There are many variables affecting the fuel consumption of an aircraft: aircraft take-off weight, ground operation, flight planning and flight operation, etc. In the case of an A330-300 (CX is the world’s largest A330 operator) on a flight of 4,000 nautical miles (7408 km), the typical consumption would be about 50 tonnes of fuel, so approximately 6.75kg per km. Operating the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) on ground to provide air conditioning and electricity consumes another 215kg of fuel per hour.
Normally, jet engines use pneumatic air from an Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) to turn the air starter, which then provide torque to drive gearboxes. As the gears and shafts connect the gearboxes to the core engine, once the air starter turns, the engine will start to turn. When the engine reaches a certain speed, fuel is injected and ignition is activated, and the engine can turn by itself.
If the APU is inoperative, pneumatic air can be provided by either Ground Power Unit or cross-fed from other engine/engines that is/are running.
Actually some aircraft with the engines mounted on or in the tail cone can be powered back by using the thrust reversers (the DC-9, for example). Airplanes with jet engines mounted under the wings should never be powered back. It is done, rarely, but it is dangerous and can be damaging, mainly due to the risk of foreign object damage from debris propelled into the air. Small metal objects are particularly dangerous as they can be propelled into terminal windows, employees on the ground, or even the aircraft itself. It is much safer to use the tow bar for push back.
The water available at the tap [faucet] in the toilet is fresh water loaded before every flight from a central airport water source in the departure airport [with some exceptions].
The water we load follows several guidelines and regulations, including Environmental Protection Agency USA Aircraft Drinking Water Rule [ADWR]; National Standard of the People’s Republic of China [GB 5749-2006] and the World Health Organisation Guide to Hygiene and Sanitation in Aviation.
The water on board all aircraft is regularly tested by an independent laboratory for conformance with local regulations to ensure we provide the highest standard of water for our passengers. We also disinfect the entire water system on every aircraft frequently to ensure the standard of water provided.
Recently, Cathay Pacific became a pioneer in aviation water system treatment with the introduction of ozone to disinfect the aircraft water system, thereby eliminating the need to use chemicals to disinfect the water system, and saving tens of thousands litres of water every year.
1. Fuel efficiency. Because the air is less dense, the plane moves through it easier.
2. Terrain avoidance: Even though most mountains don't reach 30,000 feet in height, flying the plane above this altitude assures no one hits one.
3. It’s safer for the smaller aircraft. The bigger aircraft produce huge amounts of turbulence in their wakes and by getting them away from the little airplanes, it’s safer for the smaller planes.
4. High altitude flying gets the aircraft above the original weather.
Yes, there are brakes on the main landing gears (the ones under the wings). Due to the size of aircraft the brakes are larger than what you would find on your car, But in proportion to an aircraft the brakes are not large.
Cargo compartments are pressurised to the same level as the cabin itself and the cabin is normally pressurised to be the same as being 7000 - 8000 feet above sea level. Because incorrectly packaged liquids may leak, there are rules and guidelines from your parcel carrier on the type of containers that should be used for this purpose.
When the aircraft arrives at the boarding gate for a normal transit, engineers will perform an engineering check which takes around 20 to 30 minutes. But that doesn’t include any time needed for any defect rectification, troubleshooting or servicing.
To ensure the well-being of everyone on board our flights, we always seek local medical advice if we feel unwell while overseas. Depending on our condition, we might continue to work, prolong our stay overseas, or travel as passengers to Hong Kong for medical treatment. If we need to spend more time overseas to recover, Cathay Pacific’s operations team allocate the resources to keep flights running on schedule and with a full crew.
Our ground staff usually arrange for the passenger to sit in the middle of the plane, while our flight attendants ensure the passenger remains as comfortable as possible throughout the journey. Flight staff typically introduce themselves to the passenger and try to understand his or her situation and needs, and then explain the flight information to them.
During the flight, staff check on the passenger from time to time, giving that person special care, such as introducing cabin facilities and recommending the latest entertainment audio and video programs in order to help the passenger focus their attention on things other than their fear of flying.
First, by trying to avoid it! Weather forecasts, experience and reports from other pilots help. Or, easiest of all, we just look out the window.
Secondly, by reducing speed to minimise the effect, selecting an upwind area with the least amount of radar returns, and staying well clear of the 'big red bits'.
And if all else fails, we strap everything and everyone down and enjoy the ride. Don’t worry – planes are a lot stronger than you might think. Just imagine you’re on a ride at Disneyland!
It may surprise you to learn that lot of the situations commonly seen as "difficult", such as navigating through typhoons or dealing with technical issues, are not the toughest aspects of the job. In most cases, the shared aviation experience amongst the pilots allows us to manage these problems with ease.
Instead, it’s the non-technical things that are the toughest. Dealing with fatigue, for example, is one of the most difficult. With some flights lasting as long as 16 hours, it is inevitable to have to work against your body clock occasionally. Another example is with international differences. As Cathay flies to many different countries, each with their own airport and air traffic control procedures, pilots need to be able to adapt and fly safely under all circumstances.
In most cases, I manage these tough aspects by following the 5 P's of aviation: 'Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance'. If I have an evening flight scheduled, I try to go to bed late the day before to wake up well-rested in the mid-afternoon on the day of the flight. If I'm flying to an unfamiliar country/airport, it helps to go to work early to have a read through the airport and route briefings before the flight.
Flying will always bring difficulties, but by anticipating what is likely to come and making preparations early, we can be ready to deal with situations as they happen.
During take-off, a large commercial passenger aircraft accelerates from a standstill to about 200mph. The force you feel pushing you back in your seat is the effect of this acceleration on your body – it’s the same force you feel in a fast-accelerating car.
Because of the way the aircraft accelerates, the force will be greatest just after the aircraft starts to move. I would recommend relaxing and allowing the seat to take the strain of the acceleration. Resting your head back and placing your arms on your lap or lightly on the armrests will mean there is little you have to physically do to counteract the force of the acceleration. As the aircraft accelerates and then takes off, the feeling of acceleration will reduce.
Pilots do not do anything specific when experiencing this type of acceleration, other than making sure our seat belts are fastened and there are no loose items likely to move. You should check your own belongings, such as pens, passports and wallets. These will move toward the back of the aircraft during the acceleration and they can be hard to find once the seatbelt sign is turned off!
There is no scheduled replacement of aircraft tyres. We inspect tyres regularly, based on requirements set out in the Aircraft Maintenance Manual from the plane’s manufacturer, and the Cathay Pacific Maintenance Manual Bulletin. If the tyre doesn’t meet the requirements, it will be replaced.
The life of a tyre will depend on the type of aircraft. Typically, an aircraft tyre will last for a few hundred aircraft cycles – a cycle being a take-off and landing.
Cabin air is “conditioned” air, a combination of ambient air and engine bleed air. Right after the engines are turned off at the gate, a small amount of unburned fuel is left in the engine. The smell of this residual fuel in the air gets into the cabin via the “air conditioner” which is still running.
Actually I had that exact experience once! A couple brought a little girl to me and said they had found her wandering around the departure area on her own.
Luckily, the girl told me that she was going to take a Cathay Pacific flight and I managed to track down her flight number and her parent’s contact number from the check-in record system. If not for that, it would have been difficult to find the little girl’s parents among the thousands of passengers at Hong Kong International Airport that day. In that case I would have to have called the police to help.
When I first started to work at the airport, I had an experienced senior staff member beside me for the first one or two weeks so this really helped me to settle in and get used to the environment.
She didn't just teach me how to do the job and all the procedures, she also shared her own experience of working in the team and at the airport. Even simple things like how to work with other colleagues, where to eat and where to get transport to and from the airport, the peak times…and much more. Even now, just like my colleagues do with their coaches, I still stay in touch with her and we have become friends. When I encounter any difficulty at work, I still call her for advice.
Working at the airport is challenging and there can be a lot of pressure, but it’s also very interesting. Every part of our job needs great collaboration with other members of the team, no matter for daily routine task or if there is some disruption like a weather delay. It’s our colleagues and team mates who enable all of us to do our jobs properly and cope with the busy environment.
But sometimes just a simple ‘Thank you’ from a grateful passenger and knowing that what I do is appreciated can be a real tonic and make me feel great about my work.
I’m sorry to say you can’t. No pets or animals of any kind are allowed in our passenger cabin. Pets like cats, dogs or birds will be put into special animal crates with food and water and transported in the cargo compartment. Different countries have different requirements and not all countries accept pets as checked baggage.
The only exception is for service dogs, for example a `Guide Dog’ for a blind person or an `Assistance Dog’ that is accompanying a qualified individual with a disability – but these are not really pets and arrangements must be made in advance.
If you want to fly with your pet then we suggest that you:-
• Check with your local government office for all the documentation you need like health certificates and travel permits. For Hong Kong, you can find more information on the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department website.
• Please contact booking/reservation for more information and prior notification.
• Alternatively, you can visit IATA Travel Centre for more details.
Our main duty is to provide check-in, and arrival and departure services for our passengers. However, as front-line staff in direct contact with passengers we also get involved in all sorts of other interesting situations as well.
For example, if passenger is not feeling well, we might have to act as a ‘nurse’ and help them seekproper medical treatment before taking their flights. In an emergency, we may even accompany the passenger in the ambulance to hospital.
Sometimes we need to provide ‘information services’. Passengers often come to us if they left behind personal items such as luggage, handbags and such in their hotels, or on the bus or train to the airport. We will look for the contact numbers or advise them what to do.
We are frequently ‘weather reporters’. Whenever there’s a storm or typhoon, passengers will ask us about the latest weather forecast and whether or not there are delays to their flights.
Occasionally we are even ‘nannies’ and have to take care of ‘unaccompanied minors’. These are children aged 6 to under 12 years and travelling alone. So they need special care and attention before they depart for a flight or before they are handed over to their guardian.
We can also be recruited as ‘detectives’. Passengers often seek our help if they have lost their passports or personal items at the airport. We will try to help them to recall where they have been and the possible locations that they may have left the item. More often than not, the passenger actually has the item tucked away ‘for safety’ in the pocket of their own suit or jacket or in their baggage!
Once I had a lady who had lost her husband! As it turned out, he was waiting for her at the departure gate as he ‘knew’ she would come there, while she thought it was better that she wait for him at the arrival gate as she was equally sure he would come and look for her there!
All Cathay Pacific's long-haul flights have facilities for crew rest and a relief crew. The amount of rest and number of extra crew depends on the duration of the flight. But don't worry about who’s in charge – our requirements for a relief commander are the toughest in the business and between you and me a captain always sleeps with one eye open.
We always try our best to accommodate the preferences of all our passengers. However when one of our meal options become unavailable (we’re always pleased when passengers enjoy our meals!), we kindly suggest the next best alternative. At the same time, we make sure to let our catering department know so that they can adjust the meal loading to better cater to the requests of our passengers.
Obviously that depends on where you’re going and how long you’re there for, but there are a few essentials I tend to bring every time.
One of my favourite things about Cathay Pacific aircrew is that we tend to be quite social people, so we always try to go out for dinner on the first night in the city we fly to. That means I need to bring some smart clothing for the restaurant.
We also fly to the States and to Europe, so jet lag becomes a rather large factor in our job. I have found that one of the best ways to get over jet lag is just to go down to the gym and do some exercise, so I need to make sure I have enough gym kit with me to last the entire trip.
I also find that being down route is a great chance to continue with some further education. Personally, I’m trying to learn French, so all the spare time we get, it works out very well. Other than that, it’s just all the usual stuff you pack for a couple of days away.
There are 4 different uniform types you will see Inflight, and the differences are mainly related to the key responsibilities of each crew member.
Inflight Service Managers
Main features: Black blouse with champagne-coloured collar paired with a black skirt for female Inflight Service Managers. Black jacquard tie with champagne-coloured stripes for male Inflight Service Managers.
Role: The Inflight Services Managers (ISM) has overall responsibility for the flights, including safety and service issues, passenger concerns and liaising with the Airport Staff. The ISM also ensures that all Cabin Crew on the flight perform their duties up to standard to achieve the team goals. The ISM also leads the briefing of all crew members prior to each flight.
Main features: Burgundy jacket with champagne-coloured brushwing collar, champagne jacquard blouse and long black skirt for female Senior Pursers. Champagne-coloured jacquard tie with black stripes for male Senior Pursers.
Role: Senior Pursers mainly work in the Business Class or First Class cabins. They may deputise the duty of the Inflight Services Managers (ISM) if the need arises.
Main features: Rose-red jacket with matte champagne brushwing collar, rose-red jacquard blouse and black skirt for female Flight Pursers. Black jacquard tie with red stripes for male Flight Pursers.
Role: Flight Pursers ensure that all the responsibilities and duties of the Flight Attendants are up to standard. They also supervise galley duties and meal preparations, ensuring all food and beverage including special meals loaded on each flight are accounted for and well taken care of.
Main feature: Rose-red jacket with matte champagne brushwing collar, white blouse printed with rose-red brushwing collar, red skirt and smock for female Flight Attendants. Red jacquard tie with champagne stripes for male Flight Attendants.
Role: Flight Attendants are responsible for welcoming passengers onboard and assisting them in every phase of their journey. They work in Economy, Premium Economy, and Business Class.
Although there are differences in the colour of their uniforms, each crew member endeavours to provide the most comfortable journey for every passenger.
As a Second Officer on the Boeing 777 in Cathay Pacific I only fly the Ultra Long Haul routes so I have yet to experience many of the interesting airports across the world. As of now, however, my favourite airport is Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in the U.S.
There are a couple of reasons to my choice. As a pilot it can sometimes be very stressful to operating in and out of very large and busy airports. For example, the long outbound taxi path before departure at New York John F Kennedy Airport or inbound holding patterns that we sometimes experience at London Heathrow are things we all would like to avoid.
But LAX is different. It has 4 strategically placed parallel runways, which allow for simultaneous approaches and departures, This means it is a very helpful environment for arrivals and departures. Together with their efficient Air Traffic Control it makes our arrival from the northwest over Santa Monica very enjoyable.
Yes, pilots can wear glasses or contacts, but only if they correct your eyesight to normal (20/20) vision. A visit to the local aviation medical examiner, which can be done well before you commence training, will help to ensure that your eyesight and health can meet the requirements for pilot certification.
What does it take to be a pilot? I would say that perseverance and a passion for flying are the most important things as all pilots are continually tested both on the ground and in the air. With regular tests and exams ranging from law and medicine to emergency flying manoeuvres, you need to really love flying to keep yourself motivated.
But if you are doing what you love, then preparing for the tests will actually be enjoyable! A quest for perfection and the ability to manage stress and pressure will also become invaluable as you progress towards the higher levels of training.
If you want to fly then start right now! I learned to fly before I learned to drive so it is never too early to start. Light aircraft flying and programmes such as Cathay Pacific's 'I Can Fly' programme will help you build your aviation knowledge and enhance your people skills. Reading aviation textbooks and magazines will also help to prepare you for both flight training and for job interviews.
Remember, most pilots will tell you that flying is not only their job, it is also their passion - so work hard and stay motivated, but don't forget to enjoy every step of your journey along the way to becoming a pilot.
As a Hong Kong based Flight Attendant I can be assigned to any Cathay Pacific destination. Each month I receive a roster showing the routes and flights I will have for the next month. However, after I get my roster, if there is as somewhere I would really like to fly to, I can swap my flights with another Flight Attendant. The swapping system gives us the flexibility to enjoy both flying and our personal lives. Of course, there are swap regulations to ensure we have enough rest time so that we can work properly and maintain Cathay Pacific’s high level of safety and service standards.
As I am a Flight Purser I work in all four classes: First, Business, Premium Economy and Economy class. When I’m working in First or Business class, the galley becomes my stage and I concentrate on preparing the meals. But when I’m working in Economy class, I take care of the entire cabin as a Section Leader. The Flight Purser position is the only one which requires working in all the classes, so it’s very challenging, but I enjoy it and find it very interesting.
A great deal of thought and preparation goes into planning and conducting flights over high terrain. In my opinion, the most critical preparation is route familiarisation.
It is vital that all pilots operating a flight have an in-depth knowledge and thorough understanding of the en-route terrain, relevant company diversion procedures as well as minimum altitudes that can be safely flown throughout the entire flight and the "en-route diversion guides".
En-route diversion guides are used to map out areas where an aircraft can safely descend below high-terrain altitudes in case of an emergency in order to proceed to the nearest airport for landing. Weather and operational notices for nearby airfields are also regularly checked in-flight to enhance situational awareness.
One of the most important aspects in operating any flight is establishing good communications on the flight deck. It is very important when overflying areas of high terrain that all pilots remain alert and focused. In order to do that, the pilot flying always has to communicate his or her intentions to the other pilots clearly so that everyone on the flight deck knows what actions to expect from each other.
This way everyone shares the same mental model and understands the requirements and procedures to follow in case of an abnormal situation. All the procedures, requirements and abnormal situations associated with flying over high terrain are practiced regularly in the aircraft simulator. Cathay Pacific provides fantastic ongoing training and development opportunities to all pilots which ensures that all the relevant procedures are perfectly manageable in flight with the correct preparation.
Good for you! It’s great to know that young people still have a keen interest in aviation . Being an airline pilot can be one of the best jobs in the world!
But the actual process takes a long time. To reach some positions such as a Captain, can take more than 10 years of flying experience just to qualify. So you need to be serious and committed. But if you are dedicated and determined, I am sure you can do it.
You will need to meet a number of precise requirements and if you have to pay for your own flying training it can be an expensive pathway to getting a career.
If you want to join a cadet pilot training programme, the
subjects you take at school are important. Mathematics and Science are essential as you have to be able to understand and apply the concepts of physics.
A pilot must be able to understand the laws of motion, mass, inertia, pressure, temperature, fluids and gasses. This is the only way to understand aerodynamics and both subsonic and supersonic aircraft performance (including aircraft loading), hydroplaning and system operations and limitations. All machines use the principles of physics to operate, so a pilot must understand those that apply.
You will also need to be in good physical condition. Pilots need to pass a physical exam once every 12 months. A pilot could be out of a job if a health problem is discovered. In addition to the physical requirements, a pilot must be mentally fit to perform the job as many people's lives depend on the pilot's ability to stay calm and collected while solving problems.
To help you get on the right path, you must protect your eyes and hearing. Try to play a lot of ball sports to increase hand-eye coordination. Team sports and games will also be great in helping you to develop teamwork and leadership skills.
Read as much as you can about aviation to achieve an understanding of the following subjects:
1) The theory of flight: This requires a fundamental understanding of physics.
2) Meteorology: This, too, is rooted in physics. A pilot must not only be able to interpret the weather that he or she is facing, but also be able to make judgments as to the validity of the weather forecasts themselves. Often the pilot is the only one who can observe weather phenomena, and must be able to report what he or she is seeing accurately as well as make a quick analysis of the conditions. This includes how the changes may affect the weather forecast itself and how those changes may affect the safety of the flight.
3) Aircraft systems: A pilot must fully understand how the plane’s engines operate (be they jet or not), as well as how all of the various components on the engine function and interact. The engine is not the only mechanical component, however. The pilot must have a good understanding of electrical systems, the hydraulic systems and the pneumatic systems. Without a thorough understanding of these components there would be no way to trouble shoot a problem that occurred in flight.
4) Navigation: Navigation is a broad subject, with many important aspects. There is much more to navigation than simply getting from one point to the next. First, a pilot must understand how maps and charts are constructed in order to properly interpret them. There are many ways of making charts, and each has advantages as well as pitfalls. Charts made for pilots to land in poor weather have their own sets of limitations and problems. A pilot must fully understand the safety margins that are incorporated into charts, and how they affect each phase of flight. To be able to navigate also requires a thorough understanding of geography. Part of navigation also involves the weather. Pilots will often have to deviate from their normal course to avoid dangerous weather conditions.
5) Regulations and air traffic control: A pilot must be familiar with all the regulations that may affect his or her flight. There are literally hundreds of regulations that must be complied with for every flight. These regulations are written by legal professionals, therefore, a pilot must be able to read and understand legal documents.
Everyone likes flying the airplane, but being a professional pilot requires a lot of study. If you don't enjoy these other subjects as well, then flying is not for you.
See if you can find flight simulator program for your computer and a joystick. This will help you to improve your hand and eye coordination.Most flight simulator programmes have a flight training facility that will also help you with then practical side of flying.
After school you can join a cadet training programme or do your training through a flight school. If you do this, you will first attain a Private Pilot License (PPL) that allows you to fly small light aircraft. Then after about 200 flying hours, you will be able to take your Commercial Pilot License (CPL) examinations and do the required flight test for the license. With a CPL you can now look for a flying job. If your training is done through a cadet training programme, you will do further training on a Jet simulator and also takethe Airline Transport Pilot’s License examinations. Once you attained the required hours for your ATPL, you will do the flight test for the license. Normally you will be employable by an airline, once you have a CPL, with the ATPL examinations completed.
You can find out more about the Cathay Pacific pilot training programmes at: http://www.cathaypacificcadetpilots.com.hk/being-a-pilot/
Of course I love to fly on Cathay Pacific as a passenger! I really enjoy the food and entertainment programmes. And of course, as a staff member, I know how high our safety standards are and also how hard we work to ensure ‘OTP’ (On Time Performance) that our schedule are on time.
But what I enjoy most is seeing my colleagues taking care of the passengers. I can see how patient they are with elderly passengers, explaining how to use the personal TV and so on, and how kind they are to parents travelling with babies and kids. I also notice how friendly they are to first-time visitors to Hong Kong, giving them sightseeing information and welcoming them to my home. Every time I travel as a passenger, it reminds me to serve my passengers even better on my next trip and why I am so proud of my job and enjoy it so much.
Airport staff each go through a three to four week training programme. This includes a company orientation session to understand all about Cathay Pacific, followed by three different modes of training – eLearning sessions, classroom training and workshops and on-job coaching.
The eLearning modules include product and airline knowledge and information related to regulatory compliance, safety and security.
In the classroom, the focus is on learning the basics to perform check-in, and departing a flight or receiving a flight.
There is also computer system training for check-in and boarding passengers plus acquiring flight and passenger profiles in system.
Staff also learn basic procedures such as sequential check-in and sequential boarding, baggage check-in and how tocheck travel documents. Customer service training is also incorporated into the classroom learning.
After classroom sessions, staff moveto on-the-job coaching. In this phase, senior or experienced staff work alongside the new staff members to help them learn in a practical hands-on manner.and accumulate job knowledge and experience in airport operations and customer service.
Airport staff will work in either check-in or arrival and departure services in their first 6 months on the job, and then gradually progress to handing both services within 12 months of joining. In this way each staff member acquires multiple skills.
Airport staff will normally start in basic roles as Customer Services Officer at check-in, arrival and departure gates during their first 18 months. After they have accumulated sufficient airport knowledge and experience, they may get involved in more premium service to front-end passengers or frequent travellers; or be involved in flight and seat control functions behind the scene.
After a while, staff can move up to the next level of the job as a Service Leader and start taking on a leadership in assisting junior staff in their daily work or as a coach to help new joiners in acquiring the knowledge and skill in doing the job.
Depending on their personality interest and capability, staff member can continue to move up the ladder to take on Supervisor and Assistant Manager roles at the airport.
Airport staff also have the opportunity to apply for other jobs in different departments within the company by referring to the responsibilities and requirements of the positions posted in the company's internal vacancies website.
When I’m not up in the sky I spend my time on the sea, sailing in Hong Kong. It’s a great way to appreciate the city and the islands that surround it. Being with nature and on the open sea is always an energizing experience for me.
Facing the uncertainty of the journey and being able to sail through the waves and the rough seas is a great challenge, but it makes me want to sail more and more!
Usually, our roster has 44 working hours and 2 days off per week. We work eight to nine hours a day in morning, afternoon, evening and overnight shifts. The shifts can start very early before 6am or end after mid-night.
The roster is published every month for the next month and shows the details of shifts and days off. We can swap shifts and days off with our colleagues according to our needs. For example, if I have a gathering with friends one evening, but I am on evening shift that day, I can check the staff roster and look for a colleague with a morning shift who might be willing to swap shifts. Of course my colleague can accept or refuse my request. This allows us to plan our own lives more flexibly.
Most of us like to travel. And we can swap up to a maximum of four consecutive days off to enjoy our travel benefits for short trips with colleagues, friends and family, so we don't have to use our annual leave days.
If you don’t like working regular office hours all the time and think you might prefer to work shift duties, you may consider joining us at Hong Kong International Airport. But don't forget you will also be working on public holidays, Saturdays and Sundays too.
I’ve learned a lot of excellent skills, such as communications, problem solving, teamwork and how to adapt in different work environments. I love being part of a team. When I put on my uniform, I feel I am an ambassador for Cathay Pacific.
Yes, it is necessary. Old baggage tags with different destinations on them can confuse the baggage handling system which may result in your bags being delayed or even going to the wrong destination. So our staff take the precaution of removing all old tags before they put on a new one for your current journey.
Each baggage tag contains your flight information, bag number and an information bar code.
After your bag is checked-in, it goes into the baggage handling system, where the bar code is read by electronic scanners that direct it to the correct zone for loading onto container and then deliver to your aircraft.
You can help to smooth your progress and speed up your check-in process by removing all your old tags yourself if you wish.
My feelings are always mixed, after a long flight. Some passengers have really become friends and it's sad to say goodbye, especially as I know we may never meet again. On the other hand, to be honest, I'm glad that the flight is finally over and a nice hotel bed is waiting for me! All in all, it's very satisfying to see passengers’ smiles and hear, “Thank you, it's been a wonderful flight," from them. I love to know that they’ve had a good flight and I've played a part in that.
The piece system applies for the USA, Canada and certain Central and South American countries. The allowance for all travel classes to these countries is two pieces and the maximum weight per bag is 32 kg for First/Business Class, 25 kg for Premium Economy Class and 23 kg for Economy Class. The Total dimensions of each piece must not exceed 158cm (62in).
The weight system applies to all other countries. There is no restriction on the number of bags you can check in, but the maximum combined weight of all your bags is 40kg (88lbs) for First Class passengers, 30Kg (66lbs) for Business Class, 25kg (55lbs) for Premium Economy Class and 20kg (44lbs) for Economy Class.Marco Polo Club members are allowed additional kgs or piece according to their membership tiers.
In order to accommodate passengers' different needs, we need to look, listen, and empathise. I found that trying to look at every situation from the passengers' perspective helps me to discover their true needs.
Checking in at the airport is no longer the only way for passengers to check in. I would suggest you check in online or use our mobile check-in service. They are easy, quick and efficient
All passengers holding e-Tickets issued by Cathay Pacific (CX) or Dragonair (KA) can use online or mobile check-in freely from anywhere and at any time from 48 hours up to 90 minutes before departure. These check-in services allow you to check yourself and your travelling companions in together and select seats. After the check-in, you can print your boarding pass online on A4 paper or send your mobile boarding pass to your mobile device.
You can also use the Self Check-in Kiosk at the airport so you don’t need to queue up at the normal check-in counters.
If you have check-in baggage, you can drop it off at a Self Check-In Bag Drop Counter at least 45 minutes before the scheduled departure time of your flight.
If you do not have check-in baggage, you can proceed directly to Security and Immigration and to your Departure Gate.
Waste water goes to the waste tank. The waste water is pumped out using a waste water car after the plane lands.
As a Hong Kong based Flight Attendant I can be assigned to any Cathay Pacific destination. Each month I receive a roster showing the routes and flights I will have for the next month. However, after I get my roster, if there is as somewhere I would really like to fly to, I can swap my flights with another Flight Attendant. The swapping system gives us the flexibility to enjoy both flying and our personal lives. Of course, there are swap regulations to ensure we have enough rest time so that we can work properly and maintain Cathay Pacific’s high level of safety and service standards.
No commercial flights take off using auto-pilot. it is too complex, expensive and time consuming. Auto-pilot landing, however is quite common and is used at most of the world's main airports by all major operators during poor visibility. But, it's not as easy as it sounds, it requires a great deal of monitoring from both the pilots and air traffic control. The pilots have strict and specialized training in order to be approved and the airport and aircraft systems have to be specially certified and maintained.
There has to be backup for all elements of the procedure, both on the ground and in the air. Approaching aircraft also need to be spaced further apart during auto-landing because of the interference to the ground guidance system from the preceding aircraft.
There are many other safety restrictions that can all cause delays, so auto-landing is not popular with the airport authorities and is only mandatory when the visibility is very poor (below around 600 meters).
In normal conditions and especially in a typhoon there is still nothing that can beat the skill and flexibility of a well trained pilot.
I’m sorry you were not able to board your flight. But the gates close for every flight 10 minutes before the flight is due to depart.
This is to ensure that everyone is on board and different parties have time to carry out the various duties required so the flight can depart on time safely. For example, the cabin crew needs to complete the safety demonstration for all the passengers in the cabin, and the ramp staff need to tow the aircraft from the parking bay to the taxiway. If these tasks are not carried out on time, the flight may miss it's assigned take-off time slot and be held on the ground until another slot is available
At check-in, usually our staff will attach a message slip to remind passengers to reserve at least 20 minutes for security checks and immigration clearance. There is also a map on the slip to indicate the distance from the immigration counters to the different boarding gates.
On the boarding pass, it also states that passengers should be at the boarding gate 25 minutes before the scheduled departure time. It is really important for passengers to be there on time so that the flight can leave as scheduled.
In mid-2007, the Hong Kong Observatory started the Airport Thunderstorm and Lightning Alerting System (ATLAS) to ensure the safety of passengers and airport staff at the airport.
You can find out more about ATLAS on the Hong Kong Observatory website.
During a RED warning, all personnel working on the airport apron are advised to take protective shelter from the storm. Passengers should also stay inside sheltered areas such as on board aircraft or in the Passenger Terminal.
All ground activities such as baggage loading and unloading, catering loading, refuelling and passenger embarkation and disembarkation at the ramp must stop.
As a result of these activities being stopped, there may be delays in boarding or other services for passengers. But this is purely for everyone’s safety. This is always our very first priority at Cathay Pacific.
For me it was not really a conscious decision, it was simply the only thing I ever wanted to do. I grew up close to an Air Force Base in South Africa, so I was exposed to flying from a very young age. At school I tried to read as much as possible about anything related to flying. The more I read, the deeper my passion grew.
All my childhood expectations have been met, I have never tired of flying and I still absolutely love it. Every time I walk into Cathay Pacific City - our headquarters - before a flight I am excited. Looking at the world from 40,000 feet is a real privilege and I love very single moment of it.
That’s not an easy question to answer. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. The answer for me though is a little of both! Regional, or short-haul, flights are more intense as you are manoeuvring the aircraft and concentrating hard for most of the time. The time you spend cruising is relatively short, so you have little time to relax before planning the descent and arrival. Also, because the flight time is shorter, you are probably doing two or three flights in the working day.
But this is good. Because as pilots we need to keep using our skills to keep them at their highest level so flying a lot of sectors is good for maintaining our skills. Our working day is typically 10 hours or less so we could do up to six consecutive days of this type of work although four to five days is more common. After completing a pattern of work like this, we would have around two or three days at home.
A long-haul flight typically lasts over six hours and some as long as 17 hours. Long-haul flights are more intense during the take-off and landing phases as there is a more complex route to plan and we need to consider the weather systems around our destination as they might affect our destination airport’s weather by the time we get there.
The aircraft is normally heavier too, so this increases momentum which has to be anticipated and managed to ensure safety margins for the flight are adequate. The cruise phase is of a gentler pace and longer, but still the plane needs monitoring and this requires concentration.
We must maintain constant contact with various air traffic controllers and, through negotiations with them, organise and navigate the flight toward our destination and make best use of the winds at our cruising height and avoid bad weather. We also need to consider other aircraft that are flying along similar routes to ourselves as they might affect the use of our most efficient flight path. We are continuously ready to deal with any emergencies that might occur and always have a plan on how to get to the nearest airfield that we can land at in case of trouble
There may also be additional considerations when flying over mountain ranges or over the ocean. Because of the length of the cruise, a long-haul flight typically carries one or two extra pilots. There are always two pilots at the controls and the extra pilots allow rest periods to be planned. Although we have the opportunity to rest during the flight, we are naturally more tired at the end of a long flight.
The advantage of long-haul flying is that we have a longer break once we land to allow us to be fully recovered before the next flight. We get the chance to see many airports, cities, and their hotels, around the world. We also get to socialise with our crew and meet new friends. A long-haul pattern will typically last for three to five days, but you get three to five days off when you get home. Of course, during this time off we also have to deal with the jet lag that ultra long-haul flying also brings with it.
So regional flying is busier and more intense and the joy is in doing what we love to do, flying aircraft. Time passes quickly as there is always something to do. Long haul flying is more of an endurance event, but the reward is seeing some amazing places around the world.
Usually passengers take bus or coach services to mainland China after they arrive in Hong Kong. There is a convenient coach station at Terminal 2 of the airport. Passengers can also take ferries from the downtown China Ferry Terminal or Macau Ferry Terminal in to mainland China or Macau.
There is also a SkyPier ferry service for passengers connecting between the airport and Pearl River delta destinations. Please watch the video to get more information about this service.
Daily high-speed ferry services are available for eight cities shown on the map below.
Passengers transiting directly to mainland China do not have to go through Immigration procedures or reclaim baggage at Hong Kong International Airport. However, the SkyPier ferry service is for transfer passengers only. It is not available for passengers originating from or arriving in Hong Kong. More information is available in www.hongkongaiport.com
Cathay Pacific check-in counters are available at the SkyPier.
As a second officer, my primary duty is to act as a relief pilot. That’s why second officers are mainly on long-haul flights, where flight times can be as long as 16 hours or more.
As Cathay Pacific operates flights around the clock, it's inevitable to be on flights where I am working against my natural body clock time and fighting jet lag. Staying awake on these ‘red eye’ flights presents the greatest challenge for me.
The effect of jet lag varies on different people, but it is usually more pronounced for everyone on East Bound flights than on West Bound flights.
According to experts, a person who suffers from jet lag will adjust to local time at a rate of about 1.5 hours per day. So, if your home port is Hong Kong, for example, and you fly to San Francisco, which has a 15-hour time difference, it will take you approximately 10 days to fully adjust to the new time zone.
As pilots, however, we don’t have the luxury of 10 days in any city we fly to, before we have to return to our home city, so we need to find a solution that suits each of us individually.
There are many ways to fight jet lag, such as taking short naps, doing plenty of exercise and taking vitamin B supplements. I’ve tried most of them, but none have really helped me overcome it before I’ve had to fly again just two nights after arriving.
So the solution I came up with is not to fight it at all! I try to stay on Hong Kong time even when I am overseas. I keep all my curtains closed in my hotel room and sleep through the day. Then I wake up in the evening and stay awake all night. I usually sleep a lot better this way, and it also makes planning my rest for the next flight easier.
As a relief pilot on a long-haul flight, I am there to ensure that the principle pilots operating the flight, can get sufficient rest before they return to the controls for landings.
I am often at the controls from midnight to the morning. So while passengers are relaxing comfortably in their seats, I, and the other relief pilot, have to stay fully alert and awake in the cockpit, monitoring all the flight instruments and responding to the Air Traffic Controllers on the radio.
My usual way of keeping myself alert during my body clock’s "sleepiest" moments involve taking plenty of coffee and energy drinks, but they can be very dehydrating and quickly make me feel very uncomfortable in the airplane's low humidity. So, I also try to plan my rest before I operate a red eye flight.
On duty days, I will usually wake up early, at around six o'clock, and have a workout to get myself tired. Then I'll go to bed for a nap at around three or four in the afternoon and wake up at around eight at night. That usually gives me sufficient rest to keep myself awake through the night.
Some people suggest staying up late on the previous night and waking up late on the day of duty, but this doesn't work as well for me as taking a long afternoon nap.
Musical instruments are one of the most popular baggage items we handle at check-in. So it is worth taking the following points into consideration to secure your expensive guitar:
• Whether you want to carry your guitar on board as cabin baggage or check it in, it must be in a sturdy and protective hard case with rounded edges. A guitar in a soft case will not be accepted for checked in baggage.
• To carry it on board with you, the guitar case must be within the size limits of 78cm x 25cm x 15 cm (31in x 10in x 6in) for height, width and depth and the total weight of the guitar and case together may not exceed 7kg (15lb). It must be able to be stowed safely inside an overhead locker.
• If your guitar and case exceeds any of these limits it cannot be accepted within your cabin baggage allowance and must be checked in as checked baggage.
Alternatively, you can buy a seat for your guitar, but the booking has to be done at our reservation office or your travel agent at least 3 working days prior to the scheduled departure date of your flight.
There is more information about travelling with musical instruments available at ‘Travel Information’ on our website: www.cathaypacific.com.
I am often asked this question by friends and even passengers when I am at work. And I’m always keen to help whenever I can.
First, you can find out about jobs at Cathay Pacific on our ‘Career’ page at www.cathaypacific.com.
And second, you can find out what it’s like to work at the airport through our ‘A Day In the Life’ series of videos on this website. My colleague Sammy Yeung is one of the Cathay Pacific staff who share their experiences on the videos.
Some of my other colleagues, Ivan, Jenny and Nick also share their experiences of customer service jobs on the ground, covering their roles as Customer Service Officer and Service Leader to Supervisor. I enjoy watching the video as they really reflect our thoughts and experiences.
I have been a recruitment ambassador representing my department for some time and I have taken part in a number of career talks in tertiary institutes, universities and career exhibitions to share my experience and knowledge about our work, pay and company benefits.
These are all good ways to get more information about working with Cathay Pacific at the airport. You can also apply for jobs online via the career page at www.cathaypacific.com
This is an important question. But the answer is simple. Airlines are required by law to make sure that passengers have the correct travel documents for transit or their final destination.
If a passenger does not have the correct documents, or, for example, if his passport is out of date or about to run out of date or if he doesn't have the right visa, he may be refused entry by the country he is travelling to. If this happens, then not only will he be seriously inconvenienced, but the airline who brought him to the country without the correct papers may be fined.
This is why every airline checks each passenger’s passport very carefully. At Hong Kong International Airport, there is also a second check at the boarding gate.
One thing that you should note is that many countries require that a passport has three to six months validity remaining on it before they will issue a visa or allow a visitor to enter the country even if no visa is required. Different countries have different requirements and they may change from time to time.
For example, at the moment, travellers holding HKSAR passports are required to apply for a visa in advance or get a visa on arrival when they travel to Taiwan, but an Australian passport holder does not require a visa for Taiwan.
So, to avoid delays or embarrassment, it is good to make sure well in advance that you have the right documents and that your passport is up to date with the required validity.
Most of us would say people – our colleagues. Working at the airport is challenging and there can be a lot of pressure but it’s interesting. You meet different people from different countries every day and you have to handle situations that are completely new. Every part of our job needs a great deal of teamwork and we can’t do it alone – we do it with a team of people and we have a great team spirit. We chat together, go out together, and face the good and bad times together.
We also enjoy travel benefits such as inexpensive air tickets, and Cathay Pacific provides many attractive career opportunities.
As a second officer, I mostly work on the long haul destinations that our Airbus fleet fly to.
When I am going to Europe, for example, my working day starts late at night as most of these these flights depart around midnight from Hong Kong. On long haul flights to Europe we have 4 pilots on board so I meet my colleagues at Cathay City, our main crew base, to review the documents for our flight about an hour before we are due to depart.
We check several things and particularly the weather for the airport we are flying to and also the airports we are flying past on the flight. We need to make sure that all the airports are open and have the required equipment working.
Once we have done this, we meet the cabin crew and we all get on the bus that takes us to the aircraft.
When we arrive at the aircraft, everyone is very busy as we prepare for departure. We check all the aircraft systems and load the information into the navigational computers ready for take off.
Once we have finished everything and all the passengers are on board, we get on our way to our destination which can be 12 hours flying time or more from Hong Kong.
My main job as a second officer, is to be a relief pilot and allow the other pilots to rest. So after take off, the relief First Officer and I take over the cockpit and operate the aircraft while the other two pilots rest.
On long sectors, the autopilot is on, and our job is to monitor the progress of the flight, check that the fuel is sufficient and also check the weather in case something unforeseen occurs.
About halfway throughout the flight, the other two pilots take over and control the flight while I go to my bunk and get a rest.
When we arrive at our destination in Europe, we tidy up and prepare the cockpit for the next crew who will fly the aircraft back to Hong Kong. When we’ve done that, we get our bags, and get on the bus to the hotel to sleep before we fly back to Hong Kong the next day.
To find out more about our life you can check the “Day In the Life video of Pilot”.
The Black Box gets its name from the computers installed in the aircraft which are mostly black in colour. The actual “Black Box” is in fact the Flight Data Recorder and it is usually of bright colours such as neon orange or bright red so that it is highly visible and can be found easily. It is fire proof, crashworthy and waterproof.
Aircraft engines are designed to safely contain a bird strike. Bird strikes are relatively rare and in the majority of cases, the natural airflow into the engine will divert the bird into the outer portion of the engine intake where the bird will pass through and cause little, if any, damage to the engine. In a small number of cases, a bird passes through the centre section of the engine which can lead to internal engine damage. This will be evident to the pilots by abnormal engine indications and the pilots will follow a standard checklist that may require the engine to be closed down. The engine at this point is safe and secure and the aircraft is perfectly capable of flying safely on the remaining engine(s) to a destination determined by safety driven procedures. The majority of bird strikes occur in and around airports. The airports therefore employ tactics to keep birds away - typically loud high pitched sounds from a loud speaker or by firing blank gunshots at regular intervals.
My favourite Cathay Pacific destination, after my native London, is Sydney.
What inspired me? Well, when I was young I started reading everything I could get my hands on about aviation. And gradually I realised that flying was something I needed to have in my life. From then on I knew that becoming a pilot would be incredibly exciting and exhilarating. For me, being a pilot has always been synonymous with a dynamic life style, endless opportunities to learn and to constantly improve my flying skills, fantastic travel opportunities and, of course, great responsibility.
Every time I go flying I am inspired by my colleagues on the flight deck. Flying an aircraft is very dynamic with various changes in weather, traffic, and airports to overcome. Improvement in flying skills comes from experience and by observing others doing something more efficiently and in a smarter way. On every flight, I watch experienced Captains and First Officers operating the aircraft like a well-orchestrated symphony and I hope that one day I will be as good as them!
I feel extremely lucky to be a part of a Cathay Pacific flight crew team because all my colleagues have such diverse experiences in aviation. I never stop learning and I realise there will be room for improvement up until the day I retire. However, being a part of a team where knowledge and experience are willingly shared with the younger members of the crew is truly invaluable and is a great source of inspiration and motivation for me to do what I love and do it well.
The noise is landing gear lowering into place.
The fun aspects of the job are to work with a very professional and competent team of colleagues, as well as having the privilege of being able to travel around the world both during work and on my days off. This is something I value highly.
The engineer’s flag instructs the pilot that the aircraft is under the pilot’s control and is clear to taxi.
That varies on the type of aircraft and the length of flight. We only carry the fuel required for the intended trip, plus a bit extra in case of diversions or holding. If we look at the HKG to LHR route with the new generation Boeing 777’s, we take around 60 to 75 minutes. To put that into context, if you were to fill an average family sized car at the same rate, your tank would be full in 1 second!
The moment I arrive in our crew hotel, I usually take a shower or have a nap before I go out. It depends on the time difference. I need to cope with the time difference to prevent me from having continuous 'jet-lag'! But I like to explore new places. I usually think of a few things.
It definitely helps my communication skills a lot. When you are in uniform and all the passengers in the cabin are looking at you, whatever you are doing or saying has to be professional and confident. Also, we have the chance to interact with colleagues and passengers from different countries and background every time when we operate a flight. And we are trained to make Public Announcements on board! These all help us to be confident in public speaking.
They observe if there is any structural damage done to the engine especially the fan blades.
Engineers perform visual inspections and a ‘walk-around’ check to look out for any obvious damage to the aircraft.
Rather than using water to flush away waste like a traditional domestic flush toilet, the aircraft has a special vacuum system on board that sucks all the waste from each toilet bowl in to a centralized storage tank up to 150 ft away. To get the waste to the tank quickly, this vacuum is quite powerful, and creates the noise you hear when you press the “Flush” switch. This vacuum is so strong, all the waste lines are made from titanium to withstand the forces.
The passenger doors on all aircraft have a built in slide to evacuate the passengers in an emergency. Prior to each flight, the door slide is armed by moving a lever to automatic, this means that the slide will automatically deploy if the door is opened in an emergency. Each time the aircraft lands we obviously don’t want to deploy the slide when we open the door so we disarm it by moving the lever to manual.
The induction training lasts for seven weeks. This prepares us to be fully equipped to look after the passengers’ safety and comfort. The Safety Training can be very intense. We are expected to know how to use the safety equipment, be ready during emergency evacuations, conduct CPR, and be competent with first aid and medical emergencies.
I am personally very passionate about first impressions, self-presentation, understanding service, cultural awareness and service language.
We also have online and web-based programmes, which help us to have further and deeper training.
You don’t necessarily need to be 160cm tall, as long as you can reach to 208cm. As for looks, we look at your personality. If you have a beautiful, sincere, genuine smile, a warm and kind heart, and you’re willing to help others, you are what we are looking for.
Flying life is filled with different emotions. Every flight has different challenges, such as passenger requests, time constraints and unexpected situations. I thought of giving up when I experienced unpleasant moments, but whenever I find myself being emotional, I ask myself to remember how hard I strived to make my dream came true, how I told the interviewer why I wanted to become a flight attendant, so how could I give up so easily? Besides, the most important reason I won't give up is that on every flight I have a lot of great colleagues who go through these challenges with me!
Using a Boeing Aircraft as an example, the design of aircraft windows takes into account a number of factors beyond the basic necessity of visibility. The size of windows on aluminum airplanes are generally decided to maintain load requirements set by Boeing and the FAA. With larger windows, you have to increase the strength capability of the fuselage skin and window frame support structure. Hence, as it gets bigger, then the skin thickness and all the support structure must be enhanced which will increase the weight of the airplane. In effect, you are providing an acceptable window size while trying to minimize airplane weight to improve overall performance.
The 787 uses an advanced composite fuselage which allows for greater strength and durability, thus, allowing a larger window size and improved passenger experience.
We have many different types of special meals. Sometimes we distribute the special meal first because, for example, when a mother travels with a little child and orders the Child Meal, she may need to take care of the child. If the mother gets her meal and the Child Meal at the same time, then after she feeds her child, her own meal may be cold. If we have passengers who have ordered the Diabetic Meal, they may also ask for preferred times for medical reasons.
The wings and bodies of the majority of passenger aircraft flying today are constructed from aluminium as it is light and strong. Steel and titanium are used in high load absorbing areas such as the landing gear. For the latest generation of aircraft such as the Airbus A350, over 50% of the aircraft is now constructed from carbon fibre - which is even lighter and stronger than aluminium and resistant to corrosion.
Since the humidity level inside the aircraft is low, my skin tends to get a bit dry, so I really pay attention to moisturizing. Normally l will do a mask before and after each flight. And after washing my face, l will apply a few drops of facial massage oil and then gently massage my whole face. If the weather is dry and cold, l will use moisturizing cream, but if the weather is humid and hot, l will use moisturizing lotion. And of course I try to drink a lot of water to stay well hydrated.
The paint on a fully painted 747 weighs about 250 kg.
Yes we check the washrooms regularly to make sure they are clean and have enough toiletries for all users – including ourselves! (Yes, the cabin crew use the same toilets as the passengers). If the toilet floor is slippery, we need to clean it, and we also need to be alert for fire as a result of people trying to smoke.
We fly with different crew colleagues each flight, on different aircraft types and configuration. We have a "crew position system", which will monitor our previous flying record and assign our positions on each flight.
It is my choice to be in this job. I always try to enjoy whatever I do and be happy wherever I am. When I have a day off, my family is first priority. I always do my best in each day that I have.
We have to be able to identify with our passengers. Different passengers have different attitudes and emotions. So we try our best to put ourselves in their shoes when we hear a complaint. The smallest gesture can make a huge difference. And often a warm smile and a patient ear can solve the problem. It’s what we mean at Cathay Pacific when we talk about 'Service straight from the Heart.'
Flying with a baby is not easy for parents. When babies cry, some passengers may find it annoying, but the parents can be very stressed as well. So I always approach the parents first and see what I can do to help them and their babies be more comfortable. Our understanding and patience can make a big difference to them.
Cabin air comes from the engines and initially it is hot and dry. It’s cooled by ambient air before being fed into the air conditioning system.
Good question! But your friend is right. Airline staff don't do both flying and ground duties. But you can easily tell who does what by looking at the job title on the little badge on their uniforms. For example, ground staff doing check-in, departure and arrival services will usually have “Customer Services” on their name badge or “Service Leader” or “Supervisor” depending on their rank.
For staff who fly you will see, “Flight Attendant” or “Purser” on their name badges and they also have a gold wing pin.
Well it depends on which city I am flying to, but, for example, I always try and request a Vancouver flight each month in the Winter because I love to go snowboarding on Cypress Mountain.
After I arrive, I go to the hotel and get a good night’s sleep. Then I get up the next morning early at 6am, have a good breakfast and catch bus that takes you straight to Cypress Mountain. That way I can be on the snow by 0830. I spend the whole day snowboarding and get back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep before I fly back to Hong Kong.
In the summer, I also request the same duty to Vancouver, but this time I go hiking at Grouse mountain. There’s always something good to do in Vancouver.
I’m often asked this question and my advice is always the same: Be passionate and be proactive!
Flying is a calling, a vocation. It requires a multitude of skills, but you can learn most of them in training. Any reasonably intelligent person with good motor skills and good co-ordination can learn the basics of flying.
As the training becomes more demanding, however, you will need to be able to think clearly and prioritise under pressure. As you progress up the ladder in your career, people management will also become an essential skill.
If you love flying then the rest is a bonus. Hopefully, after 44 years of flying you will feel like me. I still look forward to going to work every day. And when I’m off duty, guess what I love to do most? I go flying in my own little aircraft.
Well, my first priority is to make sure that I get the necessary rest to complete my duties in a professional manner which is the main reason I am there. But usually there is enough time to get out and enjoy myself especially on the longer haul routes when we may have more layover time.
The great thing about Cathay Pacific is that it has such an extensive network, we get to see a wide variety of different cities and experience everyday life within those cultures. I’ve been able to visit the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House in Australia, see the Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia. I’ve enjoyed coffee and brunch in a ‘lane’ in Melbourne, and seen the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which, for the moment, is the tallest building in the world.
I’m also lucky when I visit Brisbane, as I used to live there, so I can spend time with my friends and maybe go up to the Sunshine Coast beach to surf or swim or catch a Lion’s Australian football game at the Suncorp Stadium.
If I am flying on a route that may result in jet lag or body clock issues, I try and do some physical exercise to help me relax my body and mind. Then I try to get some sleep a few hours before my duty starts.
Once I am flying, coffee or black tea helps me stay alert through my body clock's night.
After we finish duty, the first thing I always do is sleep for about 4 or 5 hours before going out with the crew. During the layover period, I try to stay "in tune" with my home Hong Kong time to minimize sleep disruption when I get back.
The longest flight I do is Hong Kong to New York. This is 8,059 miles, and it takes just under 16 hours on the advanced new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.
As pilots, we have to take special training for this route under the 'Extended Range Twin Operations' (ETOPS) regulations. .
Other than the normal Trans Pacific Ocean routing, this allows us another option to go via the fastest route (depends on the en-route weather on the day of operations) between the two cities over the North Pole, so we don’t need to stop to refuel re-route.
Sometimes, if we are lucky, nature will reward us with a spectacular display of the Northern Lights when we are over the pole!
At high altitude, the air outside is very cold and at low pressure. Therefore, clean air is taken from the engines before passing through the cabin air-conditioning system to provide comfortable cool air to the cabin.
Primarily the pilot will try to avoid lightning strikes by using the weather radar and flying around storms where the lightning is likely to occur. The circular shape and the conductive nature of the fuselage means that the plane’s body becomes a “Faraday Cage”, which allows energy from the lightning to flow around the plane, thus protecting the people inside.
An engineer receives a fuel figure from the Captain. The engineer selects the fuel amount required at the refuelling station. Computers on board the aircraft distribute the fuel across the wings and centre tanks. Final fuel figures are given back to the Captain for verification of the fuel on board.
When a passenger asks for a drink after meal service, I always bring along some peanuts, a cookie or a piece of chocolate. Most passengers smile like kids when they see the unexpected snacks that come with the drink!
Travelling around the world is enjoyable, but sometimes you can feel homesick especially during festivals like Chinese New Year. So I like to bring pre-packaged Chinese soups. It gives me a sense of ‘home’ drinking a bowl of steaming Cantonese-style soup. The soup is best accompanied by reading Hong Kong magazines that I brought from home!
I always bring an extra uniform, casual wear and some toiletries. As hotel rooms are all air-conditioned, they can be pretty dry, so I also bring a portable humidifier to increase the moisture in the room for a comfortable sleep.
Confidence, optimism, a friendly attitude and being able to stay calm under pressure. We have to understand different kinds of people and their cultures. And we need to be able to handle different situations inflight in a professional way. We need to be calm to deal with emergency situations and follow company instructions in unexpected situations.
Well, the happiest thing is that I get paid to see the world!!! But after a while, I realised that what really made me happy was making a difference to my passengers; people I may have never seen or met before. It’s amazing how a smile can touch people’s hearts, and how a small act of kindness can influence people. Even just trying to understand people’s points of view can win them over! After being a flight attendant for a while, my perception of this profession has changed completely. I no longer just see it as a glamorous job going around the world, but really as a caring profession!