The new normal for air travel
Manila, Philippines — As AirAsia gradually resumes services, there have been many changes to the airline’s procedures to adapt to the current health situation.
Our Allstar cabin crew–our frontliners in the sky–similarly observe new measures for a safe journey for our guests. These include new procedures for preflight and postflight preparations, grooming, and inflight services.
A senior cabin crew for three years now, Brandy Kramer gives us a sneak peek into what it’s like flying safe with AirAsia.
When was the last time you flew as part of AirAsia’s cabin crew and what did you do with your time when the airline’s fleet was in hibernation?
My last flight was in March. At that time, I had no idea it was going to be my last one in a while. But during our fleet’s hibernation, I made good use of my time by successfully completing e-Learning courses on AirAsia’s Workday portal, and joined Allstar Zoom sessions on fitness, grooming, and other interesting topics to brush up on cabin crew skills and etiquette. It has been a while now and I really do miss flying. I’m ecstatic to be back with my fellow Allstars.
What changes and adjustments did you have to make at work given the current COVID-19 situation?
There are quite a number of new procedures we were briefed on prior to flying again.
First and foremost, we were made to understand the importance of ensuring the safety of our guests during these times.
‘Safety Always’ is one of the Allstars’ core values, and this has never been more crucial.
Briefings were done on, among others, how to screen guests prior to boarding and how to accommodate guests during a flight to our dedicated quarantine area if required.
Prior to reporting for duty when we resumed operations in June, we were all required to undergo health check-ups to make sure we were fit for duty.
What preparations do you undertake before your flight?
Before every flight, we are required to undergo body temperature scanning and are required to wear facemasks as we step into RedPoint, our office.
We sign in using our personal mobile devices on AirAsia’s internal system to prevent contact with computer surfaces while in the office. This is one of a number of new contactless measures now in place for Allstars.
Our pre-flight briefings are also conducted following appropriate physical distancing. Once this is done, we proceed to the aircraft and begin our duties.
We disinfect all surfaces, cross all seatbelts, and remove all magazines and catalogues.
Our initial cleaning is part of the disinfection process conducted by our maintenance team before and after each flight.
Are there changes in grooming procedures? Cabin crew always have to look their best!
All cabin crew are required to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) whenever on flight duty. We are provided a set of PPEs consisting of protective goggles, a medical mask, a disposable apron, and a pair of rubber gloves. We were taught how to properly use and dispose of these items.
For our hairstyle, we were advised to lessen the exposure of our hair. So aside from the typical long curls for females, we are now allowed to tie our hair up in a classic bun or a french braid.
While we are still allowed to wear make-up, we can no longer touch up in the cabin to avoid any transmission of germs. So I always make sure my look is good to go before my first flight for the day.
How about during a flight, any changes to cabin crew procedures?
Our responsibilities during flights have also been adjusted. For example, inflight crew will be cleaning lavatories more frequently during a flight. High-touch areas will also be disinfected while conducting safety and security checks.
While the crew clean surfaces, reliable High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters clean the air of dust particles and airborne contaminants. The aircraft’s filtration system ensures the highest possible quality of cabin air.
Inflight announcements have also been tweaked to regularly remind our guests of safety measures, such as wearing face masks and following physical distancing when queuing onboard.
We are definitely more attentive to the needs of our guests to ensure that we are able to serve them in the safest manner.
Are there any changes to inflight services such as serving hot meals and the sale of merchandise? Can guests still buy alcoholic drinks on board?
Yes, there will be changes in line with our improved safety protocols. Hot meals will no longer be available for purchase onboard. Guests will now have to pre-book their meals online to lessen physical contact onboard.
Snacks for sale will be limited to chips and cookies, while only bottled water and room temperature beverages will be available onboard. No alcoholic beverages for now.
AirAsia merchandise, on the other hand, will only be available on flights longer than 75 minutes.
How about after your flight?
Post flight, we are no longer allowed to return to our office, RedPoint. This is to avoid further physical contact. Compared to before, our post-flight briefings are now conducted prior to deplaning and only an assigned cabin crew member will return to the office to do necessary post-flight procedures.
Personally, I change into a fresh set of clothes and hurry back home to properly wash my uniform and reusable PPE (we were also taught how to do this). I also disinfect all my belongings.
At the end of each flight, our maintenance team does a thorough cleaning of the cabin before guests are accommodated for the next flight. A longer “night stop” cleaning is conducted once an aircraft has completed all its flights for the day.
Aircraft disinfection is performed according to the Airbus Aircraft Maintenance Manual.
What challenges do you currently face?
Though I have flown quite a number of flights since AirAsia’s resumption of commercial flights, the new procedures and guidelines are still relatively new and will take some getting used to. It may mean extra work but it feels good to know that we are doing everything we can to keep our guests safe on the ground and in the air.