up and telling them to do things during the flight (I see them on the phone, but I have no idea who they're talking to or about what). If the briefing says "drink service 30 minutes after takeoff, meal service 60 minutes after takeoff, cabin runs every 30 minutes", do the f/a's just do those tasks on their own without further guidance during the flight?

Probably a combination. It's not like you need a huge amount of supervision if nothing unexpected happens. Just like being a waiter in a large restaurant (yes, yes, I know that's only part of the F/A job), you are expected to work independently but coordinate with others when needed.
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Markhkg
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RE: The Pre-flight F/A "huddle"

Wed Jun 29, 2011 4:10 am

Quoting Lufthansa411 (Reply 4):
what gets covered in the briefing

I've come across a few F/A briefings where the purser did a quick quiz of some safety/emergency procedure things with the rest of the team, for example who would be in charge of what in a medical emergency, what equipment items a crew member was responsible for during an evac, etc.
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Jackbr
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RE: The Pre-flight F/A "huddle"

Wed Jun 29, 2011 9:25 am

Quoting Markhkg (Reply 8):

This is a standard part of all Qantas briefings
 
hal9213
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RE: The Pre-flight F/A "huddle"

Wed Jun 29, 2011 4:50 pm

Quoting spacecadet (Reply 6):
Do the F/A's then operate basically autonomously during the flight?

For the "restaurant-stuff" (sorry, haha), often there are checklists of all sorts (preflight prep, post-takeoff, meal, etc.) similar to the flightdeck and theyre just worked and checked off. I guess some are done by the purser only (VIP/frequent flyer greetings, certain announcements etc.) but I believe everything else is just "next free F/A working the next item".
For safety-stuff, there are obvisouly also tasks bound to each one, e.g. working the door at which you are stationed.

As to the hurdle, some other things come to my mind:
- Special passengers, postive or negative (some airlines keep records for pax, who e.g. have disrupted a flight in the past) and passenger count in each class. Some airlines also prepare stuff for pax having birthdays.
- Maintenance issues (the coffee pot xyz is marked as having troubles)
- Crew introduction. Note that most crews on most big airlines have never seen each other before the flight. Obvisouly, that would mostly be only at the Hub Station.
- Special notes / attentions / trainings / safety / checkflight-stuff for new crew or crew being checked by purser.
- Service information. ("Today, we have wine xyz and this fish and that chicken. Note that only small quantities of cheesecakes are loaded.... ")
- Weather related stuff, "expect to start service 1h later due to extreme weather after departure"
 
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HAWK21M
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RE: The Pre-flight F/A "huddle"

Tue Jul 05, 2011 11:47 am

Also termed as a preflight briefing.....going through the finer points needed to be passed around prior to the flight.

If it helps in streamlining the flight whose complaining.
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bwaflyer
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RE: The Pre-flight F/A "huddle"

Tue Jul 05, 2011 8:24 pm

at my airline, the pre flight briefing is pretty defined by the company and follows a set pattern to ensure everything is covered. Crew will either pick or be allocated working positions on an aircraft. The supervisor will confirm the type of aircraft and which configuration it is. We will then tell the supervisor which crew seat we'll be sitting at, which doors we'll operate, which area of the cabin, toilets and galleys we are responsible for, and which door we'll exit out of in an emergency landing, and ditching. Next comes a review of any updates the company has issued regarding aircraft / procedures / equipment / security. We'll then discuss an emergency situation, review our actions, and describe what emergency equipment we'll use. We then discuss various medical situations, signs and symptoms, treatment, and which equipment and medicine we'll use. The last part of the briefing is a review of the service, and any areas the supervisor would like us to focus on. At that point the flight crew will join us and give us information about weather, air traffic control delays etc.

Once we're on the aircraft and check in has closed, we'll get our final passenger figures, and details of any VIP / CIP passengers, infants, UM's (unaccompanied minors), DEPs (Deportees), and PRAMs (Passengers with reduced mobility).

On a trip, we will have a briefing either on the bus to the airport or in the gate waiting to board, and these briefings follow the same format.

We will also rebrief in the middle of the day if we change aircraft, or the crew change
 
Ditzyboy
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RE: The Pre-flight F/A "huddle"

Wed Jul 06, 2011 4:49 pm

Quoting Jackbr (Reply 5):
Never seen it done in a gate area.

At Qantas, it is not unheard of for both Short Haul and Long Haul to brief in gate areas. At Short Haul it will usually be if the whole crew is coming of a slip and no one is based in that port. At Long Haul it will be at an outport, and only to cover items not discussed on the transport.

Quoting Jackbr (Reply 9):
This is a standard part of all Qantas briefings

Our briefings have changed dramatically. Now a video is played, containing company messages and service information (it also lists the aircraft differences from an EP point of view and compares the fares paid for the sector for our airline and competitors). This is followed by introductions and a manager's briefing (just regarding their personal expectations). This is all that is discussed. Our emergency and SOP questions happen separately by way of spot checks.
 
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RE: The Pre-flight F/A "huddle"

Thu Jul 07, 2011 12:56 am

Crew briefings can either take place at the gate, before we get to the gate (almost never), in the crew office or on the a/c--out of the public eye and in the "need to know basis" for obvious reasons--99.9% where this takes place. Items that are discussed are safety, security, any cabin discrepancies or MEL, passenger count, flight time, special guests and guests with needs, and weather to name a few.

There are different lengths of briefings depending on the start of a trip or during the middle of trip before each flight. The initial briefing are done out of sight of passengers and can get pretty thorough.
 
FlyboyOz
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RE: The Pre-flight F/A "huddle"

Sat Jul 09, 2011 5:30 am

There's also gate check-in staff breifings too. They were having meeting about pax and time for boarding and so on.

There was a japanese tv program about flight attendant story. When flight attendants go to the cabin crew room for meeting. They all sit together and discuss about new staff (eg trainees - give them a hard time lol), pax (eg - lots of businessmen going home, 50C seat - a blind pax on board) , inflight meals (eg no tea and coffee), seats (eg 34C - PTV is broken), emergency stuff (eg do you know where loud speaker is) and which door flight attendant will be in (purser will be in L1 and other said R1, other said L2 and so on). After meeting, they all line up together - they must follow purser and walk quickly (cos of asian airline culture) to the gate. On board, they check everything to make sure everything are alright and none of the stuff are missing and then have meeting with the pilots to discuss about weather and flight time.
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