I read with fascination TG992 and Airnewzealands reports about the day in the life of a long haul crew so I thought why not do the same but write it from the eyes of a short haul crew member on a long haul shift for the company I work for - flyglobespan! Hope you enjoy it (i know it's really long!) and don't fall asleep on your keyboards! The first bit is just a bit of history about the company so just skip that part if you just want to read the report.
Photo © Antonio Carrasquilla - Iberian Spotters
Photo © Paulo Carvalho
History of Flyglobespan
Just a brief mention about the background of the company I work for, for those of you who've never heard of it. The company itself has existed for about 30 years as a travel agency providing holidays mainly to Canadian destinations under the brand Globespan but using various airlines like Air Transat for its flights. In 2002 the company established its own airline aptly named "Fly"Globespan to operate a number of flights from its initial base of Prestwick to places in Italy and Spain. The aim to provide convenient flights at low fares with a high quality service. As the years went by the company grew adding more aircrafts and destinations and moving its base from Prestwick to Glasgow. The main base of Glasgow was soon joined by Edinburgh and the most recent is London Stansted. We have just taken delivery of an ex Air New Zealand Boeing 767-300ER to commence daily services from Glasgow to Orlando Sanford starting on June 2nd. As of today the fleet consists of 3xB737-800s, 4xB737-600s, 2xB737-300s 1xB767-300 and there are another couple of B737-300's which are used when necessary. An order for a B737-700 has been placed for delivery next year. More B767s are due to join the fleet soon to coincide with the introduction of a new service from Manchester to Cape Town. This summer will see the busiest of all summers so far with a number of new destinations mainly from the Glasgow base such as Orlando, Athens, Pula and Amsterdam.
Anyway to get on with the report here goes -
As a Glasgow based crew member it's a typical day getting ready for flight. My roster says that today I'm due to fly to Palma and back again with the flight leaving at 1430 local and due to land back in Glasgow at 2125. My roster also tells me other information such as flight number, the time I must be in the crew room for, the turnaround time we have in Palma and also what aircraft type I will be operating on and who my fellow crew members are. As this flight leaves later on in the day I get a long lie! Thank god cause I hadn't slept well the night before. As the flight leaves at 1430 local I need to be in the crew room at the very latest 1330 as our report time is 1hr before departure. All crew however always come in about 1hr 15mins before that. As i'm getting my uniform ready and ironing my shirt my phone rings and who is calling but our operations department. Great I thought - I bet the flight's delayed and our report time has been put back! Just what I needed. Alas not - I answered the phone and a cheery female voice on the other end says "hello nick how are you just calling to see if you could do us a big favour, could you operate Glasgow-Paphos-Glasgow tonight instead of Palma" I asked why. A crew member had phoned in sick. Hmmm thought about it for a second and said yeah ok even though it's one of the longest flights we do and doesn't get back until the early hours of next morning. "Brilliant, thanks very much" says the cheery female! All that remains was to get the amended report time and what crew I would be operating with. Tonight would be on a B737-800 with 2 pilots and 4 cabin crew including myself. The senior crew member (SCCM) and the other 2 cabin crew I know well and have flown with before several times so I know that I'll have a good flight. Always helps when you're one of the longest flights! With that done my amended report time is now 1700 as the flight leaves at 1800 so that means I need to be in the crew room for 1645 which still gives me a few hours to chill. I decided to go to the supermarket and buy some food to take with me. We do get crew food but only on our longer sectors like Tenerife and Paphos but I'm not too keen on it so I usually bring my own. Decided to buy some chocolates to share with the other crew since a long flight like this it's always nice to have some comfort food. Got myself ready and left the house about 1615 which would leave me plenty of time to get to the airport. (I'm 10mins away). Once parked up in the staff car park I make my way over to the terminal (long walk!) stopping to say hi to a few people I know along the way. Once inside the terminal I make my way to the UK Domestic pier at Glasgow as our crew room is situated airside. With my ID swiped and myself and crew bag x-rayed I enter the crew room about 1640 to find it quite deserted (very unusual!) apart from two pilots. Paperwork has been placed on one of the tables and with a quick glance I see the words GLA-PFO-GLA so I gather that our SCCM is already here. Just as I thought that, the door opens and our SCCM walks in. I got a strange look and he asked me where I was off to. Paphos with you I said. Oh are you replacing someone? Yes I replied someone phoned in sick and they changed me from the Palma. Oh that's good. As I get myself organised I check my drop file to see if there's anything there (all I had was a response to some bar paperwork I had submitted last week) and also check our notices to crew folders to see if there have been any changes since I was last in. Indeed there are a few changes the most important being about a change to the demonstration of the oxygen mask which I read over and made sure I understood. As I'm doing this my fellow crew members for the flight walk in and we exchange greetings. Once sat at the table we sign a form saying we are rested, fit to fly and are up to date with the latest notices. With that done we then decide who would like to work where. We carry 4 crew on our 737-800s and main crew can either operate as a number 2, 3 or 4. (I'll refer to these numbers a bit so this is what I mean) Each position has different roles, responsibilities and expectations. I ask today if it would be ok if I can operate as the number 4 as my last few days on I have been the 3 and before that I was the 2. With that decided the other 2 crew decide amongst them whether to go the 2 or the 3. FYI - The number 4 operates alongside the SCCM and looks after mainly the forward cabin and the 2 and the 3 operate from the rear and look after the rear cabin with the 2 additionally being in charge of the bars and galley. As we're getting ready to start our briefing the captain comes over and introduces himself. I know who he is but haven't flown with him. Introductions over with we begin our briefing for the flight. This is where we discuss hypothetical safety and first aid situations which could arise to check that we all know our drills and procedures. For example we might discuss an oven fire and how to deal with that and then discuss someone having a heart attack and how to deal with that. We all answer various bits and pieces about our situation today and our SCCM seems happy enough. Once our safety briefing is complete we get some basic info about our flight (pax numbers etc) Today we're not full either way with a provisional figure of 135 going out and 108 coming back which is quiet as our 737-800 holds 189. The aircraft we'll be on today is G-SAAW which is the newest of our planes having been delivered on 12th May 05 so it's not even a year old.
Photo © Sascha Kamrau
Our flight times will be 4hrs 26 going out and a cringe worthy 5hrs 10 coming back (it's always better if the flight time back is less than going out because you just want to get home!) with the weather expected to be fine both en route and down route. With that all done at about 1705 we're all ready to go to the aircraft. We can see it just pulling onto stand 27 just opposite the crew room as it's just back from Tenerife. We start walking through the international departures lounge to our aircraft and wait on the airbridge as passengers disembark. Once the last passenger is off we board exchanging a brief hi to the Tenerife crew (who have already started cleaning the aircraft) before beginning our duties. As the number 4 today my responsibility is the forward galley, toilet and rows 1-10 of the aircraft. Turnaround for any airline is chaotic and today is no exception. With engineers, caterers, pilots and cleaners it's difficult to get things done especially as I try and check all my equipment is ok at the entrance to door 1 Left. However I managed to get it done and all the safety equipment is fine and where it should be. As soon as I have completed my equipment checks I give the Tenerife crew a hand to clean the aircraft. It's now 1720 and as soon as we have cleaned the aircraft and collected all the rubbish we bid farewell to the Tenerife crew and the aircraft becomes eerily quiet. Once the catering has been completed and there's no one else but the crew on the aircraft I complete my security check in my areas. ie - checking underneath the seats and overhead lockers from rows 1-10 making sure there's nothing there that shouldn't be and generally that the aircraft is in a good state for boarding. With a check of the stowages in the galley and in the forward toilet done I pass all my checks onto the SCCM. A few minutes later the guys at the back announce over the PA that their security and equipment checks are all complete also, that the catering is all fine and that our water has been topped up. It's now 1735 and we're all ready for passengers. The dispatcher has brought us our manifest of passengers and asks if we're ready for passengers. Our final passenger figure is 131+1 so we're three quarters full. The SCCM checks with the captain if we can board and with a thumbs up we commence boarding. Our boarding positions are - the 2 stays in the back galley to read the boarding PA and load our on board computers, the 3 stands at the overwing exits to greet passengers and me as the 4 stand at door 1 Left with the SCCM to greet passengers and check boarding cards. Whilst boarding we're still refuelling so we ask passengers during the boarding PA to take their seats but leave their seatbelts unfastened. Boarding is quite quick today and as soon as everyone is on I begin to close overhead lockers and make a quick visual check that bags are where they should be and see that the mother of the infant who is sat in row 9 today has an extension seatbelt and knows how to work it. Meanwhile the 3 is doing a headcount and confirming to the SCCM that she has 131+1 on board we're ready to close the doors. It's just before 1800 (I take my final breath of fresh air for a few hours) and the SCCM closes the forward door. The captain does a quick welcome on board PA and with that done the SCCM makes the PA to arm our doors. As there are 4 crew each of us is in charge of a door. As the number 4 my door is 1Left (which we just closed) and is the biggest and heaviest of all 4 doors on the aircraft. After arming and cross checking our doors at the front with the SCCM we get the call that the rear doors have also been armed and cross checked. The SCCM makes a quick introduction to the names of all of the cabin crew and asks them to watch the safety demonstration about to be shown. I can feel a slight jerk as the plane is pushed backwards at this point and looking at my watch it's bang on 1800. Walking down the aisle to collect my Demo Kit which is situated above row 16 and begin setting up at row 10. For the safety demo the SCCM stands at row 1, the number 4 at row 10 and the number 3 at row 22 with the 2 at the back reading the demonstration PA. The demonstration is a very important part of our job so we need to make sure it's done perfectly so everyone knows exactly what to do in the event something goes wrong. Once the last piece of equipment has been demonstrated (the lifejacket) I pick up my kit and begin securing my cabin (rows 1-10). Thankfully today everyone has listened to the PAs and I only have to ask one passenger to place his bag underneath the seat in front of him. Passing my cabin secure to the SCCM I double check all the latches on the carts and stowages are secured, all the electrics are off and the toilet is empty and locked for takeoff and then take my seat next to door 1L. The SCCM sits next to me looking down the cabin as there is a bulkhead in front of row 1 so that's all I can see in front of me. With the ding dong of the interphone comes the rear cabins secure for takeoff and with that the SCCM informs the captain that the cabin is secure for takeoff. A quick taxi and I can feel us turning onto the runway with the engines starting to spool up. Whilst this is happening I'm going through my mind a silent review saying where I am, what I would do and shout to the passengers should we have an emergency. The captain now applies takeoff thrust and we're rolling! Even though I'm strapped in as tightly as can be I can still feel the power of the 2 CFM engines hurtling us along the runway. G-SAAW takes to the air at 1810 and can hear the nosegear spinning as it's retracted. A few minutes later we get the sign from the captain that it's ok to get up (the seatbelt sign goes off and on again and with that comes a Boeing voice saying "direct access message number one, this is a fasten seatbelt announcement" - this happens every time the seatbelt sign is put on or off and only happens on 2 of our 800s. Not sure if this is a Boeing thing or not - perhaps someone knows?) As I get up the SCCM makes the PA to remind the passengers it's not safe to get up yet as the signs are still on and I head to the back galley to collect some things which we don't have at the front to do our inflight service like sandwiches. For those who haven't flown flyglobespan we don't offer any free food or drink but you can buy sandwiches, snacks and drinks like EZY. Having collected everything I need from the back I help the SCCM set up the double cart at the front ready to go out. A few minutes later the seatbelt signs go off and people start to move about some going to the toilets and some moving to the empty seats to become more comfortable. I offer to the lady with the baby if she'd like to move to one of the free rows to make herself more comfortable but she declines politely. Both the front and rear trolleys are ready to go out and the 2 makes the PA to tell the passengers what's on offer to buy. Before myself and the SCCM head out to start the service we check with the pilots if they'd like a drink. They would like some coke so I pour them two glasses and also take them in the list of crew food today. Having picked their sandwich and hot meal I fetch their sandwiches as they're quite hungry and leave them to start our first service. We start at row 1 and the guys at the back start at the middle at row15. The service is quite quiet with not many people wanting more than a tea or coffee. Having completed the first service me and the SCCM clear in any rubbish and then we go to the back to start the sale of tax free goods. Pulling the cart to the front we begin walking down asking if anyone would like any tax free goods. That was done quite quickly as no one purchased anything so we gathered at the back for a quick cup of tea and a bite to eat. The rest of flight went very quietly indeed and the light soon started fading outside with a beautiful sunset. The captain came over the PA periodically to update passengers where we were and the latest time of arrival in Paphos. I think our routing took us over Germany, Austria, Croatia, Northern Greece and Turkey. We were expected to land 35 minutes ahead of schedule which was quite good. After the first drinks/snacks service we did another 3 after that every half hour of so and collected rubbish every 15 mins or so. Most people had brought DVD players with them as we do not offer any inflight entertainment and were quietly watching them whilst one of us walked up and down the cabin every 10 mins to check everyone was ok. I went back to check on the lady with the baby and she was doing fine and asked me if I had warm water I said yes and she asked if I wouldn't mind filling her bottle for her. I said of course no problem so she brought her bottle and some formula milk up to the forward galley and I helped her prepare the milk. She thanked me and went to feed her baby. The baby didn't want the milk so she ended up walking her in the aisle. We got chatting while she was walking the baby about her holiday and where she was from and the time soon passed. It was now 2210 (uk time) and we had started our descent towards Paphos. We had made up some more time and now would be landing 45 minutes ahead of schedule. Soon the seatbelt sign came on and we prepared the cabin for landing. Collecting as much rubbish as possible (as we have to clean the cabin so we try and get as much as possible) and securing all the galleys. At 2230 we get the 10 minutes to landing PA from the flightdeck and we all make a final check in our areas that all the passengers are strapped in for landing and then take our seats. It's not long before I hear the front wheel being released for landing. We touchdown in Paphos at 2239. The landing is very smooth and the thud of the front wheel hitting the ground comes quickly. Exiting the runway the SCCM makes the usual "welcome to Cyprus where the local time is 0040 and we are 45 minutes ahead of schedule" ....and finally it has been our pleasure looking after you......once again please remain seated with your seatbelts fastened (someone had stood up and opened an overhead locker - there's always one isn't there!) We had a very short taxi following the follow me vehicle to our stand and the seatbelt sign was switched off. After disarming the doors they attached stairs to the front and back and the passengers were soon disembarking. We had parked right in front of the terminal so the passengers had a very short walk into arrivals. Bidding goodbye to our passengers they thanked us for the nice flight and some wished us a safe journey home to Glasgow. The lady with the baby was soon off and thanked us very much for all we'd done. Another satisfied bunch!
Quick pic of us on stand in PFO
|On Stand in PFO|
The return PFO-GLA,
With the last passenger off we started the task of cleaning and preparing the cabin for going back. Luckily because we were so early it gave us a bit longer. It was now 2315 (uk time) and we weren't due out until 0025 (again uk time) so we had plenty of time. The cabin wasn't too bad as we had collected most of the rubbish during descent and so we were finished quite quickly. Being able to speak Greek I had a conversation with the dispatcher who informed me that the A-Jet (ex Helios) on the stand just down from us (i think bound for MAN not sure though) was tech and had to do engine runs. He also said to us that we had 101 checked in so far and check in hadn't closed. We started boarding at 2330 and the final figure was 106. Once the headcount was complete we went through the same procedures as when we came out - arming the doors, safety demonstration and securing my cabin for takeoff. This time there was only 7 people in my rows as most people had been checked in towards the back of the plane so securing the cabin was nice and quick. We were soon airborne heading for home and began the drinks/snacks service followed by the tax free. Most people moved to the free seats to lie down and sleep. Once the service had been done the lights were dimmed and most of the passengers went to sleep and we did not do any more services with carts to let people rest and sleep. We let passengers know that if they required anything at all throughout the flight they could press their call bells. Whilst the SCCM and the number 3 done the tax free service I put on the hot meals for the pilots. 20 minutes later they were ready and they were soon tucking into roast pork and thai curry I think it was One of us stayed at the front galley at all times and we took it in turns to walk through the cabin every 15 mins to check everyone was ok. There was only about 5 people awake everytime I went through. We were making good progress and continued flying through the dark of night north towards Glasgow. Occasionally a call bell would go off and one of us would answer it. Apart from that it was very uneventful. We had our hot meals, done a few crosswords and read the papers as daylight soon began to appear. About an hour before landing a lady pressed the call bell and said she wasn't feeling too good. She was feeling quite sick and sweaty. I put her air vent on and gave her a glass of water and sat with her for 10 mins. She was ok and I checked on her every 10 mins or so after that. She got a bit better as she cooled down. Before we land we have to count all the money we have taken from our bars and seal all our carts. As we had so much time and everyone was asleep we managed to this very quickly and before we knew it the seatbelt signs came on for landing. It definitely wakes you up because of the additional Boeing voice that comes on as well as the normal ding every time the seatbelt sign goes on or off. Having freshened up for landing (we were all starting to feel it was time for our beds!) it was now 0435 and we would be landing at 0505. With the lights back on we made a final collection of rubbish, checked everyone was strapped in for landing at 10 mins to landing and the lights were soon dimmed again as we took our seats. The usual clunk of the nosegear came and we landed again very smoothly on runway 23 at Glasgow at 0504. Again the SCCM made the usual PA "welcome to Glasgow where the time is 0505 and we are 40 minutes ahead of schedule" We pulled onto stand 25 (a domestic stand) so all passengers left from the rear door and we soon collected our belongings. I secretly smiled to myself because one very long but satisfying day had come to an end and it was time to hit the pillow! We made a quick trip to the crew room where it all began about 13 hours before to call operations for any changes to our roster and check out. Fortunately there were none and we walked to the car park where we met the crew who were due to take our aircraft to Tenerife in about an hour and a half where it all begins again for another crew member!
Sorry if it's really long! I hope you liked it and any comments or questions are welcome!