Category Archives: Pilots

Why We Call Airline Pilots “Pilots” Why Not Drivers ?

The term “drive” refers to driving horses, mules or oxen. Drive meaning to push forward the animal. In the days of horse drawn cariages, the driver would be in charge of the vehicle. A car is a horseless carrage and so borrowed from the horse terminology.

The trem “pilot” means to guide direction. We had pilots prior to air travel, for example a boat or ship may have a pilot. A ship pilot is in charge of plotting the course and navigation decisions. A ship coming into a harbour will take on a harbour pilot to guide the ship into port.

Since aircraft were never htiched up to a horse, it would have been odd to use the word “driver” to refer to the operator. An aircraft pilot does do the job of navigating. In addition, the first aircraft were not fixed wing planes, but balloons and airships. The airship crews borrowed much of their terminology and methods of operation from ships.

In some early media, aircraft crews are refered to a “aeronauts” in a similar way as we today talk anout astronauts in space. The word “aeronautic” is still commonly used to refer to things related to flight.

Thus we drive a car, truck, carrage or herd of animals but we pilot a plane, boat, ship or spacecraft.Why We Call Pilots “Pilots” Why Not Drivers

 Pilots and Bus Drivers, have similar, but very different jobs. They both have to think on their feats, they both must have a very clean appearance and both, sometime work long hours. Some people, will even call a pilot, a glorified bus driver, which may offend pilots, but as a bus driver myself, it do not bother me. I learn that there are a good amount of bus drivers, do like planes ( me being one of them ).

Now pilots, are considered a white collared job, where you need at least BA college degree, and for an major airline, you must a have pilot license with multi engines endorsements. To drive a bus here in the states, you need a class B CDL ( I have a Class A ) and a passenger endorsement, and it considered a blue collared job.

Both of their equipments, are similar but very different. If you look at the lay out of an airliner, it based on a bus layout, even the worlds current largest aircraft manufacturer, is named Airbus industries. Now an airliner, is likely the most complex thing made by man.

Now the beauty that I see, in be a bus driver, is that I tell people, that I operate a vehicle, that design like a plane, but stay on the ground like ship. I even joke a call my self a ground pilot.

So, could you compare and contrast these to jobs?

The trick Airline Crew use when they don’t want to talk to you

LET’S be honest, being a flight attendant would be a tough gig. Far from the glamorous idea of being able to jetset around the globe, the reality of the job is they have to deal with hundreds of irritated passengers cramped in a small space together.The trick Airline Crew use when they don’t want to talk to you

So could you blame them if they played a dirty trick to get you to leave them alone?

Speaking to KIIS FM’s Kyle & Jackie O on their “Career Confidential” segment, a former flight attendant of seven years, James, told the hosts the cheeky stunt he would pull when he didn’t want a passenger badgering him.

“I used to have a trick because every time I used to go from one end of the plane to the other to eat my lunch, someone would always ask me something … So I used to put a can of coke in sick bag, put a rubber glove on, and walk through the cabin so it looked like I am holding vomit,” James told the co-hosts.

“No one would ask me for anything.”

He also revealed how you can tell if a flight attendant doesn’t like you.

“If a flight attendant ever says to you, ‘I’ll be right back,’ we don’t like you,” he said.

But what’s a sure-fire way to get into their good books? Remember common decency.

“How much do you have to like a passenger to give them a bottle of wine at the end of it?” Jackie O asked.

“It’s really simple, it’s not hard,” James responded.

“Hundreds of people come past us and they shove their boarding pass in our faces, so if you ask, ‘How are you? Are you having a good morning?’ We will remember you.”

Flight attendants do have the power to give you an upgrade, although it is difficult, James confirmed, but he did say they hate it when you ask — which he recalled one Australian celebrity doing to him.

“I’ve had Sophie Monk on board and she was cheeky. We always hate when people ask, ‘How do I get an upgrade?’ and she was in Business [Class] and was like: ‘I’m a nervous flyer, can I have a friend come up with me?’” he revealed.

Although, as a fan, he did end up giving The Bachelorette the upgrade for her friend.

Flight attendants don’t like when you ask for an upgrade — just be nice.

Flight attendants don’t like when you ask for an upgrade — just be nice.Source:istock

And what’s the most hated flight for Aussie cabin crews? Bali.

“I used to like Bali but the flight there is hell. It’s a bogan bus. Even people in Business are acting like they are going first-class to the Maldives. I’ve been asked for caviar before and I’m like this is a 737 not a 711, girl. Not that they have that at 711 either,” James joked.

Why are there so few ‘Black Pilot’ in the US Airlines?

One major factor is that general aviation and flight training occurs mostly in either deep suburban or rural areas, and not in large cities or close end suburbs.

It is hard to find lower cost flight training at Newark, LaGuardia , or JFK airports.

There are many general aviation airport in Iowa, however…

List of airports in Iowa – Wikipedia

By Andy Kerr – To be honest, I hadn’t noticed. Before you yell at me about white privilege, consider this photo of me and my instructor:black pilot

You’re right though—there are very few. I can think of no physical reason, certainly no mental deficiency. There are doubtlessly a number of cultural factors. (The only black pilot I know, sitting there beside me, is also Jamaican, raised in Canada. I suspect that’s an interesting, but rather muddled, data point.)


Now that I think about it some more, I think that a lot has to do with how we treat people, literally, from day 1.

I currently live in white-bread northern Indiana. When I go to my kids’ schools to volunteer, I see papers and projects: When I grow up, I want to be a [fill in the blank]. Standard school fare. Pilots, policemen, doctors, architects. Drawings of kids with twenty toes, and happy hospital patients. A few years back, I walked into Humboldt school in Chicago, to do some volunteer work. Same projects on the walls, same artistic license with hands and toes and houses. But one thing was different. A single word. I saw it over and over and over. When had been dropped. The projects now sucked the life out of me. Every one of them had this at the top:

IF I GROW UP

If. If.

You can’t tell me that doesn’t wring out the dreamer and leave them hanging like an old rag on a clothesline.

Kids that don’t dream, don’t dream about flying.

What is the best airline to work as a pilot?

Ah. Excellent question and one that’s on many pilots’ minds too.

I always say this:

  • You either fly at home, in your own country, and unless that’s a big place, there’s usually only one big airline, usually the national carrier. That’s the one to go for.
  • Or you fly “somewhere else”, and once you do that, you become a prostitute of the industry. You go with who pays you best or who treats you best, or a combination thereof that suits you.

What is the best airline to work as a pilotI’m a prostitute of the industry. I started off in a loyal marriage with my national carrier, building up seniority from very young, being proud of the company I flew for. Lo and behold, they went bust a few years later. So there I was, betrayed and lost everything I invested in them.

I think the days where you start in a company, stay loyal to it for all your active career, and then retire in the same company, are finished. You may get lucky, and I certainly wish that upon all pilots, but it’s likely you’ll end up like one of us expat pilots: wondering how to weld your personal life with your career, while looking for a contract that isn’t taking you for a ride.

The problem in an aviation career is that holy seniority that rules everything. A pilot can only make promotion, and can only get the nice flights or the leave he requests, with enough years working for that company. Switch to another one and you reset your accumulated benefits. I often make arguments that this seniority is actually working more against us than for us in the modern world, but hey, it’s not about to change soon. So you’ll have to take that into account.

It’s all good and well to say that it’s better working for Cathay Pacific or Singapore Airlines, but if you’ve already given 15 years of your life to KLM or Alitalia, you’re not going to start from zero there.

If you’re young, then you have better options. I would then recommend that you decide whether you really want to fly at home, where your family is, your friends whom you grew up with and you’re likely going to stay friends with forever, and possibly a partner. Don’t underestimate the importance of this in your life. They could easily be worth a big pay cut or the fact that you can’t say you work for a legendary five star carrier.

If you’re not too attached to home and are quite independent, then look further and keep in mind that you can play the industry like the industry plays you. Pay is important but not everything. However, if you leave home, you have to keep in mind that you lose the benefits that come with that: pension and free health care for example. So you have to be able to put enough aside to compensate for that. Usually that means that people rarely want to be a long term expat unless they make a lot more buck at the end of the month than they could at home.

At the same time you have to be realistic. Great, you want to work for Lufthansa, but you don’t speak German or don’t have the right to work in the EU. Tough luck. It’s all good and well to say that pilots in this and in that airline are better off, but to be honest, those are not jobs that you can normally reel in.

A lot of friends/colleagues of mine keep switching airlines as expat, playing the industry. I personally never wanted to do this. Instead I preferred to go somewhere where it’s good, and stay there a long time. The main reason for that is that I want to plan my personal life, and not wonder every two years where I’ll end up for the next two years.

All this to say that if you compare airline jobs, you have to realize that what’s best for one pilot isn’t the best for another. People have different benefits from their governments in their home countries and different pilots have different priorities in life.

So I’d split up your list. You need a list for who flies at home and for who is an expat. And you need a list for a young pilot seeking to make career versus a seasoned pilot who doesn’t want to give up his seniority anymore.

From word of mouth I’ve consistently heard this among colleagues (and keep in mind I’m a European flying in Asia, so the Americas are a bit off my sphere):

Best airline for young expats who have to make career:

  1. Emirates: fast growing, great conditions, great airplanes, wonderful ratings
  2. Easyjet: work hard but get paid well, fast career, move on to greener pastures if needed later, chose a base close to home
  3. Etihad: fast growing, nice atmosphere, good pay, great equipment

Best airline for seasoned expats who’ve built up seniority there already: (I will throw in an extra and do a top 4 here, since this is really my terrain)

  1. Cathay Pacific: the new contracts aren’t what they once were, but great lifestyle combined with a good pay and benefits. Live in Hong Kong or on one of their overseas bases.
  2. Emirates: a lot of my friends there may complain all the time, but wouldn’t dream of leaving to somewhere else for conditions that they consider puny.
  3. Singapore Airlines: prestige, great expat conditions for captains (not First Officers), great place to live.
  4. Cargolux: great benefits, great lifestyle, great destinations

Best airline for homeboys who are just starting:

  1. British Airways: fly everywhere in the world, prestige, great conditions
  2. Qantas: good career prospects, good conditions
  3. Air France: lots of destinations, good career prospects, good conditions and pay

Best airlines for homeboys who have seniority there:

  1. United: I keep on hearing this over and over, even though I don’t actually know anyone there, so there must be something true about it. Pick your own schedule and with great conditions. Seeing the age of their pilots and flight attendants in hotels where I have layovers, it must be true: nobody seems to retire there.
  2. Qantas: good conditions, good pay, good benefits
  3. British Airways: great pay, fly everywhere, good benefits

Now, please realize that this is my personal image based on the stories and the word of mouth I get from friends and colleagues and from where I’ve seen people go to – and stay – through my years in aviation.

I actually hope for feedback here, though I am fully aware that feedback from pilots will be more to deny their airline’s position in this ranking based on what’s all wrong in their godforsaken company, rather than to say where they would go if they had the option. Go ahead, shoot.

The truth about the luxury of Qatar Airways

 Qatar Airways is regarded as one of the most luxurious airlines in the world, and has received numerous awards for their onboard service.Flight attendants Saga and Gina testify about the other side of the glamour. How employees are forced to sign contracts that prevent them from governing their own life choices.Swedish newspaper Expressen’s reporter Johanna Karlsson commutes between Doha and small Swedish towns in her depiction of a five-star airline.

Gina knows she is not allowed to speak to the guard. Not while he’s been stationed at his post for twelve hours and is starting to get sleepy. Not while he’s longing for his Nepalese family and she is just coming off a flight to Kathmandu. Not while he mentioned that he earns 500 riyal (SEK 1,200 ) a month.

The cubicle where the guard sits, at the entrance to Qatar Airways’ staff housing, is strictly guarded. There are cameras everywhere. At least that’s what the management says – that they should expect everything that happens at the entrance to be reported to the managers, to be registered and be incorporated into each flight attendant’s personal track record.

Under surveillance

Any action on Gina’s part can be construed as an attempt at bribery. After all, the guard is there to monitor her. To ensure that Gina never sleeps anywhere but the staff housing. Never gets home later than mandated by the company. Never allows an unregistered guest into her room, never leaves during her leisure times or has anyone sleep over.

At the same time, he is below her in rank – at least Gina can apply to leave the country if she wants to visit her Swedish family. The guards change buildings every third month, to really make any friendly relations impossible between them and the flight attendants. But Gina has noticed that this guard is sick. And that he is getting worse. She defies the rules and starts talking to him every day. Convinces the guard to go to the doctor.

“What did the doctor say?” she asks the following morning.

“I have diabetes,” replies the guard at the staff entrance.

Gina is silent. She tries to solve the equation of insulin injections and the salary of a Nepalese migrant worker in Doha.

“He says I shouldn’t eat rice,” continues the guard.

“But youíre poor! All you eat is rice. What are you going to eat now?”

“I don’t know.”

Gina and the guard don’t talk again. He’ll soon be relocated to a new building anyway. But before he changes his posting, Gina figures out that there is a tiny blind spot in the entrance where the cameras don’t reach. One morning, on her way to a flight, she ducks into this corner.

On the ground, she leaves a blood sugar meter and a Qatari five hundred note. 500 riyal.

When Saga drives down from northern Sweden for the tryouts at the Sheraton Hotel in Stockholm, she has just come off a night shift. It is March 2010.

Has always dreamed of being a flight attendant

She changes her outfit in the public toilets at Stockholm Central Station. Saga from northern Sweden has always dreamed of being a flight attendant. The tryouts for the five-star and highly esteemed Qatar Airways are held via open recruitment days. The candidate’s personality and looks are judged here – in detail. The candidate’s body should not have any scarring or tattoos, not even very discreet ones.

The airline holds recruitment events every weekend. There are often about six recruitment days a week globally. At the tryouts, information is shared about what the employees are signing up for. A pledge to stay single for five years, that permission from CEO Akbar Al Baker is required to marry as a flight attendant, and if you become pregnant, you must inform the company immediately. Also, Qatar Airways reserves the right to fire an employee without having to give a reason.

The same principle applies at the tryouts. They explain early on that no candidate has the right to question why they have not been selected.

Attendance is enormous in some countries, whereas it is only moderate in cities like Stockholm.

The girls are screened in bunches at the Sheraton this Saturday. Things move fast. Finally, only Saga and three other girls remain. They are called back for a personal interview the following morning. Saga arrives at the hotel thirty minutes early. But the recruiters are angry.

“We said 11.30, not 12.30. This is a very poor start!”

Saga tries to explain that she really didn’t get the time wrong, there must have been a mistake. But eventually she gives up and apologizes to the recruiters. They nod grimly. Qatar Airways has forced her to correct herself for the first time.

When the next girl shows up for a planned interview at 12.30, it is clear that Saga was in fact punctual. This is waved aside. The most important thing was that Saga took the blame. I am very sorry.

Gives up

She gets the job as a flight attendant and is instructed to pack for immediate departure to her new living quarters in Qatar. Saga packs. And resigns from her old job. Shares the news with her friends and acquaintances in her hometown. But all of a sudden, Qatar Airways stops responding to questions. There is no information about what has happened. She is left waiting.

As June arrives, she gives up and begins to plan for a Midsummer trip. Four months have now passed since the promise of immediate departure and Saga’s packed bag at home. The standard policy applies: Qatar Airways is not required to explain itself to the employees.

Suddenly the tickets and visa arrive. Midsummer is cancelled. Saga is put on a flight to Doha.

Javier had never considered working abroad. As a pilot, he has excellent opportunities in his European home country. But a certain little European crisis got in the way of everything.

When he relocates to Qatar, he immediately understands that the pilots’ relationship with their colleagues the flight attendants is a very sensitive matter. He feels that the company CEO Akbar Al Baker focuses too much time on them and that the regulations governing the flight attendants’ lives are extreme.

“I am allowed to visit their staff building before 10 pm and if I register my name and passport number with the guard. But they keep and review the visitor register. It looks bad if I’m there too often,” he explains via Skype.

Javier reacts to the way Akbar Al Baker addresses the flight attendants directly. He holds aggressive inaugural speeches to groups of new workers where they are encouraged to steer clear of their male colleagues.

The pilots are my chauffeurs, they only come to you to fuck you,” Javier once heard CEO Akbar Al Baker declare during a welcome speech.

The rules differ substantially between the various professions. The entire country of Qatar adheres to a sponsorship system where the employer dictates the right of the employees to enter and exit the country, housing and they have a certain level of control of the employee’s bank account. As a pilot, Javier can pay to apply for a monthly exit visa and thereby leave Doha on his days off without needing permission from his manager.

Flight attendants, on the other hand, must request an exit visa for every trip. The chance to leave Qatar is used as leverage in a game of punishment, where six months of rejected exit visas is common punishment for a flight attendant who has done something wrong and issued a warning.

Risky

Javier, who wants to keep his job until employment opportunities in Europe improve, decides to stay away from the confined flight attendants with whom he shares a workplace. They ride the same staff buses, sleep in the same airport hotels and share the same cabin – but visiting them at home is too risky.

Gina boils some eggs. She has only just arrived home from a flight. She is tired and removes her makeup slowly. The saucepan overheats when the water evaporates and suddenly the fire alarm goes off. Gina switches it off quickly and tells the security guards that it was a false alarm. Too late.

Three different managers from Qatar Airways arrive at the guarded staff building. Question her in detail about what happened and ask her to prove her story.

“You were boiling an egg? Show us the egg.”

Gina rummages through the garbage and finds the egg. The managers arenít satisfied. They decide that she should be removed from flights for the next few days and she is summoned to the office the following morning. As there is a twelve hour resting rule before any work event, whether it is a meeting or a long haul flight, Gina is grounded until the time of the meeting.

At the office at Qatar Airways Tower, she is once more asked to give an account of the event. The fact that she was boiling an egg, how could she be so careless, how can they be certain that she will never do anything like that again? Gina is given a severe warning.

Then she is given a pen and paper. Qatar Airways now wants Gina to explain the egg incident in writing and to conclude by saying how sorry she is and that it will not happen again. They dictate and she writes. “I am very sorry, it will never happen again.”

This is the first time that Gina from Sweden is given a warning in Doha, Qatar.

Saga doesn’t get any warnings. Her behaviour is exemplary. She is promoted to first class faster than anyone else in her group. . Receives letter of compliment upon letter of compliment. Is selected to accompany CEO Akbar Al Bakar on PR trips to market the company at trade fairs.

“Are you on a diet?”

Later this makes her somewhat nervous, as Al Baker has been known to summon selected girls up to his hotel room and shower them with gifts, such as an iPad. From more distant rumours, Saga has heard of girls being fired for not replying to Al Bakar’s private text messages to their mobile phones. Nothing like that happens on Saga’s PR trip to Oslo Instead, the group eats dinner in silence. The cabin crew and Al Baker.

During dessert, one of the girls declines. She doesn’t fancy a dessert. “Are you on a diet?” asks Akbar Al Baker roughly – and the mood becomes unsettled. Perhaps declining a dessert somehow reflects poorly on the company? The girl quickly changes her mind. She orders a dessert.

One day in Doha, a friend drives Saga home after a night out at a nightclub. The curfew for days off is 3.30 am. The friend’s car gets stuck in traffic. The clock is nearing the half past mark.

Saga’s heart is pounding. All the wonderful compliments she has earned, have they all been in vain? Is everything over now? A few blocks from the house, her friend says, “Listen, if I drop you off now, they will fire you immediately. Better to sleep elsewhere and try to sneak past in the morning and hope that the guard doesn’t see what you did.”

The plan works! Saga develops more and more methods. Sleeping away, but picking up the washing on the way back to make it look as though she just got back from a short errand. Sleeping away, but taking a work outfit with her so that the guard will think she’s returning from a flight.

The flight attendants devise new ways to live in a work dictatorship. They become experts at avoiding the employer’s cameras.

A new airport is being built at Doha. A 20 ton sculpture of a teddy bear, created by Swiss artist Urs Fischer, is already in place and waiting.

A large, new terminal building was opened only three years ago at the old airport, but it is already time to build a new one. The airport is owned by Akbar Al Baker. The airport is owned by Akbar Al Baker. With his airport, he is pushing his vision of Doha as a great hub for international air traffic. He pushed his vision of Qatar Airways just as forcefully, where all annual reports are classified and board members are anonymous, but the brand name is well known, just the way Al Bakar wants it.

Gina meets Akbar Al Bakar on a couple of occasions. He can storm into a lecture room for new flight attendants, and without another word come in and control the situation. He takes flights just to measure staff service capabilities. And he shows up at briefings in which Qatar Airways flight attendants stand with their fingers at chest height so that nails, complexion and hair can all be inspected.

When he shows up at Gina’s briefing, she greets him directly. He does not reply.

“You need to lose weight,” says Al Baker instead. And he leaves.

Every day, the flight attendants log onto the intranet, where the schedules are kept. One day, when Saga logs on, all her flights have been deleted. No one has warned her. Her schedule is empty. Everyone knows what that means.

She quickly goes to an ATM. Here, she withdraws 10,000 riyal. She has been working for two years. No complaints have been filed against her. On the contrary, she has been promoted and been given special assignments. But she knows that if she doesn’t withdraw her entire salary right now, Qatar Airways can freeze her local bank account. She has been detected.

Three nights in custody

Javier’s best friend among the pilots is in a good mood. During his flights, he has made the acquaintance of a flight attendant who he is getting to know more and more. The others warn him, but one night it happens anyway. She sleeps over.

The reaction is immediate.

The girl spends three nights in Qatari custody. Javier’s friend is stripped of his flights. The flight attendant is shipped back to her home country with the status “deported”, which means she can be denied any new entry into Qatar. The pilot’s milder punishment is a final warning. Any sidestep from him within the next six months and he will have to leave Qatar Airways.

The deported flight attendant’s former pilot friend loses touch with her. Qatar’s rules are such, when it comes to relationships between colleagues.

Soon after the incident, Javier resigns. Today he works for a different airline.

Gina and I meet at one of Doha’s restaurants, run by Philippine staff. Southeast Asian guest workers cook our food, drive us there in cars, stand in a corner of the restaurant and sing for us as entertainment while we eat.

During my stay in Doha, Amnesty is on location. They have requested a crisis meeting about working conditions in Qatar. But Qatari media cheerfully report the meeting with positive headings like “Amnesty Says Qatar Working on Working Rights.”

Every conversation about the flight attendants’ lives in Doha strays onto the much more visible group that assists them and all the other workplaces in the country. How Southeast Asian slaves are made to guard flight attendants who are confined in luxury with a passable salary creates a complex balance of power. Can a slavery system include a middle class?

“We often have coffins onboard our Kathmandu flights,” says Gina.

Nepalese men simply work themselves to death. Gina tells us that the coffins are loaded and unloaded at the same time as the passengers. Qatar Airways has around four daily flights between Doha and Kathmandu.

“But what is most painful is seeing how see how expectant they are on the flight there. On the way to Qatar. That they don’t know.”

It is November 2013. Gina is one of the few Swedes still working for the company. It has taken several months to get someone like her to agree to meet me. Over the three years that I’ve being following Qatar Airways, I have met Swedish girls my own age who are terrified to talk about their work, even anonymously. Swedish girls who have grown up with freedom of the press, employment laws and freedom of speech but who wouldn’t even dare reply to an email from a journalist to say “no, thank you”.

Stewardesses and pilots working for Qatar Airways have all signed a detailed Non Disclosure Agreement about not discussing the company, sharing their views on Facebook or showing pictures of their uniforms. “Getting fired is easy,” says Gina who claims that luck is the reason she still has her job.

“There was a period about eight months ago when four staff housing buildings were more or less emptied. Every time you were hanging out with another stewardess, mobile phones kept ringing: she’s off, now she’s off. I was talking to a friend one day when six of the girls in her building had been fired in the same week.”

The company’s sudden redundancies are as constant as the international recruitment days every weekend. Stewardesses are fired for wanting to change room mate, for posting an inappropriate Facebook status, for getting a tattoo that colleagues then sneak a photo of and show the company as proof, for returning to the housing five minutes after curfew, for letting a man that they know who is neither their husband or father give them a lift to work, for smoking a cigarette during their time off.

The man the stewardesses are called to see when it is time to be fired is Saliya Karunanayake. He now takes out two printed images in A4 format and silently puts them on his desk in front of Saga. They are photographs from the surveillance camera. The first image shows Saga leaving the house, the second her return.

“You are not wearing the same clothes in the two images. You have slept somewhere else,” Saliya Karunanayake points out in a sharp tone.

Saga has tried to prepare herself ever since she saw the empty schedule on the intranet. There are various theories about how a stewardess can avoid immediate termination. Someone advises her to weep, another to be strong and act dignified. Now she doesn’t know which method is best. She admits to what the camera captured.

“It got late, I didn’t want to come home after curfew and get fired for it, so I stayed with a female friend.

Saliya Karunanayake asks for a more detailed description of the night in question. First verbally. Then in writing. Saga is asked to leave the name, phone number, place of work and job title of the female friend in question. This terrifies Saga. She gets it into her head that the girl she names could get in trouble and tries to say that she doesn’t remember her number.

So infected are Sagas thought patterns that she worries on behalf of a normal woman outside of Qatar Airways who has had a friend over to stay. The meeting is not at all what you would expect during a discussion between an employer and employee. When she apologises, it is for something bigger than breaking a rule during a night off.

Empty schedule

A few days after I leave Doha, Gina gets in touch. She has just logged onto the intranet.

Her schedule is empty. All her lights are removed.

An early morning call lets her know that she has thirty minutes to present herself at the office. Gina makes sure she stops at an ATM on the way. She takes out all the money, except 100 riyal.

The following day her account is frozen. There is no way of getting to the rest of her money.

Now sacked, Saga is not given much time to leave the country. In a confused state, she returns to her hometown in northern Sweden, trying to reintegrate into her normal life, but is not well.

On her way back from a holiday in Australia she decides to celebrate Christmas with some old friends in Qatar. When Saga lands at Doha airport, it has been several months since her sudden departure from the country and her job of two years. But something’s not right at passport control.

“You’re not welcome here,” says the customs officer after swiping Saga’s passport.

He has no more information to give her. Why is she blacklisted? For how long? Who can she contact for answers?

She isn’t allowed to retrieve her checked baggage. It’s going round and round on the baggage carousel in Doha. Instead she is sent, in her summer clothes from her Australian holiday, straight to a snowy Sweden. A man at Doha airport is tasked with physically escorting her all the way to the gate. But that man is also a migrant worker and when Saga cries he smiles encouragingly and asks with dark humour: “Why are you sad? You’re leaving Qatar!”

Wearing only flip flops and a summer dress, a luggageless Saga makes her way from Arlanda to the train station. Asks for a ticket to her hometown. A man on the train laughs at her clothes and says, “you know you’re heading north, don’t you?” She borrows his mobile. Calls her mum, and asks her to “bring something warm”.

Saga’s mum meets her at the station. She’s holding large duvet.

It is in Sweden that I meet Gina again. In the café at a supermarket in a smallish rural district. The last thing Gina asked Qatar Airways was if she would be allowed to return to the country as a visitor.

“The hardest thing is that I never know what is the country and what is the company. I kept asking who I should get in touch with to find out if I would be allowed in or not. And if not, how many years will it last? Is it an immigration agency or is it Qatar Airways? Who’s in charge?

Gina’s last few hours in the place that has been her home since 2011 passed by quickly. And followed a familiar pattern: A phone call saying, “you have thirty minutes to present yourself at the office”. Passport confiscated. Visa erased. A flight booked. There is no time for Gina to pack up her things, her possessions are left in the country.

“A local man met me outside the airport. I was never told who he was. He had my passport and escorted me through passport control and all the way to the gate, where he gave my passport to the staff at the gate. I really felt like, “what have I done?”

We look out over the drab supermarket café.

“On the plane I sat there thinking that now I’ve got to start building up my self-confidence again. When everything is so controlled by fear, even a small service mistake has to be explained and apologised for to a senior cabin crew member. And then it feels like, my god, I’m so stupid, so stupid I can’t even do this job without getting into trouble.”

New job

Today Saga works for another airline and loves her job, even though she has to rely on temporary contracts being renewed. She gives a quiet and reflective impression when we meet in a town in Sweden.

“At the beginning, when I came home it was very tough. I wasn’t used to being allowed to go out. I said to my mum, “If I sit on that rock, that’s okay isn’t it, I’m allowed to be there?” Other stewardesses often find it difficult to understand why she doesn’t miss Qatar Airways, an airline that is often lauded as one of the best in the world.

Gina books a trip to Doha. The city where she became an adult. Where she saw friend after friend get fired and sent away. Where she learnt how to parry the most intrusive rules for living. But she doesn’t know what will happen at the immigration desk. Nobody can tell her in advance if she will be sent back after landing.

She must play it by ear. Hope for the best.

~

 

Expressen has been in contact with a number of people at Qatar Airways’ head office in Doha for a number of days, in order to give them an opportunity to respond to the criticism.

Senior Media Relations Officer Gayathri Pradeep and Social Media Manager Michael Stellwag refer us to email addresses from which we receive no replies.

For the Nordic market, Qatar Airways has employed Swedish PR agency Comma, whose consultant Lotta Berglin finally puts us in contact with the head office in Doha. However, we do not get to speak to any representatives of the company, but are asked to email our questions.

After about a day we finally get a brief reply, conveyed in an email from PR consultant Lotta Berglin.

“Because we do not know which individuals and which particular cases the article is based on, Qatar Airways is unable to comment on your specific questions. To do this, we must be able to find out more facts, which is impossible if we do not know which employees or former employees are making these statements,” writes Qatar Airways.

By Johanna Karlsson 

The truth about ‘Airline Pilots’ and alcohol: the risks and the rules

Plenty of professionals in stressful jobs enjoy a drink. Some will occasionally binge, and small proportion may become alcohol dependent. But the risk to life and limb presented to the public by, say, a drunk journalist or lawyer is very low, providing he or she doesn’t do something daft such as driving. At the other extreme, bus and train drivers, ship’s officers and airline pilots are responsible for many lives.

The truth about Airline Pilots and alcohol the risks and the rulesSeveral incidents involving pilots alleged to have reported for duty while drunk have occurred recently, leading readers to contact The Independent to ask about the prevalence, the risks and the rules on pilots and alcohol.

What are the risks of alcohol to a pilot’s ability to fly safely?

Flying an aircraft is a profoundly demanding job. Pilots are trained to perform the highly complex tasks necessary to get the plane into the sky, navigate safely to the destination and land. These procedures demand formidable cognitive ability, conformity to a plethora of international and national regulations and a constant sense of “what if …?” — preparedness for unexpected events from a sudden depressurisation to a medical emergency on board. The workplace is exceptionally small and cramped by the standards of ground-based work, and the hours involved are often antisocial and involve crossing multiple time zones.

Alcohol and aviation do not mix, whether you are a passenger or a pilot, and indeed the effects of alcohol can be intensified at altitude.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says: “The majority of adverse effects produced by alcohol relate to the brain, the eyes, and the inner ear — three crucial organs to a pilot.

“Brain effects include impaired reaction time, reasoning, judgment, and memory. Visual symptoms include eye muscle imbalance, which leads to double vision and difficulty focusing. Inner ear effects include dizziness, and decreased hearing perception.”

What does the law say?

Every country makes its own rules, but the basic rules typically stipulate a significant gap — often eight hours — between the last alcoholic drink and reporting for duty. This is often called the “bottle to throttle” time. In addition, most nations impose a limit below the legal blood-alcohol maximum for driving.

Is there a typical set of circumstances in which pilots are suspected of being under the influence of alcohol?

Looking at a number of incidents, it appears that the most common time that a pilot is suspected of being drunk is after a night-stop away from base. In some circumstances there may be a culture among crews of drinking while away from home, perhaps as a reaction to boredom or loneliness.

What methods are used to detect pilots who infringe the rules?

At present, a typical scenario is that ground staff or fellow crew members suspect that a pilot may have been drinking and either challenge him or her or report their fears to the authorities.

Some jurisdictions, and individual airlines, carry out random alcohol and drug spot checks on staff (including cabin crew, who, like pilots, are safety-critical). After the Germanwings crash in 2015, in which the first officer deliberately flew the aircraft into the French Alps and killed all 150 on board, European safety regulators have been calling for such testing to be mandatory. But many pilots oppose this, saying it would be unhelpful and intrusive.

How often does alcohol contribute to accidents? 

It is difficult to say, because a typical plane crash involves a whole sequence of events that combine to create danger. A survey of light-aircraft fatal accidents conducted by the Forensic Toxicology Research Section of the FAA (going back, it must be said, to 1993), shows that alcohol above the 0.04 blood-alcohol limit for pilots was found in about one in 12 cases.

But the figures for passenger aircraft are very different. Dr Rob Hunter of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA), says: “The data suggests that there is not a problem of drug and alcohol misuse in large commercial air transport operations.”

Passenger planes crash far less frequently than light aircraft, so it is impossible to come up with any kind of percentage, but in two fatal accidents in Russia in 2011 and 2012 drunk pilots were held to be partly responsible.

Shouldn’t flight crew simply be banned from drinking? 

The FAA says: “Alcohol avoidance is as critical as developing a flight plan, a good pre-flight inspection, obeying air-traffic control procedures, and avoiding severe weather.” It notes that the effect of a hangover can continue for 48 to 72 hours following the last drink, degrading cognitive and psychomotor abilities.

Yet aviation is a social profession; most pilots are thoroughly responsible individuals; and an outright ban could have the undesirable effect of persuading some pilots to drink secretly, rather than openly in company.

Indeed, openness is probably the best key to reducing the risks in the long term. A leading aviation safety expert says: “In the Netherlands, an excellent programme exists called ‘anti-skid’. The system is run by the pilot association together with professional alcohol help groups and the co-operation of the employer. The idea is to get the pilot off-line and into help without him or her losing their job. It requires delicate work but it does help the small number of pilots that get into trouble with alcohol or substance abuse.”

Pilot of small ‘experimental’ airplane dies after it catches fire mid-air and crashes into a Minnesota church parking lot

The pilot of a small plane was killed on Wednesday after he crashed into a church parking lot in Minnesota.

The aircraft had taken off from the Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie shortly before the incident occurred. The identity of the pilot has yet to be disclosed.

Local authorities said shortly after 11am CST, a single passenger plane crashed outside the Resurrection Life Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, less than three miles away from the airport.

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A pilot from Minnesota dies after crashing into parking lot outside of a church in Eden Prairie

Local authorities said shortly after 11am a single passenger plane crashed outside the Resurrection Life Church in Eden Prairie

The plane caught fire before falling from the sky.

‘We did hear information from the airport that they did say there was a fire on board,’ police Lt. Bill Wyffels told The Star Tribune. 

Someone at the scene ‘saw the plane go into a circle right before it went down’, Wyffels added.

The Minnesota State Patrol and Eden Prairie police responded to the incident and closed off traffic towards the site of the crash.

The identity of the pilot has yet to be released publicly. Witnesses say that the plane caught fire before falling from the sky

The identity of the pilot has yet to be released publicly. Witnesses say that the plane caught fire before falling from the sky

Debris from the plane had wrapped around a lamppost outside the church and a large red screen was set-up to shield the wreckage.

No injuries or property damage was reported.

‘It is fortunate that it did not hit a building and landed in the parking lot,’ Wyffels said. ‘There were no cars in close proximity.’

The Tribune citing Federal Aviation Administration records said the pilot was flying a Fisher Horizon 2 aircraft, described as an ‘experimental … amateur built’ plane with one engine.

The Tribune noted that the owner of the plane was a man from Richfield, a suburb of Minneapolis.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating the crash.

The pilot was flying a Fisher Horizon 2 aircraft, described as an 'experimental ... amateur built' plane (file photo)

The pilot was flying a Fisher Horizon 2 aircraft, described as an ‘experimental … amateur built’ plane (file photo)

Do Flight Attendants on US based airlines have a “cop” mentality?

Do flight attendants have a “cop” mentality? Probably.

Why?

  • -Because passengers think they are “above” the law.
  • -The rules don’t apply to them specifically.
  • -The seatbelt sign means nothing.
  • -TURBULENCE means nothing.
  • -Laptops arent considered “large” personal electronic devices.
  • -People pack bowling balls in suitcases, which become to heavy for them to lift, but assume they’re light for me to lift.
  • -People are too entitled.
  • -People think the airlines owe them everything.
  • -People expect everything for free.
  • -No one likes to be told what to do, even though they aren’t following FAA rules.
  • -Parents with children think children qualify as a disability, and expect everyone to cater to them because they have children.
  • -People use a wheelchair to get to and from the plane, but have 5 bags with them.

The list goes on and on, but until you start being a DECENT passenger, we’ll continue to have the “cop” mentality.

I have travelled on Emirates, Etihad, Cathay, British, Lufthansa, KLM, Jal, ANA and Air China and always found the attendants very pleasant under such a tasking enviornment however I recently flew on United to Mumbai and found the attitude of flight attandants quite obnoxious and high handed. They were seriously acting like police officers.

  • During boarding one FA sternly told the agent to move away from the Aisle eventhough I just saw him arriving and putting his bag.
  • Another lady with a small kid asked for help for putting her cabin bag and the FA responds “you should only bring cabin bags that you can lift, we cant help you with that”.
  • I got up during the flight and the washroom was occupied so I was waiting with another passenger. The FA told us to get back to our seats as congregating around washrooms was not allowed. I asked her can you let me know if the washroom gets vacant and she responded no I need to go back and use it when its empty… lol
  • One old Indian male with limited english was asking her something about the food. She kept asking him do you want A or do you want B instead of figuring out that they messed up his special meals.
  • I took an Ambien and was sleeping when they were apparently descending. Instead of tapping me to upright my chair, out of nowhere I hear a loud thud at the back of my head and saw the FA pushing my seat upright and then doing the same with another one and just going on. Im not exaggerating but it seriously gave me headache all day long. Maybe I was in deep sleep and the huge thud at the back of my head scared the …. out of me.

Its hard to describe their attitude and while the above things might seem petty, my overall impression was less than stellar. They had a very harsh and condescending manner of speaking with passengers like some cop who pulled you over for a traffic stop.

Since its my first time flying a US based airline Im just wondering if this is a standard practice for FA’s to behave like TSA?

if you’re an air hostess: Glamorous cabin crew and pilots show off perks of the job on Instagram

Flight crew across the globe have been uploading lavish pictures of their travels in a number of envy-inducing Instagram posts


These envy-inducing pictures show the glamorous lives of long haul flight crews who are paid to travel the world.

Air stewards and stewardesses have been uploading elaborate selfies to their Instagram accounts during their stop-overs at work.

And they’re full of sunbathing on the beach, sipping cocktails from coconuts and other boastful snaps guaranteed to make anyone jealous.

In one snap, an air hostess called Georgia Nielsen sips from a coconut on a beach in Brazil.

The Australian stewardess, who works for Emirates Airline, also poses with a beer on the beach in Cape Town, South Africa, and in one snap poses in front of the bridge in San Francisco.

(Photo: Instagram/georgia.nielsen)
Aeroflot hostess Victoria Tzuranova
(Photo: Instagram/georgia.nielsen)

She captioned the picture: “On Sunday in San Francisco, a US Navy SEAL took me cycling to sunny Sausalito in my six-inch heels where we sweatily sipped Prosecco.

“It was f****** awesome. That is legit how I spent my yesterday”

Another stewardess, known online as Patricia, posted a picture of a stunning beach in Alicante, Spain.

She also uploaded pictures of herself sightseeing in Prague, landing in Norway and posing on Brooklyn Bridge during one trip to New York.

Patricia also gave her followers a look at life behind the scenes of cabin crew members.

Shoulder goals 🌴🌴 with @seedheritage #seedheritage

A photo posted by Georgia Nielsen (@georgia.nielsen) on

Another stewardess, known online as Patricia, posted a picture of a stunning beach in Alicante, Spain.

She also uploaded pictures of herself sightseeing in Prague, landing in Norway and posing on Brooklyn Bridge during one trip to New York.

Patricia also gave her followers a look at life behind the scenes of cabin crew members.

Norwegian Airlines' Rainam

She posted snaps of herself seated on the plane, and plenty of selfies showing off her uniform.

The Norwegian Air worker also shared pictures of herself with other crew members, posing in the cabin and having fun on their days off.

Flight attendant Daniel Smith

Flight attendant Daniel Smith is also a male model

Another picture shows him wrapped up in a frosty field in Oslo, Norway, and another posing in a vest top in sunny Ibiza, Spain.

Daniel also posed with cabin crew in his uniform and boastfully uploaded a image of the words: “I need vitamin SEA.”

And one high-flying pilot uploaded a number of lavish snaps from the cockpit that show his travels across the globe.

The Brazil-based pilot, known online as Hudson Sa, took a number of incredible snaps from both the plane and on the ground.

One picture shows him flying above Sao Paolo with an incredible orange sunset in the background.

Another shows him relaxing on the beach in Noronha, Brazil, as in another picture he’s snorkeling in the area.

The pilot also uploaded a number selfies in his uniform and on the plane, amassing more than 2,500 followers in less than 6 weeks.

After taking a flight on Emirates, I never want to fly a domestic airline a

after-taking-a-flight-on-emirates-i-never-want-to-fly-a-domestic-airline-againI recently booked a flight from New York City to Milan for a quick getaway. Faced with the choice of flying Delta or Emirates, both of which had round-trip economy-class tickets for about $800, I quickly opted for the Middle Eastern airline.

Emirates, which is owned by Dubai’s government, has exploded onto the US market in the past several years. It is regularly rated one of the top airlines in the world, and I was psyched to experience it on the eight-hour flight.

The trip did not disappoint. I ate salmon and saffron risotto, drank complimentary (and surprisingly decent) wine, and watched a bunch of movies, including the recent Oscar winners “Birdman” and “Whiplash.”

Even before I boarded my flight from Milan to New York, I could tell this would be different from a flight on most domestic airlines. Any passenger — not just those in business class — could take a newspaper or magazine for the trip.

Even before I boarded my flight from Milan to New York, I could tell this would be different from a flight on most domestic airlines. Any passenger — not just those in business class — could take a newspaper or magazine for the trip.

Julie Zeveloff/Business Insider

Freshly poured mimosas were available upon boarding, but unfortunately for me, those were reserved for business-class travelers.

Freshly poured mimosas were available upon boarding, but unfortunately for me, those were reserved for business-class travelers.

Julie Zeveloff/Business Insider

The flowers hanging by the bathroom were a nice touch. They came down before takeoff.

The flowers hanging by the bathroom were a nice touch. They came down before takeoff.

Julie Zeveloff/Business Insider

Business class looked pretty cushy, with reclining seats, reading lamps, and big TV screens.

Business class looked pretty cushy, with reclining seats, reading lamps, and big TV screens.

Julie Zeveloff/Business Insider

But I wasn’t prepared to pony up several thousand dollars for an eight-hour flight, so I kept heading toward the back of the plane.

 But I wasn't prepared to pony up several thousand dollars for an eight-hour flight, so I kept heading toward the back of the plane.

Julie Zeveloff/Business Insider

At least the overhead bins were spacious, even in the rear.

At least the overhead bins were spacious, even in the rear.

Julie Zeveloff/Business Insider

My seat, 27K, was a window seat, and my row was full. Even so, I had plenty of room to wiggle my knees around. I’d hoped to fly on one of Emirates’ impressive new A380 planes, which have two decks and slightly larger economy seats. But it was hard to complain.

My seat, 27K, was a window seat, and my row was full. Even so, I had plenty of room to wiggle my knees around. I'd hoped to fly on one of Emirates' impressive new A380 planes, which have two decks and slightly larger economy seats. But it was hard to complain.

Julie Zeveloff/Business Insider

And one thing’s for sure … I lucked out with the view. That’s one very large airplane wing, with the Swiss Alps in the background!

And one thing's for sure ... I lucked out with the view. That's one very large airplane wing, with the Swiss Alps in the background!

Julie Zeveloff/Business Insider

Each seat came with a wrapped blanket and pillow …

Each seat came with a wrapped blanket and pillow ...

Julie Zeveloff/Business Insider

And a set of headphones and some brightly colored stickers.

And a set of headphones and some brightly colored stickers.

Julie Zeveloff/Business Insider

The stickers had a cool purpose: Passengers were instructed to put them on their seatbacks to let flight attendants know if they wanted to be woken up for food or shopping.

The stickers had a cool purpose: Passengers were instructed to put them on their seatbacks to let flight attendants know if they wanted to be woken up for food or shopping.

Julie Zeveloff/Business Insider

I made sure I would be awoken for dinner. I had heard good things about Emirates’ cuisine (Saveur’s experts have named its business-class in-flight fare the best two years in a row) and didn’t want to miss it.

I made sure I would be awoken for dinner. I had heard good things about Emirates' cuisine (Saveur's experts have named its business-class in-flight fare the best two years in a row) and didn't want to miss it.

Julie Zeveloff/Business Insider

Before we took off, a flight attendant came around with hot towels. In economy class!

Before we took off, a flight attendant came around with hot towels. In economy class!

Julie Zeveloff/Business Insider

She also handed each passenger a printed menu. In economy!

She also handed each passenger a printed menu. In economy!

Julie Zeveloff/Business Insider

After takeoff, I started browsing the complimentary issue of Italian fashion glossy Grazia, which I’d picked up at the newsstand. It almost immediately put me to sleep …

After takeoff, I started browsing the complimentary issue of Italian fashion glossy Grazia, which I'd picked up at the newsstand. It almost immediately put me to sleep ...

Julie Zeveloff/Business Insider

But I was awoken soon after when the drink cart rolled up. Unlike on most domestic airlines (even those that fly internationally), the booze was free. The white wine wasn’t half bad, and the flight attendant passed me a second bottle before I even had to ask for one. My seat neighbor collected mini bottles of Johnnie Walker Red Label as if it were going out of production.

But I was awoken soon after when the drink cart rolled up. Unlike on most domestic airlines (even those that fly internationally), the booze was free. The white wine wasn't half bad, and the flight attendant passed me a second bottle before I even had to ask for one. My seat neighbor collected mini bottles of Johnnie Walker Red Label as if it were going out of production.

Julie Zeveloff/Business Insider

Champagne was the only thing economy-class passengers had to pay for.

Champagne was the only thing economy-class passengers had to pay for.

Julie Zeveloff/Business Insider

The menu was printed in both English and Arabic. Normally I would avoid seafood on an airplane, but I decided to try the pan-fried salmon. How bad could it be?

The menu was printed in both English and Arabic. Normally I would avoid seafood on an airplane, but I decided to try the pan-fried salmon. How bad could it be?

Julie Zeveloff/Business Insider

It was actually excellent! The fish and risotto were both flavorful, no small feat for airplane food. The food was served hot, and the utensils were made of metal, not plastic.

It was actually excellent! The fish and risotto were both flavorful, no small feat for airplane food. The food was served hot, and the utensils were made of metal, not plastic.

Julie Zeveloff/Business Insider

Here’s a closer look at lunch.

Here's a closer look at lunch.

Julie Zeveloff/Business Insider

I was ready to take advantage of “Ice,” Emirates’ entertainment system. The airline review site Skytrax just ranked Emirates the best airline for in-flight entertainment, and I was pretty impressed with the selection.

I was ready to take advantage of "Ice," Emirates' entertainment system. The airline review site Skytrax just ranked Emirates the best airline for in-flight entertainment, and I was pretty impressed with the selection.

Julie Zeveloff/Business Insider

There were hundreds of movies to choose from, including recent Oscar winners like “Birdman,” “The Theory of Everything,” and “Whiplash.”

There were hundreds of movies to choose from, including recent Oscar winners like "Birdman," "The Theory of Everything," and "Whiplash."

Julie Zeveloff/Business Insider

There was also a program that let customers call one another’s seats. I was flying solo, so I didn’t try it out, but I could see kids having a field day making prank calls with it.

There was also a program that let customers call one another's seats. I was flying solo, so I didn't try it out, but I could see kids having a field day making prank calls with it.

Julie Zeveloff/Business Insider

The coolest part of Ice were the real-time cameras on the front and underbelly on the plane.

The coolest part of Ice were the real-time cameras on the front and underbelly on the plane.

Julie Zeveloff/Business Insider

I was thrilled to find a charger next to the infotainment system. It was compatible with all kinds of plugs.

I was thrilled to find a charger next to the infotainment system. It was compatible with all kinds of plugs.

Julie Zeveloff/Business Insider

Shortly before we landed, the flight attendants handed out our “snack” — “pizza margherita al pesto.” I had high expectations …

Shortly before we landed, the flight attendants handed out our "snack" — "pizza margherita al pesto." I had high expectations ...

Julie Zeveloff/Business Insider

… but it was a real letdown. The dough was soggy, and I didn’t taste any pesto at all. It was still better than most airplane food I’ve eaten, though, so I decided to give them a pass on the dish.

... but it was a real letdown. The dough was soggy, and I didn't taste any pesto at all. It was still better than most airplane food I've eaten, though, so I decided to give them a pass on the dish.

Julie Zeveloff/Business Insider

After eight hours, even a first-class suite couldn’t have enticed me to stay on the plane a minute longer. But I would definitely choose Emirates over any of the domestic airlines for my next international trip.

After eight hours, even a first-class suite couldn't have enticed me to stay on the plane a minute longer. But I would definitely choose Emirates over any of the domestic airlines for my next international trip.

Julie Zeveloff/Business Insider

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