A Pilot’s Perspective: At The Gate
This is a Hipmunk guest post from Scott Simko, a U.S. Commercial Airline pilot of over 15 years. His views and opinions are his and his alone and do not represent the airline of his employment or Hipmunk.
Continuing on our fictitious flight, we arrive at the gate to meet the flight attendants, often for the first time. At most legacy airlines we change out cabin crew every time we hit a hub (there are about 3 F/As for each pilot). You’ll notice a trend here: we are rarely working with people we know well. At regional airlines, you generally fly with the same cabin crew the entire trip.
Fun-fact: the required number of flight attendants is set by the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) — it’s based primarily on the number of seats on an aircraft.
While we wait for the aircraft to arrive, we discuss any special passenger needs with the Customer Service Representative (CSR). Usually it’s health issues, like a passenger’s need for supplemental oxygen, but every now and then it’s something unique. This is more of a concern for the flight attendants; we like to see how we can help.
Once I was leaving Dallas (DFW) and noticed a passenger with a falcon (yes, a bird). I’ve heard of strange service animals, but this would take some convincing. We learned that the falcon (Aurora) was the mascot for the Air Force Academy, which was pretty cool. The handler had special papers from our company and the FAA authorized the animal to be carried in the cabin.
This job is full of surprises. As soon as the aircraft arrives, things start getting hectic. But that’s for my next entry!
The image above is from one of my favorite movies Airplane II. I hope no one gets mad at me for using it.