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Travel

Laid-off flight attendants across Europe retrain to help hospitals with coronavirus crisis


Airlines across the world have grounded planes and temporarily laid-off workers, but companies in Sweden and the United Kingdom are encouraging flight attendants to retrain to help hospitals with the coronavirus crisis. 

a large passenger jet sitting on top of a runway: SAS airline workers in Sweden and EasyJet workers in England are being trained to help hospitals fight the coronavirus.

SAS Scandanavian Airlines is helping cabin crews use their existing medical emergency training to learn how to “best how to take care of patients to relieve the hard-working heroes in healthcare.” The airline said one flight crew underwent training at Sophiahemmet hospital in Stockholm, Sweden. Another crew in Norway is also gearing up to help out.

Heart, ambition and dedication – from our cabin crew in Norway. 💙We proudly announce our initiative to connect SAS cabin crew in Norway with the emerging needs within the healthcare sector during the corona crisis. pic.twitter.com/IIeA6CWpcH

In the United Kingdom, some flight attendants for EasyJet and Virgin Atlantic have volunteered to help out at the new National Health Service (NHS) hospitals being set up specifically for coronavirus patients.

Cabin crew members who sign up to help would perform clinical support roles at the NHS “Nightingale” field hospitals that are being built in London, Birmingham and Manchester, EasyJet said in a statement.

The airline staff who sign up will be provided training to learn to change beds and help make coronavirus patients comfortable. Many of them have already been trained in first aid, hold other medical qualifications and have undergone security checks, which position them well to provide needed support to the NHS, EasyJet said in a statement.

Virgin Atlantic said its crews will also perform clinical support roles, and the staff and volunteers working at the new hospitals will be offered free accommodation and meals.

“We are very proud of our highly skilled people at Virgin Atlantic and since the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was announced, we have been inundated with our employees looking to help other organizations at this time of crisis,” said Virgin Atlantic Chief Customer Officer, Corneel Koster, in a statement.

EasyJet has been working with the NHS to enable its employees to volunteer to directly support clinical services in hospitals.

a group of people in a living room: Many flight attendants have first aid training and other skills useful in the fight against coronavirus

One EasyJet cabin crew member says he worked for an NHS Trust before he joined the airline industry and he understands the pressure NHS workers are under right now. Ashley Brown says he jumped at the chance to volunteer because he is grateful to the NHS workers for all they are doing for coronavirus patients.

“Cabin crew are in a good position to help because of the first aid training we receive for our job along with the security checks we undergo. So I am sure I will be joined by many of my fellow crew at EasyJet and I am glad we are able to help,” Brown said. 

A different shade of blue – but the same heart, ambition and dedication. Today, this group from our cabin crew had their first day of training at Sophiahemmet in Stockholm – learning from the best how to take care of patients to relieve the hard-working heroes in healthcare. 💙 pic.twitter.com/yjpisN0lkE

Airline companies around the world have had to idle crews and other staff due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With most of its operation on hold since March 16th due to the minimal demand for air travel, SAS has temporarily laid off 90% of its total workforce.


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Categories
Transport

Flight attendants duties tweaked for safety reasons coronavirus

Flight attendants don’t have to sit in their usual jump seats
and will not be required to demonstrate how to use oxygen masks through June
30. 

Those exemptions to standard aviation safety procedures were
issued by the FAA on Wednesday amid concern over the number of flight
attendants who have contracted Covid-19.

According to the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, a
union representing flight attendants from nearly 20 airlines, approximately 250
union members have tested positive for the virus while hundreds more are in
self-quarantine.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA),
which represents American Airlines flight attendants, said that 100 members had
been diagnosed with Covid-19 as of last Saturday.

So far, two U.S. flight attendants have died from the virus,
the unions said.

Under the FAA exemption order, flight attendants can occupy
passenger seats rather than being required to sit side-by-side in jump seats.
The move creates more flexibility for social distancing.

Suspending the requirement that flight attendants
demonstrate how to use aircraft oxygen masks is designed to reduce the risk that
they will contract the virus from a mask that hasn’t been properly
sanitized.  

Also on Wednesday, the FAA announced new scheduling
practices at air traffic control facilities. At each facility, separate teams
of controllers will stay together throughout the duty week. Each crew will have
the same employees, limiting the risk of cross-contamination. 

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, 38 air traffic
control facilities have been affected by personnel who tested positive or by
concerns of potential exposure, according to the FAA.

The virus has also wreaked havoc in other parts of the
aviation sector. Nearly 200 North American members of the Air Lines Pilots
Association have disclosed that they have tested positive for Covid-19, the
union said. 

In addition, the Transportation Security Administration has
had 327 employees, both screeners and non-screeners, test positive, the agency’s
website says. Two TSA agents have died.

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Categories
Travel

6 Flight Attendants On How Their Jobs Have Changed Since Coronavirus



a group of people standing in a room

United has reduced its flights in April and May by 90 percent. Delta has cut 80 percent of international flights, and 70 percent of its network overall. As for the third of the Big Three, American—which was already on wobblier financial ground than its rivals—has removed 75 percent of international flights from its network though early May. And on Sunday JetBlue joined them in drastically slashing services, telling employees that it will only operate essential flights, which includes less than half its usual network this week.

Of course, the employees providing service to fliers on those essential flights are the flight attendants. “It’s been tough, on a personal [and] psychological level,” says Mathew, 40, a New York-based flight attendant who’s been with one of the major airlines for 12 years. “Folks keep asking ‘How are you doing? How are you feeling?’ They mean well, but it’s traumatizing.” It’s a reminder, he says, of the challenges he currently faces simply by turning up for work.

Paul Bowles, 24, has been flying for just two years, and is based out of Minneapolis. “It’s depressing. I worked a trip last weekend, and my friend was trying to fight back tears as we did the beverage service on an almost empty flight,” he says. “I am keeping my bags in the garage when I get home, and washing my uniform after the trip.”

Another New York-based flight attendant, who is in her late 30s and asked to be referred to as LJ, also works for a major carrier continuing to fly; under current guidelines, if she does not work as rostered, her income will be impacted. “I feel like a walking Petri dish. We are exposed to so much and we live all over the country, so we are carting back whatever we have been exposed to back to our homes,” she says. “I would rather be home and self-quarantined for everyone’s safety.” Onboard, she’s resorted to ad hoc remedies which she hopes will ward off sickness: lining her nose with Vick’s vaporub and taking Airborne regularly. “Hand sanitizer is the daily norm for me, all day every day, so my hands look like the crypt keeper.”

a.

While the largest union representing flight attendants, AFA-CWA, issued a press release earlier this month outlining its demands to protect cabin crew in flight, it did not call for mandatory self-isolation. For Dana, a three-decade veteran of the skies based out of LAX, the issue is broader than perceived cleanliness of aircraft right now. “Many flight attendants don’t understand how they can be allowed to work on planes with more than 50 people when cities, states, and nations are calling for ‘social distancing’ and to avoid large groups,” she says, noting that on international routes, many countries now require self-quarantine for travelers on arrival. Flight crews, however, are usually exempt.

Airlines official policies on how to implement social distancing at 30,000 feet differ. According to a United spokesperson, the airline now follows the directives of CDC when seating fliers. “We would like to give customers the opportunity to do so when flight loads permit. Therefore when possible, United is trying to seat customers in such a way that there is an acceptable distance between them, in accordance with CDC recommendations, unless they are traveling together. We believe this will help to lessen traveler anxiety.” A Delta spokesperson says that the airline has updated its operational weight and balance policy so that customers can distance themselves on board, and gate agents will also be primed to help with seat reallocation.

There have been other changes made, too. Onboard service standards have adjusted to address the health of both staff and travelers: no more glassware or hot towel service in many premium cabins, and no self-serve snack stations. The rules against wearing plastic gloves while conducting food service have been relaxed, and cleaning of the aircraft intensified: Delta, for example, published details on its various social channels showing how it is fogging interiors. (The process essentially coats every surface with an EPA-approved disinfectant, which can be then cleaned before customers board.) The airline has also co-opted its own museum into a reservation center so that reps can continue handling the enormous volumes of calls from passengers while maintaining social distance for their safety.

GALLERY: The world’s most beautiful libraries

Slide 1 of 23: While we all know that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, this is one case in which evaluating something based on its appearance is not only accepted, but encouraged. From Seattle to Tokyo, these beautiful libraries are known for noteworthy exteriors—think soaring architecture and bountiful gardens—and interiors featuring designs like frescoed ceilings or walls made entirely of glass. And that's nothing compared to the millions of books housed within their walls. So whether you're a bookworm or an architecture lover, start adding these 22 libraries to your must-visit list. This article was originally published in September 2014 and has been updated.
Slide 2 of 23: Easily one of the most beautiful libraries in the U.S., the George Peabody Library (part of Johns Hopkins University) contains over 300,000 volumes stacked in five decorative tiers. The books are impressive, sure, but the cathedral like-atrium, marble floors, and wrought-iron details are the main draw here. Is it any wonder the library has become one of the most popular wedding venues in Baltimore?
Slide 3 of 23: Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, the Seattle Public Library's central branch building juts out of the downtown skyline. The glass-and-steel edifice stands 11 stories tall, and due to its location on a hill you can enter and exit on different floors. The inside pops thanks to a vivid green color used as a decorative touch on walls and in the elevator—fitting, since Seattle’s nickname is “the Emerald City.” Head to the 10th-floor reading room to take in views of the city, including Elliott Bay.
Slide 4 of 23: If the Vancouver Central Public Library looks familiar to you, that’s because it was modeled after another famous building: Rome’s iconic Colosseum. The nine-floor library complex takes up an entire city block, and includes office space, coffee shops, and retail on the ground floor. One of its most striking features is a rooftop garden designed by Safdie Architects.

Slide 5 of 23: Not only is this Spanish library a work of art, it’s also part of a UNESCO World Heritage site. Originally commissioned by King Philip II in the 16th century, the library’s most dazzling feature is a series of seven frescoes that depict the liberal arts (music, rhetoric, astronomy, and so on). The town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, which is about 45 minutes outside of Madrid, has long been a favorite of Spanish royals, and there’s plenty more to see here beyond the library, including a monastery, gardens, and the pantheons of former princes and kings.
Slide 6 of 23: Completed in 2007, Tokyo's Tama Art University Library may be modern in design—think concrete arches, glass walls, minimalist furniture, and tidy rows of computers—but it still manages to have a classic, almost ancient feel. Perhaps the 100,000 books add a touch of archaism, or perhaps it's because the sleek structure sort of resembles a vaulted wine cellar. Either way, this complex structure certainly belongs on every architecture lover's bucket list.
Slide 7 of 23: This particular temple to books was originally built in 1648, but was renovated to its current state in 1999. It's colloquially known as the “black diamond” thanks to the shiny black metal segments on either side of the clear glass middle section. Inside, you'll find a veritable treasure trove of European works with a special focus on Denmark (of course), with all of philosopher Søren Kierkegaard’s original manuscripts and the original copy of the first-known Danish book. The building is also home to the national photography museum, a café, a performance hall, and a large abstract fresco by renowned Danish artist Per Kirkeby on the inside of the ceiling.
Slide 8 of 23: The Strahov monastery in Prague was originally founded in 1143. Despite wars, fires, and other disasters, the order endured and built its library in 1679. The library's best-known features are its remarkable ceiling, which is covered in Biblical frescoes, and the "compilation wheel" that turns to rotate shelves in order to make books easier to find without knocking any of them over.
Slide 9 of 23: Yes, this is a library, but really, it's more like a palace devoted to books. Its limestone exterior was inspired by the famous Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon, where it was built before being shipped to Rio de Janeiro. And the interior is just as stunning: There’s a red, white, and blue stained glass window letting natural light in through the ceiling, while a silver, marble, and ivory altar welcomes visitors into the building.

Slide 10 of 23: If China's Tianjin Binhai Library looks familiar, it's probably because photos of the building's futuristic design went viral when the building opened its door in 2017. (It received over 10,000 visitors per day back then, and continues to be Tianjin's top tourist attraction.) Designed by Dutch firm MVRDV, the library features a huge luminous sphere (called 'The Eye') in the middle of an auditorium, cathedral-like vaulted arches, and undulating floor-to-ceiling shelves. There's just one catch: The highest, inaccessible shelves don't actually have books on them—instead, they hold aluminum plates printed with book images. But hey, smoke and mirrors can be beautiful too.
Slide 11 of 23: Stockholm's public library was designed by Swedish architect Gunnar Asplund, who is also known for his work on the Skandia cinema and the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Woodland Cemetery. The round main hall has books in every Nordic language and a white, textured roof that was designed to look like clouds.
Slide 12 of 23: The next time you're in London, set aside some time to take a day trip to Oxford—specifically the Bodleian Library. The library has been in use since the 1300s (that's practically a thousand years), and its 12 million printed items continue to attract researchers and travelers from around the world. Aside from housing museum-worthy tomes (like the first editions of Jane Austen’s Emma and Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species), the library's many buildings are as beautiful as they come—make sure to stop by the 15th-century Divinity School and Old Bodleian Library.
Slide 13 of 23: Located next to Senate Square and the Helsinki Cathedral, the National Library of Finland is easily one of the most stunning buildings in the country. The main building was designed in the early 19th century, with architect C.L. Engel pulling inspiration from Classicism with Corinthian columns, central rotunda, and halls coated with coated with stucco marble. Renovations in the 2010s restored the building's wooden floors and ceiling murals to their former glory and added an underground kirjaluola (Finnish for “book cave”) to store some of the library's three million books.
Slide 14 of 23: If you've ever wondered what a multimillionaire's personal library looks like, look no further than the Morgan Library & Museum. Spread among three buildings once owned by financier J.P. Morgan, this Madison Avenue landmark includes galleries, libraries, a performance hall, and, of course, Morgan's private book collection. Trust us, the library is worth the hype, with gold decorations, fresco-covered ceilings, and three floors of bookshelves—some connected by secret passageways.

Slide 15 of 23: Situated in a concrete cube in the heart of southern Germany, this isn't your average library. The main attraction—a five-story reading room shaped like an upside-down pyramid—looks more like an M.C. Escher drawing than a library, until you notice the hundreds of thousands of neatly stacked books, that is. Cozy? Not really. Beautiful? You bet.
Slide 16 of 23: The Welsh capital has a long history of supporting libraries: Its first one was built in 1861, mostly with public money. The latest incarnation, completed in 2009, is patterned with tall, thin panels of blue, black, and green glass designed to resemble the spines of books. A steel sculpture called Alliance, which represents Cardiff’s journey from past to present, sits in front of the library. At night, the sculpture glows as words in Welsh and English are projected on it.
Slide 17 of 23: Dublin's Trinity College houses the Book of Kells, a ninth-century manuscript penned by monks in amazingly intricate fonts and illustrations. Each page is like its own work of art. When you’re done perusing the famous tome, pay a visit to the library’s Long Room; staring down the 200-foot-long hallway stacked with 200,000 old books might just give you chills.
Slide 18 of 23: As much as we love them, printed books may not be the most eco-friendly things in the world. But everything else about the Beitou Public Library in Taipei, Taiwan, is ultra-green, thanks to a design meant to keep energy and water consumption at a minimum. The two-story wooden building's slanted roof almost makes the library look like it’s winking at you. There are balconies along the sides, too, complete with rocking chairs where you can curl up with your favorite novel.
Slide 19 of 23: Located near the southernmost tip of Norway, Vennesla's library is more than a collection of books—it's a city cultural center and meeting place. The building hosts a coffee shop, open meeting spaces, classrooms for adult education courses, and a cinema. The long, thin wooden beams on the library's interior were designed to look like the inside of a whale.
Slide 20 of 23: Biblioteca Vasconcelos is truly something to behold. Inside, you'll find more than 470,000 books stacked in hanging shelves, with curious details like see-through floors and a white whale skeleton on display. Outside, the 820-foot building (made of concrete, steel, and glass) sits in the middle of a lush botanical garden containing flora native to Mexico. So if you're looking for a little nature with your culture, you know where to go.
Slide 21 of 23: Alexandria was once home to the most famous library in the world. Now, Egypt pays homage to its biblio-heritage with this sleek granite building. The circular structure, designed by Norwegian firm Snøhetta, is covered in carvings done by local artists and sits next to a large reflecting pool. Although there are plenty of books in three languages (Arabic, French, and English), there are also museums, a planetarium, and a lab dedicated to restoring and preserving ancient manuscripts.
Slide 22 of 23: This library is a study in contrasts. On the outside, it’s an ultramodern glass box, but the inside of the building looks like it could have been a set on a Harry Potter movie. Located in Adelaide, this library places particular emphasis on Australian history, works by indigenous authors, and maps. For modernists, the library maintains a Flickr account where people can submit their own images of South Australian life.
Slide 23 of 23: The Central Library is one of downtown Los Angeles's most significant buildings. On the outside, it's a prominent example of Art Deco design, but on the inside, there's an elegant rotunda whose centerpiece is a bronze chandelier, a sweeping staircase that used to lead to the card catalogues (everything's digitized now, of course), and decorative stencils depicting important moments in California history.

While we all know that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, this is one case in which evaluating something based on its appearance is not only accepted, but encouraged. From Seattle to Tokyo, these beautiful libraries are known for noteworthy exteriors—think soaring architecture and bountiful gardens—and interiors featuring designs like frescoed ceilings or walls made entirely of glass. And that’s nothing compared to the millions of books housed within their walls. 

This article was originally published in September 2014 and has been updated.

George Peabody Library, Baltimore

Central Public Library Branch, Seattle

Central Public Library, Vancouver

The Library of El Escorial, Spain

Tama Art University Library, Tokyo

Royal Library of Denmark, Copenhagen

Strahov Monastery Library, Prague

Royal Portuguese Reading Room, Rio de Janeiro

Tianjin Binhai Library, China

Stockholm Public Library, Sweden

Bodleian Library, Oxford, England

National Library of Finland, Helsinki

The Morgan Library & Museum, New York City

Stuttgart City Library, Germany

Cardiff Central Library, Wales

Trinity College Library, Dublin

Beitou Public Library, Taiwan

Vennesla Library and Culture House, Norway

Biblioteca Vasconcelos, Mexico City

Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt

State Library of South Australia, Adelaide

Richard J. Riordan Central Library, Los Angeles

And as airlines—and the airports that service them—are looking for major bailouts from the government, flight attendants are as concerned for their financial wellbeing as their health. There are persistent rumors that restrictions on flying might extend to an outright ban on domestic service, and much like after 9/11 or during the 2008 recession, many expect furloughs—effectively unpaid, extended leave until economic conditions improve. According to Bowles, his colleagues are already prepping for such a scenario. “I’ve seen threads on Facebook where we’re sharing our side hustles so we can support one another, as some take a personal leave of absence,” he says. “I’m offering to review and revamp resumes for those who take that leave and are looking for work.” Bowles is concerned for his own future as well. He and his husband, also a flight attendant, have a rental property they use to generate extra income—unfortunately, the tenants are cabin crew, too.

“It’s extremely tense, as people are worried about their jobs. Think of it like a reality television show where you are waiting to be eliminated,” says Joe Thomas, 47, who has been cabin crew for 12 years and runs the blog Flight Attendant Joe. “It’s not only tough for airline employees, but for the families they have to leave behind. I have a hard time explaining to my husband that I have to go to work, because he wants me to be home and safe.” Thomas says that many crews are posting more goofy videos than ever about life working on a plane. “Humor in a time like this is helpful.”

There is, however, hope in a return to normalcy. “Our customers have been so very supportive, and they’re grateful to get where they’re going because now they have to, not just want to,” Mathew says. “We’ll be on this carousel for a few months and come July or so, we’ll be back to talking about how expensive tickets are and calming down someone who was forced to check their bag.”

In the interim, however long that may turn out to be, most attendants are taking it day by day. “There is a certain level of grief that comes with this virus. I actually miss people and the beauty behind traveling,” says Jennifer Jaki Johnson, 36, who has been working for a major carrier for six years, while running the travel and style site Jetsetter Chic. But she also notes that many of the flights still operating serve vital purposes: transporting soldiers home to loved ones, rescue animals to new homes, and even donated organs in cargo to key hospitals. “The flights may not be filled—there might only be 10 people—but we’re saving lives. On the bright side, that’s a beautiful thing.”

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