15.12.2014

A day in the life of LEA's cabin crew manager, Kristina Manna

Patrick Margetson-Rushmore, LEA’s chief executive, introduces BlueSky to Kristina Manna, LEA’s cabin crew manager. Kristina has been with the company since 2008 and currently heads up LEA’s cabin crew team where her responsibilities include training, cabin safety standards and ensuring a top-class service is provided to both LEA’s clients and aircraft owners.

Kristina tells us...

Pre-flight

The cabin crew team works very closely with LEA’s operations department as they provide us with our flight notifications and relevant briefings each morning. I’ve always got my suitcase packed for every eventuality as I could be heading anywhere worldwide.

The flight details contain information about all the passengers and any special requests they might have. I organise all the catering for my flights and food requests can range from sushi or fillet steak to burgers or jam sandwiches. We recently had a birthday onboard, so I organised a cake and decorated the cabin with balloons and banners, but sometimes passengers would just like a good cup of tea. This is all easy enough to organise if you’re still in the UK but when you’re abroad, you have to think on your feet and use what is available to you. In the summer, I had a flight back from Ibiza and all the passengers wanted an Indian curry – a meal that was surprisingly difficult to find in Ibiza!

At the airport

The first thing I do upon arrival at the airport is to meet with the flight crew for a safety briefing and any updates on the aircraft. After passing through security, I then head onboard to conduct all the necessary safety equipment checks and begin preparing the cabin with flowers and refreshments such as soft drinks, fruit and snacks.

Organisation is key in this job. It can sometimes take up to two hours to prepare for a 20 minute flight depending on what the passengers would like. That 20 minute flight could involve 11 passengers who would all like a hot meal. Although all the food will have been cooked just before the passengers arrive, I still need to make sure the table is correctly set and ensure the bread baskets and other accompaniments are ready to be served.

Once the aircraft is prepared, I’m ready to greet the passengers.

Onboard

The Captain will greet the passengers in the airport and call ahead to let us know they are ready to board. I’ll then be waiting at the top of the stairs to welcome everyone onto the aircraft. Once everyone has boarded, I’ll stow their coats and bags before playing our safety demonstration DVD.

Depending on the weather, I then offer around hot or cold towels which are very well received. The cabin is secured for take-off and away we go. I like to listen on the flight deck headset as I find it really interesting and it gives me great insight into the logistics of our flight. Once in the air, I can start the food and beverage service. Some passengers like to have table service for their meals but I’d estimate around 70% prefer to help themselves from a buffet we can put on; passengers often like the informality of a buffet.

Although I am primarily onboard for passengers’ safety, my aim is to anticipate their needs; they shouldn’t have to ask me for anything. This could range from what they would like to drink through to the possibility they might want to take a nap, in which case we make up the bed with linens and duvets.

Upon arrival

As our arrival destination nears, I secure the cabin for landing. Once landed and the passengers have departed, we conduct a full sweep of the cabin – it has been known for cabin crew to come across iPads and rogue earrings. Then it’s onto the dishes, vacuuming, polishing and thorough cleaning of all areas. I must mention that the flight crew also pitch in to clean the cabin!

Before we leave, the aircraft must be spotless and ready for the next flight; we could get a call from the operations department to say there is a follow-on flight and it could be a client or a colleague onboard next.

The managerial side

As cabin crew manager, I look after all of LEA’s crew members and help them with any requests they may have had from passengers. I also meet regularly with Patrick Margetson-Rushmore and George Galanopoulos, LEA’s managing director, to discuss any special or VIP passenger requests. Since becoming part of the Luxaviation Group, we’ve been working hard to align our high standards of cabin crew service across all companies in the group.

Part of my job also involves reviewing all safety aspects and maintaining all the relevant manuals. Alongside this, I train all new cabin crew members to ensure they are working to LEA’s high safety and service standards. I’ll also liaise with the fleet managers and operations teams to keep track of crew and flight changes; passengers might suddenly want to stay longer at their destination so I need to make sure we have the crew available.

You never really switch off as a member of the cabin crew but it is a really interesting job – that is what I love about it. I also like the fact that it’s all about teamwork. We work together and help each other out. I’ve seen some incredible sights as part of my job. We were flying across the Atlantic once and could see Noctilucent clouds – it was unbelievable. Everyone was talking about it, including pilots from other aircraft flying at the same time. My favourite route and destination is New York. It was the first flight I did after joining LEA and I’ve never forgotten it. New York is a city full of life and as you descend into the airport, you get your first glimpse of that iconic skyline and all you can think is “wow”.

Published in BlueSky, 11 December 2014

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