Being Cabin Crew | The Ugly Truth Part 2

Table of Contents

Being Cabin Crew | The Ugly Truth Part 1 

Page 1 – Retaliation, Making it Personal  
Page 2 – Performance Management System 
Page 2 – My Performance Management Record 
Page 2 – Combining the Rank of Junior and Senior 
Page 2 – Completing Onboard Appraisals 
Page 3 – The Early Days at the Airline 
Page 4 – More of the Good Old Days
Page 4 – Cabin Crew Life Downroute
Page 4 – Pre-Flight Safety Briefings
Being Cabin Crew | The Ugly Truth Part 3

The Early Days at the Airline

I stayed with this company for thirty years because I loved my job, believed I did it well and worked alongside some amazing people.

In this section I want to talk about the early days.

two adjacent 7 4 7 aircraft with steps up to the front left side door

After leaving Thomson Holidays in 1989 I had no idea what to do next. Prior to working overseas I had worked in head office but office life wasn’t for me.

Having seen an advert for cabin crew I applied and was offered a position. I started a month later.

The training which lasted six weeks was held close to the airport.

Group of happy laughing Thomson Holidays reps around a table smiling for the camera
Having finally left Thomson Holidays after many years, Harry (on the right) joined the airline as cabin crew. We hadn’t seen each other for almost 30 years.

two male flight attendants in the galley
And here we are towards the end of a long flight home from San Francisco

My first day of training was 18th June 1990, I was group 53.  Apart from a holiday to Orlando after leaving Thomson I had never flown long haul.

I remember the excitement of boarding a Boeing 747 for the first time during training. It had recently landed from Tokyo.

In 30 years of being cabin crew I never once took my job for granted. 

letter of employment

A couple of weeks into our training we received our first roster.  Two of us were going to JFK on Saturday 28th July. 

Surnames of my course colleagues have been removed for privacy. The number to the right was our seniority so at that time, Sarah was the most junior crew member in the company.

copy of a crew members flying roster
Our first flying roster | July 1990

In 1990 there were eighteen cabin crew on a 747. The crew was made up of one Flight Manager, two Pursers and a mixture of Senior and Junior crew. 

A Purser worked in each cabin and led the services and managed and coached their respective teams. 

The airline was very different to the kind of company it is today. In 1990 the majority of crew were young, enthusiastic, loved flying and time away was very sociable. It was a great airline to work for and I felt privileged being part of it.

With it still being relatively small most of us knew each other and flew together often.

The first two photos which were taken in 1991 are on a flight to Japan. In the photo on the left, the seats where I’m standing were fitted for crew rest breaks which were mandatory on this route. The last three photos were taken during my training.

male flight attendant in the aircraft cabin
two male crew on a duty free cart mid flight serving customers

young male flight attendant in the aircraft cabin
Back in the 1990’s
a group of female cabin crew
a group of smiling female cabin crew with one male cabin crew member

The salary was abysmal but in the early days we had great perks and many long layovers. The U.S dollar was strong which made shopping in the USA very cheap.

Salary review from 1998

By 1998 I was a Purser. When I was made redundant in 2020 although part time, my salary was just over £14,000. I had been a Flight Manager for nineteen years and with the company for thirty.

My first flight from what I can remember was pretty uneventful.  Although excited about the journey I was more excited to be going to New York. I was expecting to walk out the hotel into the hustle and bustle of the city but was disappointed to find we stayed a very long way from Manhattan. In those days you couldn’t just Google the hotel.

Having arrived at the luxurious Garden City hotel on Long Island (things have changed considerably since then) the crew arranged to meet downstairs a short while later to go out for a drink.

I showered and knocked for my course colleague who was drying her hair. By the time we got to the lobby everyone had gone. We ventured outside and walked a short way with no idea where we were going. We ended up going back to our rooms.

The only thing I remember about my return flight was being asked by the Purser to have a walk around the cabin. Stepping out of the galley I found what appeared to be a used sanitary item on the floor and was told to clear it up. Getting tomato juice off the carpet was never easy!

Playing jokes on cabin crew on their first flight was the norm and something we all did well into the mid 2000’s.  As the culture at the airline began to change the atmosphere on-board also changed. The jokes stopped because everyone was far too scared of being reported which many people were.

With that said, I love to make people laugh so still occasionally joked with colleagues. I was always very careful because everyone gets offended so easily nowadays.

On my flight home from Atlanta with Bart on 25th December 2019 I played a joke on crew member Ven. He was sitting with a colleague at the First Class bar. Crew shouldn’t be sitting at the bar in full view of customers during a flight but it didn’t bother me.

I was sweeping the carpet with the dustpan and brush shortly before landing. I was on my hands and knees behind him and he hadn’t seen I was there. I touched his ankle (over his sock) to give him a fright and as my finger made contact with his leg he jumped and looked down.

He was sat on the middle stall, Katrina who was working up Purser in First Class was sitting to his left. Lottie was standing next to them at the end of the bar. Several customers were standing around waiting for toilets. I touched Ven’s leg instead of Katrina’s because he was closest to me.

When he jumped everyone laughed including him. He then continued speaking with Katrina and I went off to do other things. Lottie made reference to this incident in her witness statement.

Although Bart was not present Ven clearly told him what had taken place. I think it’s likely to have been at some point after the flight. I believe this is what led Bart to come up with the idea of accusing me of inappropriate touching.

first class bar area on an aircraft

Ven was sitting at the First Class bar showing Katrina how to do some paperwork

The following screenshot comes from Ven’s witness statement. I had praised his standard of work during the flight and thanked him several times for helping us in First.

He was an experienced crew member who worked to a high standard. That’s why I asked him to show Katrina how to complete the drinks bar paperwork. I was busy doing other things including sweeping the carpet to clear up the mess left behind after the breakfast service.

FM – Flight Manager

You’ll notice despite his struggles with basic literacy Ven states three times that me touching his leg made him feel very uncomfortable. As an ex police officer Bart would have fully understood the importance of emphasising these words. His ex fiancee used the same words multiple times in her witness statement.

Ven is a cunning and malevolent individual who had a score to settle with me. He had been called for the flight from standby and boarded the aircraft at the same time as passengers. He had been told he would be working up as Purser but I had changed his working position.

I was standing at the boarding door when he arrived. After introducing himself we moved to the galley where I explained I no longer needed someone to work up as Purser. I said I had placed him in the Premium cabin because I felt he would be well placed to help in First Class if necessary. That was the position I was going to work had an additional crew member not joined us.

I asked Ven several times whether he minded not working up to which he replied, “I don’t mind where I work”.

As you’ll see from his witness statement in due course, he was in fact irritated at not being allowed to work up in the rank in which he’d been called out.

Although the cabin crew received a ‘working up’ payment which he would now miss out on, it appears from his witness statement he was more annoyed that two crew who had been with the airline for less time than him were given the opportunity.

His witness statement is rude and offensive from start to finish. The allegation I squeezed his waist is grotesque. Like me Ven is gay and that’s relevant because of something I’ll talk about later in the blog.

Despite proving unequivocally not only that he lied throughout his entire statement but also that he colluded with Bart and another crew member, the Head of Cabin Crew wasn’t interested.

The inappropriate touching allegation was upheld purely on evidence taken from Bart’s complaint, his fiancee’s witness statement and witness statements written by Ven and Mia.

Crew member Mia also accused me of touching her leg. It wasn’t difficult to prove her and Ven were lying.

Ven worked to a high standard and I praised him on several occasions during both sectors of our flight. He had attended a recent awards evening where staff with the highest performance scores are nominated for various awards.

I’m sure many plaques like the one I received for 30 years of service with the word “winner” on it are given out.

Awards Evening

I want to share two screenshots with you. The first is upward feedback written anonymously on me by one of the crew who worked alongside Bart and I in First Class. I believe it was written by Claire.

The second is from the witness statement of Katrina who worked up in the cabin as Purser.

“Rating” is the score she awarded me out of 5. “Brief” refers to my pre-flight briefing prior to leaving the UK;

copy of a short performance review with a score out of 5

From the witness statement submitted by Katrina, Purser in First Class

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