Daisy Bradley is a member of the Virgin Atlantic Cabin Crew. She talks exclusively to 35 Thousand about her passion for the airline industry, her new-found love of TikTok, airline safety throughout COVID-19 and the camaraderie amongst the world of aviation at the moment.
Q: Tell us about yourself
A: “Currently I work for the British transatlantic airline Virgin Atlantic Airways. I am based out of London Heathrow’s airport and fly to many destinations all over the world, mainly to the United States but also parts of the Caribbean, North America, Africa and Asia. My primary job role is to ensure the safety and comfort of the passengers that travel with us – ‘safety’ being the key word.
I absolutely love my job, getting paid to travel the world and see the most amazing destinations is something I am truly grateful for. I meet new people on a daily basis, whether that’s my fellow colleagues or the passengers onboard. Those 3am conversations flying over the Atlantic never get old…”
Q: Whats your context outside of work?
A: “I live with my partner Kyle, who plays professional football for Cambridge United in the UK and we live together in Cambridgeshire. It’s a beautiful area, with amazing countryside and historic towns.
I am extremely close to my family although we all live quite far apart. My older sister who lives in Germany is also a flight attendant which is how my interest in travel and aviation first began. Kyle and I don’t have any pets just yet, but we’ve spent hours during quarantine researching and watching YouTube videos on getting a puppy, so watch this space!
Apart from travelling – which is my first love – I enjoy working out (lately over FaceTime calls with my friends,) enjoying quality time with loved ones and cooking. However my most recent hobby has been making TikTok videos, mainly about being cabin crew, which seem to be helping lots of people who are interested in the industry.”
Q: What is your normal day-to-day life like?
A: “My life is constantly on-the-go, packing, unpacking and packing again and flying to 5 or 6 different destinations per month. It’s a constant juggle of my personal life, my social life and my busy work schedule.
Pre Covid-19, my normal routine was to prepare myself for work, packing my bags, getting myself ready and driving two hours to Heathrow airport. I will then fly to whichever destination I’m travelling to. I’m then lucky enough to spend some time at a destination, which is my free time and I usually go shopping or sightseeing. We then get ready and do it all over again and fly home.
The flights can be anything from 6 to 15 hours long depending on the route, and each time I fly with a different crew. No two days are ever the same. On my days off back home, I catch up with my partner, watch him playing football or visit family and friends, and of course there’s always piles of washing to catch up on!”
Q: What’s day-to-day life during COVID-19?
A: “My life has dramatically changed since the COVID-19 epidemic. At the moment I’m not flying. Everything is so uncertain and my heart is broken by how badly many airlines all over the world are suffering.
I miss flying, even just putting on my lovely red uniform which is why I have begun making Tiktok videos. My days now consist of making videos that are inspiring and informative to anybody who wants to become cabin crew. I have gained an audience of over 30 thousand people, and have had over 750 thousand likes on my content.
I have also started a cabin crew blog and am enjoying interacting with people of all ages and races from all over the world who also love travelling and aviation. I am trying to appreciate the time at home with my partner and it’s great to enjoy the normalities of a daily routine and enjoying things I don’t normally have time to do like decorating, healthy eating, exercise and my writing blog.”
Q: What extra precautions did you and your fellow colleagues have to take whilst flying during COVID- 19 pre being grounded?
A: “Before I was grounded, the airline and the crew had put methods in place to keep us stay as safe as possible. Before a flight we were given supplies of masks and hand-gels to take with us onboard. We wore these throughout the flight along with gloves and we were washing our hands and using the gel a lot more frequently. But there’s only so much that can be done in the confined space of an aeroplane.
The planes were being cleaned more throughly and the crew were much more vigorous with cleaning. We were also being more vigilant with the passengers, making sure nobody was showing any visible and obvious symptoms of the virus. If the passenger figures were low we allowed customers to spread out with more seats between them. The destinations we flew to were carrying out temperature checks on arrival and we were made to fill out detailed medical declaration forms. At destinations we were also advised to stay out of the cities and keep to ourselves.”
“My base, London Heathrow, has closed off two of its major terminals and all operating flights for cargo or commercial are flying from one terminal. I suppose this makes it easier to ensure social distancing. “
Q: What did you find most difficult about your job before you were grounded?
A: “Flying can be a nerve-wracking experience for some people at the best of times, but then adding the COVID-19 crisis into the situation puts everybody on edge. I myself found it daunting travelling during this time. It was hard trying to maintain the standard of service and the atmosphere in the cabin, especially when everyone is on edge and you’re all hiding behind a mask. For me a smile is what makes people feel relaxed and comfortable, so it was hard when this simple way of sharing happiness and positivity was taken away. We had to get creative and make our customers feel comfortable with our presence in the cabin. It was definitely a challenge.”
Q: How has COVID-19 impacted you personally and professionally?
A: “Professionally I have been impacted hugely. I haven’t flown since March as the majority of the aircraft fleet have been grounded. Thankfully I have been able to receive 80% of income through the furlough scheme.
Personally I am just thankful for the most important things in life such as health, a roof over my head and food to eat. The thought of how many people are being affected all over the world so dramatically from this situation puts everything into perspective. I have become a lot more appreciative for what I have.”
Q: What are you finding challenging?
A: “At first Kyle and I had to adjust from being very independent people with our own busy lives, to then spending 24 hours a day together without a break. I’m sure many couples can agree with me on this one that sometimes you need a break!
Due to the nature of our careers, we didn’t have the privilege or distraction of ‘working from home’. (Although I’m tempted to pop on the uniform and ask if he wants ‘chicken or beef for dinner sir’ ). All jokes aside, we have had to find our own routines and focus on things to keep us busy and proactive. I also miss my friends and family and look forward to reuniting with them.”
Q: Where are you finding hope and optimism?
A: “The aviation industry is one-of-a-kind when it comes to hope and optimism. No matter the airline or the colour of uniform we are one big family and we have all come together at this difficult time. I have been in close contact with my colleagues and have been networking with crew from airlines all over the world, supporting and just checking in on one another. This gives me hope and keeps me optimistic. I’m positive that we will come out stronger.”
Q: What do you miss about life before COVID-19 that you never thought you would?
A: “I never thought I’d say this, but I miss those early morning alarms going off at 2 or 3 am! At the time they are unbearable and I wonder how I will make it through a 10 hour flight, but right now, I would love to be getting up and getting myself ready for work.
I also miss the two hour commute back home after a night flight, stopping at the services and slugging my way to the nearest cafe for a double espresso. Normally the barista would spot my uniform and ask where I’d been and how my trip was. How I would enjoy one of those conversations right now…”
Q: How are you getting through?
“I have been doing HIIT workouts with my close friend over Zoom most days. This has been a massive coping strategy for me – I always struggled to keep on top of working out regularly but now I have a great routine and it really helps me feel better.
I’ve also been doing weekly quiz nights with my family and friends over FaceTime.”
Q: What is your mindset about using your time at home?
A: “For the first few weeks it was amazing to enjoy the break from all the hustle and bustle of reality. However, as time has gone on I’ve realised that this is a perfect opportunity to be productive with my new found free time.
I’m a ‘people person’ and even though I’m not flying I’ve found a way to communicate with hundreds of people, helping them achieve their goals of becoming crew.”
Q: How are you managing your mind and wellbeing?
A: “I’m doing my best to keep a routine, wake up at the same time have a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner. I’m also working out to release those endorphins. My partner and I have even been doing yoga together too, which really helps us stretch out and relax. I have also decorated which has been therapeutic.”
Q: What do you personally carry with you for personal protection/ for health reasons when flying ?
A: “In my crew bag you will always find, gloves, a face mask and hand gel. These have been essential when travelling during COVID-19. I also make sure I carry hand soap, which seems silly but we’ve all been to a bathroom that’s run out of soap! I feel comfortable knowing I have my own available if ever needed.
This ust leads me on to say, wash your hands as much as possible. During my experience flying, its crazy how many people don’t wash their hands on board the aircraft, I know this because at the end of a 12 hour flight the soap bottle has hardly been used.”
Q: If people are going to be flying what tips would you give?
- Follow the airport guidelines and the airline recommendations, always. If they want something done a certain way it is because it will benefit you and keep you safe. They always have your best interests at heart.
- Be prepared – take the essentials with you, gloves, mask, hand-gels, soap.
- Be smart. Don’t put others as risk, if you know or feel as though you shouldn’t be flying, then don’t.
Q: As someone within the travel industry, what message would you like to share?
A: “Be hopeful. Aviation and travel is not as we know it, but have hope that it will slowly begin to return to normal. You will be able to go on your holidays, visit your loved ones around the world, attend those life changing business meetings. And when you do, it will be all that much sweeter.
I can assure you that airlines all over the world are doing their best to get things up and running so we can all be connected once again. In the meantime, be appreciative of what you have, be kinder to yourself and others around you, use this time in whichever way is going to benefit you the most and most importantly, keep yourself and your loved ones safe.”
Q: Despite all the negatives, do you think there is a silver lining?
A: “There are many positives to take from this situation. In regards to travel, once life slowly becomes ‘normal’ again, there will be a huge influx of people wanting and needing to travel. I feel the journey to get there will be priceless. I feel that generally, people will appreciate life, experiences and time with loved ones more. I feel everyone will see the world through rose tinted glasses again.”
Follow Daisy on Instagram here and on TikTok here
The more we speak to women who have travelled for work, the more we hear tales of unexpected and often frightening events on the road, from credit card fraud to theft, and worse. We spoke to Simon Rowland, CEO of Veritas International (who offer security services to families and businesses) for his top ten solo travel safety tips for home and away.
We’re not into scaremongering, but as they say, forewarned is forearmed…
1. It’s all about preparation
Unless you’ve had a bad experience personally or you visit dangerous areas or countries frequently, you may not think twice about personal safety. However according to Rowland, self-protection is all about preparation. Before you head off on a trip, he suggests that you always prepare by taking ten minutes to ask yourself how you are going to deal different situations. “It’s about how you are going to deal with potential scenarios or how to limit your exposure to them,” he says. “It’s all about asking yourself the ‘What-ifs’,” he says, “Thinking things through and finding a solution, so that you’ll be streets ahead of everyone else.”
Rowland also stresses that gender equality is not necessarily universal, and many cultures don’t share the same beliefs. “I would say adopt a sceptical approach to everything,” he says.
2. How to guard against a power cut
If you’ve ever been in a hotel in a power cut, you’ll know scary it is. Depending on their star rating, some hotels may have safety lights, but it’s best to be prepared just in case. Rowland says, first off, always look as to where the safety escape is. He says it also pays to work out how many doors down the corridor your room is until you find the escape stairwell.
Other advice? Always charge your phone in case you need to use it in the night, and we suggest making an exception to the rule of not having your phone by your bed. If we’re away from home we find comfort in having it right next to our pillow.
3. Prime your phone
Depending on which country you’re visiting (it’s vastly different if you’re going to an underdeveloped country), Rowland advises you put the most important numbers on the speed dial in your phone. He also suggests adding in the number for the consulate or embassy, the country’s emergency number if they have one, a trusted contact in the country you are visiting and the number of a loved one. Make sure you know how to access speed dial if it’s not something you use regularly on your phone. His other suggestion is to make sure that ‘findmyiphone’ is switched on at all times.
One of Rowland’s suggestions is to use an app called Life360 which his company use with their clients. The app can accurately track where colleagues or family are. It also has a panic button that will alert others in your ‘circle’ if you are in trouble.
4. Taxi talk
We all know the importance of getting into a registered taxi, but Rowland says, it’s also very important that you don’t share a taxi with anyone you don’t know. He says your gut instinct is very important (trust it) so if you do find yourself in a taxi with bad vibes, Rowland suggests sitting directly behind the driver where they can’t reach you and where you can make an easier getaway. If you are staying at a hotel, he also suggests always getting your hotel to book you a taxi rather than hailing one off the street.
5. Choose your hotel wisely
If your work are serious about looking after their employees, you should tell them that for safety reasons they need to put you up in a better standard of hotel. According to Rowland, the higher the hotel’s star, the more secure it will be, “Without a doubt, a higher standard of hotel will take security more seriously wherever you are in the world” he says.
6. Leave valuables at home
If an airline has ever misplaced your luggage and it contained valuable clothes or jewellery, you will understand the importance of not travelling with pieces that mean the world to you. Rowland concurs that in most hotels the duty manager can get into your safe, which may make you think twice about bringing valuables with you.
When it comes to your passport, it’s advisable to take a photo or photocopy of the important pages, and to store them elsewhere so you can take them straight to the embassy if lost or stolen.
7. Pocketing money
Whilst most of us carry payment cards, it’s wise to carry some cash in case your card fails or it gets blocked abroad. But where should we keep cash that won’t get pick-pocketed or stolen? Rowland suggests keeping it in a discreet money belt, or a hidden compartment in a bag or purse. “It’s important to keep your ‘obvious pockets’ free so people can’t find anything,” he advises. We recommend using a Flip Belt which is reviewed here.
And if you find yourself in an area that makes you feel uncomfortable, Rowland actually suggests keeping ‘Muggers money’ on you,“Some cash that you have in a prearranged pocket that you could hand over if you had to. Something like the equivalent of £150 will normally be an incentive for a mugger to leave you alone” he says.
8. Trust your intuition
There is nothing like gut instinct to tell you that a situation isn’t right. We are firm believers that we all have a sixth sense that picks up on tiny details or bad energy and sends alarm signals when something feels wrong. “Even though you can’t put your finger on it,” says Rowland, “You should always trust it .”
9. Don’t pick your room at random
Rowland is a big advocate of choosing where you want your room and not allowing the hotel to book you in anywhere. If you’re unsure about the area you’re staying in then he suggests that you don’t book a room on the ground floor to avoid potential theft. Our founder Misty also recommends that you never book a hotel room higher than the 5th floor in case there was a fire and the ladders can’t reach any higher.
And if you really like to feel really secure in your room, or your door doesn’t have a lock, then Simon suggests travelling with a lightweight plastic door stop to put on the inside of your hotel room door (available on Amazon).
10. Guard your cards
It goes without saying that it’s important to keep your credit cards safe, but Rowland says it’s important to keep them in your sights at all times. Card thieves don’t need to actually swipe your cards or take it away nowadays, “Many now use a card reader,” says Rowland, “They just need to place the card on top of it to steal all your details. If it’s covered up with a piece of paper, then you won’t even know they’ve done it.” He recommends you never, under any circumstances allow anyone to walk off with your card and if you go to a petrol station, pay at the pump if you can.
Rowland highly recommends travelling with a card protector in your wallet which will protect against RFID (radio frequency identification) and make ‘skimming, ’ as it’s known, impossible. He suggests slimwalletjunkie.com.
Main image by Annelisa Burro