Sponsored Content. By Julie McCoy, Customer Support, Gulfstream Aerospace
Since the beginning of commercial flight, the flight attendant has served as the ultimate resource for passengers during a flight. While it’s up to the pilots to ensure passengers get to their destination safely, it’s also up to the flight attendant to ensure that passengers are comfortable, rested and properly fed.
A flight attendant begins work before she ever board the plane (while flight attendants can be men or women, for efficacy in writing this article, I will use the feminine pronoun when referring to the flight attendant). She seeks out information about her passengers’ food and drink preferences, newspapers and magazines of choice, and sleeping requirements. She must be well versed in the culinary arts because passengers may have specific dietary requirements, or they may request that their meals be prepared on the aircraft.
In addition to food, she has to know how everything in the cabin operates – how to use the safety equipment; how to use the entertainment system; how to adjust seats; how to berth a bed for maximum comfort; and how to make an espresso – all the while remaining flexible to any changes at all times. Essentially, she is the cabin expert and her passengers rely on her for that expertise. They have come to expect that she can solve any cabin issue that may arise with ease.
Flight attendants are masters of multi-tasking. She is required to meet all of the needs of her passengers while remaining calm and in good spirits. Keeping up with refreshing drinks for a full cabin of passengers can be a daunting chore while preparing meals in itself. Imagine being in the middle of a full meal service when a passenger requests help with a poor internet connection.
For some flight attendants, this is their worst nightmare, especially if she is not familiar with the connectivity system. She has a limited time to finish the food service and a malfunctioning internet can throw her schedule upside down. Passengers have come to expect to email, surf the web and stream movies in flight, so when the system slows or goes down, they will look to the expert – the flight attendant – to make it all work again.
In the passengers’ eyes, this is where the flight attendant can be a hero or a disappointment. She may have prepared and served a meal worthy of a five-star Michelin rating, but if she can’t correct an internet issue, she might as well have catered from a fast food chain. Most passengers will gladly forego food for their Wi-Fi connection. Cabin connectivity has become more important than a perfectly placed fanned strawberry on their plate.
With all of the flight attendants’ other requirements, it’s no surprise some flight attendants are not comfortable working with connectivity systems – which, by the way, can vary greatly between aircraft. It takes time to learn about the systems and the perceived complexity of the technology can be intimidating. Flight attendants who invest in their own connectivity competence will not only improve their own cabin experience, but they will also become more marketable within the industry.
Flight attendants looking for cabin connectivity training will find there are courses developed just for them. Flight Safety International currently offers a 3-1/2-hour starting-point course, Gulfstream Large Cabin Connectivity – Crew, which covers connectivity basics, Internet services, voice calling, best practices and diagnostic applications. Completion of this class will help the flight attendant feel more comfortable with connectivity discussions with their maintenance team and passengers.
For those who are already comfortable with connectivity basics and terminology, but still require more training, including onboard troubleshooting, there is the two-day aeroCNCT class developed by Satcom Direct (SD), and offered by both SD and FlightSafety International. This class culminates with a certification exam, which if passed, looks very attractive on a flight attendant’s resume.