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Staffing Reductions Create Additional Challenges in Meeting Competing Priorities

Date: March 15, 2019

Staffing Reductions Create Additional Challenges in Meeting Competing Priorities

With recent staffing cuts, it goes without saying that we’re finding it difficult to juggle all of our competing priorities.  In particular, as we work to balance the needs of the passengers in our care and the needs of our fellow crew members on the flight deck, we are faced with making difficult decisions when weighing priorities.

Let’s face the facts. We’re not pilots and don’t fully understand their needs and responsibilities.  Our colleagues on the flight deck, no matter how considerate they may be in requesting our assistance for meals, bio-breaks, etc. there is never a good time for those requests to present themselves.  After all, our workload periods are completely opposite of each other.

The reality is that our pilots have physiological needs which can’t be ignored. As such, we may need to find new ways to balance our obligations to the flight deck with delivering service to our passengers.  Good communication with the flight deck crew, from the beginning of the flight, is key.

By starting the conversation early about meal times and breaks, this provides us with the ability to address priorities mutually.  If the pilots have been flying all day, eating early may be a priority for our colleagues on the flight deck.  Talking about this and making it a priority from the start will eliminate the frustration of an unexpected interruption during our service.  And, when nature calls and our colleagues, who depend on us to facilitate these bio-breaks do call, while perhaps an interruption, we’ll have a much better sense that this is not intended. We are a team, and need to take care of each other.  We rely on each other in emergency situations and during the flight. There is a legitimate safety need to ensure the pilot’s physiological needs are provided for during the flight.  Communication, flexibility and teamwork go a long way in resolving any areas of misunderstanding and facilitating CLR. 

At the end of the day, pilots are our fellow crew members.  Treating our colleagues on the flight desk as we would like to be treated, beyond being considerate, is a critical part of our role in the safety of flight. 

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