After the initial safety demonstrations, the cabin crew remains mostly behind the scenes, emerging on intervals to offer food and drink or when assistance is requested.
Although they act as the “front of house” of an airline, the majority of their duties remain a mystery – until now.
Business Insider shadowed United Airlines flight attendant, Robert Bingochea, to find out exactly what is expected of the cabin crew. What he revealed may surprise you.
One of the most important rules is to promptly check in with the in-flight services.
A Cabin crew member reveals what they do on a shift
“They cover their bases because the plane has to be out. You can’t be late. You can’t be looking for coffee. You have to be there on time,” said Robert.
The in-flight check-in desk is where the flight attendants find out who they’ll be working with and which trips they will be assigned to.
Once on board the plane, the whole crew must attend the pre-flight briefing, this is when the crew found out if anyone ‘special’ will be on board – referring to flight marshals, secret service members or federal flight deck offers.
Bingochea explains that, surprisingly, the majority of the crew will not have worked together before so after the briefing, they have the chance to get to know one another.
The whole crew must attend the pre-flight briefing
If one of those steps doesn’t happen properly, that might delay us a bit
For a 200-passenger plane, there will be four attendants with each pair responsible for one end of the plane.
The crew must then carry out their assigned checks of the aircraft, for Robert, this includes checking the door pressure gauge.
A delayed flight is a costly issue for the airline so flight attendants are under pressure to ensure the flight leaves one time.
“Getting a flight out safely and on time requires lots of people and many steps,” he says. “If one of those steps doesn’t happen properly, that might delay us a bit.”
After the doors have been locked, the cabin crew are now solely responsible for keeping passengers happy and solving problems if they arise – this includes upgrading seats offering free food and drink.
The cabin crew make a note of anyone using the toilet
Throughout the duration of the flight, the crew must monitor the behaviour of all the passengers, making a note of anyone that moves about the cabin to use the toilet.
Bingochea explains that communication is the most important thing on board, if anything does happen, the crew would need to act fast to resolve the issue.
Towards the end of the flight, after the plane drops down below 10,000 feet, Robert explains that the ding passengers hear alerts the crew that is time to strap everything away ready for descent.
Once back on the ground the crew must assist all passengers off the plane for heading back to check-in to begin their next trip.