Glimpsed from the departure gate or aircraft window, the airport ramp is a familiar yet mesmerising sight. Busy people in hi-vis jackets tend the parked aircraft as fuel, bags, cargo and catering are loaded and unloaded by a selection of strange vehicles. It’s a hive of activity.
At the centre of this commotion are our turnaround officers. Their job is to oversee everything that happens on an aircraft while it’s on the ground. They’re responsible for making sure our flights depart safely and on time while delivering impeccable customer service. It’s a high pressured environment where anything can and does happen, so it couldn’t be more important.
Last month, we sent our CEO Craig Kreeger ‘back to the floor’ to work alongside one of our turnaround officers at Heathrow and went along to see how he got on.
Back to the ramp
An airline guy through and through, Craig’s whole career has been in aviation so he relished the chance to get out of the office and fill his lungs with the sweet smell of kerosene. On arrival at Heathrow, he was met by turnaround officer Paul Murt who took him under his wing, in both senses, to work the departure of the VS23 to Los Angeles.
Everything was going well. The cleaning and catering were done. Crew checks and fuel uplift were complete. The baggage and cargo were loaded, and the passengers had starting boarding early. But, like we said, things can go south very quickly … Craig takes up the story:
“When you work in an office, you can sometimes forget what if feels like to be at the airport and experience the whole hustle and bustle of the ramp. An awful lot comes together in the role that Paul does and you get to see all it takes to make it happen.
“This was an interesting flight to observe because at 20 minutes before departure it turned from a straightforward, simple flight, to a complicated one with a medical offload. That involved caring for a customer who was too sick to travel, removing their bags and making the necessary changes to the load sheet. Despite all this, the aircraft still pushed back a minute early.
“I was so impressed with how quickly all this happened. These guys found the bags in seven or eight minutes. I saw the customer dealt with in a very humane way, with transport back to town, advice on what they needed to do to be ready to fly, and offer to rebook them. We got the airplane away on time, all credit to Paul, and demonstrated our values with our customers. So in my mind, I got to see our team do what our team does best.”
Getting it right for our customers