What happens at a cabin crew pre-flight briefing?

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By cabincrew.com on Thursday 26th Jun, 2014 at 09:38

When you become cabin crew, one of the most important aspects of the day is the ‘pre-flight briefing’ which is held before every flight at base. Briefings are necessary to create an action plan for the day, communicate information between crew members and check that we are all on the same page.

A successful briefing improves communication and co-ordination during the flight as well as promoting cabin crew teamwork, ensuring an even workload and encouraging open communication.

On arrival at your base, you will check in and make sure there are no changes to your schedule and collect any safety updates or company news. If you have time, it is wise to check your cabin crew manuals for a quick reminder of safety and emergency procedures and aviation first aid.

At the briefing, you will meet your senior cabin crew member (SCCM) and your fellow cabin crew for the flight. The SCCM will check with you that have your essential items: ID, passport, manuals and introduce themselves - their task is to organize the workload and make sure the cabin crew know their responsibilities.

Introductions and essential information

They may ask everyone to introduce themselves briefly, as often you are working with people you haven’t worked with before or just worked with once or twice, so it’s good to know a little bit about one another. The SCCM will either delegate your position on the aircraft for the flight (eg. Door 1 left or R4 for example) or the most senior crew member will choose a position and then the next most senior will choose until all crew members have a working position. You will find out more about the flight including the flight time, departure and arrival time, destination and flight number and aircraft registration.

Important information to remember will be given such as the passenger load, any maintenance issues, special meals (eg. vegetarian, halal, diabetic etc) and passengers who need assistance (passengers with reduced mobility or have a wheelchair). Expectations of the flight will be discussed as well as the team standards, and any aims for the day.

If you are staying down-route, the SCCM will mention the hotel and destination along with any special recommendations. You may also receive a briefing sheet with all the information discussed or it is advisable to have pen and paper to hand to make notes.

Safety and Emergency Procedures

You will then go through a safety and emergency procedures (SEP) scenario as a team and then be asked individual questions - for example, a potential nose gear collapse on landing and how you would prepare yourself, the cabin, and the passengers for a pre-planned emergency. You will also talk through a medical scenario, for example, a person is suffering from air sickness and then faints, what measures do you take? It is important to answer the SEP and aviation first aid questions sufficiently as if you cannot answer, you can be sent home.

Your flight crew will introduce themselves and inform you of the flight time, any weather issues or expected turbulence and special instructions or unusual aspects for the flight (e.g. carriage of deportees). You can ask the SCCM any questions about anything that you are unsure of or want to clarify. After the briefing, you collect your luggage, go through security and head for the crew transport to board the aircraft and start your safety and security checks onboard.

Reducing errors

Pre-flight briefings are helpful for crew resource management and reducing errors and the potential for incidents during the flight. The brief importantly should build teamwork as so often we are flying with new colleagues and we work for long hours in close proximity, so it is useful to have that ‘synergy’.

We also need to create a team spirit and have good leadership onboard the aircraft. All communication should be interactive and the workload should be fairly distributed for effective teamwork and to reduce errors. The briefing encourages good time management, prioritizing your workload and understanding your airlines SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures).

The service requirements need to be considered as well as unplanned events – always expect the unexpected! All in all, the pre-flight briefing is a critical element of the day for improving performance, increasing safety and security and making sure that your flight is a very successful one.

About the author:

Patricia Green has been Cabin Crew for major airlines in the UK and Middle East for seven years and also an SCCM. She has also worked as a VIP Flight Attendant working for very high profile clients and world leaders on their private jets.

Recently Patricia moved to flying on a freelance basis in order to concentrate on working as a freelance instructor as well as setting up as a Cabin Crew Consultant. She advises potential crew how to get their dream job and helps experienced crew move from commercial to corporate flying. In response to many requests from fellow crew and students, Patricia has written a series of E-books to help guide new crew with lots of insider advice and useful hints and tips.

For more information please visit www.cabincrewconsultant.weebly.com

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Photo: Japan Airlines