The first and most important job of cabin crew

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Before passengers board the plane, cabin crew have many tasks to perform and these are essential for a safe and efficient flight. But there are some things that might not have crossed your mind as a passenger and the importance of these pre-flight checks.

Security check

The very first thing cabin crew do when boarding the aircraft is walk through the cabin (or its designated area on larger aircraft types) and scan the area in a circular motion to verify that all areas are safe and secure and there is nothing left in the cabin that should not be there – it could be lost items or something that could pose a security threat. This includes the floor area under the seats, the seats and seat pockets and the interior of the overhead lockers. Cabin crew also look for any damage to the cabin (a seat that doesn’t sit up straight for example) or missing items such as seat belts or passenger life jackets – you’d be surprised if these are sometimes stolen!

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Crew member keeping an eye on things in the cabin. Photo: Jet Blue

The toilets are also checked, including the water heater, garbage can fire extinguishers, and that the toilet smoke detectors are functional and have not been blocked in any way. The galley and crew jump seat area should also be carefully checked for safety. All atlas carts and boxes must be sealed from the caterers and nothing has been tampered with. Door areas should be completely clear of any obstructions.

Start of security checks

Once in the crew booster seat, each crew member checks that the harness works and is properly adjusted. The passenger addressing system, evacuation alarm and emergency lights are tested to ensure they are working. Some aircraft require cabin crew to check the slide pressure gauge on their assigned door.

Safety equipment is checked on each flight. Photo: Getty Images

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Security equipment

Cabin crew know exactly where each piece of safety equipment is, how many there are, and the individual controls for each item. Firefighting equipment includes PBE (protective breathing equipment) or smoke hood, fire gloves and BCF or halon fire extinguishers – just in case there is a fire on board, because they will have to fight it as soon as possible. These elements are verified as well as the seals are in place and are fully functional. Each crew member will have a PBE, torch and life vest near their seat.

The demo kit should be checked in case a manual safety demonstration is needed – this includes a safety card, seat belt, life jacket and oxygen mask. There is one for each set of doors on the plane. The oxygen cylinders are all checked individually, to see if the pressure gauge is in the right place and within its validity date, this is essential in the event of either decompression (loss of pressure in the cabin) so that the cabin crew moves around the cabin or for use in medical emergencies where the patient requires oxygen.

Other items include life raft checks (depending on aircraft type), extendable seat belts and infant seat belts. Additional life jackets for adults, children and infant life rafts are often carried on most aircraft. Additional security cards are on board in case one is missing from a seat. A fire containment bag can also be carried in case of fire of a cell phone, laptop or power bank.

First aid kits should always be sealed and unused to ensure that all items are available in the event of a medical emergency and (if carried) that the AED (automated external defibrillator) is functioning properly, usually identified by a fixed or flashing visible light. Finally, the last element is the ELT (emergency locator transmitter) which is only accessible to the crew on certain types of aircraft, and it must be armed and equipped with an antenna.

These checks are carried out by the cabin crew before each flight, except if it is a rotation flight where the same crew is on the same aircraft returning the flight to base and not leaving the aircraft . The cabin crew checks for their safety and the safety of the passengers that we have everything we need in the event of an emergency and that we have the best chance of survival.

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