How we all work together..and play together!
In any occupation, you have a team of co-workers that work together towards a common goal. You hope that everyone on your “team” works well together.. has “synergy”, and respects each others positions, ideas, and needs. We all know that Success is always the goal, no matter what the task.
In my industry, not only is team work important for producing a great service, it is also important for safety. A team on board an aircraft as well as their co-workers on the ground, needs to be on the same page, always.
So what is the team structure in corporate aviation?
It starts when a client wants to book a charter aircraft, their first contact is with a broker or charter sales person. This individual will find the right aircraft for the clients needs, IE. the number of passengers, the destination, and the price range.
Once the sale is a done deal, the charter coordinator begins to assign a crew, and make all the arrangements for the trip pending approval from the client and his/he associates.
The catering order is taken and passed on to the flight attendant assigned to the trip. All of The communication, as you can imagine, needs to be prompt, accurate, and complete, in order for everything to start off smoothly. This helps to set the tone for the entire trip.
Flight Crew team-work pre-flight
While the coordinators are gathering their information and making the arrangements final with the client, they are hopefully keeping the flight crew in the loop of everything going on. The flight attendant needs as much notice and accurate information as possible in order to do the best job inflight as possible. The pilots need to know schedules, departure/ arrival time slots and possible weather concerns in advance as well. Then, the pilots and flight attendants need to communicate with each other on a pre-flight plan. IE. What time to meet the aircraft, accurate contact information for everyone, how service will be conducted, etc. If the destination is out of the country, all the required customs paperwork needs to be filed ahead of time for all crew, and passengers. If going to places that vaccines are needed, this must also be taken care of in advance. Of course, if all of this info is not communicated effectively to EVERYONE, it can cause many problems and one little detail left out or misunderstood, can make a big difference.
Communication and team work on-board
At the beginning of a trip, the interaction and communication of the flight attendant and the pilots is very important. A crew briefing ( even a basic one), is something that should always be done. Not only does it help everyone to be one the same page, it also sets the stage for the communication and interaction throughout the whole trip! I know that in my experience, when this is left out, it does make a big difference. As a flight attendant, i need to know things like: weather ( so my service goes smoothly-soup does not end up in someone’s lap!), passenger information (ages, likes/dislikes, etc), and the emergency plan ( in case, God for bid, something happens in flight). The other really important entity here is : a mutual respect for each others roles on board). The captain, first officer, and the flight attendant, ALL have very important jobs and need respect from each other.
Although the captain rules on the final decisions of aircraft and passenger related issues, without the flight attendant working hard in the back with service and passenger interaction, the flight is not going to be a success: Which ultimately means bad things for everyone including loss of company business..
Throughout the flight
Our flights in corporate aviation can be really long.. I am talking half way around the world in a day! This is a lot of work for everyone involved. The pilots need to stay awake and the flight attendant needs to keep everyone happy in the back ( actually, in the front too).
As human beings, most of us can get a little cranky when we are tired, and its important to be sensitive to this with your co-workers. Two big rules of mine: Don’t take offense to it, and try to be empathic to it. During this long flight, it makes a happier team if everyone is respectful of each others hard work, and personal needs. I know that I treat my pilots very well. I make sure they are “fed and watered” throughout the whole trip! Ha Ha.. really though, I recognize how hard it is to sit in one spot for so long and need to be alert as well. I also hope that they recognize my need to chill out for a bit and rest if possible- To clear my head and stay strong in my service. The communication again is also very important. The pilots should be kept abreast of the passengers needs and the tone of the flight. And, the flight attendant should be kept aware of the weather, arrival details, and anything else prudent to the whole trip. There should be no separation “of house and state” so to speak.. or, separation of “cockpit and cabin” in our terms..This is one thing that 911 didn’t effect in corporate aviation- because there is no lock-down of the cockpit door, typically its left open. The passengers can visit and chat with the pilots and so can the flight attendant at any time. ( and i like this!)..
At the end of a long day of flying and over the course of the overnight (s), this is the whole crew’s oppertunityto debrief and decompress. Its also a chance for the crew to socialize a little with each other and get to know one another as real people and not just as crew members. Personally I believe this is important to feel like a family in the sky! I know that sounds a little corny but it has always been a part of why I love going to work. I look forward to flying with pilots I know and working together to make the flight a success as well as having some fun on the road! ( not too much fun of course) 😉
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