Working the Santa shift at 35,000 feet

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL December 17, 2022

The December issue of British Airways’ The Club magazine has a piece titled “Working the Santa shift”.

It’s about the pilots and crew who are on the rota on December 25 and required to celebrate Christmas at 35,000 feet.

Do they? Celebrate, that is?

So it seems.

Some of the stories tell of little rituals embraced by people to make a work day feel more festive.

One 787 first officer, for instance, tells of wearing “a Santa hat and Christmas jumper instead of my pilot’s uniform” and expresses gratitude to British Airways for being “good like that” and letting “you forgo the rules to get into the spirit of things”.

A 777 captain notes that “one of the better things” about flying on Christmas day is the reality of fewer flights and less of a pile-up coming into Heathrow.

And another 787 senior first officer describes his partner coming along on a work trip on Christmas Day, and then celebrating with them in Mexico City.

By some accounts, pilots and aircrew are in a minority. Let alone Christmas day, the start of the week before Christmas is supposed to be the time when up to 57 per cent of British workers have mentally checked out by this date, according to research by the Peakon HR analytics group before the pandemic.

So too the US, where employees lose focus at work by December 16.

Imagine if aircrew indulged in the same way.