From Thomas Cook to Monarch and now Virgin Atlantic, this air hostess has worked for most of the major airlines in the U.K. and each has been a very different experience. From the demands of training to the destinations and varied flight times, it has all been working up to landing her dream job at Virgin.
Words: Grace Faulkner, Subeditor: Eireann Beardon
In 2007, Heidi Brown started as cabin crew for Thomas Cook and received her glamorous blue scarf. As you can imagine, after working and studying tirelessly to get your foot in the door at one of the biggest airline companies in the U.K., this was a great moment. If you have tried to get into aviation, particularly with a big company, you will understand the struggle to get in. It’s a very long, tiring process that usually takes multiple attempts at the same airline before you get in and even then permanent contracts are very rare. After a year with Thomas Cook, she then joined the BMI Baby team for two years, again working short haul flights with a similar style work pattern.
Learning a lot at Thomas Cook and BMI and wanting to change airlines for new training and challenges, Heidi eventually landed a job at Monarch in 2014, a British Airline based in Luton. Receiving her Monarch wings, Heidi had successfully passed through training in London including first aid, survival and in flight services and had reached another career goal. This contract gave way for a different experience of cabin crew life with a more varied range of destinations, long haul flights and more opportunity to stay in different countries all over world. After experiencing a new life in purple, Heidi worked with Monarch for a year before her contract was up and she successfully applied for her dream job as cabin crew for Virgin Atlantic.
In June 2015, Heidi began her 6 weeks of training in the hope of becoming part of the Virgin Atlantic team, with a whole new feel to cabin crew life. Becoming part of the Virgin company gave Heidi more opportunities to grow and new challenges as cabin crew with more intense training and a huge lifestyle change. Being part of the team in the sky isn’t just a normal 9-5, Monday – Friday job. It can mean you work everyday, staying over in different countries for days at a time then being put on standby for 3 weeks. But Heidi says the best part of joining Virgin is the new countries she had dreamed of visiting and being able to actually see the beautiful countries she touched down in, not just the hotel walls. Among her first flights in red, Heidi got the chance to visit Vegas, New York, Chicago, and even Barbados, places most of us would only dream of. As well as the obvious change in flight destinations, the maintenance of being a Virgin flight attendant is also different. The polished red uniform, classic hair up-dos, their own shade of red lipstick, and immaculate neck scarf. Right now, six months after becoming part of Virgin, it is everything Heidi hoped it would be.
Nearly ten years after beginning her career as cabin crew, Heidi is still learning and facing new challenges and experiences on her flights all over the world and reassures us: it’s not all as glamorous as you may think!
5 things you didn’t know about cabin crew…
- At Virgin – The women have their own shade of the classic red lipstick, Upper Class Red by BareMinerals.
- They take part in a sessions at ‘Groom School’ in Crawley, for lessons in hair styling and appearance.
- Nails are to be painted red, pale pink or a french manicure.
- They have strict physical requirements and some undergo extreme fitness tests
- They are trained to save your life and most in their career have performed vital CPR. (Heidi is one of those!)