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Over-crowded flights

How to organise the aircraft and the service when the jet is full?

A private jet has less than 20 seats, with the exception of some ACJ and BBJ. 

Before Covid, the amount of customers on board was almost always included between 1 and 5 guests (Until Dec 2019, the European average of passengers was 2.5 customers per flight). 

After Covid, people are organising themselves in groups of family and friends, and they merge all together to fly private instead of airline, and more and more often it happens to find overcrowded cabins (7 +).

Usually, the general procedure is to put two flight attendants on those flights – one will be the galley girl, the other one in the cabin- but, sometimes, you might find yourself alone.

During my first flying after Covid, I experienced very often full cabins of 11,12 or even 14 (13 plus 1 infant) customers on an Embraer Legacy 600 (13 seats). 

Why this is happening? How does it work?

When you charter a jet, you pay the price for the whole aircraft and crew, and this price won’t change according to the number of customers on board. 

Because the cost of the private jet is always the same, they simply divide the cost for the number of passengers and fill up the cabin at maximum. 

For example, if a flight costs 10.000€ and there are 10 customers on board, they simply pay 1.000€ each to fly private. Not bad at all, isn’t it?

This is very convenient for them and the fact that they can avoid commercial airline and busy airports makes the deal worth it even more.  

How to organise your work?

In big jets such as Gulfstream, Falcon, Global or smaller Legacy, you fly as single Flight Attendant. 

As you are the boss in the cabin, you decide how to lead the service according to your catering, the flight time, the weather on route, age of your customers (if you have a lot of children is probably better to go for a buffet, as they usually walk around the cabin and make the service flow slow) and if the guests are important clients or charter passengers. 

For this type of flight, be mindful and try to get “easy- to-serve food” such as tapas, appetisers, crudités, canapés. Not many courses unless is requested by the customer. 

Prepare your cabin well in advance, and put some water bottle next to each seats. There are different way of thinking about prepare the water in the cabin (some flight attendants find this not elegant and too much “airline”), but with such a busy cabin there’s no time to offer drinks before take off, so at least they have something to drink. 

Prepare welcoming on the credenza, making sure there is a least one piece per customer in case of canapés for example. 

Then, after take off, brief them on how you want to conduct the service. The less elegant but definitely more practical is the buffet style. 

In this type of service, there’s no table set up, or just minimal set up. Active drinks service (according to flight time, I suggest at least 2 rounds of drinks of their choice) and a buffet organised on the credenza where the guests can help themselves from. 

I wouldn’t go for this service if you have VIP guests on board, which are important for the company such as high-rank managers, politicians, famous actors, very important customers or royals. There are different service options more suitable according to the situation.  

These flight are extremely busy, so on ground preparation is fundamental.

Pre-plate as much as you can, warm up food on ground if needed (hot tapas), prepare all the equipment you will need for the buffet. 

Still, remember that we are on a Private Jet, so everything must be immaculate as always, and you are supposed to deliver an exceptional service all the time. 

Do not hesitate to contact me if you need any advise or you simply want to share your experience about overcrowded flights!

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