NJ: Life At The Airport

Newark Liberty International Airport is now my second home whilst I'm working as a Passenger Services Agent for a well known British airline. From check-in right through to boarding this job has so far been great! Adjusting to my Industrial Placement, the experience carries on. From Newark to London Heathrow, the two flights per day ensures there's never a dull moment! No! 

From the first day at my new job the feeling of being at the airport was something that I can't describe, 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 NJ Transit bus representing my airline. To be honest I had ideas above my station, in relation how I wanted to be with guests at the check-in counter that never happened the nerves were too intense. As 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  City can be seen from the windows of Gate 55 as the golden sun rises over the Empire State of fabulousness! Newark, NYC's little sister flies higher! Sure, the view looks great to me!

The evening shift brings its own perks, like the extra cookies from the Virgin Clubhouse Lounge that us ground crew can enjoy after the VS2 has departed from Newark Liberty! Being at the check-in counters has been very interesting for me so far, aside from the moments when I'm not smiling from ear to ear whilst checking a passengers bags to Lagos I see the cabin crew file in all of their red uniform finery from their 'Golden Touch'. The morning flight lands into London Heathrow at time that meets the connecting Virgin Atlantic flights that take the Newark passengers onto places such as; Lagos, New Delhi, Accra. With each connector group, the morning flight is always a quick-paced process from Upper Class to Economy with Premium in mind. Word is that Virgin will reinstate flights from London Heathrow with direct service over to Mumbai, India. That would mean the evening Virgin departure will have some extra characters travelling with us. Each passenger is different, we are only human.

As the spring arrives so do the Boeing 747-400s, the larger aircraft serves Newark Liberty into the summer months. The Airbus A340-600s return in the autumn time, of course those G-V aircrafts serve the same Virgin Atlantic personality! As soon as I got my NY/NJ Port Authority airport I.D, a trip onto the jumbo was definitely in order. For the first time in my life I got to see what Upper Class was all about, I'm hopeful that I'll get a chance to fly in that class of service before my placement ends. 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. I feel blessed for this opportunity, I have to keep my feet on the ground and to remember why I'm doing what I'm doing! The university semester in 2013 will be back to get me soon enough, I will soak it all up!

I'm optimistic that I'll get the chance to rotate between the different roles that are open to myself and my colleagues. I am most comfortable with check-in right now, I would love to progress to Arrivals Lead and to Clubhouse in the forthcoming months. It's mad to think that I am working in America for the second time in less than six months. How those former Future World North days felt as if it all happened just yesterday! Yes, I am currently training in the Virgin Clubhouse, I'm learning the ins and outs as how to greet our Upper Class guests. Working in the lounge has so far proven to be an insightful experience. I'm realistic with my expectations, I am so far enjoying the roles that I have eased into. I can now recite the phonetic alphabet and remember those airport codes in my sleep, life seems unreal to me but this job is real indeed! I'm getting used to the early wake up calls and walking to the bus station, seriously my colleagues are the realest! Keeping it 100%, we serve!

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 get 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 doors. Yes, the Disney magic has stayed with me!

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 Liberty International Airport as each day brings a shiny new challenge. The airport environment has always been a place that I've loved being within, working at the airport has brought me close to some new friends who are from different backgrounds. I am hopeful to rub shoulders with some famous faces but those personalities shall remain a firm secret due to company policy. Putting those early hour get ups and split shifts into perspective, I'm going to embrace this airport work experience to the fullest. My respect for check-in staff has been secured, I now know what questions to ask when I check in for my own flights and I'm learning how much my carry-on baggage should weigh. I need to sleep, the morning shift beckons once again! The 62 NJ Transit bus will continue to be my work transport, I love the realness!

Enjoy Your Flight!

Joseph Harrison


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