Browsing Tag: Flight Attendants

Allegiant MD-80 tail with a clear blue sky

Allegiant MD-80 tail with a clear blue sky

Allegiant Air announced today that they will be adding 16 additional seats to most of their MD-80 aircraft. All of the 48 currently operating and nine of the additional ones will be operating with 150 seats will be changed to accommodate 166 seats.  The three MD-87’s that hold 133 seats will not be changed.

Allegiant is investing $50million into this change, which includes removing the galleys. They will start the changes near the end of 2011 and will be completed by the end of 2012.

“These added seats will allow us to grow our capacity with the least amount of risk,” Andrew C. Levy, Allegiant President, said. “This project effectively increases our capacity by 11 percent while lowering our cost per seat. In addition, we expect to fund this through internally generated cash-flow.”

This investment shows that Allegiant will continue with their fleet of MD-80 aircraft as well as their newer Boeing 757s for the future.

Due to the increase in passengers, Allegiant will be adding a fourth flight attendant to the 166 passenger aircraft. This increases the ratio of flight attendant to passenger from 1:50 to 1:42.

I wondered if this would mean Allegiant would offer less seat pitch for customers. Just back in 2004, Allegiant made a big deal about taking out three rows of seats to provide more leg room (thanks to Dan Webb for that link). I asked Jordan McGee, Director if Allegiant Corporate Communications and she explained that all Allegiant’s aircraft are not configured the same, but even after the conversion to 166 seats, all the aircraft will have a seat pitch between 30-32 inches.

“Our current seat pitch varies by aircraft because of different configurations, but our average is 30-32 inches. We also have quite a few seats at 33 inches and then some upwards of that, depending on the aircraft. Once we make the conversion to 166 seats, each seat will be between 30-32 inches,” McGee explained.

If they aren’t using the galleys to serve food, why have them? Heck, if Allegiant can put in more seats and more flight attendants while not taking any leg room away from me and while trying to keep fares competitive, I am all for it.

Image: p1anespotting
A nice Turkish Airlines Airbus A340 up front, lots of other Turkish planes in the background.

A nice Turkish Airlines Airbus A340 up front, lots of other Turkish planes in the background.

The argument for “passengers of size” has been going on for quite some time now. Now Turkish Airlines is looking to add “flight attendants of size” into the mix. 28 flight attendants have been put on unpaid leave to shape up or be reassigned.

Izzet Levi, head of a cabin attendants’ association, and one of those trying to lose weight, told the Haber Turk newspaper he must drop 22 pounds or he will get re-assigned.

This is a tricky situation. With larger passengers, it is easy just to have them purchase a second seat, but flight attendants need to be able to safely get up and down the aisle and help passengers get off the aircraft in case of an emergency.

It is easier with passengers to tell when they have to buy a second seat. If you can’t put your seatbelt on or put down the armrests, there is a good chance you will have to buy the seat next to you, but with flight attendants, it is not as easy.

Source: AOL Travel Image: Baris Karakaya
AirTran Boeing 737-700 that I flew from ATL to MKE

AirTran Boeing 737-700 that I flew from ATL to MKE

What better way to test out the things I learned than flying home via AirTran?

After my second day sitting in on classes, I left the AirTran training center and headed straight to Atlanta International Airport (ATL) for my AirTran flight to Milwaukee (MKE), then back home to Seattle (SEA).

Yesterday I looked at how some airlines provide very little space for passengers, but on this trip, I was lucky enough to test out AirTran’s business class (which has a seat pitch of 37″ — ah yeah!). In Business Class, the seats are bigger, you have more room, free drinks and premium snacks. Being up front also gave me the opportunity to watch what the flight attendants were doing and see if they were doing everything I just learned about earlier that week.

On the flight home, I had a totally different perspective than I had on my previous flights.  Like most frequent fliers, I feel like I know how everything works and I don’t need to pay attention.  This time, I couldn’t help but notice how the flight attendants did the safety announcements and prepped for the flight.

Once all the passengers boarded, I could see the flight attendants close the front door and arm the slides. When I heard the call, “cross check, all call,” this time I finally knew what it meant. Each flight attendant double checks to make sure both doors in the front and back have the slides armed and then call back, “cross check complete.” This is also done after reaching the gate to make sure the slides are dis-armed.

Once we hit that 10,000 foot mark, it was time to get on to the internet. AirTran and  GoGo In-flight were offering WiFi for 20% off, so how could I refuse? Cost me less than $10 and let me have access to the internet on both legs of my flight.

Every AirTran flight has WiFi, which is awesome!

Every AirTran flight has WiFi, which is awesome!

The flight from ATL and MKE went very fast. I caught up on some blogging (what better way to be inspired than blogging at altitude). The leg was uneventful and I enjoyed my free adult beverage and premium snacks. I ended up not having a talkative neighbor and that was ok with me.

When leaving ATL we were told that those of us continuing on to SEA would stay on the same aircraft. Fine by me, I could just surf the internet while waiting. Once we landed, I sat on the plane while others de-boarded around me. One of the flight attendants was standing in front of me thanking the passengers and I started talking to her about how many flights she had left. She told me this was her last flight for her and the plane. I thought she might have just been messing around with me. Turns out, she wasn’t.

With the extra room, my netbook easily bit on the tray and in Business Class you get free drinks!

With the extra room, my netbook easily bit on the tray and in Business Class you get free drinks!

While in flight AirTran changed plans and now people flying to Seattle would have to change planes. Between that decision being made and us landing at MKE, no one had informed the passengers. Not a big deal, this just meant I got to watch a totally different AirTran crew at work.

In my hurry to get to my next plane, I accidentally left my carry-on bag in the overhead bin.  While waiting in the jetway an AirTran pilot who was dead-heading (not flying but commuting from one place to another) asked if I needed help and went to get my bag (since he had the spiffy uniform on, people got out of his way). That was very nice of him, since it was not expected.

There were probably about ten of us who had to change planes who were on our way to Seattle. Most of the others were upset that we weren’t told and found this to be a huge inconvenience. One guy even mentioned that AirTran was definitely going to hear from him about this incident. Really? I mean this stuff happens. The airline business is very complex and planes have to be moved around all the time. We all got our same seats, and left right on time and got to stretch our legs.  Not a big deal to me.

I spent two days training with AirTran flight attendants, I flew two flights with two different flight crews from ATL to SEA…how did they do, you ask? Well it depends. Did they do every little thing they were originally trained to do? No, but that seems okay. How many of us do everything exactly the same way we are trained at our job? If I was just a normal passenger, not knowing all the specifics, I would be very impressed.

For example, in Business Class, trash is supposed to be taken away on a tray (vs the economy class uses bags) and bags were used on one of the flights. Do you think anyone came close to noticing that? No. Did passengers get less for their money because their trash was picked up in a bag? I surely hope not.

One of the things I enjoy most about flying on AirTran is that I know that on every plane, every flight will have internet and XFM radio. That is something that’s important to me. AirTran believes consistency is important on every flight; not just with the amenities available, but the type of service that passengers receive. On a flight that takes me 10 hours to get from one side of the country to another, I sure am willing to pay more knowing I will have Wi-Fi: something you can’t always get with others airlines.

A Day In The Life Of…A Training Flight Attendant
PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3 | PART 4 | PART 5 | ALL | PHOTOS

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AirTran Flight Attendant Training – Ditching the plane in water from David Brown on Vimeo.

Yesterday I talked about how flight attendants must learn a lot about safety and hopefully never have to use it. Once per year current flight attendants must return to AirTran’s training facility in Atlanta, GA to practice their safety skills. Part of that training involves the proper procedures during a water landing.  The recent US Airways ditch in the Hudson River is a reminder that these things can happen and by following the flight attendant’s commands can save lives.

The ditch training was inside a mock Boeing 717 with about seven rows. The flight attendants had no idea that fake smoke would be pumped into the cabin. I knew it was going to be dark (I had night vision on my camera, in reality you could barely see anything). I knew it was a water landing. I knew there was going to be smoke pumped in. I also knew it was all fake.  However, once the training started, it was very disorienting and although the flight attendants were yelling to get my life vest, I initially forgot it and had to go back to get it. That could have been the difference between life and death.

In the video you can hear some laughing and we were all having a good time with the practice, but it was taken very seriously.  There were only about 15 of us in that small cabin, but it was shocking how long it took us to get out. There obviously was no real panic or rush to save our own lives, I couldn’t imagine the chaos that would occur during a real crash with over 150 passengers trying to evacuate an aircraft.

I wish every passenger could experience something like this, to be prepared to react in a life or death situation, since reading the safety information card, just cannot prepare you.

A Day In The Life Of…A Training Flight Attendant
PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3 | PART 4 | PART 5 | ALL | PHOTOS

connect | web | twitter | facebook |