Before you step onto the plane

Last night ( morning for those who started the day early) at this hour…I was busy closing my sales cart. Now at home, am having problem sleeping.

Most of my blog’s readers are cabin crew members. That’s what I’d like to assume.

Sometimes, I do wonder whether people at large or my passengers ever thought on what are the preparations that crew members needed to do before they boarded the plane and throw their smiles at them at the door.

Flight departure is at  0800 hrs.

Crew will have to be at the office reporting for duty by 6.30 in the morning and their taxis are waiting at the road curb in front of their house at  5 o’clock. It means, the cabin crew will have to wake up as early as at 4 in the morning to shower and get themselves “pretty” for the pick-up. Do your calculation; look at the total number of hours that each cabin crew had to spend on each flight prior to the scheduled time of departure. It is a solid four hours for each of them get their expensive smiles ready to receive passengers on board of our national carrier.

Let look at it further, a flight to Europe which easily takes an approximately 12 hours each could have swallowed the entire 18 hours of cabin crew precious time. These hours are spent fully utilized serving our precious cargo…the passengers. Our national carrier is amongst the most rigid when enforcing their in-flight services and all the qualities that come with the cabin crew. The discipline and method used to ensure  the standard service procedures are carried only second to military regime. Those holding the yardsticks are varied. Some quite accommodating and some are behaving like an army commanding officer. Suffice to say, each cabin crew is being monitored for the entire flight with eyes akin to those eagles preying for a hunt of so-called supervisors. The recognition as a 5 star airline and the best cabin crew awards that they have gained year after year through sweat, tears and full of “maki-hamun”. And yet, the moment each of them appears in the cabin, the airline expected this crew to smile and greet each of you passenger like she or he just won a million dollars lottery.

Each time passengers stepped onto a plane, surely they thought that those pretty faces who greeted them were simply boarded they aircraft a few minutes ahead of them, stowed their bags and immediately ready to play host. There are dozens if not tone of things to do before we could take a breather and standing pretty waiting for passengers embarkation. We had to check all safety equipment are operational, stowed where they are assigned to be stowed and should be accounted for according to the stipulated procedures. All their senses are switched on to detect any unfamiliar sound and smell that is strange than usual. Some engineering problems were detected through the keen eyes, smell and ears of the crew. The delays in responding to this unfamiliar detection is actually a blessing for everyone. You do not wish to be told of any technical problem when you are well above the cloud. The next time your flight is delayed due to technical problem, you should be counting your blessing for the fact that you are in the safe hands. Do not come onboard making faces and throwing a smart remark to cabin crew. If you do, please tell us that your car has never giving any tantrum or your wife as perfect as an angel because, there is none of moving thing could be forever in pristine condition.

For those who have been assigned to look after foods and beverages are busy checking and making sure that those foods and beverages are catered sufficient enough for the passengers and crew alike. There is service equipment and galley electrical needed a quick check to ensure that they are all in working order. The ground preparations are the most chaotic situation where the catering guys are busy loading carts and stowing things at their respective stowage areas, the cleaners with their big plastic bags, vacuums etc are everywhere in the cabin clearing rubbish and refreshing toilets and of course the cabin crew themselves are running here and there preparing the cabins, dressing up toilets with hand lotions, perfumes etc. Some crew are opening up all the air vents to ensure the cabin is comfortable enough for boarding.

The are hive of activities which are well concealed from the preying eyes of our passengers. The passengers could only anticipate aircraft preparations for the departure from the glass window at the departure lounge. They could only see the cargo men offloading and loading up their baggage into and from the plane’s belly. The preparation inside this metal tube are most elaborate, tuned with precision timings, dedications and high level of discipline.

This is hidden from your view.

When all things seemingly ready, boarding clearance given and this is what the in-flight purser would be announcing through the PA ” Cabin crew, boarding clearance has been given!”. With that, we cabin crew fully understood to do what is needed. A few second before that announcement blasted through the PA, even if you are munching a quick bite on the dry biscuit, you are expected to clear your throat, gulp a quick drink, look in the mirror to see any traces of cookies between the teeth, re-apply and touching up make-up and start to pulling up smiling muscle, hold the breath….tummy in and chest out. Here we go, the beginning of an epic adventure in making sure each passenger reaches their destination safe and happy.

 

 

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