Watch this : Do you really need to switch off your phone on the plane ?

All mobile phones these days come with a “flight mode” and when you put this on to flight mode, all connections that transmit or receive are turned off. Be it WiFi or Bluetooth, GSM, GPRS all the modes of communication are closed off and are kept as a feature for usage by companies as many airlines insist on switching these off especially during take off and landing. Not only do they ask passengers to turn off connections they also insist on switching off these days. On my recent trip to India, flying on Emirates, I found myself telling a fellow passenger to switch off his phone as well and had a bit of an argument with him as well.

Nokia Mobile Phone

Emirates is quite a progressive airline allowing people to make and receive calls during flights but even they insist these ceremonies during take off and landing. Once I landed in Dubai and when I have started to look back at the trip I am beginning to think if it is actually required to switch off phones, not just take them to “flight mode” even in this day and age.

Before I present my justification, I think you all should see this video :

First things first most airlines including Emirates Airlines do not really understand the “flight mode” in mobile phones, considering that Android is the most popular Operating Phones these days and Android has the flight mode feature since the early inceptions of the OS, it is clear that Airlines need to pay attention to this setting, considering it was made for them.

Secondly a search trying to find if the mobiles actually cause disruptions in the signal of the sophisticated commercial airliners to today, comes up with some interesting conclusions, here is what I found out. Logic says that Airlines would not let us carry phones if it did, take the scenario that liquids over 100 ml could be mixed to make explosives, so they don’t let us carry more than 100ml. If this was the case with cell phones, they would not have let us carry these. Instead, an arbitrary set of rules established by the FAA and extended by the airlines prohibits iPods during takeoff, but explicitly allow electric shavers to be used during flight.

What about the regulations ? 

The governing body for Airlines and Airports, IATA mentioned in a study commissioned in 1993, suggested that airlines prohibit the use of personal electronic devices during takeoff and landing, despite a lack of evidence that these gadgets had caused a single accident.

In Nov 2009, the Federal Airlines Authority (FAA) of the US again mentioned in an immediate release that “there is insufficient information to support a wholesale change in policies that restrict use of PEDs.” The actual rule from FAA on this is here :

§ 121.306   Portable electronic devices.
(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, no person may operate, nor may any operator or pilot in command of an aircraft allow the operation of, any portable electronic device on any U.S.-registered civil aircraft operating under this part.
(b) Paragraph (a) of this section does not apply to—
(1) Portable voice recorders;
(2) Hearing aids;
(3) Heart pacemakers;
(4) Electric shavers; or
(5) Any other portable electronic device that the [airline] has determined will not cause interference with the navigation or communication system of the aircraft on which it is to be used.
(c) The determination required by paragraph (b)(5) of this section shall be made by that [airline] operating the particular device to be used.
[Doc. No. FAA–1998–4954, 64 FR 1080, Jan. 7, 1999]

The FAA has since approved the use of Wi Fi inside the planes, and also for communicating with Airports and control towers, the frequencies of which (2.4 Ghz) have a similar effect. So based on which your iPhone or Nokia might crash the plane but not your laptop using WiFi ??

The other reasoning 

The other reasoning is that people do not pay attention to the announcements that the crew is making, or the captain is making during take off or landing and thus is a danger eventually. Well I should say good point there, but this should be forced on to your screens at the back of the seat anyway like what Emirates and other carriers do. How are we to trust someone telling us that reading a iPad document during takeoff is dangerous as we stare across a field of EMI-spewing LCD seat-back screens? Or the pilots wearing the digital watches on their wrists much closer to all the gadgets.

Another justification seems that there are those who don’t switch off even after saying it, so everyone should switch off everything. But well if there is no proof that people using these gadgets can cause a risk, then well it should not matter now does it.

The last one seems more like it, people do not want to listen to other people rant even if it means to a loved one. People want to fly and read or reflect on their thoughts when they do so. So if its a way to  “Shut up and fly” then well that is something understandable.

My verdict after reading this : Its a Dumb rule

More interesting Read : 

Inquisitive Interviews : Ruth Pereira – Cabin Crew

Back again this week with Inquisitive Interviews, after the really good response this week for the feature as well as the comments received for Jason for the Interview, this week I would like to feature another Pereira, Ruth. Inquisitive Interviews, the feature was born out of the requests by some of the students who read this blog, requesting information regarding careers. And with a view to help them make a better choice, I have started to feature various careers from different people, starting with people I know and hoping to slowly reach many different people. The Inquisitive Interviews feature would not only help the students reading the interview but also the interviewee providing them with some online PR of sorts, the benefits of which I mentioned in another post earlier. Without further delay I present to you Ruth, and here she is in her own words.

Good Morning Ladies and Gentleman, My name is Ruth Aurelia Pereira, and I have the pleasure of welcoming you onboard Melvin’s Inquisitive Mind! 😀

[ Q ] Tell us something about yourself ?

Born in Mangalore , INDIA. Raised and studied partly in Muscat, Oman but mostly in Mangalore, completed my Graduation in Travel n Tourism certified by the Delhi board and Diploma in IATA certified from Montreal, Canada and moved back to the Middle East, this time to Dubai. Been here 5 years and going strong.

[ Q ] What do you Do for a living and Where ?

I am working for Emirates Airline as a cabin crew based in Dubai.

[ Q ] Is the job what you had pictured it to be ?

Yes & No. Yes to a point that I knew what my job profile would hold and the perks that came along with it. No, because like many others I misconceived it to be a job that mainly involved hospitality.

[ Q ] Is your salary what you expected it to be ?

It was. But i was surprised to know that there are many other industries that pay much better, for example, media industry.

[ Q ] What is your average day like ?

Every day is different, be it at work or on a day off and that’s what keeps me going. I have tried a 9 -5 job on field and at desk. I couldn’t live the monotonous life, even though I knew the one thing I would have to give up was a good night’s sleep.

On a day off, I would try and spend most of my time catching up on my sleep lost over a long night’s flight, especially one of those deadly departures that leave at 3.00 am in the morning! If not sleep, then run errands for groceries (well I rarely cook so that’s out), drive around, meet my friends during the day – subject to their day off, go shopping(home n decor) something I can do for hours, watch a movie (never alone) or just laze at home and order in.

[ Q ] What’s the most interesting part of your job ?

Layovers! To those who do not know the airline lingo, layovers are those flights that we stay 24 hours or over / under at a destination.

Yes, not every destination we stay at is exotic, but I have seen places I would otherwise never go on a holiday to. I would rather spend my money going to more exotic and popular places than go to remote destinations like Dhaka, Entebbe, Accra, Dakar etc… so it’s good that I got to see these places and the life out there with this job and I didn’t even have to pay for it!

Apart from the perks that we get offered as a part of our contract, I enjoy the benefits I discovered later with this job. Special rates for stay at hotels worldwide, our Airline has a club called the FACE club and the activities that are organised and discounts we get at restaurants, spa & salons and shopping are pretty awesome.

[ Q ] What’s the most challenging part of your job ?

I have a few to list. Firstly, as I reiterate the 3.00 am turnaround flights! Explaining the term ‘turnarounds’ are those flights where we do not stay at a particular destination, instead do a quick turn back bringing the next set of passengers, giving an hour or sometimes more on ground for caterers, cleaners and refuelling. It is challenging because if we look at how our sleep pattern works the level of sleep one reaches at 3 am apprx is at its peak, while I have to push myself and stay alert for the critical phases (take off and landing) of the flight at that hour!

Secondly would be a fire situation while on cruise. I know this should top my list of challenges, but how any fires have I fought against the early morning departures I have done? Coming back to fire threatened situations we are taught how to fight a fire, be it a lavatory, galley, ovens, toxic liquid spillages and many more. So, on a tough flight I still “have to have” a presence of mind to act accordingly and not use an oxygen bottle instead of a halon to extinguish the fire! Or use water on classified dangerous fumes!

Thirdly to clear one of the major misconceptions, flight attendant’s main responsibility is the safety of everyone on that flight. Serving food and drinks to the passengers is just an added bonus for the passengers. If safety was not a big issue or concern, there wouldn’t be many of us on flights. So during our intensive training for this job what we learn most is the safety of the aircraft and passengers, rendering First Aid and then comes service. So on a flight what challenges me is having a First Aid situation, be it hypo/hyperglycaemia, Angina, cardiac arrest, Birth on board ( yes we even know that), CPR, trauma, the list is endless. We have to know each of its signs and symptoms and treat the casualty accordingly.

[ Q ] What’s the part of the job that you don’t like ?

Working in the First class cabin I love my job! This is why I have delayed my upgrade for a senior post. Which is wrong, I agree. This job is pretty challenging as it is, and being a senior means handling the crew, passengers, service and being responsible for something that wouldn’t even be my mistake perhaps. Yes, what I would love to hate is the standby month we have once in 7 months (which is coming up next month)! I detest them! Everyone does! The wait for that one phone call to know where I am off to could be quite an ordeal. Or wait for hours in the standby lounge to get pulled out when some crew rostered for that flight calls in sick or other reasons. They are not bad, sometimes one can be pleasantly surprised to get pulled out to their favourite destination or perhaps even their hometown! It’s just that I love being mentally prepared for a flight and not get last minute surprises.

[ Q ] Do you get bored at your workplace at all ?

Never! My office is my aircraft and every flight is a different aircraft, sometimes I fly on the airbus and other times the Boeing Which I love flying on. Like they say, I aint going if it aint Boeing!

Every crew is rostered for a flight and its always new faces I see when I sign in for the flight. In general, we very rarely fly with the same crew any given time. It’s all about meeting new people, making friends, sometimes we get along exceptionally well, and sometimes the mindset is a far cry from. Once we reach a destination there is always something different to do.

[ Q ] Do you report to someone ? How much of an impact the person you report to has on your job ?

Yes, we follow a chain of command when onboard a flight. The Captain heads the team, followed by the First officer, the Purser whom I directly report to and the two Senior Flight steward/stewardess each one in charge of business class and economy class respectively.

When we are on ground we have our cabin crew managers who, when needed we report to. Mostly for me I liaise with my manager only through emails.

Otherwise the good thing of this job is, once you have finished your flight and signed out you go home! If you don’t like the senior or another crewmember you worked with, chances are you might never see them again. If you do, there is always another flight you can swap it for! No back logs or no reporting to after flights to anyone. I love that!

[ Q ] What would you say are the growth aspects in this Industry are like ?

Initial growth is slow. But once you gain like 10 years of experience, you are king! You can command whatever you want with respect! But of course, it is hard to generalize. It differs from industry to industry.

[ Q ] Do you use all the skills that you learnt in school / college ? or where did you pick up the skills ?

I have picked up my skills along the way. In the Customer service industry, all you need are good social skills and an ability to maintain a calm state of mind, no matter who you’re dealing with.

[ Q ] What’s your Alumni ? Where have you studied ?

Schooling                     : Indian High School, Muscat

Pre University               : St. Agnes College, Mangalore

Bachelor’s Degree        : St. Aloysius College, Mangalore

Master’s Degree           :  –

[ Q ] Would you advice younger people to join in your industry ?

I wouldn’t push anyone to pursue this as a career, but if you want to explore the world in $0.00 this is the best way to do it! If you like what you’re doing stick on as long as you like or you must take another career path before it gets too late to change careers. And another advantage of being in this job is you can simultaneously do your higher studies.  For one, Emirates has its own aviation college and we get good benefits being a part of the group.

Of course so with any other job, but the time you would have here and the freedom to travel is pretty awesome!

[ Q ] What advice would you give to someone trying to get into the industry ?

You don’t have to be a genius to get here. Just be wise! And never let that smile on your face diminish even on a difficult day or because of a harrowing customer. That is the first impression you create, and trust me the smile is the weapon I arm myself with when I have to face a sticky wicket. Do good researches before you get into the airline of your preference. So far hands down Emirates Airline is the best 😀

[ Q ] Anything else you want to tell the readers ?

Flying is not all about service; remember it’s just an add-on frill. Safety & security is our priority. To those who preconceive cabin crew to be all about chicken or beef, or double ending trolleys, because that is the only thing you see once you are on board, you will be pleasantly shocked and at ease to know that you are in safe hands with the amount of knowledge we have on each of the aircraft type we own, its survival & rescue, restraining a disruptive passenger, being First responders to a medical situation so on and so forth! You can breathe a sigh of relief now 😀

Secondly, do keep logging into Melvin’s blog and even bookmark it! You would be amazed how much knowledge you will gain out of here!

[ Q ] Any online resources you recommend for people taking up this profession ?

If you do find online computer based courses on customer skills you should do them. Apart from that you do not need to join any of the many Institutes that offer cabin crew training. But if you feel that it can help you in any way, by all means do it. I applied directly on the company’s website and on joining I went through an intense training for 5 weeks. And time to time we are given online courses to complete pertaining to our job.

You can get in touch with Ruth here :

On Facebook    : http://www.facebook.com/AureliaRuth
On Linked In    : http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=114232733

Thanks Ruth, for all your help and support, I am sure the readers like me would learn something new with this interview. And yes I was surprised to know that the Cabin crew on flights are not just there to look pretty, although it does help. :)