I’ve flown a lot over the years and one thing has bugged me. Anytime I don’t understand something, it bugs me. You might think I get bugged a lot, and that would be accurate.
It’s the flight attendants, you see. They have codes I wasn’t fully grasping so I thought I’d ask an expert. My friend and flight attendant Mary Jo Manzanares was kind enough to let me in on the secret (it’ not really a secret, but I thought you’d be more intrigued if I played it up a bit) and answer some of my pressing questions. Such as: What the heck is a cross check? What do you do to actually perform one? Where does it fit into the “get on plane, magically fly across the sky” process?
Her kind reply:
Each Flight Attendant has a door (or doors) that they are responsible for opening in the event of an emergency. The door exits all have inflatable slides that must be engaged to work. We call that “arming the door.” When the door is armed, if it is opening, the slide will engage. Remember the safety briefing? “The doors are equipped with inflatable evacuation slides for group floatation.” That’s what they’re talking about.
After the main cabin door is closed, but prior to push back, one of the Flight Attendants will say something like “Prepare doors for departure and cross check, please.” What follows is a bunch of “checks” and “cross checks” announcements. Check says “I’ve armed my door – the inflation slide is now fully operational in the event of an emergency.”
On some planes, a Flight Attendant is given a secondary door for which they are responsible. When we say cross check complete, it means that we’ve armed out primary door (the slide is operational) and we have double checked our secondary door to make sure it is armed as well.
The entire process is a way of ensuring that all the emergency slides engaged and available for use in the event of an emergency evacuation.
There you have it. A mystery no more. At least for me. I thought this is generally what was going on and now it is good to sit back and relax while pushing back from a gate knowing the flight attendants aren’t really making jokes about me. I mean, that’s what you assumed they were doing, too, right?