Aviation's New Golden Age

Guest Blog Filed by: IoGT Commercial Aviation Consultant Mr. Thomas Bridges CCP
Emirates have been attracting a lot of attention in aviation circles of late. The Dubai based air carrier’s constant profitability and focus on a quality driven, luxurious experience contrasts markedly with standards at other leading airlines- where deep vein thrombosis, piss strewn toilet floors, and dried-up, hagged-out 47 year old battle-axe stewardesses sadly remain par for the course.

Not that I would know of course, because like any Oxbridge educated junior executive talented enough to rise into senior management at 3 separate multinational corporations by the age of 34, I prefer to fly with Emirates.

Whether I am traveling on my own dime with my wife & children, at company expense with an institute colleague, or even my mistress, I am simply unprepared to compromise.

And as the closest that many of my readers will probably ever come to first or business class at an airline like Emirates, is as they walk through it on their way to the rear of the plane, I thought I would take a look at the new generation of Middle Eastern based carriers turning the clock back to aviation’s ‘pre-mass’ golden era.

Firstly, Cabin Crew have been paramount to the success of Emirates and the many other Middle Eastern carriers. As the face of these airlines, their attention to detail and the introduction to Arab hospitality invariably leaves a lasting impression on travelers.

- Attentive cabin crew prepares to welcome guests with light refreshments.

And often is the case when a warm refreshment or a simple smile can be enough to create an appreciation with guests.

Cabin crew uniforms in the Middle East are often a reflection of the rich tapestry of interwoven Arab cultures. Designs are flashy, fleeting, and driven by a variety of trends.

Above: The razzle-dazzle showbiz style 2009 launch of Gulf Air’s 2009 cabin crew uniform. A design collaboration with Apple’s popular Ipod shuffle.

The glitzy, well polished fa├žades of the Arab carriers however by no means equates to safety, and maintenance concerns taking a back seat. Flight staff undergo a rigorous series of crew training using the very latest techniques and technology.

Above- In this file photo Royal Saudi Airlines Pilot Abdul Halawi El-Mizali puts a flight simulator through its paces on the tarmac at Riyadh International Airport. Below: An Air Syria ground crew prepares for the arrival of 7:00am El Al flight AI278 from Tel Aviv.

And despite Arab society’s oft criticized attitude towards women in the workplace, a clear majority of Gulf based carriers have openly adopted equal opportunity programs tailored towards boosting female participation rates in non menial roles.

Often with mixed results….

The growth of these Middle Eastern carriers has been propelled by the bourgeoning numbers of young, cashed up, oil rich Arab travelers. This new generation know exactly what they want and are traveling the world’s hottest destinations in ever increasing numbers.

Arab gals are on the march. They have a keen eye for luxury and aren’t afraid to strut their stuff.

Airlines like Emirates have also set a new standard in-flight entertainment, offering everything from Internet access, bars, hot showers, and beauty salons.

Standards across the region however vary greatly at other carriers despite the best efforts of in-flight cabin crew.