How long before a flight do cabin crew arrive at the airport?

Airlines have very strict rules regarding pre-flight preparations, so cabin crew should plan well in advance to ensure they are on time. This may mean taking an earlier flight on hold (if you’re commuting) or taking the first bus to work. Most airlines work on the 90 minute rule, so cabin crew should strive to be there before that.

A nice balance

If a crew member is late, they will have a complaint on file and must be on standby for seven hours – so your roster may also be affected. It also means that if you have three overdue reports or three complaints, you can lose your job, so it’s always best to be prepared early. Nobody wants to be late for a flight and of course sometimes unseen circumstances do happen, but you don’t want to be rushed at the start of a long day ahead.

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Always better for cabin crew to be early for a flight. Photo: Jet Blue

After registration

So once you’ve checked in, reported to work, and dropped off your bags, it’s a good idea to take the time to check any paperwork you need to complete or collect any crew notices or newsletters. If the airline has a canteen (usually subsidized), there may be time for a quick meal or coffee. If the cabin crew has additional duties that day, for example, an in-flight retailer or a charity ambassador, they can pick up the items needed for that purpose.

Next is the pre-flight briefing, if there are a few minutes left it is always good to go through an emergency procedure or scenario and review first aid as there will be questions from the lead crew member to test that your knowledge is up to date and that you can operate on the flight. The briefing usually lasts around 15 minutes and prepares the team for how they will operate the flight.

After the briefing, the cabin crew collect their luggage, go through security and take the crew bus to the aircraft. On arrival, cabin crew carry out pre-flight checks before passengers board.

The cabin crew prepares to take off. Photo: Austrian Airlines

If cabin crew are commuting, extra planning is required as they may need to consider catching the first flight of the day or departing a day early to ensure they are on time for his work. Travel is often on hold, so you only travel if there is a free seat and also based on your seniority. The crew member may need to book a hotel at the airport or rest in a crew lounge before the flight.

What about reserve and private crew?

For cabin crew on reserve duty, they will report to duty at the scheduled time, whether on standby at home or at the airport, and await instructions from the operations department. A last-minute change on a flight, such as a sick crew member or a change in passenger numbers, can mean you get called.

For private jet cabin crew, the rule is also usually 90 minutes when the flight is planned and known and pre-flight briefing and checks are usually quicker, but the extra time on the plane is needed to download restore. However, the crew of a private jet can also be called immediately for an unscheduled flight.

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