4 April 2012

Life At The Airport

For the last two months I have been living the dream working as a 'Passenger Service Agent' for Virgin Atlantic Airways. Newark Liberty International Airport is now my second home and has been for some time, well it feels like it. I do try and bring a hand-full of glamour to my job everyday even if things get tough a smile has to be present. From check-in right through to boarding this job is getting more and more like the BBC One show 'Come Fly With Me' but my co-workers are definitely not Melody and Keeley. From Newark to Heathrow our two flights per day give me some interesting situations. As the saying goes 'there's never a dull moment at the airport.' 


From the first day at my new job the feeling of being at the airport was something that I can't describe, you could say that it was a dream come true. Might I add the Virgin Atlantic uniform is super slick, a pleasure it always is walking to work to catch the 62 bus representing my airline. To be honest I had ideas above my station, in relation of how I wanted to be with guests at the check-in counter that never happened the nerves were too intense.


My alarm chimes, the sun hasn't risen yet. I glance at my Ipod to see that its 02:30am, a site that greets me far too often. The shifts are crazy, compared to my previous job at Disney this beats no other. The morning shift is becoming my favourite for one reason, this reason is because the skyline of New York can be seen from the windows of Gate 55 as the golden sun rises over the Empire State of fabulousness! Whereas the evening shift brings its own perks, like the leftover cookies from the Virgin Clubhouse Lounge. Please! Being at the check-in counters is so interesting for me, on the moments I'm not smiling from ear to ear checking a passengers bags to Lagos I see the cabin crew file in from their 'Golden Touch' bus every inch the Virgin employees with the ladies made up in red and the gentlemen as camp as Alan Carr.


As the spring arrives so do the Boeing 747's as the Airbus 340's mainly fly the flag for Virgin at Newark. As soon as I got my airport I.D a trip onto the jumbo was in order. You might have known what area I headed for first, the Upper Class bar of-course. Seriously this majestic aircraft lasts forever surely the flight attendants get tired walking up and down the aisles, need they not get tired as the crew rest area looked comfortable enough to refresh and rejuvenate the best crew members. Hopefully one day I'll be suited and booted pushing a drinks trolley through Economy Class, oh please more like pouring a Gin and Tonic in the Upper Class bar as a member of the Cabin Crew. I suppose the glamour doesn't make it past the uniform or the swanky overnight stays in the world's major fashion capitals, who knows?

Throughout my placement I want to move to different sectors of the Virgin Atlantic ground operation at Newark Airport. Currently my check-in skills are improving shift by shift, the accuracy of my passport reading skills are getting quicker and my script for the passengers is always getting better. Its mad to think I've been working in America again for the second time in less than six months, my Future World North days are a million miles away from what I'm getting up to now. Progression is the key as I'm training in the Virgin Clubhouse, greeting our Upper Class guests and taking their over-sized bags only a Economy passenger could be envious at the limit they are allowed. The lounge is proving to be insightful but I want to be a cabin agent next, the training looks more brain taxing but you know what I'm ready for a challenge and I'm going to do it eventually.


As customer care goes by I cannot be doing to badly for a customer gave me a $20.00 tip the other morning. A lovely lady was travelling to London Heathrow on the VS18, with her Nigerian passport already turned to reveal her United Kingdom visa it was a reassuring sight to see. Her check-in was pretty straight forward, with the overweight baggage charges taken care of and her suitcases on the way to the ramp it was a job well done and time to seek the next batch of guests. Well to my surprise five minutes later the passengers daughter ran over to me and gave a me a $20.00 bill saying; "You go buy yourself some breakfast, you were so lovely." I tried to refuse the tip to adhere with policy but this kind request wasn't going to be refused by the passengers' daughter! Before I knew it a green bill sat in my waistcoat pocket with the guest running off out of the airport doors. A job well done on my part, I was only being nice and if being nice warrants a reward then so be it. I'm looking forward to the rest of my placement at Newark's Liberty International Airport as each day brings a shiny new challenge, whether it be a pleasant or not so pleasant experience I would like to say that I shall be ready for it. I know deep down I will get through the unsociable shift patterns and deal with the constant lack of sleep but its all a challenge that I'm not going to give up on!


Enjoy Your Flight!


Joseph Harrison

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