Travelling onboard one of our aircraft is a fantastic experience, yet if you haven’t travelled before or you’re a bit nervous, we can appreciate it can be a little daunting.
We’re hoping the following will help you, or your loved one, understand what to expect to put your mind at ease and reassure you that these noises and sensations are all good.
Getting onto the aircraft
Once you have made your way through the check in area, through security and into the departure lounge, it’s now time to make your way down the jetway to the door of the aircraft where our delightful crew will guide you to your seat.
You may pick up on several noises such as the air conditioning keeping the inside of the aircraft cool; or the noises of the trucks loading your bags, or cargo, underneath.
A number of things have already taken place before you’ve even reached your seat. Our engineers and security teams would also have completed a check of the aircraft to make sure it’s ready for you to board.
Take your seat
Once you’ve taken your seat it’s the perfect time to relax and check out our Vera magazine or browse our duty free catalogue. This is the time where your pilots will be hard at work preparing the aircraft for its journey. They’ll be checking the paper work for the flight path and any weather expected on route. You may also see one of your pilots in a high-vis vest walking around the outside of the aircraft. They’ll be checking that there’s no damage and that everything looks good. Once you’re all onboard, the crew will make an announcement asking you to fasten your seatbelts and then you’re ready to go! You’ll hear the whirring sounds of the engines as they start up.
Getting ready for take off
Your pilots will then push back the aircraft from the stand, which is where the aircraft was parked when you boarded. You’ll notice the aircraft is moving backwards – like a car reversing – but isn’t going very fast. At this point, it’s being helped by a tug; this is a small vehicle which pushes the aircraft to help manoeuvre it into place. When away from the stand the tug is removed and your pilots will slowly manoeuvre the aircraft forwards and will taxi it to the start of the runway. Taxiways aren’t smooth so you may notice a few bumps as the aircraft goes over these. You’ll hear a double ding over the tannoy which is the pilots letting the crew know that they’re ready to take off.
Immediately before take off, your pilots will follow many checks including checking the breaks and moving certain controls on the wing, these are called the flaps and slats. If you’re seated by a window over the wing, you may even be able to see them do this! They’ll also put more power into the engines to help line up the aircraft on the runway, ready for take off.
On take off, you’ll notice loud noises as the pilots put extra thrust into the engines. This is so the aircraft has enough power to take off. The aircraft will quickly pick up speed and you’ll notice and feel a few loud bumps. This is the aircraft travelling over the cats eyes which run down the middle of the runway, it’s a good indication that the aircraft is going in a straight line! As the speed increases, you’ll notice the front of the aircraft lifts up and will be at an angle, this means you’ve taken off! When the aircraft has some height, you’ll hear a few noises such as the overheard lockers rumbling and feel some bumps as the wheels come up and fold into the aircraft.
At about 1,000 feet, the pilots will lower the nose of the aircraft and the engines will become quieter as they don’t need as much power. As you’re now in the air, the aircraft needs to move faster so the flaps and slats on the wings are put away to make the aircraft more aerodynamic. You may hear a whirring sound as this is done. More than likely, it may also feel a little bumpy but don’t worry about this, this is the aircraft just passing through the clouds and the aircraft will settle once it’s passed these.
During the flight
At 10,000 feet, if safe to do so, the pilots will turn off the seat belt sign so you can now move around the cabin or visit the bathroom, if you need to. You’ll hear lots of dings again over the tannoy. The aircraft is very long and there’s lot of crew onboard. They use these dings to communicate to one another.
During the flight, the crew will offer you food and drink. You’ll be able to watch movies on our fantastic inflight entertainment, listen to some music or catch up on some sleep. If you encounter any turbulence, the pilots may make an announcement asking you to fasten your seatbelt. Turbulence happens when there’s been a change in the movement of the air that the aircraft’s travelling through, so can make things a little bumpy. There’s no need to worry as turbulence is perfectly safe and your pilots are always in control of the aircraft.
When you near your destination, your pilots will start their descent. The Captain or First Officer will make an announcement to let you know this is happening. You’ll hear a reduction in engine noise, and if you look towards the front of the aircraft, you’ll notice that it looks like it’s travelling downhill. This just means that you’re decreasing your height and are near to landing. Again, if you’re by the window over the wing, you’ll see the flaps on the wings move. You’ll also feel the aircraft turning as it gets into position to line up with the runway and land.
On landing, you’ll feel the aircraft decrease in height and will notice a bump as the wheels make contact with runway. The engines will rumble and will be very loud, this isn’t anything to worry about. As you move down the runway, the flaps on the wings of the aircraft go up and act as spoilers to help slow you down. The aircraft will then gradually reduce its speed and you’ll taxi to the gate, where the seatbelt signs will be turned off by your pilots. You’ll then be able to retrieve your items from the overhead lockers and leave the aircraft – make sure you have all of your belongings with you, as you won’t be able to go back on if you forget anything.