A major and critical part of a cabin crew member’s work is what we call “daily business”, that is, on-board service. Our training includes both an intensive section on service as well as learning about our many on-board products. From choosing the right wine to the ingredients of an Economy Class dessert, we know how to provide excellent service in the air.
Coordinating specific service procedures is also our responsibility. Since unusual situations have to be handled all the time, this represents an exciting challenge for us. Depending on the destination, the duration of the flight and the booking class, the products may vary enormously, so you have to be ready to accept new tasks every day.During my last post, I told you about our uniform and our appearance as a cabin crew member; since we all look like a part of SWISS, we also have to act like a part of SWISS. That includes learning all of the knowledge expected of a cabin crew member.
The next section of our training is very exciting but also very intense, and as usual there’s a lot to learn.We visit the Product Hub at the Operation Centre by way of introduction into the topic. It’s a showroom where all of the current products of SWISS are on display. From the current on-board dining menus to the seating arrangements, everything is set up for you to try it out yourself. Many of the products are actually laid out to show how they should be presented and served to the guests on board.For example, the trolleys are already loaded to demonstrate for us everything that goes into them and how they should ideally look once we’ve prepared them. I was especially fascinated by the seats in First Class. Even though it wasn’t absolutely necessary for us during this section of the training, that made it all the more exciting for me to try them out for once in my life. You could say it’s like sitting in a cloud, so you quickly forget you’re actually seated in a plane.
During the afternoon, we practice setting up the Economy trolleys in groups of two and three. The mood was great; we had a load of fun and there was a lot to discover and, of course, to learn. Questions popped up like: “How is the red wine presented appealingly on the trolley?”, “Where do the cups go?”, “How do you place the napkins on the sandwiches?”, “Which container is used to serve the tea?”. It’s these little details that contribute to the perfect on-board experience. We also learned some cool and practical tricks, like how you best load the trolley so that you can serve 200 people as efficiently and elegantly as possible.
Another exciting topic was the on-board kitchen (called the ‘galley’ in the industry). There are about 10 trolleys in the Eco galley for a short-haul flight. Therefore, it’s important to understand the galley as well as you can and to know what’s in each trolley. This knowledge is critical for good time management; you save so much time when you know where everything is. And time in the airline industry, as everyone knows, is scarce.
The next day we took a guided tour of Gate Gourmet, our on-board catering supplier. That was really exciting. Now we knew how the products were prepared for the trolleys and made “airworthy”. It was also very interesting to see what happens with the rubbish created during the flight. It gave us all a better appreciation of clean, conscientious work on board.
At this point, we were pretty well versed in the Economy products. We knew the different wines on option, how to serve them and how the trolleys had to be set up. Oh yeah, I almost forgot: Passengers can order special meals when they book their flights. This guarantees that people with allergies don’t eat something wrong during the flight. We also offer food for people with religious dietary restrictions, such as kosher and halal meals. Did you know that SWISS offers more than 16 different special meals? I sure didn’t; at least not beforehand. We were allowed to taste our way through the full range of special meals so that we would know what we were serving people later on board. That was a great experience and we all determined that airline food did not deserve its, in some cases, notorious reputation.
Now let’s move on to the Business Class products. We practised in a special “mock-up” which looked exactly like the aircraft cabin. It was clear that our Business Class products have a few special touches. Everything it a little more sophisticated, with a broader range of beverages, a different way of serving the food and a touch more professional way of interacting with the guests. For example, we’re expected to know the names of each passenger and to remember who’s drinking still or sparkling water. It’s definitely a different world.
In addition to the actual products and service, we learned how best to react to certain interpersonal situations. For example, what we should do when guests suffer from a fear of flying. First and foremost, it’s important to attend to such guests and be present for them. It also helps to explain to the passenger exactly what’s happening and what might be causing unfamiliar noises. Naturally, we want each passenger to have a nice and pleasant experience on board our flights.
So, that was just a little sample of our training in the Product & Service section. Now everyone’s full of anticipation, because the next stop is to take a short-haul flight. I’m very eager to do mine. I’ll finally get the chance to put into practice everything I’ve studiously learned over the last several weeks. My first day will take me to Bucharest, Hanover and Vienna.
I am ready for take-off.