Who are they?
In a nutshell, mixed fleet were brought in in 2010, the year of the BA strikes (you know, when you didn’t know whether you’d make it on holiday and the airline was almost brought to its knees). In a way, you could call them scabs – they accepted conditions that BA’s original cabin crew wouldn’t. So they have shorter turnarounds (24 hours in Vegas, for example, instead of a couple of days), have fewer benefits and earn significantly lower salaries.
What’s their background?
Varied. Most of those we’ve spoken to were FAs on other airlines – either budget or smaller. Some are completely new to flying, like the adorable Hayley who looked after us on our way back from Vegas – she used to be a police officer, who’d always harbored dreams of being a flight attendant.
What’s been the reception?
For us, they’ve totally transformed the way we look at British Airways, and have made BA an airline we actively want to fly again. According to the (admittedly biased) mixed fleet FAs, other customers have been equally positive, asking if they’re a charter airline or a codeshare, so obvious is the difference.
From traditional BA staff, looking at the usual suspect forums, it’s (predictably) not been so good. From the media, ditto: the only stories we know of concerning mixed fleet are one about a pilot getting an FA up the duff, and BA’s threat to end routes due to raucous behavior (which seems odd, seeing as the behavior doesn't sound much worse than stuff we've heard about other FAs). According to a
member of traditional cabin crew BA insider,
They pilfer champagne from the aircraft to drink in the crew hotels because buying their own drinks in a five-star hotel is too expensive. Then they run amok, holding wild room parties and going topless in the pool.
Where do they fly?
Originally, we had a hunch that they’d been put on Virgin Atlantic routes to sex up BA’s service. The couple of cabin crew we’ve since talked to, though, says that’s not the case, and that the routes they’re on have been chosen because they’re the most profitable. According to the mixed fleet recruitment website, current routes are Tokyo Haneda, Las Vegas, St Petersburg, Denver, Nairobi, Prague, Pisa, Mauritius, Manchester, Atlanta, Kiev, Amsterdam, Luanda, San Diego and Budapest.
However, we also know that Chicago and Boston are mixed fleet, and that others are in the pipeline. According to this recent thread, Abuja, Phoenix, Accra, Rio, Paris Orly, Lisbon, Hamburg, Kiev, Lyon and Toulouse round up the current tally. Oh, and they're based at Heathrow.
How can I recognize them?
As the lovely Hannah (who we randomly had working our initial Vegas flight as well as our inbound Budapest run) is modeling, women wear hats (so retro!). Oh, and the real test – if they’re anything like the crews we’ve been carefully monitoring on the last four flights, they’ll interact as if they actually like each other.
What should I say to them?
If your experience of them is anything like ours, we suggest: “Mixed fleet, you are a long-needed breath of fresh air for British Airways, a credit to your company and your country. We salute you.”
Had a positive/negative experience of mixed fleet? Drop your thoughts in comments below!