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How airline crews service the plane between flights

Excerpt from CNN

Nov 24, 2012 7:06 am

Skift Take

It’s curious that to depict this “highly choreographed ballet,” CNN chose a flight from United, which ranks among the worst for mishandled bag complaints and on-time arrivals. Some airlines, such as Southwest, do this a lot better than others.

— Dennis Schaal

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United Airlines ground crew member participating in United Pink Program for breast cancer awareness.


If you are heading home after Thanksgiving still groggy from L-tryptophan and an early morning Black Friday shopping spree, you’re counting on a team of airline workers you might never see to get your plane out safely and on time.

“I think the pit crew analogy is actually a really good analogy,” explains Stephanie Buchanan, vice president of the Houston hub for United Airlines. “We like to call it a highly choreographed ballet. There are a lot of moving pieces, a lot of teamwork that has to happen.”

When a large aircraft lands, as many as 35 men and women — most wearing orange or green safety vests — swarm to the plane to get it ready to go out on its next flight.

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