The million dollar Question..
As of late, the theme for the majority of emails I have received from new or aspiring Flight Attendants has been: “what is the first flight/trip like?” And, “how can you prepare for it?”
About a year ago, I wrote a blog on the same topic called “first flight”, but it has come to my attention that I did not adequately answer all the questions in people’s heads. I think what most of you want to know is : how to prepare for it, and what is the experience really like. So, here we go ..
First, you must remember that no two trips or flights will ever be the same. As the passengers’ and crew change, so does the whole dynamics of the trip. Your prep for each trip will be different depending on all variables such as destination, weather, flight time, pax load, and time available for preparation. I will say, the only way to “almost” guarantee yourself a good first trip is to be PREPARED. Generally speaking, you are given a decent amount of advance notice. Don’t EVER put anything off till the last minute if you can avoid it. Pilot’s rule of safe flying is “ staying ahead of their aircraft”.. Similarly, we need to stay ahead of our passengers and their needs. This does take practice and gets better with time, but if you are an organized person, you will catch on to this pretty quickly. For example, don’t just shop/cater for all REQUESTED items.. You should also be prepared with extras in case of late additions to your pax list, or the concept that minds do change at the last minute. Your passengers may order chicken, but the day of the trip, have a taste for something else. Most of our passengers have the expectation that private jets are like 5 star restaurants in the sky and they will have many options available to them. As crew members, we are more in touch with the reality that at 45,000 ft- the options are limited to what you brought with you and there is NO going back! But knowing how our pax think, our job is to be prepared: IE. keeping in mind that the “original” request for chicken may change to beef or a salad…
Additionally, plan ahead for later legs on your trip in relation to aircraft stock and destinations that may have limited resources. For example, if you are flying to a 3rd world country that may have limited options or lower quality food, be prepared for the trip back out by stocking your aircraft with items from a better location. Another tip is bringing an extra cooler with you for additional needed storage space..
How do you keep your cool when change happens? Be mentally prepared for it! If you anticipate change occurring, it won’t catch you off guard. Lets face the fact that in aviation, “nothing is consistent but change”. That makes sense right?!
Another big part of having a good first flight is being a good team player with your crew. CRM folks. We are not alone on that aircraft, we are part of a team. Accept help, advice, and input from your pilots. In addition, keep them happy too. If a bad situation arises, it will have a smoother outcome if you have synergy and a good working relationship with your whole crew! How do you do you this?- Wel it starts from the very beginning. Prior to setting foot on your aircraft, establish a relationship with your pilots. Call them and talk about the trip. Feel them out a bit for their temperament, needs, and agenda. Not only will gathering this info help YOU, it will also set THEIR mind at ease about you and set a good tone for your trip in terms of communication and overall compatibility.
Finally, I want to share with you a couple “first trips” of FAs I know that were gracious enough to share their experiences for all of you!
How could I ever forget my first flight! It’s hard to believe it was only 6 months ago! As you know, I was brand new to corporate aviation and had flown for a commercial airline for almost 6 years. I had outgrown it and was ready for something new, a challenge but I didn’t want to sit in an office. I love flying, traveling, food, meeting new people, exploring new countries. I’m a gypsy at heart and this is perfect for me.
The night before my first flight I hardly slept. I was too excited and a bit nervous but I knew that this was exactly what I wanted to do. I had planned out the entire pre-board, flight and post flight duties. It was going to be a short flight, just a little over an hour. I was going to have 4 passengers and was to serve lunch. I had ordered my catering and also bought some fresh produce, cheeses, charcuterie and dessert from a local Whole Foods.
Once I got to the plane I began my preflight checks. This was routine at commercial aviation as well so nothing new except for where the equipment was located on the plane. I proceeded to put my ice away, lay out the newspapers and organize my catering. It was then I was informed that I was going to have an extra passenger. I panicked for a split second but then carried on with preparing the boarding appetizers. I was raised in southern Italy and food, good food is a big part of my life. It’s probably my favorite part of the job. Drafting menus, buying fresh produce, talking to the caterers, plating the food. The tiny galley took a minute to get used to but somehow I pulled it off! The flight was over before I knew it and 5 people had been fed a boarding appetizer, an entree, dessert, and coffee.
What an incredible feeling! I had done it and loved every single moment of it!
“I remember feeling ecstatic, anxious, and hopeful as I did my first trip from DC to Dallas. It was on a Falcon 50, and I had waited months for this moment. I was so happy that all my work completing FACTS training and applying to countless companies had paid off! Simultaneously, I was nervous as anyone would be the first time completing a new job alone. I had only two passengers who requested very simple service – fruit crudites. An unexpected situation occurred when the lead passenger’s pen leaked and stained the carpet with blue ink. Fortunately, this was on the return leg so I informed the cleaners about it immediately when we returned to the FBO. My advice to new FAs is to keep calm! You have to ease into this job, and in training they make the catering seem very elaborate. Perform the job in a way that makes you feel most comfortable.
If you are unfamiliar with a new galley, keep things simple and order from the caterer instead of trying to prepare everything yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask others for help – whether it’s another FA, the pilots, the caterer, or even the dispatchers coordinating the trip.”
Thanks Girls for your input!
And I hope this blog helped to clear up what that first trip is all about!!
Cobblestones and Heels