Budding air hostesses are getting top training at a new £9.5m facility to make sure they’re the future stars of the skies.
Our reporter finds out if she’s got what it takes.
AS the cabin fills with smoke, the gas mask suddenly feels tight around my face and I start to panic.
Being onboard a plane as a fire breaks out isn’t the most pleasant experience for someone with a pretty intense fear of flying.
But this time it’s just a drill, thankfully.
It’s all part of a nerve-racking cabin crew training course that every Jet2 flight attendant has to complete before they can take up a career in the skies.
Jet2, which runs flights from Leeds Bradford Airport, has recently invested £9.5million into a state-of-the-art facility at the Euroway Industrial Estate in Bradford.
The impressive 32,232 sq ft site comes complete with three huge flight simulators for apprentice pilots and mock-up planes with all the gadgets and gizmos you’d find on a normal aircraft – even down to the sick bags.
Many of the graduates will end up working from Leeds Bradford International Airport, which celebrated a record-breaking year last year after welcoming more than 3.3million passengers through its terminal.
Now, if you’re sat there thinking cabin crew training is all red lipstick wearing, tea pouring and trolley pushing, you’d be wrong.
Candidates that are lucky enough to get through the strict interview process and onto the four-week course are thoroughly put through their paces.
And it was no different for me when I visited the centre.
The qualified air hostesses and trainers were keen to show me the ropes and put me to the test in a range of emergency situations.
If I’m honest, going down the inflatable emergency slide a few times made me feel a little bit like a kid at a playground, and I also got the giggles whilst attempting the safety demonstration.
But it was only when the smoke and fire training started that it suddenly dawned on me just how serious the job can be.
Trainees tackle a real blaze either in an overhead locker or in the seating area.
The heat is intense, and the heavy protective gear takes its toll.
It’s certainly not for the faint-hearted, as cabin crew member Lucy Bailey explains.
The 24-year-old from Baildon said: “My favourite bit of the training is going down the slide. It’s just fun.
“Then there’s the fire and smoke training, which makes you realise what responsibility you have as cabin crew.”
On top of this, there are 24 exams involving different aircraft types, safety measures, first aid and security procedures.
Trainees also have lessons in how to deal with problem passengers, medicals and fitness tests.
Once they’ve qualified, they get a job with Jet2, and can travel the world with the airline to 65 destinations.
As glamourous as the jet-setting lifestyle might seem, the reality can be quite different.
Lucy adds: “It’s not as exotic as people might think.
“Sometimes you have 30 minutes’ turnaround time to get the aircraft ready for the return flight.”
It’s tiring too, with cabin crew often finding themselves flying up to five times a week during the busy summer period.
But if you think this is the kind of career for you, then you might find yourself up against some stiff competition.
A total of 6,000 people applied last year for just 200 places.
So what will help you stand out from the crowd?
Jamie Leggett is the cabin crew training manager and often oversees the application process.
He said: “Customer service experience, a genuine friendly smile and a passion for something different will help your application.”
Jamie has been with Jet2 since the company was set up in 2003. He was on their first flight to Amsterdam and has since worked his way up the career ladder.
He added: “It’s not your average 9 to 5 job.
“You are not just serving drinks on a plane, you are part of someone’s holiday.
“You’re on board to generate that fun, positive atmosphere right from the beginning. Plus, you’re essentially trapping people in a tube, so you have got to get on well with people!”
Speaking about the ‘trolley dolly’ stereotype, he added: “I always think the stereotype is a good thing. If the passengers see me as a person that is just serving a drink rather than the important safety aspect of it then I’m doing a good job.
“Things on an aircraft very rarely go wrong but when it does they have to have faith in us that we can turn from service to safety in the blink of an eye.”
For a video of the training course, visit www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk