What Flight Attendants Actually Do 

Hello dear readers,

I have worked as a flight attendant since this summer at the Belgian airline company TUIFly. In this blog, I will explain the main tasks of a flight attendant because dear lord, some people think we are their personal coffee filler. We are not your personal coffee filler. We are everyone’s coffee filler! Hooray.

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View from the front in Santorini.

The question I get asked the most, is undoubtedly: “Do you get to stay at your destination? Or do you fly back?” Well, the answer is simple: if a flight is longer dan 5 hours single (let’s say starting from 6 hours), we get to stay there, because we need our rest. But if the duration of the flight is for example 4 or 5 hours , we have to fly back. Yeeey!

During those long days, when flying directly back to the home base, it’s always joy and laughter until a passenger asks: “How long until we land?” And the thing you really could answer, is: “I don’t know woman, I’ve been in this plane for the past 24 hours!”

So, in this blog, I will talk about the things that happen when we land somewhere and we don’t get to stay; instead, we have to prepare the cabin for the return flight. And by doing this, I will also answer the second most asked question, namely: “What do you actually do in a plane?” A lot, I can assure you. But the hard work is worth it, and the friendly passengers (yes, they do exist) and the fun colleagues make this job the best job ever.

First of all, I want to get rid of anyone’s ideas that the flight attendants are just servants, waiters. Because we aren’t. If something happens on the ground, you can call so many services: when there’s a fire, you call the fire brigade, when there’s an emergency, you call the emergency number,… In the sky, your only option thus rescue is the cabin crew. We are trained for all kinds of emergencies. And yes, they do happen often. I’ve had people who faint, need extra care, have a special medical condition, … constantly. So next time, be friendly to your cabin crew, because he/she could save your life if something bad would happen.

What is very important – and what happens before every take-off – is the checking of all the safety and emergency equipment. The whole plane and all the equipment gets controlled. Then, we have to do a security search to make sure the cabin itself is safe and no one has left anything unsafe behind.

Then, everyone goes to their door: every cabin crew has one door, and with every door different responsibilities come along. Your tasks can be for example: checking the water and waste level, announcing the speeches, making sure the sales reports are completed, check the catering, etc.

Later, the passengers board the plane, and then a lot of things have to happen before the plane takes off: assisting the pax in the cabin, bring extra life vests and safety belts to passengers who need it and brief those passengers, perform the safety demo, explaining safety procedures to the passengers who are seated at the emergency overwing exits, making sure the safety procedures are met for take-off, or also known as making sure the cabin is secure, – checking if: the bags are in the right position, they’re no children near the emergency exits, everything is stowed securely, etc.

Then, something very important must happen, namely the arming of the slides of the door. If the slides are armed and you open the door, the slide will come out and inflate immediately. If the slides are disarmed, this won’t happen. Each cabin crew has to arm their slides and cross check the other. If you land, you have to disarm your slide because otherwise, you would open the door and a gigantic slide would jump out of it and start inflating in just a few seconds. And, you would probably lose your job. So, that is something to keep in mind too.

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During the flight, flight attendants perform their service, but I won’t torture you with that explanation because then, this wouldn’t be a blog anymore, but more a bible. Let’s just say there are different types of service, especially at my airline company, and many, many things you have to prepare and offer to the passengers. And god, flights can be so much fun! With the right colleagues and the right passengers, your working day can just fly by. And, I’ll definitely do a blog someday about the funniest of stupidest things passengers ask sometimes. It’s hilarious.

But now, here comes the fun part! After a long flight, you finally land. Unfortunately, the flight took 4,5 hours, so you have to flight back. But there is one hour/ one hour and a half in between to: let the passengers disembark, clean, do a security check again, receive the catering, fuel the plane, and prepare for the next flight.

So that is what we are doing while you, as a passenger, are waiting at the gate, looking at the plane and thinking: “Those passengers have disembarked some time ago, what on earth are they doing in there?” Preparing and cleaning the airplane for you, ma’am! And by that I mean literally clean everything, place the seatbelts and safety cards correctly,… I know what you’re thinking and no, please don’t picture cabin crew in their uniforms running around the aircraft with vacuum cleaners and cleaning products, because that is not what we do. Cleaning comes on board with vacuum cleaners etc. and in the meantime, we clear the airplane of any rubbish and place everything in its right order.

Most of the time -depends on the circumstances and the airport services- we have to wait a bit until the passengers arrive. So that’s when we go outside the plane and relax a bit in the sun. That moment, when you feel the sun shining on you, you know god is real. That’s the fun part of it. Okay, staying at the destination would be better, but still, it’s like yaaasss, I’m really here.

Later, the next passengers arrive and everything happens again: the boarding, explaining safety procedures, safety demo, cabin secure, the announcements, the service, etc. Approximately 30 minutes before landing, we close our sales, start cleaning up and emptying the galley, prepare the cabin for landing, and prepare everything for our arrival at our home base.

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Arrival at LGG (Liège)- one of my home bases in Belgium.

Now, sometimes, we fly to another destination- that is a triangular flight. So that means that the passengers cross each other and, consequently, their places as well. You can imagine what a fun fest that always is! Moody passengers who see other people with the same boarding pass and seat number as them. But as a flight attendant, your task is to inform everyone of this and keep the peace in the cabin.

Also, cabin crew has to perform a headcount – so count literally everyone in the airplane – because the number of passengers has to be right – you never know who disembarks at a wrong destination or who doesn’t board the plane at all. Please, dear passengers, next time you hear “cabin crew preform a headcount”… Stay. Seated. For the love of god. Because we have to keep doing this until everyone gets the same number as result. And sometimes, that means you have to do it a few times…

At a triangular flight, you take off three times, perform the safety demo three times, prepare the cabin for arrival and landing three times, etc. And, for some reason, I always get those flights. But hey, I cannot complain, I’d rather learn this profession the hard way than to get the shortest and easiest flights.

So, that was shortly how a work day of mine can look like. I hope that you have a more clear idea of what cabin crew really are for and I really hope that next time, you won’t whistle at us, like you whistle to a dog, when you need us. Or slap my ass! (yes, that happens.) Please, just press the call button!

Much love,

Ana

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Ana Seas The Day is a project founded by Anaïs Skoutariotis, a former flight attendant and graduate in Communications Management - Public Relations. Born with mixed Greek and Italian roots, ever since she was a child her parents took her to the most beautiful Mediterranean places. Her love for travelling and discovering the best destinations has grown ever since. On Ana Seas The Day, she shares her travel stories, advice and inspiration for all the adventurous souls out there.

10 thoughts on “What Flight Attendants Actually Do 

  1. Very good. I worked for my airline Company during five years as a travelling officer. This means that I had training for different a/c types. My longest trip was from Helsinki to Buenos Aires via Berlin where we transported Berlin philharmonics to Buenos Aires.

    Thank You for this great post,
    Matti from Helsinki, Finland

    Liked by 1 person

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