Being Cabin Crew | The Ugly Truth Part 3

Table of Contents

Being Cabin Crew | The Ugly Truth Part 2

Page 1 – When Cabin Crew Tell Lies
Page 2 – Hideous Bunch of Misfits 
Page 3 – Writing Performance Appraisals 
Page 4 – Incompetent Middle Management

Being Cabin Crew | The Ugly Truth Part 4

When Cabin Crew Tell Lies

The publication of my blog was first announced on a Facebook group widely used by cabin crew past and present. It attracted a huge amount of interest and the moderators didn’t feel it was appropropriate for the nature of the page which I understood.

Shortly before being removed crew member Peter who was on my Christmas flight to Atlanta in 2018 posted a comment. I responded but the thread disappeared soon afterwards.

At the time of our flight together Peter had been cabin crew for six months. He was upset at what I’d written and said “a man is doing a blog about being bullied and attacked whilst attacking and bullying people who were only asked to do a witness statement. The situation was nothing to do with me yet he felt the need to slander my name. Things that have been written about me are hurtful and upsetting and I was only being honest and truthful.”

In this chapter I’m going to share sections from Peter’s witness statement as well as sections from those written by other members of the crew. I want to show that he was being anything but “honest and truthful”.

Links throughout the blog enable you to refer back to certain pieces of information. They open in a new tab. You may need to scroll up or down to see the relevant text or photo.

copy of written correspondence
From crew member Peter’s witness statement

Peter is referring to his best friend Mia. In her witness statement she accused me of touching her leg. She’s also good friends with crew member T who worked up as Economy Cabin Supervisor and with Bart’s ex fiancée Anna.

Considering she “mentioned” to Peter I had been “quite physical on a few occasions” you would have thought she would also have said something to T who was her friend and supervisor on the flight. Peter, Mia, Anna and T all worked together out of the back galley in Economy.

Mia and Anna spoke to a crew line manager together prior to their next flight about “my behaviour”. Having spoken to that manager I was advised the only thing they complained about was an email I sent them on their days off.

The following screenshot comes from Mia’s witness statement;

copy of written correspondence
From Mia’s witness statement

This is from T’s witness statement;

copy of written correspondence
From T’s witness statement

Regarding placing my hand on T’s shoulder, take a look back at what I said in relation to this during the first investigative meeting regarding Bart’s complaint. That meeting took place before witness statements had been compiled. Here’s the relevant paragraph.

Regarding Mia saying she didn’t find me particularly approachable, she was friendly enough when I did a drinks service in Economy with her on the outbound sector and praised her manner towards customers. She was also very chatty when she sat across from me at breakfast on Christmas morning in the hotel. She also felt comfortable approaching me during the inbound dinner service to show me the portion size of the Christmas dinner.

She could have spoken to Katrina who was the Cabin Supervisor but instead approached me.

On our return flight to London once the dinner service in Economy was finished I asked T to send someone to the front to help us in Upper Class. The service was very busy and wasn’t running smoothly.

T, Mia and Anna arrived a short while later. With there already being seven of us working at the front which included Ven who was looking after Premium, I didn’t need three additional crew.

I asked Anna to go back to Economy, Mia to help Bart on the right aisle because he was struggling to keep up and T to remove service items customers had finished with.

Despite so many of us working together in such a small area, according to witness statements nobody saw me or was aware of me touching Mia’s leg. She says she thought I may have dropped something or was having a laugh and then says “I don’t wish this to be taken further”.

If this incident happened which it didn’t, why didn’t she mention it to anyone? And if she didn’t want it to be taken further why mention it at all? The answer to that is because I believe Anna persuaded her to make up the story to support Bart and her allegation of inappropriate touching.

If a man old enough to be her father genuinely touched her leg, having found out he also allegedly touched other members of crew why wouldn’t you want it to be taken further?

Mia was in Upper Class helping Bart out on his aisle for about forty five minutes. So she worked with him during that time. I was also busy helping in the cabin. Here’s another screenshot from Mia’s witness statement.

copy of written correspondence
from Mia’s witness statement. FSM = Flight (service) Manager

She’s right I was stressed because the service wasn’t going well and the galley was in a mess. I had Bart on one aisle who was struggling to keep up and a crew member in the galley plating food like it was school dinners. Despite being a night flight, with it being Christmas Day it was unusually busy.

Katrina who was working up as Cabin Supervisor could not have worked any harder but wasn’t directing or leading the service. She was just being another pair of hands. The role of the Cabin Supervisor is to lead and oversee the service. When it’s not going well you have to step in.

This was her first time working up and she hadn’t been with the airline for that long. It was just very unfortunate the service was much busier than normal and there were plenty of challenges to deal with. Although I was supporting her as much as I could which she confirms in her witness statement, I didn’t want to take over completely.

Whilst all this was going on Mia claims I touched her leg and thought I had “dropped something or was having a laugh.”

T was also helping in the cabin at this time yet was unaware of any inappropriate touching.

The following photo is the Upper Class cabin on the aircraft we were flying on. You can see the width of the right aisle that five of us were working in during the service. Those people were Bart, Mia, myself, T and Claire.

Bart and Mia were serving customers in the window seats on the right aisle, Claire was serving the centre seats. T and I were helping in both aisles. By this time Katrina had moved into the galley to help out.

Towards the end of the service once Ven had finished in Premium he also helped in Upper Class. Nobody other than Anna who was working at the opposite end of the aircraft and Bart, saw me or was aware of me touching anyone inappropriately at any time.

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class  cabin
Upper Class Cabin

At the back of Upper Class is the bar area which is also a tight space. The galley which I don’t have a photo of is also very narrow. The galley wall can just about be seen in this photo. I’ve included it to show how narrow the walkway is behind the bar stools.

This is where I was sweeping the carpet prior to landing when I touched Ven’s ankle to give him a fright. He was sat on the middle bar stool talking to Katrina who was sat to his left. Lottie was standing at the end in front of the toilet.

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class bar area on the aircraft
Arrow pointing to the dividing wall between the cabin the galley

In Bart’s witness statement he says “Laurence constantly touched me and other crew members on or below the hips. Excessive and unwanted touching especially by a manager who has not created good rapport was not welcomed and was commented on by many members of the crew.”

In Anna’s statement she said “I witnessed FSM Laurence touch crew member Bart below the hips while negotiating a tight work place (I think she means workspace). Crew member Bart looked uncomfortable with FSM Laurence’s hand placement as his posture straightened and he looked surprised. FSM Laurence also touched me below the hips and it made me uncomfortable.”

Take a look at what Ven said in his statement about me touching his leg. It’s here.

Having arrived at the front of the aircraft with T and Amy, Anna was present for a few minutes before being asked to return to Economy.

With seven of us working at the front nobody saw me or was aware of any inappropriate touching. Anyone who has ever worked as cabin crew will know you continuously have to squeeze past colleagues or physically move them out the way to get by.

The very nature of this working environment makes working alongside malevolent and devious individuals like Bart and Anna very dangerous.

Both used the situation to their advantage and colluded with other members of the crew. Although Ven, Mia and Peter were naive and stupid enough to go along with their lies, these three ignoramuses were not able to confirm in their own witness statements they saw me touch anyone inappropriately.

Crew members T, Lottie, Katrina, Claire, the First Officer and Captain of the aircraft all stated they were unaware of any inappropriate touching. Lottie, Katrina and Claire worked alongside Bart and I on two long sectors.

Despite eight out of ten crew members confirming in witness statements they didn’t see me touch anyone inappropriately or were even aware of any such behaviour, the allegation was upheld by both crew line managers and by the Head of Cabin Crew who heard my appeal.

Two crew failed to return their witness statement. One was Bruce who worked the Upper Class galley, the other a female crew member in Economy.

I even supplied a letter from a doctor of clinical psychology who stated it’s “unlikely” I would have touched anyone inappropriately. He could say that because of things we had discussed in the months prior to this flight.

What makes this situation even more damning is that Bart was a serving police officer for eight years. Anna also came from a police background.

With regards to Ven’s allegation of me squeezing his waist, take a moment to think about that. How do you squeeze someone’s waist?

In his witness statement he accuses ME of being “touchy feely”. In this photo Ven is on the left. Peter who’s standing next to him has his arm around his waist. I wonder whether he’s squeezing?

Virgin Atlantic crew member wearing a Christmas sweatshirt
Look at the position of Peter’s arm, he’s behind me on the right.

I look very tired in that photo. I had just spoken to my dad who was extremely poorly. I knew he was in the last days of his life and hoped he’d still be alive when I landed home. He passed away just over a week later.

My dad had lived with me since my mum died in 2010. I was his carer for almost nine years. He was now living in a lovely care home but it had been a long and difficult fight to get him a place.

Little did I know when leaving Atlanta on this Christmas afternoon in 2018 with this seemingly happy bunch of cabin crew, that life would never be the same again.

In Ven’s witness statement he says when he arrived for our flight he didn’t know anyone on the crew. Less than twenty four hours later him and Peter are extremely good friends. Whilst that’s common for cabin crew I have a good reason for mentioning it.

In his comment on Facebook regarding my blog Peter said, “I would never lie maliciously to hurt someone.”

The following comes from his witness statement;

“Laurence spent a lot of time in the flight deck”.

Were this to be true it would have been extremely damaging. My role on the aircraft was to be in the cabin and not to be spending long periods of time chatting with the pilots in the flight deck. By making this statement Peter knew what he was doing.

The comment can only refer to the inbound sector because the outbound flight was half empty and very quiet. He’s basically accusing me of skiving.

Peter didn’t come to the front once on either sector. He states several times in his witness statement we saw very little of each other during both flights. Therefore he can’t possibly know what I did with my time.

The only other person who made a comment regarding my availability in the cabin or apparent lack of it, was Ven. Peter was working at the opposite end of a very large aircraft.

Not even Bart and Anna made reference to me spending time away from the cabin.

This comes from Ven’s witness statement;

copy of written correspondence
From Ven’s witness statement. CSS = Cabin (service) Supervisor

It seems very clear why Peter wrote what he did in his statement. So much for “only being honest and truthful”.

Ironically this comes from his social media page;

copy of an instagram post with text

As you’ll see when I talk more about what he wrote in his witness statement, he doesn’t have a clue about being kind or mental health but these are great buzz words for “likes”.

Ven worked position CM7 (CM = Crew Member) which looks after the Premium cabin. He worked from the front galley alongside me, Bart, Lottie, Katrina and Claire. We were all in Upper Class.

I asked him on the inbound flight once he finished his service to help us in Upper. Katrina was the Upper Class Cabin Service Supervisor so I don’t understand why Ven believed he was doing that position.

According to his witness statement, on our inbound flight as well as working in a full Premium cabin looking after thirty eight people, he not only helped out in Upper Class but actually ran the service. He also claims to have done some aspects of my role which was Flight Service Manager.

Anyone who has ever flown as crew for Virgin Atlantic and particularly with me, will see through his ridiculous lies. His rank is Cabin Crew which is the same as the other eleven crew members on this flight. Furthermore he wasn’t even the most senior member of crew.

Since writing this section of my blog he has been promoted to Cabin Service Supervisor. The lies he told in his witness statement contributed to me losing my job.

The following screenshot comes from documents submitted as part of my defence. The blue font is the question being asked by Lana the grievance investigation manager. The orange is Ven’s response. The black is my response.

copy of written correspondence
FSM = Flight (service) Manager. CSS = Cabin (service) Supervisor

Ven had recently attended an event known as “The Incredibles” and it has clearly gone to his head. The truth of the matter is he’s an arrogant deluded buffoon.

Maybe he thinks he worked the Upper Class Cabin Supervisor position because I asked him to show Katrina how to do the drinks bar paperwork.

I asked Ven to help out because he was competent and experienced. Unknown to me at the time he was irritated at not being able to work up in the rank he was told he would be working when called on standby.

Regarding his comment about making a seat belt sign P.A, each time I read that it makes me laugh. The onboard managers make all PA’s and always have done. They can if they wish delegate them to one of their crew.

During the flight the seat belt sign announcement is made by one of the Cabin Supervisors, usually the one working in Economy. It’s mandatory at least one announcement be made so if not done within a few minutes the other Cabin Supervisor or Flight Manager will do it.

With there being three onboard managers on our flight even though two were working up, Ven claims he made the announcement because “due to lack of experience it wasn’t made.”

Each time the seat belt signs are illuminated a mandatory chain of events kicks in. The crew check customers in their section have their seatbelts fastened. The crew then pass their “checks” to their Cabin Supervisor. Each Cabin Supervisor then advise the Flight Manager who in turn advises the Captain.

Ven also stated I didn’t make a welcome announcement after take off. That’s odd considering Bart criticised my after take-off announcement.” This is the reason why as part of the witness statement requested by the company the crew were asked;

“Please share any observations on Flight Manager Laurence’s PA’s.”

Considering Ven believes he was working as Upper Class Cabin Supervisor and also did parts of my position as Flight Manager, I’m surprised he didn’t claim to have made the after take-off announcement himself. Afterall, in his deluded mind he believes he went over the head of all three onboard managers and made a seatbelt announcement because it wasn’t made.

Part of my responsibility as a Flight Manager was to ensure safety procedures were followed.

If Ven had genuinely made an announcement because it wasn’t made by me or one of the CSS’s, you can bet your bottom dollar it would have been addressed by Anna and Bart in their correspondence. Needless to say it wasn’t.

Even Peter makes reference to my announcements in his witness statement. He says his travelling companion thought they were “were really long and didn’t need to be”.

Ven cites “lack of experience” as being the reason why the seatbelt announcement wasn’t made. He also said I should have taken charge but didn’t. That’s a strange comment to make considering Bart accused me of being a bully and of “overbearing supervision”.

I had been flying as cabin crew with this airline for 30 years, my last 22 as an onboard manager (first Purser then Flight Service Manager). Katrina and Claire had both flown previously for another airline for thirty years, twenty as Flight Managers.

Lottie was the longest serving crew member, she had been with the company for eight years. Making an announcement regarding the seatbelt sign is not only company procedure it’s a requirement laid down by the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

The most junior crew member in Upper Class was Bart who had only been flying for eleven months. According to minutes taken during his meeting with the crew manager investigating his grievance, he complained he wasn’t given the opportunity to work up as Cabin Service Supervisor.

As you’ll see from his performance appraisal he wasn’t able to do his own job properly let alone run the entire service in the cabin.

I even had to compensate one customer because Bart had woken him for breakfast but didn’t go back to serve him. He was completely missed out during the service. He subsequently complained to me mentioning Bart by name.

I spoke to Bart there and then about why the customer had been missed out. Having asked how he did the service he told me he first woke everyone up on his side who was having breakfast, converted their bed back to the seat position and then started serving breakfast. I explained that wasn’t the way the service is done.

I wasn’t present in the cabin for most of the breakfast service because I am required to do the service in Premium.

In his complaint Bart told more lies about why the customer was missed out. Needless to say he refused to take any responsibility and blamed Katrina and Claire.

finger about to touch a button on a keyboard which says lies

The next screenshot comes from evidence submitted as part of my defence. It’s regarding the buffet dinner arranged for us in the hotel on Christmas Eve, the day we landed in Atlanta.

Three tables had been set up. Bart, Anna, T, Peter, Mia and their two companions sat at one table along with another two crew members from our flight. I sat on a separate table with the Captain, First Officer, Lottie, Katrina and Claire. The third table was occupied by the Manchester crew.

The crew member I was asked to speak to by the Captain was Peter.

copy of written correspondence
From evidence submitted as part of my defence

Despite having seen so little of me during both flights and the entire trip according to his witness statement, Peter says “he (Laurence) came across professional towards customers but to crew I feel he came across unapproachable and not so professional, his attitude made me feel awkward around him”.

On our outbound flight whilst half the cabin crew were on their rest break, I went to the back to check on Peter. He was in the galley alone and we spoke for about ten minutes. He told me he was best friends with Mia, that she had persuaded him to apply for the job and that he also worked in a gym.

Making conversation wasn’t easy which I put down to the age gap and him still being very new. That was the only time we spoke one-to-one or spent any time alone.

In response to another question he says “I don’t feel he took his time to engage with his crew”. In another, “If I’m honest I didn’t find Laurence approachable in the slightest, mostly because of his (pre-flight) briefing and he didn’t take much time to engage with myself.”

Here’s his answer to another question;

“Please share any other information you feel may be relevant to the performance and behaviour of Laurence and crew member Bart on this duty.”

“He (Laurence) also sent an email to all the crew regarding the flight and Voice of Customer which was very unnecessary and long” (just like my announcements then!).

Bearing in mind he’d only been cabin crew for six months and had never flown previously, his comment speaks volumes about his interest in his performance and development. This is someone who was being asked to comment on the performance of someone who had been flying for almost thirty years, nineteen of which were as a Flight Manager.

The email he’s referring to was only sent to the four crew working in Economy plus crew member T who worked up as Cabin Supervisor.

Although I occasionally wrote performance appraisals from home after a flight, I had never contacted a group of crew in this way. I did so on this occasion because they were all relatively new and I was disappointed to see a customer on our inbound flight had marked them “Good” on their Voice of Customer questionnaire. An accompanying comment said “the stewardess was professional but not engaging”.

In my pre-flight briefings I always asked the crew to engage with customers whilst serving them. This was something I also addressed in Bart’s performance review.

The following screenshots come from my pre-flight briefing. These sections come from evidence submitted as part of my defence;

copy of written correspondence

Cabin crew management had been putting huge pressure on onboard managers to achieve high Voice of Customer scores so being marked “excellent” was really important. Anything less pulled down our scores.

With the outbreak of Covid these scores were used to assess our performance. They were used to decide who would be made redundant, who would be offered a place in the holding pool and who wouldn’t.

The holding pool was set up with help from the union so when the business picked up, crew who had been made redundant could be re-employed. The company initially wanted it to be valid for twelve months but after extensive negotiations agreed for it to be valid for twenty four months.

Not everyone was given a place in the holding pool. Many crew including myself were made redundant with no opportunity to be re-employed.

Covid was a worrying time for many people. I believe several airlines used it as an opportunity to get rid of employees they no longer wanted. The furlough scheme was set up to save jobs yet the airlines used it selectively.

I had always taken a keen interest in my performance and was concerned my scores had dropped slightly in the previous month. Even though I was still above average I wanted to get them up as quickly as possible. I always wanted to perform at an optimal level.

During the inbound pre-flight briefing the Flight Manager shares with the crew the scores from the outbound sector. I therefore felt there was no reason why I shouldn’t share them with this group of crew from our inbound sector. Only on-board managers have access to the scores and comments.

The reason for doing that was because three out of the four who worked in Economy had been with the company for less than twelve months. Crew member T who had recently been turned down for promotion was also working up in a supervisory role.

I was initially only going to email him because I thought he may be interested to know the scores for the flight but then decided to include Anna, Mia and Peter as well. I also copied in their line managers plus my own. Only one out of the four Crew Performance and Development Managers (crew line managers) replied.

copy of an email
Email from a Cabin Crew Manager (MPD = Manager Performance and Development)

Take a guess who the only crew member was to reply. The same person who I said shone brightly and had the potential to go far in the company.

The only crew member who replied to my email.

It was Mia, the same Mia who accused me of touching her leg and who didn’t find me to be approachable.

Crew member T who worked up didn’t reply either. As you’ll see lower down, I even said in the email “T did an outstanding job working up as Cabin Service Supervisor”.

Mia and T are still employed by the company.

As I share more extracts from Peter’s witness statement you’ll see how his tone changes when he speaks about Bart. They worked at opposite ends of the aircraft and Bart spent almost no time at all in Economy. On the outbound flight it wasn’t necessary and on the inbound he was far too busy.

You’ll be surprised how much Peter knew about how he worked and how highly he spoke of him. Peter didn’t come to the front of the aircraft where Bart and I were working once on either sector.

Anna who had been with the airline for less than eleven months complained about my email to a crew line manager whilst checking in for her next flight. Although she says she spoke with Julie on the 27th it was actually the 28th.

Guess what the name is of the CM (crew member) whose name I’ve obscured? It’s Mia. Now scroll up and have a look at the date on the email Mia sent to me thanking me for my feedback. Don’t bother I’ll save you the time, it was the 28th December 2018.

copy of written correspondence
OMB should read OBM – On-board manager

The only thing Anna and Mia complained about was the email they received on their days off. Julie told me had anything been mentioned about inappropriate touching, bullying, overbearing supervision or anything else mentioned by Bart in his grievance, a full investigation would have been launched immediately.

The emails she refers to were not included with the paperwork I received as part of the outcome to the initial investigation. Therefore I don’t know the content.

The following screenshot comes from evidence I submitted as part of my defence;

copy of written correspondence
From evidence submitted as part of my defence

In October 2021 I submitted a Subject Access Request to Human Resources. In accordance with British law they’re required to share all information that I request from my personnel file. I have asked for everything from December 2018 to the time I was made redundant.

To date I have still not received this information. I filed a complaint with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) in January 2022. Failure to provide this data is a criminal offence. It should be provided within one month although they can request an extension of two months.

The following screenshot comes from an email I received from the ICO on 12th May 2022. Today is the 9th July.

From an email I received from the Information Commissioners Office

The next screenshot comes from crew member Lottie’s witness statement. She worked alongside me and Bart in Upper Class. After me she was the longest serving crew member on the aircraft.

Her statement was very honest. Bart had not colluded with her or with Claire or Katrina both of whom also worked alongside us in Upper Class.

copy of written correspondence
Lottie’s witness statement

From what she has written you can imagine what Anna and Mia said about the content of the email. Her comment about me laughing and joking with the crew is a reference to me touching Ven’s ankle whilst on the floor behind him sweeping the carpet. The only crew members present at the time were Lottie and Katrina.

I want to end this page by sharing the email I sent to the Economy crew.

I know it’s longer than it could have been but at the time of writing I wasn’t in a great place. Losing myself doing something I enjoyed was a good distraction.

The purpose of the email was to share some of my experience with four crew who combined had been flying for less ten years. Three out of the four had been flying with the airline for less than twelve months.

VoC is the Voice of Customer programme. These questionnaires are sent to customers after their flight.

copy of an email
copy of an email
copy of an email
CSS = Cabin (service) Supervisor / FSM = Flight (service) Manager

Peter and Mia thought my email was totally unnecessary whilst Anna claimed it had a negative effect on her mental health and was a further attack from an overly critical Flight Manager.

It’s worth mentioning I hardly spoke to Anna on our outbound or inbound flight to/from Atlanta. I had no reason to address any performance issues with her because as far as I was aware she was doing a good job.

10 thoughts on “Being Cabin Crew | The Ugly Truth Part 3

  1. Thank you Julie. I loved my job and felt privileged to be working for the airline. I always did my best and couldn’t do more than that. Sadly what happened to me has happened to many others. I’m just the first to document my experience. Bullying damages lives. It certainly damaged mine. The whole situation is a disgrace.

    Things are slowly getting better but it’s a long road to full recovery. It’s taken almost three years for me to get to where I am today. x


  2. So sad and unnecessary. I’m sorry and saddened that you had to go through this. You always showed so much integrity, loyalty and was so much fun to fly with. Always professional … always smiling.

    Wishing you a brighter, fairer and happier future x

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ahhh thank you Justine. We flew together many times and I always remember your smile. I met so many amazing people during my time with Virgin Atlantic and you were definitely one of them. It really was the best job in the world.

    The company has certainly changed but so has the world we live in.

    Thank you for your lovely words, they mean a great deal to me.



  4. I always loved flying with you Laurence , im sorry you have gone through this after so many years working for VA with an unblemished working record .. you were always the name on the check in sheet to bring a smile to the crew that it was going to be a fun flight ! Big hugs J xx


  5. Thank you Donna for your kind words. It’s been a tough couple of years and what I had to deal with has certainly taken its toll. Life goes on and I am trying hard to get back on track. Sadly it doesn’t leave me with very good memories of my time at Virgin Atlantic.

    I had twenty eight amazing years and two terrible ones. In time I’ll hopefully forget about the last two and remember the previous twenty eight.

    I hope life is treating you well.


  6. Hi Lawrence, I have just managed to read all you have written and I feel sad to hear what a horrible time you had, I worked with you on numerous flights, I was crew from 1996 to 2010 , I was always happy to see your name on the list and always remember you to be fun, approachable and professional, I was actually shocked to read this and the terrible things said about you, I wish all the best for the future and hope you can find some peace after all this

    Liked by 1 person

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