What happens during a pre-flight cabin crew briefing?

The pre-flight briefing is a meeting between the cabin crew and key members of the cabin crew and often the cabin crew as well, depending on airline procedures. It gives a clear picture of the flight ahead and is short and detailed. Teamwork and communication are essential, and the crew must anticipate an unforeseen event such as an emergency. The goal is to have a safe and comfortable flight and to work effectively as a team. Briefings can vary depending on the airline, type of aircraft and number of crews and are traditionally held at specially designed briefing centres. According to aviation authorities, a pre-flight briefing is mandatory in most countries.

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The beginning

First, introductions happen, as most crew members have never met before, especially at major international airlines. The lead crew member leads the briefing and explains flight details including flight number, aircraft registration, destination and time of departure, and estimated time of arrival . The number of passengers, special meals, passengers with reduced mobility or requiring special assistance and VIPs will all be discussed.

Pre-flight briefing. Photo: SWITZERLAND

The cabin crew then checks that they have their mandatory items, such as passport, crew license, manuals and crew identity card. The uniform standards will also be reviewed so that the crew is presented correctly. The senior will then ask each crew member individual questions regarding safety procedures, aircraft type and first aid. This is to check that each crew member keeps their knowledge up to date. If the questions are not answered correctly, the crew member may be released from the flight, potentially jeopardizing their job.


Crew briefing center. Photo: Etihad

Next steps

Positions are then allocated based on seniority (how long the crew member has been with the company), which includes a crew position/jump seat, aircraft door to operate, and any other responsibility for the position – this could be something like working in the first class cabin or mustering safety equipment in the event of an emergency evacuation. The flow of the service will also be discussed, as economy class and business class, for example, operate very differently.

If there is a layover at your destination, the senior will tell you the name of the hotel, the local currency and any special advice, for example, if you should watch out for pickpockets when you are away. It’s time to ask questions if a crew member isn’t sure about anything.

The flight crew usually joins later in the briefing to brief the team on the flight time, weather en route, cockpit entry and communication rules, and anything specific to the flight, such as a known delay or maintenance issue. The emphasis is on communication between the cabin crew and the flight crew.

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Ready for action

The pre-flight briefing encourages open communication between each crew member, promotes teamwork and ensures that the workload is evenly distributed. It sets the tone of the flight as well as the expectations and standards. Crew members are encouraged to report anything that could affect flight safety, whether it’s an unusual smell or noise or even movement. The flight crew are mostly locked in the cockpit after 9/11, so cabin crew are really eyes and ears in the cabin and can alert them to anything unusual. The briefing is clear and concise, sets a positive tone, ensures every crew member is on the same page, and makes the flight “a great day”.