Monarch Blog » cabin crew http://blog.monarch.co.uk Monarch Airlines Official Blog Tue, 31 Mar 2015 16:22:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 A new vision shared by Monarch & Blind Veterans UK http://blog.monarch.co.uk/a-new-vision-shared-by-monarch-blind-veterans-uk/ http://blog.monarch.co.uk/a-new-vision-shared-by-monarch-blind-veterans-uk/#comments Thu, 12 Mar 2015 08:51:04 +0000 http://blog.monarch.co.uk/?p=8255 Monarch Foundation charity partner Blind Veterans UK have teamed up with Monarch to deliver a ‘sighted guiding’ training cabin crew training programme.

The training, which marks the charity’s centenary this year, has been designed to raise awareness of the difficulties faced by vision impaired passengers when travelling. It will also help cabin crew understand how they can make travelling a better experience for blind customers.

Blind Veterans UK, founded in 1915 and formerly known as St Dunstan’s, celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. It is the national charity for blind ex Service men and women that provides emotional and practical support to blind veterans no matter when they served or how they lost their sight.

Blind Veterans UK deliver sighted guiding training to Monarch Airlines cabin crew

 

Monarch cabin crew are learning from blind veteran Simon Brown, who tragically lost his sight whilst serving in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in Iraq. Simon was shot whilst rescuing colleagues whose vehicle had broken down and the injury to his face caused him to lose his left eye and left him with only 20% peripheral vision in his right eye.

In order for the crew to fully appreciate how difficult it can be travelling with a disability, Simon is talking to the crew about a typical travelling day enabling them to fully appreciate the needs and expectations of blind and vision impaired people.

The training, which started for new cabin crew starters at the Airline’s London Gatwick base in February, will also be run at bases in Birmingham, Luton and Manchester. Monarch will then look to roll out the training to existing cabin crew during 2015.

Pauline Prow, Chair of the Monarch Foundation, said the Monarch Foundation is extremely proud of its partnership with Blind Veterans UK, with Monarch being the first airline in the UK to be working with them to offer staff ‘sighted guiding’ training.

“We constantly strive to improve the levels of service we offer and this training will enable our staff to experience first-hand the challenges that our blind and vision impaired customers face and exactly what their needs are when flying. The result will be a much better travelling experience for them.” she said.

Meanwhile, Chief Executive of Blind Veterans UK, Major General (Rtd) Nick Caplin CB,  praised the Monarch Foundation for taking the lead in providing this training.

“Sighted guiding training will make such a difference to the blind and vision impaired passengers that fly with Monarch every year. I know that the skills and expertise garnered through Blind Veterans UK’s 100 years of service will be put to good use in training Monarch’s cabin crew,” he said.

Over the last 100 years, Blind Veterans have provided vital support for thousands of ex- Service men and women. Today they help over 4,000 blind veterans discover a life beyond sight loss. If you know someone who served in the Armed Forces or National Service who now suffers with sight loss from any reason visitwww.noonealone.org.uk or call 0800 389 7979.

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What lead to this celebrating selfie on a flight to Cyprus? http://blog.monarch.co.uk/cyprus-luton-celebrate-2014/ http://blog.monarch.co.uk/cyprus-luton-celebrate-2014/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 11:25:23 +0000 http://blog.monarch.co.uk/?p=5757 We carry millions of customers every year to holidays, special occasions, hen and stag parties and all kinds of fun celebrations. On one recent flight, our cabin crew really got into the celebratory spirit with customers, going so far as to sport a fake moustache as she served drinks to the party!

What happens onboard, normally stays onboard, to borrow a phrase. But Monarch customer Kelly Convey enjoyed the experience so much that she sent us a photo of the event, which happened onboard her celebratory holiday flight to Cyprus.

Kelly tells the story: “Eight friends (Kelly 27, Char 28, Lizzie 27, Gem 27, Lacey 27, Dave 29, Marcus 28 & Martin 26) set off in the wee hours of 10th September with only one thing on their minds – celebrating in the sunshine.”

“The holiday ahead of them was like no other as it consisted of the Anastasi wedding of the century. Tor and Tom are our mutual best friends and met in the first week of University, when Tor stated that she would marry him one day. Ten years later they sealed the deal and along with 2 friends’ birthdays – Dave celebrating his 29th and his girlfriend Char celebrating her 28th, gave us great reasons to celebrate on the holiday!”

Kelly and friends celebrating on a flight to Cyprus

“The first birthday coincided with our departure flight – London Luton to Larnaca with Monarch. Regardless of our early wake up calls at 3am everyone was far too excited to be tired – the birthday boy Dave Phillips was thoroughly in the spirit of things, donning the ‘birthday suit’ we had put together for him.”

Birthday suited and booted!

“We were welcomed onboard by Monarch cabin crew who really got in to the spirit of the celebration. I managed to take this photo of Marisol, serving Dave his birthday Prosecco donning a moustache, which I think is amazing.”

“It was such a shame to bring the celebrations to an end but I wanted to say thanks to Monarch for such a fun flight!”

We’d like to say a huge Congratulations to the happy couple and wish a happy birthday to her friends. Do you have a nice story about how Monarch has helped you celebrate? Get in touch via Facebook or email us as social.media1@monarch.co.uk

Cabin Crew and celebrating

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Monarch staff training for Olympics-inspired customer service http://blog.monarch.co.uk/monarch-staff-training-for-olympics-inspired-customer-service/ http://blog.monarch.co.uk/monarch-staff-training-for-olympics-inspired-customer-service/#comments Mon, 21 Oct 2013 16:28:02 +0000 http://dev-monarch.wp-sites.co.uk/?p=3332 We’re excited to announce we’re rolling out WorldHost training – the programme that thousands of volunteers and staff underwent for the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympics.

The course will be delivered across The Monarch Group, with tailored programmes for differing roles – from cabin crew to call centre staff, resort representatives to aircraft engineers. Every member of The Monarch Group’s 3,000+ staff will be invited to participate in the training programme.

Click the link to read more details on our website: http://bit.ly/MonrchWH

Training our staff to the incredibly high standards set by the volunteers of London 2012 is part of our commitment to delivering superior customer service.

What does good customer service mean to you? Let us know in the comments below

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How adorable are our mini cabin crew? http://blog.monarch.co.uk/how-adorable-are-our-mini-cabin-crew/ http://blog.monarch.co.uk/how-adorable-are-our-mini-cabin-crew/#comments Fri, 03 May 2013 08:44:32 +0000 http://dev-monarch.wp-sites.co.uk/?p=2932 Monarch Airlines mini cabin crew Leeds Airport
Kessia and Lewis Hadfield-Walker make wonderful mini cabin crew for Monarch

How adorable are our mini cabin crew?

Ridiculously cute brother and sister Lewis (8), and Kessia (5) helped us launch our new summer flights from Leeds Bradford yesterday.

We already offer flights to Faro, Lanzarote, Larnaca, Majorca and Tenerife from Leeds. New routes to Antalya, Barcelona, Bodrum, Heraklion, Menorca and Rome will launch over the coming few weeks.

For more information, take a look at > http://bit.ly/MiniCrew

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10 things not to ask your cabin crew http://blog.monarch.co.uk/10-things-not-to-ask-your-cabin-crew/ http://blog.monarch.co.uk/10-things-not-to-ask-your-cabin-crew/#comments Tue, 17 Apr 2012 10:47:45 +0000 http://dev-monarch.wp-sites.co.uk/?p=1011 A wee while ago we asked our Facebook fans what kind of posts you’d like me to write about. One of the most repeated questions was, funnily enough, what kind of questions do I hear all the time? I’m pretty sure every job comes with FAQs and I expect you all respond professionally and courteously (as I do of course), but in your head you may well be thinking something else! Well, if your question to a crew member has ever been met with a cheeky little smile then the chances are you’ve asked one of those questions…

Monarch Flights and Holidays

1. “Are you going straight back now?”

This question regularly pops up, usually when we’re disembarking back at base. People automatically think crew have only worked on their particular sector and forget or don’t realise that we’ve worked on the flight outbound which brings them inbound back home. On an average Spanish/Canary Islands round trip, crew hours can be anything from 10-13 hours upwards. Did you know a Sharm El Sheik (Egypt) return day flight for crew is an exhausting 16 hour day, and by the end of that day I’m not sure who’s looking forward to getting off the most me or the passengers!

2. “Do you really need to see it?”

Boarding cards – well there’s always someone who asks! If you’re the person who puts your boarding card away before the crew have checked it then please be prepared to be asked to ‘dig it’ back out for inspection. This is because it’s really important as the crew NEED to see the date and flight number on the little card (to be honest we’re not looking for the seat number!) and hopefully you will take comfort from the fact that the crew are being meticulous and responsible when it comes to the security of your flight, which is exactly what we are employed to do.

3. “Have you really run out of paninis?”

The limited space on an aircraft means we can only carry a certain amount of stock onboard, so at 35,000ft when an item is sold out unfortunately it really has all gone….where’s Paul Daniels and Debbie Magee when you need them! The service trolleys must start and finish somewhere within the cabin and sometimes where you’re sat kind of depends on whether you receive your first choice of snack. To avoid this unfortunate scenario, you can also pre-book your meal in advance.

4. “Can you just pop it in the microwave?”

Unfortunately, planes don’t have kitchen appliances as such, but we do have basic galleys which have electric fan ovens, hot water boilers and lots of empty stowage for bar/catering trolleys and metal canisters, along with the odd little cupboard or 2. It’s amazing what we can squeeze in there, but unfortunately a microwave isn’t one of those things!

5. “Chicken or Beef?”

This can be a headache for crew. On some long haul flights the passenger catering split is 60% chicken/40% beef which unfortunately means on a full flight some passengers are disappointed. If it happens to you, spare a thought for the crew, who do usually find a solution after a bit of juggling. It has been known, on a couple of occasions, for a generous crew member to offer up their own crew meal to help save the day.

6. “Excuse me, where are we?”

This question always makes me smile, as I’ve normally not come up for air if it’s a busy flight and haven’t normally got a clue! (unless I ask the captain which I always do). So far every time I’ve avoided the temptation of cheekily replying row 12…

7. “Have one yourself”

Although it’s a thoughtful gesture there’s sometimes nothing more frustrating than being invited by a kind hearted passenger to ‘have one yourself love’. At times, believe me, there’s nothing more I’d love than to sit down and partake in my favourite tipple with you, but alas that’s never to be. Also, crew members cannot accept tips, but if someone really insists on making a contribution we’d love you to make a donation to our onboard charity collection for Macmillan.

8. “Is it OK to join the mile high club on this flight? Is it illegal?”

Actually, to be honest, in all my years of flying I have never been asked this question and never witnessed anything that may arouse (excuse the pun) my suspicions! Whilst we’re on the subject of toilets though, I’m always perplexed as to why people happily trot to the loo on an aeroplane in their bare feet? Although it’s nice to think some passengers feel at home on board, let’s not forget that it’s not your home loo, but a public convenience being used by hundreds of people in a short space of time, so please for me, put your shoes on when spending a penny onboard!

9.”I’m freezing – what can you do about the cabin temperature?”

Top tip, no matter what the weather is on the ground and especially if it’s a night flight, always take a cardigan or jacket etc to wear on board as once at flying altitude it can become fairly chilly. A snuggly, light fleece blanket works well too. Generally if we need to adjust the heating we have to liaise with the flight deck where the controls are located. On some of our newer aircraft we have touch screen cabin heating controls on the forward attendant panel which is controlled by the crew and this will allow minor heating adjustments to be made to the cabin temperature anything more again we would need to ask the flight deck crew.

10. One exception – something that’s always welcome – hello and goodbye!

Depending on the size of the plane i.e. single aisle or wide bodied, on a round trip I can probably clock up to 800 plus ‘hello and goodbyes’ per day! I’m always pleased to see a smile on your face as you depart the aircraft… I know then our team has done a good job today.

Thanks for reading! Lisa.

Are there any questions you’d like to put to Lisa? Leave your comments below!

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What cabin crew really get up to before a flight http://blog.monarch.co.uk/what-cabin-crew-really-get-up-to-before-a-flight/ http://blog.monarch.co.uk/what-cabin-crew-really-get-up-to-before-a-flight/#comments Fri, 02 Mar 2012 17:59:50 +0000 http://dev-monarch.wp-sites.co.uk/behind-the-scenes/what-cabin-crew-really-get-up-to-before-a-flight-2012-03-02  

This week, our cabin crew blogger Lisa writes in response to the questions you posed on our Facebook page. Rather than answering one, she’s done three… how kind is that!

Rachel Hunt asks: What cabin crew have to do before passengers embark a flight & after they disembark a flight?

Lisa answers: Cabin crew must report for duty 90 minutes before a departure. As punctuality is so important, as soon as we arrive in the crew room the first priority is to log in to the electronic system. This lets crew control and the operations department at Luton HQ know everyone’s arrived. If anyone’s late then crewing have plenty of time to locate the crew member or call someone out who is on standby duty to replace them. It always makes me smile when I check in at 4.30 a.m. as most people are still deep in slumber but the crew room is like ‘Piccadilly Station’, buzzing and noisy with crews coming and going and all with the same goal, either off to work or off to bed!
Once we’ve checked in a crew list of names, plus the relevant flight details and flight times is produced so the crew are aware who’s who. Sometimes you could be your flying with your friends or colleagues you’ve known for years, which is always a treat. Other times you may be flying with colleagues for the first time.

According to regulations, cabin crew must demonstrate competency in their emergency procedures before every flight. This responsibility lies with the operating senior on the day, who must ask each crew member one safety and one first aid question to test their knowledge. The brief will also include details such as how many special needs and reduced mobility passengers to expect, how many pre-ordered meals including special dietary meals to expect from the caterers, any reminders of recent company updates and generally stimulate a discussion to allow the whole team to contribute any ideas and suggestions that will benefit the service and our passengers.

Each crew member has a designated crew seat and area of responsibility which will usually include an exit door, a crew seat, local emergency equipment i.e. fire extinguishers, smoke hoods, emergency first aid boxes plus life jackets under passengers seats in that area. As priority, once onboard all crew must pre-flight check their equipment to ensure it’s serviceable and ready for immediate use and confirm to the senior this has been completed. The senior will pass all the checks onto the Captain. Next the galley crew members check all catering has been loaded, not forgetting the crew food of course! The senior is constantly keeping a very close eye on their watch as on-time departure is really important, and will instigate a cabin security check as soon as possible. This is another strict regulation and after all ground staff has vacated the aircraft the crew will complete a thorough search of their areas to ensure no suspect packages have been left onboard. Boarding will begin once the Captain is happy all this has been completed.

Cabin interior - aircraft ready for customers

Huw Forsey asks: Why not talk about what they do on a turnaround?

Lisa says: Once everybody has disembarked from the plane, the crew starts the second security check of the day, again to ensure nothing has been left onboard. Plus, it’s an opportunity to hand over any lost property found to the agent who can try to find the owner in the terminal. The usual bits and bobs left onboard are reading glasses, books and jumpers, however I came across a rather expensive hand-held gaming device at one stage, worth a few hundred pounds, which must have frightened the owner when they discovered it was missing! I’ve also found a wallet rammed full of bank notes and credit cards, which was all carefully logged and reported before it was returned. Once we did find some illicit reading material tucked inside an in-flight magazine, which was a bit of a surprise!

The cleaners come on and it’s a bit of a free for all. The galley crew need to swap the catering and ensure the inbound meals are oven loaded and restock any trolleys for the next services. Others will replenish any toilet supplies. The cleaners are up and down the cabin collecting rubbish and if you’re not careful you can get entangled with a hoover! If there’s any time left before our next passengers arrive, a quick cuppa tea is a must. When all the cleaners and any other ground crew have left, the third security check must be completed before boarding commences again.

 

Karen Kennedy asks: What really happens when the crew finish their shift and are taken by the minibus over to the airport?

Lisa answers: On arrival back to our UK base, after disembarking is completed and before any ground staff are allowed on, the crew must complete their final security check of the day. The Captain will then give permission for the crew to disembark. Usually at this point the next crew are waiting to board to start their flight and it’s always a rush to make sure you’ve collected your personal items, double checked all the used bars have been locked and sealed for customs, the flight takings are safely secured. We then have time to say a quick ‘Hi’ and ‘Bye’ to the new crew! By the time we arrive back to the crew room usually my feet are throbbing. The only challenge left is trying to remember where I parked the car all those hours ago!

Do you have a burning question you’d like Lisa to answer in her next blog article? Tell us your ideas in the comments below! 

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Too Boozed Up To Fly http://blog.monarch.co.uk/too-boozed-up-to-fly/ http://blog.monarch.co.uk/too-boozed-up-to-fly/#comments Wed, 08 Feb 2012 12:23:28 +0000 http://dev-monarch.wp-sites.co.uk/?p=702 Well folks summer’s not far away and now’s as good a time as any to start booking your holiday. For me the most important thing when booking my holiday is family friendly flight times, for some it’s the dream of a secluded beach or a bustling city weekend break. Others are attracted to the bright lights of clubbing Meccas, especially those off to celebrate on long awaited stag and hen dos.

Whichever it may be, most of you would agree, the holiday starts after you’ve checked in, battled through the security queues and found the airport bar toasting to the start of your holiday that you’ve been looking forward to for so long.

It is very easy to get carried away in the spirit of everything; however it is important to give a thought to how many drinks you have in the bar before your flight…

Scared of flying and wish to calm your nerves with a few cheeky tipples before take-off? But are you aware of the consequences excessive drinking may have before your flight?

Did you know it is illegal to be drunk on board an aircraft?  As cabin crew we are obliged to ensure passengers do not drink their own alcohol as well as controlling the amount consumed on board a flight.

To ensure we protect our customers and staff at Monarch we adopt a zero tolerance approach to unacceptable behaviour.  All of our cabin crew are trained and receive regular refresher courses on how to deal with confrontational situations.

Prior to boarding, ground personnel keep the Captain and crew updated whilst keeping a watchful eye out to stop any potentially drunk or disorderly passengers from passing through the gate to the aircraft. At times individuals have managed to slip through the net, which is where our crews’ vigilance is imperative.

Everyone is entitled to have a safe and comfortable flight; have a bite to eat with a drink or two, watch a bit of onboard T.V, or have a snooze. Nobody wants or expects to be sat next to a loud and obnoxious drunk who’s clowning around and generally being a nuisance or at worst is aggressive and abusive.

Believe me throughout my 23 years of flying, I have had lots of fun and many laughs with passengers… but unfortunately I have also experienced the worst kind of behaviour in particular when a fight broke out between three men onboard. As this happened on the descent, after calming the situation the challenge for me was liaising with the Captain, trying to get the offenders names and passports, swapping other passengers around to split them up and relocate them for landing. We then needed to hold all the passengers on the ground whilst the police boarded to identify and remove the offenders from the aircraft. It was a long time ago, so I can now smile about it… but at the time it was quite scary for me and the other passengers onboard.

What might seem like innocent fun i.e. singing, cheering, flirting can sometimes be quite the opposite experience for another person. The role of cabin crew requires tact, diplomacy and patience. Believe me it can sometimes be quite a tricky job to strike the right balance to ensure everybody understands your request but remains happy and enjoys their flight.

If a situation threatens to continue then a proactive approach of de-escalation is usually the way forward, however if an individual ignores warnings from the cabin crew for whatever reason we can then issue them with a copy of a written notice that we carry onboard. If unacceptable behaviour continues we can then call the police to meet the aircraft who will then remove the person(s) and deal with them accordingly, if this happens on the outbound flight the offender will be refused travel home with Monarch.

In the absolute worst case scenario where a passenger is aggressive and violent (which thankfully is still a rare occurrence) the crew can (with the Captain’s permission) apply the restraint kit, which comprises of two body restraint straps and a pair of quick cuffs, designed to immobilise an individual.

Over the past four years the passenger restraint kit has only been used on three occasions; which is a fantastic achievement considering how many passengers have travelled with us.  It’s also indicative of the level of cabin crew competence in this area; you are definitely safe in our hands.

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Team Rudolf takes to the skies with When you Wish Upon A Star charity http://blog.monarch.co.uk/team-rudolf-takes-to-the-skies-with-when-you-wish-upon-a-star-charity/ http://blog.monarch.co.uk/team-rudolf-takes-to-the-skies-with-when-you-wish-upon-a-star-charity/#comments Thu, 22 Dec 2011 18:53:00 +0000 http://dev-monarch.wp-sites.co.uk/?p=573 With reindeer antlers and Rudolf’s famous flashing red noses on, tinsel and snow throughout the cabin and a crew buzzing with excitement, I just knew this was gonna be a flight I’d never forget. This special flight was one of four Monarch has flown this year for ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’. The charity, founded in Nottingham in 1989, organises special treats for seriously ill children all year round but the Lapland visit is one of the highlights of its calendar.

Raring to go!

This week Lisa, our cabin crew blogger, explains what it’s like behind-the-scenes on our annual When You Wish Upon a Star flights.

Monarch has been assisting with these charter flights for more than 15 years, flying from East Midlands, Manchester, Humberside and Prestwick to Lapland (Rovaniemi) in Finland.

Team Rudolf, at your service!

I think I can speak for the others when I say it’s a wonderful and very emotional trip for us cabin crew, helping children with life-limiting illnesses live their dream to meet Santa. The charity’s founder Barbara White OBE and her fabulous team work tirelessly all year, every year and we were so proud to be involved in this special day.

As we were boarding the passengers, it really hit home how poorly some of the children were. This day trip was a chance for some to forget about the routines of medication, hospital stays and grueling treatments for at least a day. To ensure the children had a fun-filled flight, the charity’s celebrity patron Jeremy Spake and our crew entertainer Marcus were on hand to create some excitement onboard.

Marcus did a great job as onboard entertainer

The fun started with a huge Mexican wave by everyone, before we took off Santa-bound. The kids were hugely excited by Captain Dominic’s announcement that the elves had radioed to give us a snow report and Rudolf was looking forward to meeting them. Actually, on second thoughts, I’m not sure who was more excited Captain Dominic or the kids!

Monarch Capt Dom & FO Matt

Marcus, our crew entertainer, took to the floor with coloring competitions and guessing games. He even hosted a talent show in the mid cabin for budding young stars to sing and tell jokes over the P.A. It was great to see the huge smiles and hear lots of laughter around the cabin.

Before we knew it we were on the ground in Rovaniemi. First stop was a gorgeous cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows toasted on the fire, which set us up for the next couple of hours, and a traditional Lapland welcome of blacking of our noses with coal.

When You Wish Upon a Star - Finnish welcome black noses

The sight of a traditional sleigh with its toasty rug being pulled by majestic reindeer actually took my breath away, but I’ve gotta say it was the husky and skidoo rides that were hilarious. A firework display brought the activities to a close and then it was time to head off to the hotel for a lunch and a very special surprise. That might sound very early for a firework display but did you know there is only 5 hours of daylight in Lapland in December?

Reindeer in Lapland

After lunch and after several loud renditions of “Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer”, the big guy in red arrived with gifts for everyone. The chuckles and giggles from the children were infectious, but for me, as a mum, it was the faces of the parents, so engrossed in lapping up every lasting, loving moment of their child’s delight to treasure forever, that brought a lump to my throat and made me cry.

Traditionally the team of voluntary paramedics who accompany the children on the trips (and work relentlessly throughout the day) gives a present to the bravest child of the day.

When You Wish Upon a Star - Monarch flight - Paramedics
So you can imagine our faces when Jeremy announced that by a unanimous vote it had been decided to award ‘ParaTed’, the paramedics’ mascot of the day, to us, the Monarch crew. I can tell you, it was a real wow moment. We were all truly gobsmacked and honored. To sum up, in the words of Jeremy Spake, ‘how fabulicious’.

Monarch cabin crew Lisa proudly accepting 'ParaTed'

If you’d like to learn more about the When you Wish Upon a Star charity or would like to offer your support, please visit their website. Thanks! Lisa

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Fire and smoke training… not a typical day at the office! http://blog.monarch.co.uk/fire-and-smoke-training%e2%80%a6-not-a-typical-day-at-the-office/ http://blog.monarch.co.uk/fire-and-smoke-training%e2%80%a6-not-a-typical-day-at-the-office/#comments Fri, 09 Dec 2011 13:39:31 +0000 http://dev-monarch.wp-sites.co.uk/?p=550 Lisa demonstrating evacuations

At 3pm on a Friday afternoon, the alarm goes off and instinctively you know what to do. Leaving your tea half drunk and your PowerPoint presentation open on the desktop, you grab your bag and coat (even though you’re told not to) and head outside to have your head counted by a colleague in an attractive high vis jacket.

Though everyone knows how important it is to treat every office fire drill like a real event and get out quickly, your job doesn’t depend on your performance. On the other hand, if you’re cabin crew, fire and smoke training is a very different experience! Right from the start, crews on initial training courses are put through their paces and must pass all their fire and smoke (FAS) exams to earn their wings to fly.

Communication is key during fire safety training

I’m an instructor so I get to experience a lot of FAS days. A recent one started with a 3.30 am alarm call. After tip toeing around as not to wake the household I managed to find and put on my ‘sky suit’ (my make-up and my smile), before heading in to report for duty at 5 am! It’s a tough start to the day, but since a great deal of our impeccable safety record comes down to training (well I would say that because I teach it!) it’s a necessary evil.

A fire and smoke day usually starts at the fire station with a presentation, delivered by a Fire Officer. After a thorough recap of theory and protocols, we get down to the nitty gritty of putting out real fires under controlled conditions. A mockup of various aircraft locations i.e. an overhead locker, a seat or a toilet was set alight using real fire under controlled conditions.  In real life,  we’d be using gas fire extinguishers, but during practice we just use water. It might sound a teeny bit obvious but the trick to using the fire extinguishers is to hold the trigger the right way round otherwise you will fire it in your face… and that’s not nice!

Practising putting out fires

At our Luton HQ we have our own cabin training facility where we carry out the crew and pilot practical exercises. The cabin trainer basically mimics the inside of an aircraft cabin and is based on a single aisle aircraft, 6 seats across (three either side) with 9 rows in total. There are the usual windows, blinds and overhead lockers you’d expect, plus a dummy toilet compartment, a galley at each end with trolleys, cupboards full of equipment and also galley electrics to operate the real aircraft ovens.

On top of that, the doors are fully functional, with standard aircraft exit and emergency doors. As we operate several different aircraft, the mock up features a variety of doors so we can practice on them, including Boeing 757, A321 and A320 doors. One of the safety requirements is that crews practice opening doors and exits not normally used in everyday circumstances. This gives everybody the opportunity to refresh on the actual size, operation and weight of the exits.

Practising moving doors for emergency exits

In order to satisfy regulatory requirements, cabin crews must complete firefighting scenarios wearing portable breathing equipment such as smoke hoods. Crews demonstrate the fire fighting, communication skills and teamwork protocols that they’ve learned in class. To spice things up, we introduce cosmetic smoke into the cabin trainer to make the conditions confusing and stressful, to see how crew will cope. Those crew not directly involved in the fire fighting are briefed to act as passengers, some of whom panic and generally cause a commotion. That’s when the Oscar winning performances kick in!

As we all know, smoke travels, so the instructor running the exercises needs to make sure the smoke exhaust is turned on so smoke doesn’t escape into the surrounding offices. If someone forgets (as happened once in the past) the fire alarms are set off and the whole of the HQ building is evacuated! A bit embarrassing to say the least to have to explain this to fire safety officers when the CEO and Managing Director are stood outside in the pouring rain! (Before you ask I’m not guilty of that one!)

It’s fair to say when a fire and smoke day appears on your roster, it’s dreaded, because these days usually prove to be long, tiring and challenging. However, the crews absorb a vast amount of information within a few short weeks and demonstrate key skills to a high standard. They have to be proficient firefighters and paramedics as well as highly trained in customer service by the end of their training and thankfully we come out of it confident in ourselves and in each other, which is so important for teamwork in an emergency.

Thanks for reading, Lisa

Lisa will be back in a couple of weeks with another interesting story about life as cabin crew. If you’ve got any questions or comments, please let us know!

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Introducing Lisa: Cabin crew instructor & blogger extraordinare! http://blog.monarch.co.uk/introducing-lisa-cabin-crew-instructor-blogger-extraordinare/ http://blog.monarch.co.uk/introducing-lisa-cabin-crew-instructor-blogger-extraordinare/#comments Fri, 09 Dec 2011 11:25:30 +0000 http://dev-monarch.wp-sites.co.uk/?p=552 Introducing Lisa, our cabin crew instructor and blogger extraordinaire!

Hi, I’m Lisa and I’ll be writing about the world behind the galley curtain every couple of weeks for the next few months. I hope you’ll enjoy my posts!

Way back in the 1970’s as a young girl I was fortunate enough to have family holidays abroad. I can still recall the buzz of the airport, the smell and sounds of the airplanes which were so exciting and not forgetting the glamorous ‘Air Hostesses’ which I loved and just couldn’t take my eyes off. Thinking back, I would say it was pretty much then that aviation got under my skin.

Some years later I joined Cosmos Holidays as a reservations clerk, but still with a yearning to fly I applied to be cabin crew and after flying for 3 years with another company I joined Monarch in 1990 and have never looked back.

After flying thousands of miles, serving thousands of hot meals, pouring many thousands of teas and coffees, plus visiting lots of destinations some great and some not so great, in 1997 I joined Monarch’s training department and became a safety and emergency procedures instructor. This involves training and revalidating cabin crew and pilots in all aspects of cabin safety, equipment, aviation security, conflict management and first aid.

I continue to fly onboard in various roles and more recently have also become involved in proactive groups within the company, one of which is Monarch’s ‘Green Team’ which has been introduced to help improve our onboard recycling programme.

After 22 years with Monarch, I relish and enjoy the diversity of my job which is never boring and no two days are ever the same. I’ve met many colleagues who only intended on flying for just for a few years and who like me are still flying now cos it got under their skin as well.

I’m sure Cabin Crew everywhere will agree ours is not a job but a life style and a fabulous one at that.  Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll enjoy my articles! Look forward to hearing your feedback.

Lisa.

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