Jan is an aircraft cleaner for Inflight Cleaning Services at Gatwick airport. She works as part of a team to make sure that all the aircraft are clean before they fly. Sometimes, her team only gets 15 minutes to prepare the aircraft for the next influx of passengers.
What are your daily duties?
I arrive at Gatwick by 6.30am, go through security and clock in. We are then transported to the aircraft as they need cleaning. Apart from breaks I clean the aircraft until my shift finishes.
What does the cleaning involve?
There are different types of cleaning operations. When the aircraft is on a quick turnaround, the cleaning operation only takes up to 45 minutes. In this time, my duties include wiping lap trays, taking rubbish out of seat pockets, putting safety cards to the front of the seat pockets, arranging seatbelts, vacuuming, and cleaning toilets and galleys (kitchen areas). When the aircraft remains at the airfield overnight we do a more extensive clean.
What cleaning equipment do you use?
I use a vacuum cleaner, which is the kind that you put on your back and is supported with straps, so it's comfortable. In addition, I use mops, cloths and cleaning fluids.We wear a special cleaning uniform.
Who do you work with?
I work in a crew of four.We have a supervisor and three cleaners in the crew. The supervisor's role is to make sure that the cleaners are doing what they are assigned to do on that aircraft.
What personal qualities do you need?
You need to be smart, which includes wearing a clean uniform, with clean shoes and long hair tied back. You have to work fast while meeting quality standards, so that you do not cause flight delays. Also, you must be able to communicate with other people working around you, such as air cabin crew, caterers and engineers.
What shifts do you work?
For three days, I do a 12-hour shift from 7.00am to 7.00pm. Then I have three days off.
What training have you received?
As well as being trained in using the cleaning equipment and how to clean the aircraft, I have done American security training. On every American aircraft, there are security guards who check that the cleaning crew are searching the cabin properly. Sometimes they test us by putting dummy bombs under seats and lifejackets. If you find one, you need to call security.
What do you like about your job?
There is a friendly atmosphere and I get on with everybody. I also enjoy working on the different types of aircraft.
How to become an aircraft cleaner?
- NVQ Level 2 in Administration.
- GNVQ in ICT.
- Full-time job as aircraft cleaner after attending a local jobs fair.
How do you become an aircraft cleaner tips
- Be prepared to get to work early.
- Keep your uniform smart and clean at all times.
- Be able to communicate with the other members of staff working around you.
Aircraft cleaner related jobs
- Caretaker/maintenance person
- Car valet
- Hotel/accommodation room attendant
- Industrial cleaner
How much is an aircraft cleaners salary?
- The average starting salary for an aircraft cleaner is about £9,500.
- With experience this rises to around £11,000.
- Supervisors may earn £15,000 or more.
What do you need to become an aircraft cleaner?
- No formal qualifications are needed to become a cleaner.
- Applicants should be in good health and active. People with breathing difficulties or skin allergies could be affected by dust and chemicals.
- Training is given in health and safety and in using equipment and cleaning fluids. You may study for qualifications such as NVQs/SVQs in Cleaning and Support Services.
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