Editorials

July 23, 2013

The Fastest 10 Minutes: Cleaning An Aircraft Between Flights

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Written by: Jason Rabinowitz
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JetStream employees at PBI clean a United A319

It is no secret that airline passengers can be a bit messy. Potato chip bags stuffed into seat back pockets, blankets everywhere, lavatories a mess, and galleys stuffed with trash. By the time the next round of passengers steps on board, however, the aircraft is sparkling clean and ready for the next flight, but how does that happen? In the short 10 minute span between the time passengers are offloaded and the next flight begins boarding, a team of cleaners are brought on board, and do what most passengers will never see.

At West Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) in Florida, JetStream Ground Services is the company in charge of making sure every mainline United aircraft that lands at PBI takes off again sparkling clean. I joined JetStream as they worked their magic on a United Airbus A319 that had just arrived from Newark.

A United Airbus A319 pulls up to the jet bridge at PBI

A United Airbus A319 pulls up to the jet bridge at PBI

Before the slightly delayed arrival, I was escorted down to the ramp. Below the gate, JetStream has a large room full of all the cleaning supplies they could possibly need for this aircraft. The crew of about four employees is ready the moment the aircraft touches down. As the aircraft parks and the jet bridge is moved into position, the JetStream employees stage near the door of the jet bridge, waiting for passengers to unload.

In aircraft with a first class cabin, such as this one, one JetStream employee will sneak on board to begin cleaning that section, before the rest of the passengers have exited. After the plane is fully empty, the rest of the JetStream crew boards, and the clock starts. Two employees start at the front of the aircraft, and two at the rear, working towards the middle. To complicate things a bit, there was a crew change before the next flight, so United crew members were headed up and down the aisle during cleaning. At one point, the overhead IFE screens dropped down, giving the cleaners even less room to work with.

Throughout the aircraft, bags of trash are hauled off one by one. Seat belts are arranged on the seats in a very exact manner, welcoming the next passenger. The lavatory has been cleaned and emptied, and apparently the JetStream prefers the Airbus over Boeing because it has a gauge that tells them when the fluid pump for the lav has been completed.

VIDEO: JetStream Ground Services cleaning the United A319 as quickly as they can.

JetStream employees clean the United A319 as quickly as they can.

JetStream employees clean the United A319 as quickly as they can.

In just 10 minutes and 15 seconds, the A319 is handed back over to United, ready for its flight back up to Newark. The JetStream crew heads back down the jet bridge stairs, and like a ghost, the next round of passengers will never see them. While the A319 they cleaned at PBI is a rather modestly sized aircraft, others are a much more monumental task. At Charlotte, JetStream cleans and services over 300 aircraft of all sizes in a single day. The next time you board an aircraft, help them out a little bit, and throw your trash away. You may not know it, but the longer the cleaning crew is on board, the later your flight gets.

That's one clean galley

That’s one clean galley

The room where JetStream keeps all their equipment at PIB

The room where JetStream keeps all their equipment at PBI

Watch your head: The IFE screens dropped down, limiting headroom as JetStream employees did their thing

Watch your head: The IFE screens dropped down, limiting headroom as JetStream employees worked

While waiting its turn to be used, the vacuum cleaner gets to hang out in first class

While waiting its turn to be used, the vacuum cleaner gets to hang out in first class



About the Author

Jason Rabinowitz





 
 

 

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  • JetStream Ground Services

    Awesome article! Thank you Jason!