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 the airline for thirty years because I loved my job, believed I did it well and worked alongside some great people.

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

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

The training which lasted six weeks was held close to Gatwick 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 night flight home from the U.S

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

I remember how excited I felt during my training upon boarding a Boeing 747 that had recently landed from Tokyo.

In 30 years of flying 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 28th July. 

The number to the right of our name was our seniority. So 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 crew on a 747. That included one Flight Manager, two Pursers and a mixture of Senior and Junior crew.

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

With the airline 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 £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 long way from Manhattan. In those days you couldn’t just Google the hotel.

Having arrived at the once luxurious Garden City hotel on Long Island the crew arranged to meet downstairs a short while later to go for a drink.

Having showered and changed I knocked for my 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 returning 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 crew on their first flight was the norm and something many of us did well into the mid 2000s.  As the culture at the airline changed the atmosphere onboard also changed. The jokes stopped because everyone was scared of being reported and 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 at the bar in First. Crew are not supposed to sit at the bar when customers are present but it’s not something that bothered 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 as Purser in First was sitting to his left. Lottie was standing next to them at the end of the bar. Several customers were standing around waiting to use toilets.

The only reason I touched Ven’s leg instead of Katrina’s was because he was closest to me.

When Ven 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 that’s likely to have happened when Bart contacted him after the flight. I believe that’s why Bart came 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 extract comes from Ven’s witness statement. I had praised his standard of work several times during the flight and thanked him 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 customs paperwork for the drinks bars.

I was busy doing other things including sweeping the carpet so the area through which customers disembarked was slightly more respectable.

CM5 = Crew Member 5. 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 fiancée Anna used the same words multiple times throughout 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 him to work up as Purser. I said he would now be working in the Premium cabin. That was the position I was going to work had an additional crew member not arrived.

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

As you’ll see from his witness statement, he was in fact irritated at not being allowed to work up in this rank.

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

Ven’s 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 shortly.

Despite proving beyond reasonable doubt not only that he lied throughout his statement but also that he colluded with Bart and another crew member, the Head of Department took little notice.

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

Crew member Mia also accused me of touching her leg. It was easy to prove her and Ven were not telling the truth.

Ven had recently attended an awards evening where staff with the highest performance scores are nominated for various awards.

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

The first of the following two screenshots comes from upward feedback written on me anonymously during this flight. I know it was written by Claire who worked alongside Bart and I in First.

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 each sector.

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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