Cabin crew are always at the door of the plane to welcome passengers onboard their flight. It can often seem as though the flight attendants are simply being courteous and friendly. However, they are not just there to smile at airline customers coming through the doors. A former British Airways cabin manager has revealed what cabin crew are really on the lookout for when you get on a plane.
Ex BA flight attendant Simon J Marton explained in his book Journey of a Reluctant Air Steward what crew are doing when they first lay eyes on passengers.
He reveals that flight attendants are actually analysing those coming on board.
Crew want to identify those travellers that could prove helpful in an emergency.
However, they also want to spot those people who could cause trouble and prove a problem.
“When we greet you, it’s both a welcome and an analysis of several things,” wrote Marton.
They are looking for: “Your boarding pass certainly for several reasons, your physique/travel status (if a sole traveller, could we use you as an ABP – able-bodied person – in case of evacuation?), but also your character and anything that might suggest trouble.”
Cabin crew will make a mental note of anything concerning they spot and raise the alert if needs be.
“Rudeness is picked up on immediately, and any signs of a bad attitude, aggression or even danger are flagged mentally at that point,” said Marton.
“The commander is informed in the flight deck pre-departure of anything – no matter how slight – that could threaten the safety of the flight.
“This occasionally included things on the airframe (body of the aircraft) that a pax [passenger] has spotted during boarding, and there have been many occasions when the F/O [First Officer] has come into the cabin to take a look for himself.
“We do use pax knowledge, or just plain eyesight, and most things turn out to be fine.
“It’s the one occasion when you don’t take it seriously that could be that time.”
Marton recalls one episode when the alert did have to be raised following a passenger comment while boarding.
“Nicki, my trainer at Air 2000 told us a story about a guy who made a ‘comic’ throwaway comment about having a bomb in his suitcase while boarding a holiday flight.
“Even though it as obvious he didn’t mean it, she looked at him and replied, ‘You’re going to really wish you hadn’t said that, sir…’
“The police were called, the guy taken off and questioned and the baggage offloaded for 233 pax, delaying the flight for about three hours.
“That’s how you make yourself the most unpopular person on a plane.”
Former flight attendant Mandy Smith revealed in her book how crew were trained for emergency situations following 9/11.