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: What's 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 just 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.”