• Croatian Aviation

Interview with Croatia Airlines cabin crew member

Here is a short interview with a cabin crew member of Croatia Airlines trained on both aircraft types which are currently in OU's fleet.

Please briefly introduce yourself to our readers and how the decision was made to apply to work for Croatia Airlines, as a member of the cabin crew?

Hi, I'm Jelena and I've been working for Croatia Airlines for 3 years. After applying for a job, testing and many educations, I started as a seasonal employee and now I'm working year-round. The decision to sign up, like for many others, comes from the idea of this interesting and dynamic job, partly from the curiosity too, a desire for adventure and travel. Now I work in all positions (except the purser), for a purser position you need more experience and additional training, but in the future that's definitively an option. Right now I manage to coordinate between work and study (IT), I started my study before an employment in Croatia Airlines.

Considering the two different types of aircraft in the Croatia Airlines fleet, are there any differences in operation depending on the type of aircraft? Do you have a favorite, the Dash Q400 or the Airbus?

Regarding the cabin crew job, the difference in the types of aircraft is in the number of crew members with regard to the number of emergency exits, emergency equipment, number of passengers ... A319/320 aircraft is operated by 3-5 members, usually 4, and it is also the basic type on which you actually start to work. After some time, some experience and hours of flying, he or she progresses within position of job allocation and responsibility. Meanwhile, cabin crew member will start with training for another type of aircraft – Dash Q400. That's the aircraft where we have just 2 cabin crew members per flight, which means more responsibility as well. Both types of aircraft have their advantages. Airbus is larger and more spacious and flights are longer, but Dash Q400 requires less crew members which makes communication and coordination easier. I personally have no favorites because on both types we have views on clouds, sunrises and sunsets, that is probably the best thing for every cabin crew member.

What does a working day look like? I believe it depends on the summer and winter timetable?

The business day depends largely on the type of aircraft on which I will work. On the Dash q400 we fly 5 shorter flights in one day, and on the Airbus mostly 4. It all depends on the length of the flights and the maximum duty time. In winter, rotations are generally less demanding. We always know on time and in advance what we will do because we have schedules that are formed on a monthly basis. Each day begins with a briefing with the captain and cabin purser. In briefing we get information about the number of passengers, the weather on the route, the duration of the flight, special categories of passengers, how the service will be done... After that we go to the aircraft, each of us is tasked with checking the equipment, pilots are doing their part of checking and preparing for the flight, as well as we do in the cabin. After everything is ready, it is handed over to the manager and the captain that we are ready for boarding. Then there is the boarding of the passengers and the flight itself. Takeoff and landing are the most critical part of every flight, and in those moments, each of us, while sitting in our positions, is tasked with being alert and repeating the emergency procedures that may occur. After the flight, the condition of the aircraft and the cabin is checked again and prepared for the next flight. At the end of the day, the aircraft is handed over to the other crew or left parked and examined by a mechanic if it was the last flight of the day. Cabin and cockpit crew is ready to go home or to hotel if it's that type of rotation.

And of course, in the summer the flights are more crowded and we work more, but when we finish the shift in one of our Adriatic destinations, then, after the work day, there is also time for swimming and sunbathing on the beach by the hotel. That is why in the winter we work a little less and then we like to use the vacation to travel to some far warmer destinations.

Do you have a favorite destination? How do layovers look like outside of Zagreb?

My favorite are landings with sea, beach or mountain views…All the Scandinavian flights, as well as all flights in our domestic network on the coast, flights to Portugal, Spain, Greece and above Alps!

Most of us love layovers in Dubrovnik, Split, Pula and Zadar because we are by the sea and we have time to hang out after work. I also love Sarajevo because I know that I will always eat really good and drink great turkish coffee.

We believe that there is a flight to remember, or even more than just once, can you point out some?

There are many flights to remember, mostly by beautiful experiences; wonderful children who travel alone from Mexico and entertain us with their adventures, grandparents with their life stories who are so happy when we take special care of them so sometimes there are some touching tears, moms with babies travelling alone, so they give us a baby to hold until mum is ready to sit, celebrities whistling and singing during the flight. There were, of course, special flights with our celebrated athletes, singing throughout the whole flight. There are also those less beautiful but useful experiences that we learn from; stronger turbulence, bad weather, first aid on the fly… But in my experience, always with a happy outcome.

How to Handle passengers who do not understand that there is no more space in the cabin for they carry-on so they should leave it outside for a bulk? And there is time pressure, because there is slot, next rotation will be late if you don't depart on time?

In practice, this is actually a matter of mutual cooperation and understanding of the passengers, airport staff and us, all crew members. And the most important is the kindness of all of these with timely information to travelers. Based on our experience and the experiences of passengers, changes have been introduced in the form of restrictions on the number of cabin luggage. This includes ground staff who already check capacity at the gate and mark excess luggage and place that excess in the cargo bulk compartment. This speeds up the flow of passengers during the boarding. We are present in the cabin, and we make great efforts to accommodate passengers as quickly as possible and to direct them where to put their luggage, in order to avoid delays or lose the take-off time authorized by our flight controls. Sometimes it can be a real challenge on full flights; arranging all luggage, coats, bags, purses, backpacks, prams, and even those little tents, beach mats, musical instruments, statues of saints…Even captains make announcement from the cockpit to the passengers during the boarding, explaining why it would be good to hurry up to avoid waiting for the next slot (approved take off time).

How do you deal with the current situation, flight timetable is reduced to the minimum, aircraft's are grounded, not only in Croatia, actually in the whole world?

Due to the current situation and rapid decrease in terms of the volume of work, we are allowed to use our vacation, so part of us is on vacation while part works and vice versa. The biggest challenge is to completely eliminate the worries this situation brings and keep up with all the news and decisions about changes in work that are made from day to day in order to better preserve the health of passengers, and of course, cabin and cockpit crew members. But there is no nervousness and panic among us, we are trained in crisis situations, we respect procedures, we wear masks and gloves, we have disinfectants, equipment and procedures in case of suspected infection, we try not to enter each other's personal space, we calm the passengers and we do not currently offer normal flight service rather than adapting to the situation and recommendations of the professional staff. Our job is based on crew work, therefore in a team, and now we are even more motivated to support each other and do the job as best we can. There is a lot of emotion, empathy, concern for passengers, but also our family members who we had to distance ourselves from for their safety. All this with scenes of planes parked even on the runways of the busiest airports that are no longer in use. But we are remaining positive, greeting our passengers with a smile, and looking forward to the days when the cabin luggage will again be the biggest problem.

Croatian Aviation would like to thank the cabin crew member of Croatia Airlines for time and photographs for this interview, as well as the management of Croatia Airlines for their assistance in organizing it. We do hope that entire Croatia Airlines fleet will soon be back in the air, proudly representing our country and Croatian aviation industry.

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