Virgin Australia's flight attendant reveals airline secrets, celebrity passengers



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Ten years ago, flight attendant Christina Carter embarked on a historic flight.

It was the first flight of VA1 – Virgin Australia's service from Sydney to Los Angeles, when the airline was known as V Australia.

And as she celebrates the 10th anniversary of her SYD-LAX route today, Mrs. Carter – now a Virgin Australia flight manager – is reminiscing about the most memorable moments of the journey across the Pacific.

"As a crew, we see people at their best and sometimes worse," Carter told news.com.au.

"I've been seeing connections, breaks and ups on my many flights. I saw proposals and brought the sparkling wine, and also helped sick family members make their last trip home to someone they love, which is devastating.

"No day is the same and that's great at work. You leave with some flights buzzing and some with heavy hearts."

Carter said he was a bit afraid when he boarded the first maiden flight on February 26, 2009.

"I was scared about the duration of the flights and working for all that time," Carter told news.com.au.

"I worked long before, but not too long. Our shifts can reach 17 hours on average and are manageable with "team rest", which keeps your staff alert and refreshed.

"And if you're curious, we have a crew resting area on the plane where we can change and relax for our breaks so we can feel great for landing."

Since the first VA1 flight (and return flight, VA2), Virgin Australia has carried 4.1 million passengers to and from Los Angeles on about 14,500 flights.

In that decade, Carter saw many changes – rebranding the airline from Australia to Virgin Australia in 2012, for example, along with the introduction of Wi-Fi in the Boeing 777 fleet that changes the game.

"Our uniforms changing to what you see now have been a big change for us as crew," she said. "This really helped with our more professional image in rebranding for Virgin Australia, since our previous uniforms were a bit more casual.

"We all feel so smart about joining Julie Grbac's uniform and really stand out as we walk together as a team through the airport."

As a flight manager, Carter mainly works in business class, but also moves through the economy and talking to passengers and helping with their travel plans.

And yes, this includes some celebrities, which is of little surprise on flights in and out of the Hollywood house.

"I was lucky enough to meet many famous people during my career," said Carter.

"The Madden brothers (Joel and Benji), Mel B, Eric Bana, Terry Hatcher, Brian McFadden, Billy Zane and Liam Hemsworth. I must have had more.

"I have to add that the Madden Brothers were two of the loveliest guests I've ever flown. "One of the most entertaining was Richard Reid, the celebrity correspondent. He made me laugh all the way to LA – what a cool guy.

"Another one that comes to my mind was one of my favorite actors, the Australian actor Matthew Le Nevez, who flew just after the end of Offspring series that he starred in, and I watched at home. As much as I am a total professional in the workplace, I can not say that it has not been exciting to talk to someone I have followed so closely in the series. He was absolutely lovely and had time to talk to the entire staff about his life in Los Angeles. "

But one of Carter's favorite things about the SYD-LAX route is to introduce a bit of Australia to visitors.

"I absolutely love receiving our Australian guests at home at the end of their vacation and giving our American guests an introduction to Australian hospitality," she said.

"It's amazing how many guests are excited to embark on our flights at the end of a fantastic holiday and hear our accents. On the other hand, we have received many American guests who are visiting Australia for the first time and just beginning their journey.

"As a crew we love to offer our own tips on where to visit, along with my teams, I have written many to-do lists."

Virgin Australia, part of the Virgin empire of billionaire businessman Richard Branson, started in Australia in the year 2000 as Virgin Blue and operated only one route between Brisbane and Sydney.

Two months after V Australia launched its maiden flight from Sydney to Los Angeles in February 2009, it began flying from Brisbane to Los Angeles.

Virgin Australia was announced as the company's new name in 2012.

CHRISTINA'S TIPS FOR AUSSIES ON THE

There are some things Australians must know before heading to the United States – but Carter has acquired wise wisdom after traveling there for the last 10 years.

And the first has to do with tip.

"It's part of the culture, understand and offer when necessary, it's how people live in the service industry," she said.

"(E) Travel Insurance – American medical care is expensive. Be prepared for any eventuality. It always shocks me how many guests travel without him.

"Be prepared to be asked everywhere about your accent! Americans love visitors and will be so interested in where you've traveled. Share with them.

For tourists in Los Angeles, Carter advises checking the sights of the famous Griffith Observatory.

"My best choice is a walk to the Hollywood sign of the Griffith Observatory, it does not disappoint and provides a fabulous expansion of the Los Angeles area and great photography opportunities," she said.

"Then venture out on the Malibu Farm on the pier for a brunch and a cheeky mimosa, why not? Little shopping in the late afternoon, then a dinner at the (famous West Hollywood restaurant) Cecconis. "

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