Virgin Atlantic stewardess reveals how Covid has modified air journey

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Flight Service Manager Ellie Hosgood throughout regular instances

The signature Vivienne Westwood look is out, dressing like a surgeon is in.

MailOnline Travel caught up with a stewardess from Virgin Atlantic for some perception into how totally different life within the skies is in the meanwhile, and she or he revealed that at instances it feels ‘like one thing out of a film’.

And it isn’t simply because she generally has to cowl her Westwood-designed uniform with PPE.

Flight Service Manager Ellie Hosgood, 37, reveals how colleagues have retrained as Covid testers, that she generally flies to the opposite aspect of the world and again with out getting off the airplane (however does get to sleep in enterprise class) and that the pandemic has led to a good nearer bond between crew members.

They are classed as key employees and crew Dreamliners and Airbus A350s endeavor necessary cargo missions and offering connectivity for patrons for whom journey is authorized – and important.

Reporting for obligation

In the UK, Ellie’s day begins at Heathrow’s Terminal 3.

She stated: ‘Nowadays no passengers are travelling by way of. The terminal is at the moment closed and can reopen as soon as journey reopens at scale, however within the meantime, we have now repurposed our Upper Class Wing as our personal Covid testing centre for cabin crew and pilots.

‘We go to the empty terminal earlier than departure the place we’re greeted by a small group of crew who’ve retrained as Covid testers. Here, we get examined earlier than each flight and look forward to our detrimental check end result earlier than we head over to Terminal 2 the place Virgin Atlantic is briefly flying from.

‘Walking by way of a abandoned terminal is de facto unusual, but it surely makes me much more excited to welcome extra clients onboard our planes sooner or later.’

Virgin Atlantic cabin crew are classed as key workers and staff Dreamliners and Airbus A350s undertaking important cargo missions and providing connectivity for customers for whom travel is legal – and essential. This picture was snapped in Puerto Rico

Virgin Atlantic cabin crew are classed as key workers and staff Dreamliners and Airbus A350s undertaking important cargo missions and providing connectivity for customers for whom travel is legal – and essential. This picture was snapped in Puerto Rico

Virgin Atlantic cabin crew are classed as key employees and employees Dreamliners and Airbus A350s endeavor necessary cargo missions and offering connectivity for patrons for whom journey is authorized – and important. This image was snapped in Puerto Rico

Ellie (pictured) revealed that some countries, such as India, require crew to wear full PPE

Ellie (pictured) revealed that some countries, such as India, require crew to wear full PPE

Ellie (pictured) revealed that some international locations, akin to India, require crew to put on full PPE

Boarding

Before boarding, the plane is given a virus-zapping cleanse.

Ellie, who has been with Virgin Atlantic for 18 years, stated: ‘Before we board the plane, it undergoes rigorous cleansing the place each floor is wiped down and a course of referred to as ‘fogging’ takes place. This is the place the plane is cleaned with a hospital-grade spray to make sure 99.9 per cent of any potential micro organism or viruses are killed. This is finished earlier than each departure in any respect airports we function from, which helps reassure us as a lot because it does our clients.

‘We should put on a masks as quickly as we’re within the airport, and we put on them all through our flight. This is unquestionably a problem because it makes speaking with our clients just a little tough. Virgin Atlantic crew are famend for his or her heat smiles and welcoming personalities, however now our passengers cannot see our faces!

‘I’ve actually labored on conveying my feelings by way of my eyes and my mannerisms, while additionally listening very carefully as it may be laborious to listen to by way of the masks over the noise of the engines.’

Ellie, who lives in Pullborough, West Sussex, revealed that for some flights her look is extra medical than flight attendant.

She stated: ‘For some locations, akin to India, we have now to put on full PPE for boarding, which is unquestionably a change from our signature Vivienne Westwood look!’

Before passengers board, the crew talk about the journey guidelines in place for his or her vacation spot.

Ellie receiving a pre-flight Covid test. She revealed that some crew members have retrained as virus testers

Ellie receiving a pre-flight Covid test. She revealed that some crew members have retrained as virus testers

Ellie in her 'standard' pandemic apparel, waiting to greet customers onboard

Ellie in her 'standard' pandemic apparel, waiting to greet customers onboard

Ellie receiving a pre-flight Covid check. She revealed that some crew members have retrained as virus testers. She’s pictured on the appropriate in her ‘normal’ pandemic attire, ready to greet clients onboard

Ellie stated: ‘We do our preflight briefing onboard the plane, speaking in regards to the flight forward, any particular necessities for the flight and the processes and procedures within the vacation spot we’re flying to. Each vacation spot has totally different steering that adjustments on a regular basis, so we must be positive the crew are all conscious and assured of the restrictions. We then welcome clients onboard. The boarding course of has modified barely, and we request clients board the plane in smaller teams, to restrict social contact as a lot as attainable.

We’ve moved from taking folks on holidays of a lifetime to welcoming people who find themselves travelling for important and infrequently actually emotive causes, notably in the event that they’re returning house to go to a sick cherished one

Ellie Hosgood, Virgin Atlantic

‘We normally hand out in-flight packs that comprise toothpaste and socks, however we have now additionally launched a well being pack for all clients that accommodates medical-grade face masks, anti-bacterial wipes and hand sanitiser. Customers are required to put on face masks all through the flight, and we offer wipes and santiser for their very own consolation and peace of thoughts all through the journey. Feedback from clients on how we preserve them secure and wholesome all through the journey with us has been very constructive.’

Once the flight is underway, Ellie and her group provide a pared-down service, however there’s nonetheless free booze.

Ellie stated: ‘Since the Covid pandemic struck, we have completely redesigned our meal companies to assist preserve our clients and us secure. As a brief measure, we’re now providing a simplified scorching meal service which reduces the quantity of contact we have now with our passengers, which many have stated they discover reassuring.

‘We preserve updating our tasty meals providing and we’re nonetheless providing our buyer’s favorite Eric Lanlard afternoon tea alongside complimentary alcohol in all cabins.’

Ellie revealed that service is now pared down, but complimentary alcohol is still served in all the cabins

Ellie revealed that service is now pared down, but complimentary alcohol is still served in all the cabins

Ellie revealed that service is now pared down, however complimentary alcohol remains to be served in all of the cabins

The meal service is not the one factor that is modified. The flights are actually typically crammed with passengers experiencing very tough emotional conditions, so the crews have needed to recalibrate their interactions.

Ellie defined: ‘We’ve moved from taking folks on holidays of a lifetime to welcoming people who find themselves travelling for important and infrequently actually emotive causes, notably in the event that they’re returning house to go to a sick cherished one.

‘Our crew have been phenomenal in recognising all of the distinctive conditions individuals are discovering themselves in. The care and a focus I’ve seen has been exceptional and I actually imagine these clients will keep in mind us for a very long time. It’s these connections which have actually stored us going all through the pandemic.’

Instagram moments on maintain

The crew have additionally needed to adapt to their downtime being much less glamorous and adventurous. And generally flying cargo-only operations that imply remaining on the airplane on the vacation spot earlier than returning a number of hours later.

Ellie stated: ‘Sadly, biking throughout the Golden Gate Bridge, journeys to the Taj Mahal and purchasing in New York are distant reminiscences for now, as in some locations we’re required to remain in our lodge and even in our rooms. It’s an odd feeling and infrequently looks like one thing from a film.

‘However, we’re an adaptable bunch and these new experiences create such a singular, robust bond between us all. It’s additionally given me a brand new appreciation for my job and seeing the world. I am unable to wait to have the ability to discover once more, particularly our new locations of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Pakistan.

Our cargo flights

'Some of our cargo journeys are now classed as "ultra-long-haul", which means we fly to the other side of the world, pick up vital cargo and fly home again without getting off the plane,' said Ellie

'Some of our cargo journeys are now classed as "ultra-long-haul", which means we fly to the other side of the world, pick up vital cargo and fly home again without getting off the plane,' said Ellie

‘Some of our cargo journeys are actually classed as “ultra-long-haul”, which suggests we fly to the opposite aspect of the world, decide up important cargo and fly house once more with out getting off the airplane,’ stated Ellie

Cargo flights are usually crewed by two attendants, who get to bed down in business class

Cargo flights are usually crewed by two attendants, who get to bed down in business class

Cargo flights are normally crewed by two attendants, who get to mattress down in enterprise class

‘One factor that’s fully new because the Covid pandemic hit is that on some flights, we might not have any passengers in any respect. Our cargo operation has elevated considerably previously yr, and to many locations we’re working cargo-only companies. We function as one or two cabin crew members onboard for security causes. We have additionally operated some particular charters for the Department of Health and Social Care carrying important PPE and medical tools and we even acquired particular dispensation from the CAA to hold this valuable cargo within the cabins.

‘Seeing swathes of containers rather than smiling passengers positively feels odd, but it surely’s an actual privilege to know we’re supporting the NHS entrance strains by bringing important medical provides house.

‘We’re used to lengthy flight instances, however a few of our cargo journeys are actually classed as “ultra-long-haul”, which suggests we fly to the opposite aspect of the world, decide up important cargo and fly house once more with out getting off the airplane.’

Ellie stated that she had crewed cargo flights to Shanghai and Hong Kong, which took round 11 hours, spent two to a few hours on the bottom contained in the airplane, then flown again.

These flights, ‘the results of some progressive pondering throughout the enterprise’ are ‘serving to us play our half within the struggle towards the pandemic’, stated Ellie.

They’re normally crewed by two attendants who monitor the cabin, the cargo within the cabin, the galleys and the bogs, and who verify in on the pilots.

Ellie added: ‘The return sector is then for sleep and it is at all times a privilege to mattress down in considered one of our Upper Class suites.

During these ultra-long flights we get to see the dawn and sundown twice, which at all times feels fairly particular.’

Corneel Koster, Chief Customer and Operations Officer, Virgin Atlantic, commented: ‘I’m so happy with our cabin crew who’ve tailored effortlessly to a much-changed operation and to the rigorous, multi-layered well being and security measures we have carried out all through the final yr. From the start, our absolute focus has been to make sure all our clients fly secure and fly nicely and our onboard groups have performed an important position in making this occur, doing so with that signature Virgin Atlantic aptitude we’re well-known for, albeit from behind a face masks!’

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