What do cabin crew pack? (And what is a ‘hatbin’, anyway?)
Following on from Martin the pilot yesterday, we caught up with another airport regular, Cabin Crew member Jayne Alger. Jayne packs a suitcase like a true professional- she’s been flying with Monarch for more than twenty years! Jayne was full of wisdom on how to always be prepared, and on how flight crew always keep their uniforms so pressed and smart (the trick is to iron and fold, not roll!). Read on to see what’s inside her carry-on luggage…
Hi Jayne! How long have you been with Monarch for?
I’ve been flying 20 years now. I always wanted to do this, though when I first applied I’d never even been on a plane before. At the moment I mainly fly short haul flights, mostly around the Mediterranean. Spain, Turkey and the Balearic Islands.
What luggage do you use?
I have my handbag, which is standard for flights and is part of the uniform, and then I have what’s called my night stop bag. It’s the suitcase on wheels designed to fit in the hatbins (the cabin crew’s term for overhead storage). Every crew member carries one.
What’s in your nightstop bag?
Inside I have my CSPI booklet, it has all the guidelines for reference and emergencies. I have my hi-vis jacket, for boarding and going home, and my cabin shoes. We have court shoes for everything outside the flight, then cabin shoes when we’re on board. They’re more comfortable and easier to wear in an emergency situation. Also, I carry my Plonkey Kit. It’s the cabin crew’s working toolkit- rubber gloves, a pair of food tongs and ice tongs, a calculator and other bits and pieces.
Does it all go through security alright?
Yes, we all carry something called a Tools of the Trade card, which allows us to carry them! Every item is individually labelled, too, in case anything goes missing.
What else is in there?
I also carry a personal alarm, also in case of emergencies. Monarch gives every employee one of those; they really look after us. I have oven gloves for taking meals out of the oven, a makeup bag, clear plastic bags for security, Evian face spray to keep my skin hydrated…
What are your essentials for flying?
The things I can’t leave home without are a toothbrush, toothpaste, hand cream and shower gel in case we end up spending an extra night at the destination. And lipstick, can’t leave home without that!
If you fly a long haul flight, do you use the same little suitcase?
If we’re going long haul we carry an extra suitcase for our clothes.
Do you sneak in any home comforts, too?
I have a few. I always carry a picture of my mum, a few bits and pieces from my partner, and a lucky necklace given to me by a passenger on a round the world trip, it was a really special flight.
Ever brought back any crazy souvenirs?
I collect little china figures from around the world trips, but there’s not a lot you can fit into cabin crew luggage.
What’s your no.1 tip for packing?
I think you get used to packing a suitcase when you travel as much as we do. You only take the essentials, and it’s easier to wash something than have to carry around extras. Even when I go on holiday now, I only carry one handbag, I like travelling light.
Do you fold or roll your clothes?
I always iron and fold my clothes. Sometimes I wonder why I even bother to iron them all, but it’s a nice thing to have them there… I always pack the same way, everything has to be organised in bags. I like to just know where each item is.
One last question: why are they called ‘hatbins’?
I’m not sure… We used to wear little pillbox hats, which we’d store in the overhead during the flight. We only wear them for VIP flights now, though!