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8 Inflight Service Tips for Corporate Flight Attendants
Posted on September 22, 2015 by Kathryn Martone [guest author]
Inflight service tips
Below you will find eight service tips for serving your passengers (or as we call them in the industry, “pax”) on a private jet. Along with these tips, you will find questions to help you work through various scenarios. As always, if you have additional tips or questions, be sure to leave a comment below.
1. Arranging catering from a client profile
When given a profile for clients, but no explicit catering order for the trip, how many items do you have onboard to cover all bases of the profile? Do you get everything listed? What is your catering plan when you have no idea what they will specifically want? The way I handle this is by fact-finding:
I look at the time of day and match the profile up.
I speak to the last FA that flew them.
I look at the duration of the flight, and the destination.
Process of elimination always helps me dwindle down an enormous profile to my top good guesses of what would be appropriate and make them happy!
2. Servicing a quick flight
As we all know, many pax want a meal or at least apps on a very short flight. I have even done a full breakfast on a 26-minute flight! How do we make that happen? First, we all probably know it is best to pre-plate everything. If you are ordering from a caterer, ask for individually plated items you plan on serving. Have them labeled with names if you planned specific food for each person. If you are serving platters (cheese trays, veggie crudites, etc.), you can ask the caterer (or do it yourself) to make individual sampler plates. It is easier for storage, too. Have utensils, napkins and placements ready to go. It also helps to serve drinks pre-departure so, once in the air, you can concentrate on food service, then serve seconds on beverages if time allows.
3. Planning inflight catering after a preflight meal
If your passengers say they do not need food for the next leg because they will be coming from dinner, what do you do?
A) Do not arrange any catering.
B) Go by their profile and pick up dinner anyway.
C) Get something light, like appetizers.
Personally, I tend to go by their profile and order dinner for them. In my experiences, it is Murphy’s law that pax will be hungry, and it is better to be prepared.
4. Greeting passengers
When greeting pax (especially for the first time), always use the formal salutation for them. Never use a first name unless told otherwise, andalways let them reach out first to shake your hand first. They may or may not want to shake hands, so it is not appropriate for you to reach out to them. If they are royalty or a top political figure, use their title as well. All of this may seem elementary, but I have heard of people making these mistakes. Also, take the time to learn the proper pronunciation of their name – don’t wing it! Even take the time to practice saying it if it is a difficult name! As the saying goes: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression!”
5. Galley storage
When we run out of room or have small galleys to begin with, what is the best plan for safe storage? On a recent trip, I had a chiller that didn’t work, so I had to use dry ice on the top rack to cool the food below. Of course, this took up a lot of room I needed for storage. I use small coolers, the baggage compartment and try to have food packaged in the best possible way to save space.
6. Serving our pilots
Our pilots are truly “stuck in a box” for several hours at a time. Yes, they can get up, but for a limited time. It is essential to their health (and everyone’s safety) that they eatandstay hydrated. So, how often do you check on your pilots? What is your service ritual with them during short flights and long flights?
Personally, I do not let more than 30 minutes go by without checking in. Half of the time, it is so discrete that they might not even know I am doing it. Sometimes between “real check-ins,” I just may look over their shoulder to make sure they have water and snacks. I try to encourage my pilots to drink less coffee (dehydrating) and more water or coconut water (hydrating)! Even before a flight gets underway, I usually stock their area with water and a healthy snack so in case I get busy for a while, they are still taken care of.
7. Beverage service
First, take into account what they are drinking. For instance, if they are drinking wine at dinner, I automatically refill the glass half way the first time I see it almost empty. After that refill, I ask before refilling again. Typically, people do not drink more than two glasses at one meal. If the drink is soda, I perform the first refill without asking, as well. If all ice is melted, I simply say “Let me freshen up your beverage,” and then I take it to add ice. After the second glass, then I ask, but I wait a bit unless it looks like they are guzzling it down! With water, I always refill without asking. I make sure they always have either a bottle or glass of water with them. If someone is sipping on a glass of whiskey on the rocks, I keep an eye on the ice to make sure the drink does not get watered down. This beverage service plan keeps them feeling taken care of, but not bothered.
8. Clearing a meal
As corporate flight attendants, how do we know when to remove plates? Do we look for visual cues, like utensils laid across the plate at a diagonal or straight vertical? What about looking for napkins on plates? Do we watch from afar until we no longer see a desire to eat? Do we wait until the principle pax has finished before clearing all plates? This is critical because the last thing we want to do is interrupt a meal or take a plate from someone who is just a slow eater or wants to graze.
First, have you ever noticed that when someone is done eating, he or she will sit back or slide back in his or her chair a little? Everyone does it! Children just get up from a table and walk away; as adults, we still have the same reflex (to move away from our plate, only we are more civilized about it. I watch my pax from a far, for that huge sign. I also watch for the combination of utensils aligned over the dish, or the napkin placed on the plate. I try to wait until my lead pax is done, especially when moving from one course to the next. They also “look” for you; they subconsciously and consciously want you to notice and take the plate away. Although humans use verbal communication a lot, they use nonverbal more!
As you get to know your pax, you will likely use a mix of these methods to develop your own style of working with them based on their common cues.
If you have any questions about this article, contact Kathryn Martone at email@example.com.
This is an article by guest author Kathryn Martone, a corporate flight attendant and industry expert based in Los Angeles, California. Kathryn is the author of a novel and a popular industry blog, both of which are titled “Cobblestones and Heels.” Any thoughts expressed in this article are entirely Kathryn’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Air Culinaire Worldwide.
If you would like to be considered for becoming a guest author, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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My husband faithfully watches the show “Top Gear”.. Besides the fact that he prefers BBC shows over American ones, he also (like most men), loves Cars…
To me, my car / automobile is how I get from point A to point B. I do have some preferences in regards to the model of car I prefer to drive (like an SUV over a sedan), but other than that, I have very little interest in Cars..
Now aircrafts on the other hand, I could read about and look at all day! I love everything about them, including the way they smell!
How did I come to love this mode of transport? First it was my love for travel, and then came my love and interest in the aviation industry. Because I was spending more time in planes than in cars or on the ground, I began to have a strong curiosity in all the different types of aircrafts that are out there, not to mention wondering how the heck they stayed in the air and battled mother nature everyday!
How they work
While I am not a licensed mechanic or pilot, I have taken the time to self educate myself on the mechanics of how and why planes fly! That research, coupled with the education I received working for a training center, has helped me become more knowledgeable and more comfortable spending so much time in the air and working in a plane for a living. I encourage everyone that steps foot on an aircraft to spend some time researching the mechanics of it all. It may even put your mind at ease if you have been a nervous flyer! The basics-In case you want to know: wings create lift, overpower weight/force of gravity. Engines create thrust/power,and compensate for drag(opposing direction of motion). They fly in a straight line and mostly at a constant speed. Now you are interested right?
Since I have started working as a flight attendant, I have worked on 8 different types of aircrafts and within in those,-many different models. What are my favorites? Well, that has changed a bit over time. I use to LOVE Gulfstreams,.. Until, I worked on Falcons and Globals. I love the wider fuselage and don’t feel like I am walking a tight rope when I am trying to maneuver throughout the aircraft around obstacles such as feet, legs, and bags! I still have great respect for Gulfstreams and the company that manufactures them. I feel very safe in them and find most very “user friendly”. However, service is just easier in a wider aircraft!
While I am not a fan of commercial flying, and I do prefer corporate jets, I am even intrigued by the mechanics and technology of the “wide body” aircrafts such as Boeing 767s./ 757, etc. I have worked on many “reconfigured” wide-bodies and they honestly feel like being in a house in the sky! Equipped with master bedrooms, conference rooms, and even showers in the massive bathrooms (you cant even call these lavatories!).
“There there pretty plane..”
Each time I get on a new plane, I feel out its own “personality”. Similar to cars (and people), each aircraft has its own personal characteristics and “idiosyncrasies”. Although I cant (or wont) say I go around talking to aircrafts- I have this weird habit of seeing these inanimate objects as having human characteristics. So, the first thing I do when I get on-board an aircraft for the first time is walk around inside and “feel out” its personality. I also look for its “faults and scars”- things that don’t work or look right. Together, its personality and quirks become very important to me- I really feel that this silly practice of mine helps me to relate to the aircraft better and aids me in doing a better job.
I would love to hear from anyone that may also have a passion for aircrafts and see them the way I do!
With love and passion,
Cobblestones and Heels
There are times when we find ourselves on trips that end up in a place where we DON’T want to go outside and gallivant.. It may be “unsafe,” or just crappy weather.. So, we are now bound to our hotels for days on end! What do we do to entertain ourselves? How do we avoid cabin fever? -(Which can eventually turn into loneness and homesickness). Here are some things I do to avoid the “hotel room blues”..
First, I plan ahead. If I know I will be in that desolate place where I will be in my hotel / hotel room much more than I will be outside- I pack accordingly. I may bring my yoga mat, exercise videos, a good book, and my laptop. I happen to LOVE spas so I will research the hotel( and surrounding area) In which I will be staying, and see if there is a quality spa located there.
I also try to be productive and use this time to pay online bills, catch up on emails or phone calls, do my expense reports , plan catering for the next leg, and of course write blogs ☺
There is only so much TV watching I can do!
SPEND TIME WITH YOUR CREW
Its always an added bonus if you enjoy the company of your crew and can plan inside activities together.
Once I was flying with a pilot friend of mine and we were stuck in a very cold and rainy city. We decided to have a scrabble tournament in the lounge at our hotel and had the best day ever! We ordered tons of comfort food,( had a couple cocktails), and played scrabble for hours!
Another time I was completely alone ( in the middle of a crew change) and stuck in a hotel in the middle of nowhere.. It was a small town in Slovenia that happened to be known for one of the best spas! Jackpot!! After a few days of pampering myself I felt so relaxed and happy .. and grateful for the experience!
USE YOUR TALENTS
It is a necessity for corporate flight attendants to be resourceful and independent while on the job… why not put these characteristics to use for your own entertainment and find the silver lining to cabin fever situations! If you cant get OUT and see things, stay in and enjoy yourself!
I would love to hear YOUR favorite hotel room past times so please comment!
Cobblestones and Heels
The hallmark holiday called Valentine’s Day, isn’t just for lovers of the romantic sort.. It’s truly for ANYONE that wants a day to celebrate the love in his or her heart. That love can be for themselves, a pet, a partner, or a passion..
It bothers me that some people may feel lonely or sad on this day if they are not “ coupled up”. Of course the media is to blame for a lot of this with all the commercials, hype, and store bought items on the market that suggest this “holiday” is just for couples. The advertising SHOULD be expressive of love for anything or anyone you hold dear to your heart. For example.. I LOVE lot of things and people besides my spouse: Aviation, my dog, my friends, the gift of life, and myself (not in any particular order).. I can remember the day I fell in love with all of those things:
The day I met my dog and picked her out of a litter of puppies – I feel in love. The day I stepped foot on a private jet and worked my first trip- I fell in love. And the day I ran my first marathon, I fell in love with my self and the strength I had found in my mind and body. I also fear loosing these wonderful loves in my life so I try each day to remind myself of what they all mean to me.
I will also tell you that what sparked these words and this blog was the combination of a handwritten letter I received yesterday form my 11 yr old Goddaughter and A text conversation I had with her mom ( my best friend). The letter and conversation made me remember how much I love them and how sad I was that it had been too long since I have seen them, and some other dear friends of mine that live across the country.. So, what did I do? I bought a plane ticket for NY -I will see them in two weeks ☺.
I would Love for everyone that may be reading this to make a list this Valentines Day of all of the things or people in your life that you LOVE.. And then celebrate with as many of those things or people, as you can.. Go do what you love with those you love,,, even if that means just you and your lovely, special self…
With All MY LOVE,
Cobblestones and Heels
If you are a corporate flight attendant you may have fallen victim to the following work scenario:
It’s last day of your trip, and you have a departure ( ETD) of 1400. You have just checked out of your hotel, and about to go pick up your catering. Your PIC calls to inform you that the departure is now 2200, or possibly 0900 the next day. So, you re-check in for an extra half day, and try to figure out if you should cancel the catering or have it stored..
If this, or any version of this scenario has happened to –please you raise your hand. OK, since I can’t see any of you, I am taking an educated guess that almost all of you would have hands raised. This is the part of the job we may despise, but have grown accustom to. The constant change of departure date and times, catering order changes at the 12th hour, and the over all inconsistency in our lives! What’s the pay off for all of this? Free travel, great money, and the crazy thrill of it all! Those of us who get an adrenaline rush from all of it -know intuitively that we were born to do this job!
My true intent for writing this blog is to give some helpful hints to those who are new at dealing with last minute changes of this job. Here are the most common inconsistencies:
1.The waiting game of trip confirmation–
Example- you get a call on April 10th that there is a trip April 17th “ that may, or may not go”. It’s a 8 day trip so that means great money (if you fly contract). The dilemma is- do you accept the trip and give your commitment in hope that it confirms, OR , do you not accept because it may not go and something else may come up in that time frame that is a sure thing.. Unfortunately we can NOT give the following answer : “well, I will take the trip if it goes, but if something better comes up I will let you know, I cant commit at this point “..
So what should you do?
My suggestion: think about the odds with this particular client/ operator. Is it common for trips with this client to cancel, or is he/she pretty consistent? Do you have a lot of work consistently coming in so it won’t financially hurt you to say no? Are you trying to fly more consistently with this particular operation and therefore saying NO will work against you? Weigh out all the facts then make a decision you will feel good about and stick with. From a moral and good work ethic standpoint, once you accept a trip, only “Ebola “ should keep you from fulfilling that commitment.
2. The last minute catering change-
Example: ETD is 1800 pm. You arrange catering to be ready at 15:30 for pickup. Of course you have put this order in the day before or in the am so whomever the catering vendor is,- you know they will have already made the food by 1500 ( usually). Now, at 1300 , your principal pax ( passenger) has changed his mind and has requested a whole new order.(let me add that you are in a foreign country). How do you handle this?
My suggestions: Prior to your trip, do some research and figure out the different cuisine catering choices in that area so if you have to choose a completely different vender, you already know your options and where they are located, have their contact info , and also their menus!
Once you have chosen a specific vender for the first order, ask them how difficult it may be to change orders “if needed”. (Catering companies have grown accustom to this happening so they will be a bit ore flexible). Find out if delivery is an option with all the venders you may use, and how long it takes them to get to your airport. If you do your homework and prepare for this scenario, it will be a lot easier to deal with instead of letting it catch you off guard.
Always put every order and re-order ,in writing. Copy in your PIC or anyone else that needs to know you have taken care of it. Rush the new order and tip well if it is a complete change at the same vender.
Final note: always be extremely polite when dealing with any catering vendor, you never know when you will need special favors from them!
3. Earlier Departure change –
Example: you have been assigned a trip for the next day. Your ETD is set for 1200 so you plan a lunch service and order your catering. At 1900 the night before, you are told that the pax now want to leave at 0600 ! “And breakfast was requested”. OMG! You know that you will have to be at the airport at 0400 and nothing will be open to pick up that early. What do you do?
My suggestions: I hope you can cook ☺. Really. If your clients have now asked for eggs, bacon etc.- find out if there is a skillet onboard and plan on a grocery store run to pick up everything you will need to cook breakfast the next morning on the plane. If the request is simple, IE. yogurt, fruit, granola, etc. -Run to the store. Of course, cancel your other order so hopefully you wont be billed.
4. Last minute passenger additions-
Example: your trip departs in 2 hours. You are already at the plane getting organized. Your PIC tells you that there will be 3 extra pax coming. You already have your catering. What do you do?
My Suggestions: First, ALWAYS plan on having a little extra food (especially if it’s a long flight_. You never want to run out of food! In this specific case scenario, lets hope there are big portions that you can split up. You will also need to run to a grocery store and buy items that can fill in your original order. For instance, if they ordered chicken, buy extra at the store and cook it in the oven, using sauce that came with the catering order. Or if available, buy premade cutlets. Also buy extra staples like salad ingredients, deli meat for sandwiches, and extra desert. You will have to ask your pilots to pitch in and help set the plane while you run to the store! Worst case0 no store near by, well, maybe last minute delivery is an option.. Again, if you prepare for this scenario, it will never beat you!
In this career we live by the “Murphy’s Laws” and plan on change happening in one way or another. All we can do is be as prepared as possible and go with the flow.. It may be tougher for the A type personalities out there but sooner or later every FA (flight attendant) learns to go with it or give it all up.
If you love it as much as I do, it will just become the norm, and you will see your way through anything that comes up!
If you have some crazy stories to tell on his topic, or additional advice, I would all love to hear it , so please feel free to comment!
With love and patience,
Cobblestones and Heels
For each of us a “new Year” means different things. It could mean a time to move forward with new goals or working on current ones. It could mean saying farewell to a year that has been less than kind, or for some people it could simply be another day on the calendar.
I am not one to set “resolutions” but I do use the new year as a reminder that life is full of new opportunities, new pages and chapters in our book of life. I believe we should all have goals (big or small) that we continue to work on.
High on MY list is the concept of “working on myself”; being a better person in some way. Helping others, more forgiveness towards others, and keeping my priorities in check. I also need to keep reminding myself that fear is normal, but it cant stop me from pursuing happiness and the success I want.
New year in Aviation
This past year has had its share of heartache in aviation: horrific accidents, a mystery disappearance, and many fatalities. We cant turn back time but we try to learn from mistakes and move forward in hopes that those same mistakes wont happen again.
On a positive note, corporate aviation has continued to grow stronger. New aircrafts, and more clients leading to an increase in jobs! We know that this sector of the aviation industry is not really known for job security because its dependent on a strong financial economy ( which is so unpredictable). In my years of flying I have seen the waves of good times and bad times and just tried to hold on. When I started working as a corporate flight attendant the industry was strong. Then the stock market crashed and private flying came to a screaming halt.. Slowly it has risen again and become stronger than ever, which I am excited about, but I do keep it in perspective( having experienced the fall). Those of us that are committed to a career in corporate aviation- stay in it because we love it ,and are willing to take the risks that go along with it. We are willing to relocate when needed, increase our education, and work hard to keep a good reputation, in order to improve our chances of staying in the game.
I am hopeful and excited for a new year in aviation. I pray for fewer accidents, mysteries solved, and a continuation of growth.
My wish for us all
We only get one life but fortunately we do have each new year to begin again from where we are.. Make changes, start a new chapter in our lives, and leave behind things that have brought us negativity.
I wish for my aviation family a safe and successful year. Use CRM everyday you go to work, and keep your love for the friendly skies and our aviation industry, in your hearts.
For everyone I wish you a new year of happiness and good health,
Not to sound cliché, but of course I also wish for world peace ☺
With love ,
Cobblestones and Heels
Becoming a Corporate Cabin Attendant in Southern California
Posted on December 9, 2014 by Kathryn Martone [guest author]
Becoming a Corporate Flight Attendant
please check out this link above to see the Air Culinaire Worldwide publication!
here is my actual article:
Does geography play a role in obtaining a job in corporate aviation? I have two answers: yes and no! OK, I will expand on that. And as always, I will be very honest.
I am originally from New York, but I began my career as a corporate cabin attendant in Los Angeles, California. I was much younger at the time, and really lucked out getting a full-time position with zero experience. Again, for one – I was Young. Two – I was hired with no experience. Could I have had that same opportunity in New York? From my knowledge and experience now in the industry, I really don’t think so. Southern California has a strong reputation in the corporate aviation industry for targeting cabin attendants that are under the age of 30. It also has the reputation of hiring candidates that have not yet had cabin emergency training. The goal of most of these employers has been to satisfy the clientele with a young, pretty girl for cabin service.
Has this changed? A little. I have seen the industry raise their standards quite a bit nationwide, including Southern California. However, I still feel that Northern California and the East Coast of the United States still holds the highest standards and tends to hire more experienced, professional and cabin safety trained individuals. Age is also not as much of a factor in other parts of the country as it is here in Southern California (especially the Los Angeles area). So, in short, if you are young, attractive, and have a social and pleasant personality, you have a great shot at being hired by many charter operations in Los Angeles.
Now, having said all of that, there are also highly-reputable companies, such as Jet Professionals that have a presence here and will not hire an unprofessional or untrained cabin attendant. Their hub is in New York, and the standards they hold there extend across the whole country. Superficial things, like age, carry no weight with them. They just want the best quality and highest caliber people for their clients.
What about the process for obtaining a job as a corporate cabin attendant?
This process is pretty much the same in every geographic location:
First – I highly suggest making sure that your cabin safety and CPR trainings are current. If you haven’t taken these trainings yet, contact FlightSafety International or Aircare FACTS for information on training at a location that suits your needs.
Second – Have an excellent resume that reflects your customer service experience, any culinary skills and experience you may have, your education and training.
Third – Take the time to reach out to people in the industry and network as much as possible. Social media sites, like LinkedIn, can be very helpful with this. Attend functions held by groups like the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA).
Fourth – Figure out what type of employment works best for you (i.e., contract, full-time, Part 91 or Part 135) and select the operations that deal specifically with what you are looking for. Do your research to figure out the right person to contact. Give that person a call, send them your resume, and, if possible, stop in for a visit so they can meet you in person. Even if it’s an unofficial visit, and you are just “dropping off your resume,” wear a suit and play the part. More experienced cabin attendants tend to reach out to the recruiting companies or track down the lead flight attendant for large corporations. In Los Angeles, corporate flight attendants with less experience usually start with local operators (charter companies).
Finally – After you have made contact and applied through the proper channels, all you can do is think positive and continue to follow up.
For help with locating potential employers, I suggest taking a look at a site called Air Charter Guide. You can use that site to locate every operator in your geographic area. Additionally, job sites such as Indeed, Simply Hired, LinkedIn and Climb to 350 will advertise positions for cabin attendants nationwide.
A positive mental attitude, belief in yourself, and perseverance will eventually land you that amazing job you are searching for as a corporate cabin attendant!
Cobblestones and Heels
In corporate aviation, the FAA states (in the FARs) that it’s the responsibility of the caption ( PIC) to ensure a passenger briefing is given for part 135 and part. 91 operation.. Funny thing about the FARs.. they are widely open to interpretation. This topic specifically has brought some of the most controversial conversations that crew members could have. For instance: Many pilots will say; “ corporate cabin attendants are not suppose to give pax ( passenger) briefings because they are not legally required to be on the A/C in the first place and are not actual crewmembers”. Others will say; “ If asked by the PIC to give a pax briefing than they must do so”. Many new ( and veteran )cabin attendants are tremendously confused on their role, expectations, and legality of what they can/ cant , and should/ shouldn’t do when it comes to this subject. They leave initial or recurrent cabin safety training where they are told to “ give a pax briefing”, only to get into the “real world” and be told by the Capt, :” no that’s not your job. You are here for cabin service and assist in safety related matters”. In some aspects EVERYONE is right… “Cabin attendants” are NOT governed by the FAA and are NOT certified flight attendants that are required by any government law to carry out those duties on an A/C. However, The PIC is the final authority on an aircraft and can assign that duty to whomever he /she wishes. Part 91 operation can also substitute a briefing card for a verbal briefing of information.. Are cabin attendants even “allowed” to give this card out??!! ( I was being dramatic with that last statement –yes we should be fine providing briefing cards to the cabin).
In the big picture, if we are trained for cabin safety, than we are expected to perform “safety related duties” and doesn’t that include a passenger safety briefing??
Now, if you work for an operation that puts you through additional training that does turn your title into a “flight attendant” status, THEN you are required to follow FAA rules including giving a pax briefing!
I actually hold an certification of an official flight attendant because I started in commercial, but even holding that card, I am still considered a cabin attendant for most of my assignments…
I really wish I could sit here and tell you what the official right answer is but the truth is, I have yet to meet anyone that could tell ME… I have been trained to do this briefing and to teach others to, but I honestly believe the jury is still out on an official word..
I would LOVE an FAA Agent to read this and respond.. If that’s not gonna happen, I will continue my hunt for the final word on this…
I welcome any ones comments!!!!
Cobblestones and Heels