Preparing to Launch with PIE

February 08, 2018

Passengers who use St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE) are familiar with the flight crews they see when boarding, or gate agents who check them in for their flights. But there is a lot more going on to get every aircraft into and out of PIE efficiently and safely. Let’s take a look at the visible and behind-the-scenes staff who assist with every flight.

Flight attendants — PIE passengers interact with flight attendants on every flight, but they may not realize flight attendants are highly trained in safety and many other procedures. They have received training in first aid, managing passenger issues, and emergency evacuation procedure. They also perform a passenger count to confirm it matches the flight manifest. They are the most visible part of a large team dedicated to keeping passengers safely on the way to their destination.

Gate agents —Together with checking in passengers for their flight, they are also monitoring the gate area for passengers who may be ill or need special assistance, confirm that all passengers match their boarding passes, and communicate the number of passengers to the flight crew to aid in fuel needs and other services such as meals on longer flights.

Baggage handlers — Those folks loading luggage and cargo outside the cabin window before a flight do a lot more than just load the bags into the cargo hold. All aircraft must be loaded to maintain a proper weight and balance, and the bags and cargo are checked to ensure they are going to the correct destination. Baggage handlers must secure all bags and cargo so it doesn’t shift in flight, and might even be required to remove cargo if calculations by the flight crew show too much weight on board.

Ground crew — The ground crew is responsible for all support operations while the aircraft is at the airport. This can include fueling, servicing the fresh water and sanitation systems, delivering food and other supplies, de-icing the aircraft in winter weather, guiding aircraft into the gate when they arrive, and handling the push-back out of the gate area when the flight is departing.

Company operations — Operations personnel may never be seen by passengers, but they are a critical part of flight management. Operations personnel are communication links between the flight crew and other personnel. They track arrival and departure times and take requests from the pilots for fuel, de-icing, or other services. They coordinate emergency services if an incoming flight has a medical or other emergency, and keep all personnel aware of delays due to weather, airport operations, or other issues.

The next time you use PIE for your air travel, keep in mind the many people who help support flight operations at our state-of-the-art airport. When you see them around the airport, appreciate all their many roles. And, always think of PIE when you are planning your next trip to or from the greater St. Pete/Clearwater area!

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