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Interesting trivia: It takes 96 people to fly an airline passenger

by Devesh Agarwal

A montage of photos to create a globe. Image courtesy BA.

British Airways has calculated the number of essential people involved in the customer journey in order to fly.

It is 96 different roles, across 18 different departments, using over 11 external suppliers in the process. This figures rises to 107 for premium customers, which normally includes the additional benefits of additional personalised service, fast track boarding, lounge access, and transportation, meet and greets, etc.

Before flying there are 23 crucial roles behind the scenes working to ensure everything is in place for your flight. On the day you fly, there are 38 people that contribute directly to getting you in the air. On board there is an average flight team of 16 people, including cabin crew, flight crew, may be engineers, and upon landing a further 19 people ensure your safe arrival and exit.

If one looks at just one strand in the chain; as an example a fish dish served to customers on board;

  • it starts at Severn and Wye smokery in Gloucestershire, in the United Kingdom, where the fish is farmed and pre-prepared. 
  • At Gate Gourmet, the flight kitchen, in London, meal trays are assembled and dishes freshly prepared ahead of flying. 
  • Global logistics major Kuehne and Nagel deliver the cutlery, crockery, and tableware for the meal trays. 
  • The menu has been considered for quality, taste and seasonality in advance by Mark Tazzioli, the menu manager at British Airways. 
  • The meal is loaded in to food carts which are sealed by a security inspector, transported on special meal trucks that undergo more elaborate security checks, before being loaded in to the aircraft’s galley. 
  • On board a member of cabin crew prepares and another delivers the meal. 
  • Once enjoyed, the process is reversed. The meal tray is stacked in to food carts, and returned to the galley. For premium passengers the tray is cleared and loaded into the food carts in the galley. When the aircraft lands, the containers are offloaded and returned to Gate Gourmet for cleaning, and the whole process starts again.

The equipment carried is equally challenging. On board a typical long-haul British Airways Boeing 747 flight, there will be 1,263 items of metal cutlery, 735 glasses, 233 toothpicks, 337 copies of the in-flight magazine, 2,000 ice cubes, 99 full bottles and 326 quarter bottles of wine, 58 toilet rolls, 337 donation envelopes to ‘Flying Start’ charity, and 40 skyflyer packs for children.

Abigail Comber, British Airways head of marketing, said:

“Our new TV advert shows the work that goes on behind the scenes, in order to get 100,000 people in the air every day. The research gave us a real appreciation for every single person that makes flying a seamless process. From the tug driver to the ramp agent, from NATS air traffic control to our chefs – there’s more people than you realise, that get you from A to Z.”

See the TV advert here.

Share your interesting aviation trivia via a comment.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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