Ever wondered what flight attendants do even before passengers embark the aircraft? Well, I’m pretty sure most people might think we just wait for the passengers, smile while they’re boarding, and do the take-off announcement. Pretty easy right? but is not really just smiling and doing a catwalk down the aisle. We have certain responsibilities that we need to do before boarding our passengers. Almost all of the duties are safety-related, though customer service is also important. Also, all tasks are divided. The purser which is the person in command of the flight has its own tasks, the seniors which are divided in classes (Business/First class and Economy) have their own tasks, the rest of regular cabin crew have their own duties and finally the flight deck crew (Pilots) of course, they have their own duties as well. This all before passengers board and after. By the way, Cabin Crew must arrived at the airport 2 hours before the flight, and 3 for the seniors. Of course if I write with details every bit of thing that everyone has to do, this post will be too long and it might get boring, so I’m just going to give you the basics and a sneak peek of what we do before we commence our daily journey.
Let’s go to the beginning shall we! Even before the briefing we need to pass 3 phases which only one gets me out of nerves. These goes to our record. If we ever get points for bad grooming, safe talk, missing licenses or being late, it will affect the performance whenever we want to upgrade for a class, we also get a letter and a coffee with the manager.
We all need to have all of our licences up to date, certification of our aircraft’s, vaccinations, Airlines ID up to date, and also our passport. These all checked by one of our seniors. Cabin Crew that’s missing one of the following documents does not meet the requirements to operate the flight. He/She will be offloaded and marked as absent.
2.Grooming and Uniform
I’m sure you’re all thinking, how can flight attendants work for so many hours, minimum rest and still look fresh? Well, our airline is very strict with our grooming and uniform. Perhaps because of being so strict makes all crew follow all grooming and uniforms standards. Females need to be wearing nice make-up, nothing extravagant. In my airline, red lipstick is part of the uniform and must be worn at all times. Hair must be pulled tight in a bun, uniform ironed, watch, knee level skirt, shoes and nails polished. Males; uniform ironed, watch, shoes polished and well shaved. Also after checking the grooming comes the cabin bag check. Inside our cabin bag we need to have our crew pajamas, cabin shoes, service vest and oven gloves. Once again, Cabin Crew that’s missing one of the following or points for grooming, will not meet the requirements to operate the flight. He/She will be offloaded and marked as absent.
Safe talk consists of a random question from the purser regarding general safety, aircraft specifics, medical among others. The question is asked in a group of 4 crew or as the purser decides to. The Cabin Crew has to answer the question given, if not, the cabin crew has 2 more opportunities with different questions to answer. If the cabin crew still fails, this will affect the performance and written in a flight review. If the Cabin Crew fails more than 3 times in a short period of time, most likely will have a meeting with the manager and a possible retraining.
This is when the purser along with the seniors and regular cabin crew introduce themselves. They talk about the latest news, any changes of the service and crew must participate in any activity. They’re briefed on safety details and a list of passengers is verified and cabin crew are notified for any special needs passengers, small children, or VIPs will be boarding the flight. The Captain and First Officer also introduce themselves and briefed of any weather conditions, possible turbulence, flight duration, and other factors that may affect the upcoming flight are discussed in detail. Also, duty positions are given at this moment.
5.Safety Security Search
After the briefing, Cabin Crew inspect the aircraft, ensuring the safety equipment is in place and working properly. If a piece of equipment, such as an oxygen bottle, is found used, cabin crew must replace the item prior to takeoff. The crew also inspects every seat, lavatory and hatch compartments and galley for any suspicious item. All this while the seniors check the carts with catering in the galley as well.
After the cabin crew gives the call and informed the checks of the safety security search has been completed, the crew can start preparing the cabin. Such as placing the blankets and headsets on the seats, lavatory lotions and soaps etc.
7.Ready to board
Every crew is in their respective position and welcoming the passengers. Cabin Crew also assists passengers with special needs children, or VIPs to ensure they receive the proper care while boarding, also they check tickets and seating positions are verified. In addition, they assists passengers load carry-on baggage, however passenger must load its own bag into the compartment, they also check each adheres to aircraft or airline size and weight restrictions.
This is when pre-departures comes, cabin crew starts giving and collecting hot towels to passengers, giving the today’s menus and toys for children and infants. After the announcement of arming the door, each cabin crew will armed and secure their doors and cabin. Also making sure electronic devices and cell phones are turned off, carry-ons are stowed correctly, seats are in an upright position, and tray tables are stowed. In some airlines cabin crew have to do the safety demonstration, in some others they have the safety video played in the monitors screen. The entire procedure, from boarding to takeoff, is known as pre-departures and it’s more likely from passengers to see (noticed) while they’re boarding and take-off. It is also important to know that cabin crew don’t get paid until the aircraft has taken off.
After the cabin and galleys are secured, cabin crew will be seated on their jumpseat until after take-off and seat-belt sign has been switch off.
Interesting right? Every airline has their own procedures however almost all of the flight attendant’s duties are safety-related thus is basically the same procedure with different names. We know these steps passengers will never see them or even noticed them. However is always good to know that flight attendants have more responsibilities and that, service is the last one on the list. Next time you fly, have a glimpse of their tasks, compare and enjoy! Besides we are your entertainers on that flight! 😉