Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Emirates Airbus A380 Cabin Interior and Special Luxury Features

Emirates Airbus A380Yesterday Emirates took delivery of its first Airbus A380 aircraft. The double-decker 'superjumbo' aircraft is the first of 58 that Emirates has ordered from Airbus. The first Emirates Airbus A380 will make its inaugural flight on August 1, 2008, from Dubai to New York.

The cabin features of the huge new A380 are like nothing we have seen before. The first photo on this page shows the economy cabin, with seating for 399 passengers. The cabin has straight walls, designed to give the impression of increased spaciousness. Emirates says that this feature, combined with the advanced mood lighting system and noticeably quieter cabin, works to combat the effects of jetlag.

Of its A380 Economy Class, the carrier says, "More generous seats, wider aisles, Gourmet chef-prepared meals and the Emirates' personal touch mean passengers could be mistaken for thinking they've settled in the wrong cabin class."

Emirates Airbus A380That is, unless they get a peek at the upper deck, which the airline bills as "a premium hotel in the sky," promising a level of comfort and space never seen before on a commercial airliner. The whole of the upper deck is dedicated to Premium Class passengers: 14 in First Class, and a 76 in Business Class.

The Business Class cabin, pictured at right, features "intelligent seating," designed to ensure all seats have aisle access. Emirates says, "There's a cleverly designed table that never gets in your way, a seat that slickly becomes a fully-flat bed, and laptop stowage..."

The upper deck of the new Emirates A380 also has an Onboard Lounge. Located in the Business Class cabin for use by First and Business Class passengers, the Lounge "is designed to make passengers feel like they are in their own executive club." Another First Class social area and bar is located at the front of the upper deck.

In the forward section of the upper deck are 14 flat-bed, massage-equipped Private Suites for First Class passengers. The suites include remote controlled doors, a work desk, an electrically controlled mini-bar and the most advanced in-flight entertainment system available.

Emirates Airbus A380The First Class feature on the Emirates A380 that is getting the most media attention is the On Board Shower Spa -- two fully equipped bathrooms in its First Class cabins, including shower facilities. Emirates promised some special surprises with its A380 and this certainly is one of them. The airline refers to their A380's First Class Shower Spa as "the jewel in the aircraft's crown."

The Emirates A380 flights will be staffed by 24 Cabin Crew, dressed in their newly updated uniforms. All will have undergone intensive training on the aircraft at the new Emirates Crew Training College in Dubai.

There's a new twist, too. There will be additional staff on board whose job it is to keep things tidy on the huge A380. For the first time, Emirates has hired and trained "Cabin Service Assistants" for keeping the cabin -- including the Shower Spas -- immaculate. The presence of the Cabin Service Assistants will free the regular Cabin Crew to focus on cabin safety, and serving passengers. Now that is a revolutionary feature!

[Photo Source]

Monday, July 28, 2008

Gulfstream Aerospace appoints new manager of flight crew cabin operations

Jeanette Brewer, Gulfstream AerospaceJeanette Brewer (pictured at right) was recently appointed as manager of flight crew cabin operations at the Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation, reporting to Roc Miles, director, demonstration and corporate flight operations. Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics.

According to information provided by the company, Ms. Brewer, who has been with Gulfstream for nine years, will be responsible for managing worldwide flight demonstrations of cabin equipment and furnishings, as well as ensuring passenger safety and comfort during demonstrations and corporate flights. She is also responsible for coordinating cabin operations forums at Customer Advisory Board meetings and Operators’ Conferences.

Ms. Brewer has been certified in cabin systems management for all in-production Gulfstream aircraft. She is also qualified to administer advanced medical assistance during in-flight emergencies.

Prior to her new appointment, Ms. Brewer worked as senior international flight attendant and training officer for the flight attendant group at Gulfstream. Before that, she served as executive assistant to the vice president of flight operations. She also worked as the senior administrative assistant to the directors of initial phase manufacturing and manufacturing technologies.

[Photo Source]

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Court orders Philippine Airlines to reinstate 1,400 cabin crew jobs, with back wages

Philippine AirlinesEarlier this week, the Supreme Court (SC) of the Philippines ordered national flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) to reinstate about 1,400 cabin crew who were illegally laid off by the carrier in 1998. The cabin crew jobs were eliminated during the Asian financial crisis, a period when Philippine Airlines was undergoing financial difficulties and labor disputes that led the carrier to temporarily shut down operations. The court decision is seen as a clear victory for the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (Fasap), which had filed suit against the carrier on behalf of the dismissed cabin crew.

According to an article about the court decision in the Manila Sun-Star, the Supreme Court "granted the petition filed by the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (Fasap) seeking a reversal of the Court of Appeals (CA) decision upholding PAL's retrenchment program."

The SC sustained the findings of the labor arbiter that found PAL guilty of illegal dismissal and ordered the reinstatement of the dismissed employees, saying the airline failed to comply with certain standards established under the law.

The high court said PAL failed to justify that the retrenchment is necessary and likely to prevent business losses; that the dismissal was done in good faith; and that it used reasonable criteria in ascertaining who would be dismissed and who would be retained among the employees, such as status, efficiency, seniority, physical fitness, age, and financial hardship for certain workers.

According to the SC, PAL initially decided to cut its fleet size to only 14 or "Plan 14," based on which plan, it retrenched more than 1,400 of its cabin crew personnel. However, PAL changed its mind and decided to retain 22 units of aircraft or "Plan 22" but has already retrenched more than what was necessary.

Such move, the court said, is "capricious and arbitrary" and in bad faith considering that more than 1,000 employees who had been working long with PAL lost their jobs, only to be recalled but assigned to lower positions.
The court ruled that PAL acted illegally "because it failed to take into account each cabin attendant's respective service record, thereby disregarding seniority and loyalty in the evaluation of overall employee performance."

The Sun-Star reported that, under the terms of the court decision, PAL is "directed to pay the dismissed employees their full back wages, inclusive of allowances and other benefits computed from the time of their separation up to the time of the actual reinstatement. When reinstatement is no longer feasible, the court ordered PAL to pay the back wages, in lieu of the reinstatement, and separation pay equal to one month's pay for every year of service."

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

ASA flight attendants ratify new three-year contract

ASA flight attendantFlight attendants at Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA) have a new contract. The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), the union representing ASA's flight attendants, announced yesterday that the flight attendants had overwhelmingly ratified a three year agreement.

According to the union, the new contract contains economic gains, as well as significant work rule improvements that will improve the lives of the hardworking flight attendants at ASA. In addition, the new contract will serve as a good building block for the next round of contract negotiations that will begin in three years.

“We are very pleased that this agreement ratified,” said Jeannie Babb, AFA-CWA Master Executive Council President. “It represents almost five years of hard work which could not have been accomplished without the commitment of the negotiating committee and the support of the flight attendants at ASA. We would like to also acknowledge the assistance that the National Mediation Board provided during the negotiations.”

[Photo Source]

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Flight attendant to ride Rocketplane into space

Rocketplane XPA French flight attendant who reportedly likes skydiving and hang gliding, has won a prize that should be even more of a thrill than those exciting sports. In fact, the prize is out of this world. Literally. She has won a ride on a Rocketplane -- a ride that will take her into space.

Imagine: It all began with a Kit Kat bar -- you know, Nestlé's chocolate covered wafers in the red wrapper? As a promotion, Nestlé distributed Kit Kat bars in France that had a code number on the inside of the wrapper, good for prizes. French flight attendant Mathilde Epron, 32, bought one of the Kit Kat bars.

At first she threw the wrapper away. Then on second thought, she retrieved it from the trash and entered the code number on the contest website. Voilà -- she was notified by Nestlé that she had won a place for herself and a companion on a sub-orbital space flight on a Rocketplane.

When the time comes (2010?) Mathilde and a companion will go to Oklahoma City, headquarters of Rocketplane Global, Inc., for a few days of pre-flight training, before flying into space as passengers on the Rocketplane. The sub-orbital flight on the four-passenger Rocketplane is expected to reach an altitude of 100 km (60 miles), and the space tourists will experience four to five minutes of weightlessness.

Bon voyage, Mathilde.

[Photo Source]

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

All Cathay Pacific cabin crew may now work until age 55

Cathay Pacific AirwaysEffective immediately, all flight attendants at Cathay Pacific Airways will be able to continue working at the airline until they reach the age of 55. Until now, cabin crew who began working for Cathay Pacific after 1993 faced mandatory retirement at age 45. Those hired before 1993 were allowed to work until they became 55. Under the new rule, the same retirement age will apply for all, regardless of hire date. The rule applies to both male and female cabin crew.

The change reflects recent negotiations between the Cathay Pacific Airways Flight Attendants' Union and the airline's management. The rule change will affect the 5,000 cabin crew currently based in Hong Kong, and also will be applied to the 1,500 or so new-hires that Cathay Pacific intends to add to its work force by the end of this year.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Largest flight attendant union in the U.S. endorses Barack Obama for President

Barack ObamaThe Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), the largest flight attendant union in the United States, recently announced their support for Sen. Barack Obama in his bid to become President of the United States. Over 200 flight attendant leaders voted by acclamation to endorse Sen. Obama during AFA-CWA's 35th annual meeting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, according to a news release issued by the AFA.

More from the AFA news release:

The Board's resolution stated that, "In the coming years, many decisions that could reshape the face of aviation will be made while the chorus for unfettered global aviation ownership and service grows louder. Also, it is crucial that policymakers in Washington realize that the U.S. aviation system since deregulation has failed airline employees, communities and consumers. We are at a turning point and need a President who recognizes this struggle."

AFA-CWA remains committed to supporting political candidates of all parties. The only criteria is that the candidate support issues important to the flight attendant profession and the improvement of working women's and men's lives.

"While AFA-CWA strongly supports both Democrats and Republicans for offices that have an impact on the flight attendant profession, the record of the two candidates for President, on issues of importance to our industry and our profession, the choice is clear," added AFA-CWA. "We must choose the future for our profession that continues to value our work as front line responders and safety professionals in a strong and vibrant U.S. aviation system."
The AFA represents more than 55,000 flight attendants at 20 airlines. AFA is part of the 700,000-member strong Communications Workers of America (CWA), AFL-CIO.

[Photo Source]

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Air Canada to lay off 632 flight attendants, close bases

Air CanadaAir Canada has informed its flight attendants' union of plans to lay off 632 cabin crew in the coming months. The layoffs of 9% of the carrier's flight attendants are a part of its Air Canada's capacity reduction plans, announced last month, which will result in cuts of up to 2,000 positions across all levels of the organization.

Air Canada officials said that 300 flight attendant positions will be eliminated from Vancouver, due to a decrease in international long-haul flights from that base. In addition, Air Canada will close its flight attendant bases at Winnipeg and Halifax as of November 1. As a result, 145 flight attendant jobs in Winnipeg, and 187 in Halifax will be lost. According to news reports, Air Canada may offer some flight attendants who are losing their jobs at those bases an opportunity to transfer to Toronto or Montreal.

Air Canada flight attendants are represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). An article about the Air Canada layoffs on the CBC News website quotes Lisa Vivian Anthony, president of CUPE Local 4090 in Halifax, who said, "We are shocked and we are in a state of disbelief. Our base has been in operation in Halifax for 32 years, so this is essentially the end of an era for us."

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Flight attendant union protests Midwest Airlines pay cuts

AFA-CWA logoLate last month I reported that Midwest Airlines not only intends to reduce its flight attendant work force by more than half, but is asking those who remain on the job to accept massive cuts in pay and benefits. These proposals have infuriated the flight attendants at Midwest Airlines, and rightly so, since they already earn 19 percent less than flight attendants at other low fare carriers.

Last evening the flight attendants publicly protested these draconian reductions in pay, but it was not just Midwest Airlines flight attendants who participated in the event. Hundreds of flight attendants from 20 carriers joined in the protest as a show of solidarity with the flight attendants of Midwest Airlines.

The flight attendants -- all members of the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), the union that represents Midwest Airlines flight attendants -- formed up at the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee and held a candlelight march to the Midwest Center. There they heard remarks made by AFA-CWA International President Patricia Friend, AFA-CWA Midwest President Toni Higgins and a guest from the Milwaukee Central Labor Council.

The AFA leadership explains the situation that prompted this public protest:

In June, in order to offset rising fuel prices and a failed business plan, Midwest Airlines management hired an outside consulting firm, the Seabury Group, to present the flight attendants with a proposal that included furloughing half the work force, over 55 percent pay cuts for those remaining and additional slashes to current work rules. AFA-CWA was given the proposal without any supporting information or documentation and told that, if not accepted, management would have no choice but to file for bankruptcy. After repeated requests by AFA-CWA, management finally supplied background on the proposal, however the information provided was inaccurate and incomplete.

According to the Seabury Group's plan, the proposed Midwest flight attendant pay scale was compiled by taking the average pay rate of flight attendants from smaller carriers and reducing the average by 15 percent. However, as management continued to insist that the concessions were "fair and equitable" for all work groups, calculations for management and non-union employee concessions were based on average salaries at larger, more profitable mainline carriers such as Southwest and Delta.

AFA-CWA has notified management of its intent to negotiate, but not under the current proposed terms. In 2003, Midwest flight attendants took concessions to help the company avoid bankruptcy. Shortly after the concessionary contract was signed, management rewarded themselves with pay restoration and increases, while flight attendants and pilots continued to work under the reduced wages and work rules.
Currently, Midwest Airlines flight attendants earn between $17,000 and $39,000 annually. Should the airline management's proposed pay cuts be implemented, the flight attendants would earn only $13,000 to $25,000 per year.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

American Airlines cutting 900 flight attendant jobs

American AirlinesAt it annual shareholder meeting earlier this year, American Airlines announced plans to cut capacity in the coming months, and acknowledged that the capacity reduction would result in the loss of thousands of jobs across every work group. This week, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), the union representing American Airlines flight attendants, was notified of plans to cut 900 flight attendant jobs.

According to the APFA, the letter to the union stated that the 900 most junior U.S. based flight attendants are subject to furlough effective August 31, 2008. Several measures intended to mitigate the impact of the work force reduction requirements have been negotiated between the APFA and American Airlines.

The first of these measures is called the Voluntary Bridge to Retirement (a program similar to one offered by United Airlines to its senior flight attendants last month). Under the provisions of the American Airlines Voluntary Bridge to Retirement, the company will offer a severance payment of $15,000, plus medical and pass benefits to flight attendants who are at least 50 years of age who will have at least 15 years company seniority as of August 31, 2008. In addition, American Airlines will offer Overage Leaves of Absence and opportunities for Partnership Flying, a job sharing plan.

A Hotline message on the APFA website about the work force reduction said that the one-time Voluntary Bridge to Retirement will be awarded first, followed by leaves at bases with an overage. Where overages then still exist, partnerships will be awarded. After these three voluntary provisions are exhausted, and should any overage still exist, the company will then determine how many flight attendants will need to be furloughed involuntarily in order to meet flight attendant work force reduction target of 900.

According to the flight attendants' contract with American Airlines, “When there is a reduction in force, the Flight Attendant(s) with the least system seniority shall be laid off." Presumably the majority of those would be the former TWA flight attendants, who also were furloughed after the September 2001 terrorist attacks. American Airlines recalled 200 of those furloughed flight attendants in May of 2007, and another 460 in August of 2007.

As of the end of June, there were still 1,192 American Airlines flight attendants on furlough from the earlier layoffs. This week's announcement of new furloughs surely comes as a blow to those who have been awaiting recall for years.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Continental Airlines flight attendants injured in turbulence

wptv.com - Mike Jachles/Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue On the afternoon of Monday, June 30, 2008, three Continental Airlines flight attendants were injured in flight during the cruise phase of a flight between Houston and Fort Lauderdale. The incident happened when Continental Flight COA1448, a Boeing 737-300 aircraft, encountered turbulence at 31,000 ft above the Gulf of Mexico.

The Sun-Sentinel identified the injured flight attendants as Newark-based crew, and reported that their injuries happened when they either fell or hit their heads. News reports, quoting Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue spokesman Mike Jachles, said that the injured flight attendants were first treated at the gate area after landing, and then taken to Broward General Medical Center for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. No passengers were injured in the incident.

[Photo Source]

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

79 year old Continental Airlines flight attendant retires

Ray Hope (pictured at right) made his final flight as a Continental Airlines flight attendant this past Friday. He thought it was time to retire; he will be 80 years old in August.

According to a Houston Chronicle article about Ray Hope, this is his second retirement. Before he became a Continental Airlines flight attendant 16 years ago, he had a 40 year career as a commercial photographer.

Mr. Hope, whose daughter has been a Continental flight attendant for 22 years, was in his sixties when he applied for the cabin crew job. He told the Houston Chronicle that he had "some good days and some bad days." But the experience taught him patience, he said.

"It's just a good experience of meeting people and communicating with them," Hope said. "I think it's the best choice I've ever made in my entire life. I wish I would have done it sooner."
He called being a flight attendant a "rewarding job" that he hated to give up, but he felt it was the right time to do so.

The almost-80 year old now plans to spend time with friends at a retirement community, making wooden toys for children in Child Protective Services. He jokes, though, about a possible third career as a Wal-Mart greeter.

The Houston Chronicle quoted Ray Hope's daughter, Diane Peckham, who said of her father, "He's not one to relax very easily. He's always one to do something."

Best wishes to Ray Hope for his retirement years.

[Photo Source]