Pilot reveals they had to ‘muck in’, cleaning planes and loading bags amid staff shortages

·2 min read
The pilot said he had loaded passengers’ bags onto planes twice this year (PA)
The pilot said he had loaded passengers’ bags onto planes twice this year (PA)

Pilots have been having to clean planes and load luggage as airlines struggle with staff shortages this summer.

An unnamed pilot, who is based in Manchester, told iNews that staffing issues started to develop at their airline around the New Year, before “escalating” in the spring.

He said that understaffing meant pilots had to “muck in” to ensure flights left on schedule.

“Cleaning the aircraft or putting in a couple of extra bags in, that might take five minutes and could be the difference between getting the aircraft into the air or being delayed that night,” said the pilot.

“Some airlines’ cabin crew clean the aircraft, some don’t. For those that don’t, you often see the cabin crew and pilots getting involved in cleaning the aircraft to try and speed things up.”

He also claimed he had loaded passengers’ bags onto planes twice this year.

Though acknowledging that taking on extra jobs was an “extreme scenario”, he said that it takes away from some of his other responsibilties, such as preparing the flight for takeoff.

“There are two of us there, but really both of us should be on the flight deck looking at the flight, not loading aircraft,” he told reporters.

Increased travel demand this summer has left the aviation industry struggling to cope, especially with a shortage of pilots, baggage handlers and cabin crews which have all contributed to mass travel disruption.

The anonymous pilot said that some days were better than others, but that the workplace experience felt unpredictable.

“You can come in one day, and the day can go relatively smoothly and you think, ‘Oh finally, they have got the right amount of staff in’. The next day can be the complete opposite end of the spectrum,” he added.

“You could be picking up a two-hour delay, and sometimes that might just be down to one part of that kind of supply chain falling apart.

“If everyone turns up, we’ve got enough staff; as soon as one or two people start ringing in sick that whole kind of supply chain starts falling apart.”

Flight attendants have recently complained of a “breakdown” within the industry, with some claiming they are being “worked to the bone” amid all the travel chaos this summer.