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Redefining In-Flight Catering

Corporate Flight Attendant in Doha, Qatar – Emma Woolley

Emma Woolley - Corporate Flight Attendant in Doha

Emma Woolley is a corporate flight attendant from Scotland who lives in Doha, Qatar. Emma is a wealth of knowledge, will be sharing her firsthand knowledge of Doha tomorrow in her first guest-authored article on this blog. She has a background in commercial and corporate aviation, and began her career as a flight attendant with Qatar Airways in 1998, where she completed a six week AB-initio training.

During Emma’s career she has flown on a variety of aircraft including Boeing 727, 737, 767, 747-400; Airbus 300, 310, 320, 330, 340; Hawker Siddeley, Challenger 605, Global Express/5000/XRS and Falcon 7x. After getting her start at Qatar Airways, Emma decided to make the transition to corporate aviation in 2002. She has now been a corporate flight attendant for 13 years and completed her most recent recurrent training in September at TAG in Farnborough Airport UK. Her impressive career highlights include being a member of the Qatar Airways promotional team, working onboard one of HRH Alwaleed Bin Talal Al-Saud’s private aircraft, training the first female Saudi corporate flight attendants and being selected as the Head Flight Attendant for Kingdom Holding Company. In explaining the breadth of her travels, Emma said, “I actually have been to Timbuktu and back, even got the T-shirt to prove it!”

While she lives in Doha, she is based out of several airports throughout the Middle East and Europe, including Hamad International Airport (ICAO: OTHH / IATA: DOH) in Doha, King Khalid International Airport (ICAO: OERK / IATA: RUH) in Riyadh, Muscat International Airport (ICAO: OOMS / IATA: MCT), Tripoli International Airport (ICAO: HLLT / IATA: TIP), Dubai International Airport (ICAO: OMDB / IATA: DXB), Cairo International Airport (ICAO: HECA / IATA: CAI), Heathrow Airport (ICAO: EGLL / IATA: LHR), London City Airport (ICAO: EGLC / IATA: LCY), Royal Air Force Station Northolt (ICAO: EGWU / IATA: NHT), Farnborough Airport (ICAO EGLF / IATA: FAB), Newcastle Airport (ICAO: EGNT / IATA: NCL) and Shannon Airport (ICAO: EINN / IATA: SNN) in Ireland.

Emma is a natural at solving problems, and this became evident when discussing in-flight catering. She encountered an issue and quickly developed a plan to keep her passengers happy. When it comes to private aviation, Emma says, “Preparation is the key to a successful flight. If you plan for the unexpected, you will never be caught off guard.”

“Unexpected things can and do happen to us all. How you deal with it can make all the difference between a good flight and bad,” said Emma. “One story that stands out for me was a flight when my catering was late and my VIP was early! This experience has relevance to my theory that the most important skill of any CFA is thinking out of the box. It was one of those days; we’ve all had them, when everything seems to go wrong and usually does! Although the flight was a short one, I had no catering to offer my passengers. I knew that the catering was never going to arrive on time for our now earlier departure.”

So, what did she do? Emma continued, “I spotted another jet parked next to ours. So I made my way over to the aircraft, introduced myself and explained my predicament. I was in luck as they too had a short leg with only a few passengers. Their catering was already loaded, and their passengers were not due to arrive for another hour. The corporate flight attendant was happy to help me. She gave me the essentials, such as milk, ice, sandwiches and newspapers, and in return I requested my catering be delivered to her aircraft upon arrival. Problem Solved! This is a great lesson to learn and one that I have always taught my crew. Corporate flight attendants should always try and help each other whenever we can, as you never know when you may need a helping hand!”

So problem-solving skills are a necessity, but Emma described additional skills she feels make all the difference in being a successful corporate flight attendant. “You have to prepare as much as you can on ground. Preparation is key to a smooth flight and, of course, think out of the box,” she said. “I design and tailor make all my own menus by adding company logos, aircraft tail number and trip information. I always have a separate children’s menu option, complete with coloring in pictures and puzzles the children can do and take home as a souvenir.”

“Keep with the times when it comes to catering. Try different caterers, sample new restaurants and cuisines when you are down route. Buy food magazines, they really inspire! Always try to surprise and surpass your passengers’ expectations. Never be afraid to try new foods and change things up,” said Emma. “Keep your aircraft well stocked with low-calorie alternatives, baby food, even dog food if you know your principal has animals. Also, be sure to have some special dietary foods, such as diabetic cookies, soy milk and gluten-free dressings, so you can accommodate a variety of dietary needs.”

In the world of business aviation, Emma says a corporate flight attendant should keep in mind that “going the extra mile for a passenger will make your flight a memorable one. You will stand out from the rest, and the passenger will remember you and request to fly with you again!”

Thinking back through her career, and what advice would be helpful for someone currently considering a career as a corporate flight attendant, Emma shared several important points. “My suggestion is gain as much commercial flying experience as you can; the training is invaluable and will really help you in transitioning into corporate flying. Once you have first-class experience under your belt you can submit your CV to agencies that recruit corporate flight attendants. If your airline has a VIP department, make it known to them that you are eager to gain some corporate/VIP experience and willing to do additional flights.”

“In your spare time, it is a great idea to take cookery classes, or down route you can learn additional skills by completing short courses in food presentation, food hygiene or silver service. These short courses are readily available in many places all over the world and will put you in good stead, making you stand out from the crowd when you apply through an agency for corporate flying.” Fantastic advice from someone who has served royalty and knows what it takes to make an impression on the most discerning passengers. The next time you need a highly-skilled VIP corporate flight attendant in the Middle East or United Kingdom, contact Emma Woolley at emmalavinya@yahoo.com.

This article is part of a series of interviews we are conducting with contract cabin crew members; individuals who are not employed by Air Culinaire Worldwide. If you would like to be considered for an interview, which is posted on our blog and all of our social media accounts, please contact socialmedia@airculinaire.com.

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