Category Archives: Corporate flight attendant
This has definitely been an interesting year for me, both personal and work related.
Since I left my cabin safety instructor position, I have been contracting for some really great part 91 companies – for which I am always grateful!! Personally, I prefer part 91 to charter . Its always more challenging but that’s what I love about it. I keep learning and re-learning my job all the time! As everyone knows, its tough to be perfect and not make mistakes, so all we can do is try our very best and continue to work on our craft.
In the past 12 months I have taken 3 new culinary classes, as well as researched and tested out some new techniques in food prep department -things like increasing my service time, shortening my pre-flight shopping lists to avoid wasting food, and new packaging techniques for long hauls ( just to name a few).
And since I am a “giver”, and believe in “sharing the wealth” ( of knowledge), I am going to share my latest tips of the trade
As a corporate flight attendant, one thing we do for EVERY trip is shop! Sometimes is just for our “staple” items like lemons/limes, milk, butter, etc. Or, its full on grocery shopping ! There are passengers I work with now that request cooking onboard as oppose to using catering companies so for those trips the shopping can be quite extensive! Sooooo, in order to cut down on both time and wastefulness, this is my new procedure:
First, I write out my menu and the meals I am preparing. I categorize the items I will need in to parts like- produce, protein, fruit, herbs, condiments, garnishing, and so forth. Then I figure out what I will already have on the plane that I don’t need to purchase. I figure out portion sizes depending on my pax count ( and extra for additional pax and the pilots).
Second, Once I have an exact shopping list then I plan where I should go for what items. I do take cost into account because there are always ways to save the company money without loosing any quality! For example, condiments don’t have to be bought at whole foods or other expensive stores!
Third, depending on the trip departure time and length of my day I decide the following- will I shop the night before, or the day of? Or, will have a company like “postmates “ or “doordash” shop for me and deliver to FBO. They are amazing and only charge about $5.00 for delivery!! If you have never used these companies before its worth looking into! Saves me so much time!
Speeding up my food prep and service:
It doesn’t matter if it’s a short flight or a long one, our passengers all strongly dislike WAITING for their food … Similar to ordering at a high-end restaurant, they like to order off their menu and they miraculously expect their food 30 seconds later ( ok maybe not that quick but you know what I mean). How do we prepare for this?
First, I prep as much as I can ahead of time! I pre-heat the oven, chop veggies I will use for a salad or my own crudité, I divide up the meal sections into what is warmed in the oven, microwave, and served cold. I roll up my silverware with my napkins, and set aside with my placemats. When it comes to the oven, we don’t want to warm food too early so it doesn’t dry out but having the oven warm at a good cook temperature will save so much time! I also warm some dishes and serving platters.
I will wrap my fish and other protein in aluminum foil with butter or sauces to keep moist.
I ALSO WRAP UP MY VEGGIES IN FOIL AFTER I CUT THEM, OR PUT THEM IN TUPPERWARE SO THEY DON’T LOOSE FLAVOR OR DRY OUT. Soups I will pre-heat because you may have a microwave that just takes forever!
Anyone have those English pax that LOVE their Tea as HOT as you can get it? Well the hot water heating units are your best bet. They are also faster than the 2 minutes it takes to get water hot in a microwave plus they hold a few cups worth of hot water.
Always have appetizers and starters available to keep clients happy while their meals are being prepared and make sure its something they really like! I also do tapa small plates to keep them happy.
Between courses I also like to clean as I go to minimize the clutter in the galley. It also helps to stay organized so we don’t loose things in a big mess! As the passengers are eating the second course, it’s a good amount of time to clean from the first and organize the second (again, if you have food prepped ahead of time).
I now like to use lemon sorbet as a palate cleaner between heavy courses. It not only buys me some more time but its something different that the pax seem to love!
Want to really speed up service? Its worth the investment to purchase a LARGE silver tray! Make it a fancy one!! One that holds two people’s plates and condiment side. It will also make pick faster and it looks nicer than carrying things by hand.
Not too long ago I served a full breakfast to 4 pax from Nantucket to Hyannis! Not kidding! Not only did I prep everything ahead of time but I also plated it all! Believe me, the more you prep, the happier everyone will be!!
There is a fine line between being prepared with enough or extra food, and having too much where you are wasting money and space. This goes back to that initial shopping list. It also sometimes gets down to experience with the portion sizes and number game and how much to order or buy at the grocery store. If you are worried you will not have enough food for extra passengers that show up last minute or for the pilots, make sure you get some great staple items that you can make a few choices out of. For our pilots- they will be the first to tell you- don’t get too fancy! They are all usually fine with some healthy salads or great sandwiches. I use nuts and dried fruit onboard to add to my salads and make them hardier. Keep a cooler in the baggage compartment with your extra salad produce items and proteins. DON’T order or purchase portions for the full pax count of every item you have on your menu! In the US, portion sizes are pretty big so you will have more than enough if you cut it down by even a quarter. Use herbs for garnishing and get staple herbs that can be mixed and matched like parsley and micro greens. Of course I love to have mint too but luckily it doesn’t take up much space. Also buy these at trader joes or “normal stores”. The high-end stores charge a fortune for herbs. Forget about the “eatable flowers”.. no one eats them anyway! I tend to be a conservative shopper and like to pay attention to quality over quantity.
I ALWAYS have French bread onboard- I use it to make: sandwiches, breakfast toast, crustinis appetizers, garlic bread, croutons for soup and salads, and bruschetta- so many things you can make out of French bread! Skip the purchase of normal sliced bread- it limits you and is wasteful.
Off the subject of food, my new packing style is leaner as well!
I now use face cleaning clothes or mini products like Dermalogica’s line of travel size everything! I can also travel fine with argon oil or coconut oil ( for face, body, and hair),
apple cider vinegar – in a travel size bottle to be used as both shampoo and conditioner! Trust me it works great!
** We all must know by now that coconut oil has a million uses so traveling is the perfect time to try that theory out
I have narrowed my shoes down to work heels, work flats, sneakers and sandals. (In the old days I would have like 6 pairs of shoes with me)!
Rolling clothes really does work, and I bought a small portable clothes steamer to use instead of trusting my hotel will have a decent iron!
Personal changes I forgot to mention, We now live in Lake Tahoe part time ! Its so nice to have a quiet place to get away, as well as easy commute to my bay area flying jobs!!
As always, feel free to comment or add anything of your own to this blog entry!
And ask questions!!
Love and happy wishes,
Cobblestones and heels
I have always labeled myself as an “Over communicator”; meaning someone who says more than they need to, and at times when communicating isn’t always required. I know I do this in personal relationships as well as professional work related situations. However, there are also so many times that I end up being very happy I communicated because it actually saved some bad things from happening (in both personal and professional circumstances.
Stereotypically women tend to talk more, communicate more, and share more of their feelings.. Men tend to make basic simplistic statements and leave a lot to the imagination (again in both work and home situations). This is definitely true in MY home with my husband. I am constantly communicating and trying to make sure he knows and understands what I am doing and why, while he says about 2 words to my 10 ( on the average).
At work, I always want to make sure I check and double-check everything so that mistakes are not made.
So how much communication is too much? And how do we know when we should or shouldn’t say what we need to say? I know there is no exact answer to those questions but I want to share some experiences I have had to help support my idea that “over communication “- isn’t always a bad thing..
In my career, communication is VERY important (written and verbal). I have to communicate clearly to venders for my catering often with people who do not speak English. I also have to communicate with my clients (ensuring I understand their needs and wants), my crew (for good CRM), and dispatch ( for the obvious reasons like knowing when to show up for work, how many passengers I will have, and places I will be going – just to name a few. All of this communication has variables and details that change all the time. The only way to ensure you stay on top of everything is through constant and clear communication-That is not just my opinion, it’s a fact. We can only hope that everyone we are working with share the same philosophy, but in reality, that’s not the case.
On a recent trip, my “over communication actually saved a major mishap:
The travel itinerary that we were working with had to go through 3 different channels before reaching the crew. IE. A client approves sends to the broker the broker sends to dispatch then dispatch send it to the crew. Remember the telephone game you played as a kid? It Showed how much a story can change from the first person to the last. Well, In the game of real life this can also happen if people aren’t careful- even with written communication! In this specific situation “someone “ dropped the ball, and we (the crew), received the wrong itinerary for our passengers! We found out because of me and my “over communication” ! I just so happened to send a check up text on some other details of the trip to a member of the client group and had referred to the itinerary. The message I sent was indeed more information than someone else would have thought to send, however, in this situation if I had not sent that message, I would never have know that we had the itinerary completely wrong so bad in fact that we would have shown up for a departure on the wrong day! Of course no one thanked me for this save or acknowledged the issue.. But at least it was corrected.
I will also add that it is frustrating for an over communicator to deal with under communicators. I always think there has to be a middle ground between the two. In this particular work situation, had the whole team been double checking on things – the issue would not have occurred. I am sure the “under communicators” didn’t think it was necessary to follow-up and double-check schedules, Or maybe they were multitasking beyond their capabilities. In my opinion- the work place NEEDS “ over communication” to ensure less probability of a mistake.
I am sure I have also annoyed those that do not communicate as much. They probably think- oh, no why is she calling this time? Honestly, I don’t call to chit-chat, it is always about something I feel the need to follow-up on. That’s just me….
As I mentioned above, my husband and I are polar opposite when it comes to communication. I talk and explain all the time. And he says about 5 words per day… on the average. Sometimes I find this frustrating and sometimes I enjoy the peace and quiet. When things need to “get done” we are pretty good at splitting up the duties without needing the check and balances but sometimes our miscommunication makes things fall through the cracks..
When I leave on my trips my husband holds down the fort. He takes care of the pets, the house, bills, and mom (who is currently living with us). It’s a lot for him so I try to make arrangements for him to have help, as well as doing as much as I can before I leave.. However, he has this habit of saying he will do things and then forgetting to do them.. **Any wives out there relate to this? So, in order to make sure things are done I do the “wife thing” by reminding him a zillion times. Recently, I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and not remind him to call the dog walker, and I didn’t do it myself. To make a long story shorter- the dog walker was never called.. by anyone.. Moral of my story is that both of us rely on my need to “over communicate.” And that may not be a bad thing after all..
I have a million stories like these in both my work and personal life. I communicate and communicate and communicate! That’s just me, and I feel happier and more secure knowing that as long as I have personally made sure the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed- all will be well in my world- well for the most part anyway!
If you are an “over communicator “ like myself -its OK ! Go Send that follow-up email, and double-check on other people’s work.. no one should ever fault you for being conscientious. If they do, that’s their issue…Do what feels right to you in order to sleep well at night ☺
I would love to hear your thoughts and feelings on the topic of communication!!
Cobblestones and Heels
If you work in aviation you know that there is a very good chance you WONT be home for the holidays.. Christmas morning with your family or even the whole week of Hanukkah may be spent in the air and in hotel rooms. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate and help your passengers celebrate as well! I love decorating the planes I will work on , and making the trips extra special for my passengers and my crew.
Here are my Holidays on the road suggestions!
Decorating the plane:
1. First, know your “audience”. Find out what religion or culture they follow, or if they even do like holiday celebration! The last thing you want to do is have your wonderful plan backfire because you have insulted your passengers instead of making them smile.
2. There are so many fun Christmas items in the stores that make it easy to bring the holiday aboard your plane. I recently found a mini Christmas tree for the credenza and a small poinsettia for the lav! My passengers loved it ☺
Change up those traditional flower arrangements by Adding holiday berries, wreaths, or even just red and white roses!
3. Make your snack basket into something more festive with holiday treats such as organic candy canes, truffle boxes in small Christmas wrapped boxes, etc etc. Maybe tie a bow around the basket itself.
4. Bring out the holiday placemats, linens, and credenza liners that make things look bright and festive.
5. For charter flights maybe use some holiday throw blankets and pillows in the cabin as well.
6. Don’t forget your Holiday gift baskets! So many great ideas out there but gift baskets should be personal to your clients taste ( favorite wines, etc).
Holiday beverages :
1. Who doesn’t love eggnog? And luckily now its made in dairy free, coconut milk light, and many other varieties for your diet restricted pax. Sprinkle on some cinnamon and add a cinnamon stick to decorate and now you have a great boarding drink !
2. For the kids on the plane-There are so many recipes on the Internet these days for homemade hot chocolate found one I loved on – http://www.allrecipes.com
Make sure to have whip cream on board ! which of course you can DIY in a second with real whipping cream, a little sugar, and a blender!
3. Hot apple cider is great for adults and kids – warm and inviting for boarding as well.
4. Holiday adult beverages like spiced eggnog, cinnamon martinis , and decorated champagne flutes are always fun!
Think warm food!
1. Its kind of chilly in most of the US right now and even if you are flying to the Islands or somewhere warm, you may be taking off from a colder climate- so warm meals and appetizers are a better choice. I am on a ramekin kick right now after observing a chef onboard make some great dishes baked into ramekins and served right now of the oven that way. IE. Shepard’s pie, chicken pot pie, mini casseroles, sweet potato pie! For appetizers- bacon wrapped dates ,creamy soups, or festive cheese trays adding a variety of jellies and jams ( I love fig butter). ! Also roasted meats like chicken, hen, or lamb are great this time of year! Remember your holiday garnish too!
Its tough for a lot of us to be away for the holidays . Keep our pilots in good spirits by taking some extra time to bring them holiday goodies! Home made cookies, specialty coffee, or their favorite snacks in Christmas stockings would be a nice touch!
On the road I highly suggest a crew holiday dinner together and maybe even secret Santa to make the time away from home feel less lonely. You have a family on the road too!
1. I know it may be hard to be away from the holidays but try to make the most of it if you are. As I mentioned above, spend some time with your crewmembers – they are lonely too.
2. Also bring some comforting things from home to make your hotel room less sterile. A warm fuzzy blanket, holiday pajamas, and your favorite teas and coffee incase you are taking advantage of room service and a day of solitude.
3. A spa day always cheers me up ☺
4. Maybe you are lucky enough to have relative or friends that live in the city you are staying in! Definitely take advantage of those awesome reunions! OR, another FA you know that may also be in the same location?
5. It may be possible to have a loved one fly out to meet you on your layover- if your pax are staying put- this always makes a trip special..
I wish all of you safe travels, and a lovely holiday wherever you may be spending it!
Love and best wishes,
Cobblestones and Heels
If you consistently read my blog or you have read my book, you will know how much I have loved my career. I fell deeply in love years ago and hoped I would always feel that way. Well, like any relationship we have in our lives- things don’t always stay the same or turn out the way we want them to. And sometimes, someone, something or a series of things happen to ultimately break your heart.
The corporate aviation industry is tough. It is competitive, money driven, inconsistent, and stressful. As a corporate flight attendant, (AKA cabin attendant) in this industry – you have to be just as tough. You sink or swim… and sometimes it feels like someone is trying to hold you under water! Like I have said so many times before, the job does have its rewards and high selling points but we need to acknowledge the other side of it. And we ALL need to do this because there will come a day for EVERYONE when something happens, and you feel blindsided, treated unfairly, or down right disrespected and it will catch you off guard if you are not prepared for it. As strong of a person I have always thought I was, I was not prepared for what recently happened to me. Let me share:
One evening a couple of weeks ago two different people contacted me in regards to a job referral. They put me in contact with a pilot that was looking to contract a flight attendant for the next day’s trip. I was given his phone number and called him. I spoke with this pilot for about 30 minutes and he officially offered me the trip, which I accepted. He gave me some background information on the client and informed me the details of the trip. He told me the departure time the next day was still unknown but to “stand by” and we would chat again in the morning. He estimated an afternoon or early evening departure. He also asked me to email over my training documents, etc. (which is a customary request prior or during a trip). I sent the documents within minutes. He also explained the catering situation and instructed me on the venders typically used for this client and the general profile highlights. We then hung up with the mutual intention of speaking in the morning.
The next day I began mentally and physically preparing for the trip. As requested by
the pilot- I also spoke to another F/A in regards to the lead pax’s profile. About 9am I received a call regarding another trip offer, which of course I turned down. At 10 am I spoke to the pilot again and he told me to stand by for the ETD- he was currently thinking it would not be in the evening. So, the rest of the day I finalized my catering and cleared by schedule for the next few days, cancelling appointments and making arrangements for this trip.
Later that after noon I receive a TEXT MESSAGE from the pilot saying this: “ Kathryn, another F/A became available for the trip so I will use your services in the future..” **As you are reading this, if you are a fellow F/a or even just any sort of professional you are probably thinking – what the hell??? First, he is TEXTING me this? And second, hours before departure he is taking me off the trip for no reason accept to use someone else..? Of course, I called him.. I stated my feelings about his choice of communication and then I said ;“ Ok, I will of course have to bill for today at least”. His response was: “ No ,that’s not my policy”. I said; “ well its MY policy as a contractor. I accepted a job you offered and a verbal contract was made. I also lost additional work by committing to you”. With no apology he said again: “Sorry, that’s not my policy”. I then asked if I could have the phone number to the business office in order to further discuss this issue. He informed me that he would not give me any further information and that HE was the person to go through… I hung up the phone. I was floored at his unprofessional behavior and attitude. Right away I called one of the two people that referred me for the trip and they were angered and surprised as well.. It was not their fault of course and I appreciated the fact that they thought highly enough of me to refer me for any job. It made me feel better to have her support though. I sat for a few minutes trying to figure out my next move with this situation. I began my research on this company and the aircraft owner, as well as my “rights” as a contract F/A. I was NOT going to let this go. Anyone that knows me also knows that I stand up for myself. I know right from wrong and was not going to allow myself to be treated with so much disrespect.
Through speaking with many other F/As I learned that this type of unprofessional behavior and disrespectful attitude goes on much more than I ever knew. It made me sad hearing those stories but it also fueled my fire to fight back! Not only did I want to stand up for myself; I wanted to stand up for my colleagues. I did not want this pilot or company to EVER pull this stunt again with ANYONE. So, I began legal action.
As of now, that is the end of my story. This situation is still new and being dealt with so the final outcome is unknown but I will tell you this- I will not stop fighting until I have won for me and for all of you.
I want this blog to be informational as well so I am going to share with you some information. Things I didn’t know until I did some research and was also given some great advice from a dear F/A friend of mine.
First, remember each situation is unique. What may work for one, may not work with another. The variables are the people involved and the severity of your mistreatment. Have you worked a trip and not been paid for it? Someone telling you “ the check is in the mail” but it never comes? Or like me- have you been pulled of a trip with no fault of your own? Have you experienced sexual harassment or any other type of mistreatment? If so, lets talk about some options you may not know you have or may feel afraid about exercising.
Harassment– We should all know by now that in this day and age-harassment of any kind is not welcomed in the work place. There are laws protecting you! The first step I would take is speaking to the person harassing you. (if it’s a co-worker). Stand up for yourself and let them know they are making you uncomfortable and it’s creating a bad working environment for you. You may find that a simple act of saying something works!! If it doesn’t, go to their boss or yours. Be assertive and professional in your approach. If you are not getting a professional response and action taken, keep climbing the ladder. Do not be afraid of losing your job. This is lawsuit grounds. Document every conversation and every situation in which you feel that you are being harassed.
You haven’t gotten paid YET–
Have you worked a trip and weeks have gone by with no paycheck? They tell you “checks in the mail” and it hasn’t come?
Step one- call the accounting department. Ask them the date the check was mailed (or direct deposited.) There is always a paper trail and this can be figured out. Sometimes so many people are involved with the trip operation that paperwork slips through the cracks. If it has been over a month or several months, its time to step it up. Make another call and this time speak to more people about it. (I would not suggest accepting another trip from them until you get paid). Climb the ladder with this too.. Someone should be able to make it right. If they don’t, you have MORE aggressive options. Tell them you will speak to the Better Business Bureau, or, that you have a right to file a mechanics lien with the Insured Aircraft Title Service. Make sure they know you are serious. This is business, and if you are a contract F/A, this is your livelihood.
Refusal to pay you
Yes, this happens.. And it’s very sad. I now know what this is like. (And so do many others). If a company ignores your invoice, phone calls, emails or down right refuses to pay you for work you have provided, do something about it. That mechanics lien I just mentioned is an option for you! First, Let me clarify what a day of WORK means in our jobs:
1. If you have actually worked on the aircraft,
2. If you have been ON CALL / stand by for a trip
3. If you worked preparing an aircraft on the ground,
Then you have worked and deserve to be paid.
In addition, travel days to or from the base you have worked out of -is also considered work. It is a day in which you are away from home and spending your money for food, transport, etc.
The day of a trip you have been offered and accepted is a day “worked “ for you. In my circumstance above, I was taken off a trip on the departure day so even if I had done nothing to prepare, it is still a day “worked” and deserves pay.
Now, don’t abuse this situation, know the difference between what you can and cant be paid for and also remember you will have to prove yourself so keep paperwork for everything.
Try to keep all conversations about trip details or contract details in writing- Emails or even TEXTS. Although the verbal contract of accepting a trip holds ground, it’s better to have the details on writing.
How does the Lien work? It’s actually pretty easy. Call the company I mentioned above and tell them you would like to put a mechanics lien on ___ tail number. They will also ask to verify the name of the company. There is one form to file out that must be notarized and then sent into their office in Omaha, Nebraska . There is also a $60 fee. This company will file the lien once they receive the original paperwork from you. And, this lien stays with the aircraft. From what I know, YOU will be the only one to give authorization to have it removed.
** Before you take this route- I suggest emailing whomever you have been in contact with and inform them of your intentions to give them the opportunity to make things right and pay you. If they ignore you or try to bully you or threaten you- go forward with the lien. DON’T engage email arguing. Don’t speak to them on the phone without the conversation being in writing, and if they are unprofessional or insulting to you- Don’t go down to their level. As hard as it is- take all emotion out of it and focus on the fact that this is business.
Plan for the best and prepare for the worst
In all of my years of flying there have only been a small handful of unpleasant circumstances. The odds are that you will have many more good experiences than bad. However, if you are prepared as much as possible for the BAD, it will make things a lot easier.
How do you prepare?
1. Knowledge is power. Knowing information- like I have stated above, is helpful. Ignorance and fear are not your friends.
2. If you fly contract, have your own written policies that you share with potential employers. In my situation, I did actually have a trip cancellation policy but the problem was that I did not get a chance or I did not act fast enough with sending this policy over and making sure it was agreed to at the time of acceptance. That does not change the fact I am still owed this money but it does make it harder for me to fight for it. As a contract flight attendant, you are running your own business. You should have business policies, professional standards, and clear communication with anyone that may employ you to work for them/
3. Always establish and maintain a professional relationship with you crew, the company you work for, and your clients. This will limit the opportunity for harassment because you have already set strong boundaries.
I am aware that we as individuals will handle circumstances differently. Some of us quietly may walk away from an unpleasant circumstance and others may choose to face it head on, work to turn it around or “make it right”. Neither person is better for their choice but I do encourage everyone to look at the big picture. One situation may turn into many. If someone mistreats you the chances are that they are mistreating others too. By walking away, you may be saving yourself a little extra stress but you may also be setting up your peers and helping to encourage bad behavior.
I was at a crossroad with my situation. I could have walked away and spared myself stress, but In my heart it didn’t feel right to take that path. I didn’t want to send the message that it’s OK to disrespect flight attendants, or women, or ANYONE. I wanted this pilot and his company to know their behavior is NOT OK. Not to sound cliché but I chose “the road less traveled”.. and HOPEFULLY that does make all the difference.
One of my favorite quotes: “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything” By Malcolm X
All my love and courage,
Cobblestones and Heels
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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