No commercial flight can be successful without a cabin crew. These are the people who greet you when you board the aircraft, provide you with safety instructions, serve food and beverages and ensure the safety and comfort of passengers from takeoff to landing.
There are also members of the cabin crew you may never see. They include the captain—the main pilot of the flight and the top leader of the flight crew, and the first officer—the co-pilot seated next to the captain.
Although each member of the cabin crew has their own set of duties, their collective responsibility is to work as a team to create a pleasant and positive in-flight experience for all passengers.
If you’re interested in pursing a career in commercial aviation or are simply curious as to what each member of the cabin crew does, there’s a boundless amount of resource to explore, including airline websites, job boards, YouTube channels on aviation and, of course, the cabin crew themselves.
Flight Crew Positions
The flight crew consists of a team of individuals responsible for controlling the aircraft and making sure it’s operated safely.
A commercial flight captain is the most experienced and highest-ranking pilot on board a commercial aircraft. The captain is responsible for the safety of all passengers and crew members, as well as the successful completion of the flight.
They’re responsible for ensuring all safety protocols are followed, the aircraft is properly maintained, and all passengers and crew members are comfortable and secure during the flight. The captain also has ultimate authority over any decisions made during the flight, including any changes in course or altitude.
The first officer is the second in command of the aircraft. They are responsible for assisting the captain in all aspects of the flight, including pre-flight preparations, navigation, communication and monitoring of aircraft systems.
The first officer is also responsible for ensuring that all safety procedures are followed and that passengers are comfortable during the flight.
This position is rare in modern times thanks to the adoption of a variety of advanced diagnostics and automation. Back when they were a commonplace fixture on commercial carrier flights, the first engineer was in charge of ensuring the safe and efficient operation of the aircraft. This included monitoring and maintaining all systems, such as engines, hydraulics and avionics. The first engineer was also responsible for troubleshooting any issues that arose during the flight.
The cabin crew are the personnel who provide customer service and safety on board an aircraft.
A purser is a seasoned crew member who is responsible for the overall operation of the cabin crew. Their main responsibilities include overseeing other flight attendants, handling flight paperwork and ensuring all passengers are comfortable and safe during the flight, as well as managing any issues that may arise.
The purser doesn’t have to be the seniormost member of the cabin crew, but they’re usually required to have at least five years of flight attendant experience.
Flight attendants are responsible for the safety and comfort of passengers during their flight. They greet passengers as they board the plane and help them find their seats.
During the flight, they provide food and drinks, answer questions and help with any issues that may arise. They also demonstrate safety procedures to passengers during the flight.
In addition to these duties, they may also assist with luggage storage and retrieval, provide first aid if needed and help with any other passenger needs that may arise during the flight.
As the name implies, inflight chefs prepare and cook signature dishes on board an aircraft using high-quality ingredients.
The experience is exclusive to first class passengers as well as private and business jet fliers who expect to indulge in delicious and fresh food instead of the usual reheated meals catered by restaurants and food services.
Inflight chefs typically work in the galley area of an aircraft, where they prepare meals for passengers according to their dietary requirements. In addition to preparing meals, inflight chefs may also be responsible for cleaning up after passengers have finished eating.
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