This time last year, father of two Brian Rose from Lancing, West Sussex, was flying over the Atlantic Ocean serving prosecco on long-haul flights to the USA and Caribbean.
For 15 years, Brian worked as cabin crew for Virgin Atlantic, wearing the infamous red tie and warm welcoming smile as passengers boarded planes for business or leisure. When the COVID-19 outbreak hit, 43-year-old Brian was furloughed and decided to look for a temporary new role.
Like many in the airline industry, Brian has found work as a key worker and is currently working for supermarket chain Tesco.
Keep Britain Working caught up with Brian and asked him a few questions about his latest journey.
KBW: What successes did you have in your career as cabin crew?
Brian: I was promoted to senior cabin crew that predominantly work in the Upper Class cabin. They are also mentors for newer crew members or anyone that feels a need for a little assistance along the way. I also mentored on Flying Without Fear day courses for customers that needed a little reassurance on the safety aspects of flying, guiding them through all elements of flight safety and the training and procedures in place to ensure that flying is indeed the safest form of travel.
KBW: Why did you leave your role as an air steward?
Brian: I haven’t left permanently, I’m currently on furlough. Due to the many travel restrictions and the fact people aren’t flying at the moment Virgin Atlantic has reduced its flying schedule and has had to furlough many of it’s workers. The aviation industry currently in a state of turmoil and change – it’s going through the toughest period in its entire history.
KBW: Why did your employer not furlough you?
Brian: The airline industry was already going through a reduction in global travel, and a reduction in the income generated. So, to be proactive many airlines have put staff onto unpaid leave and stored aircraft in a hope to offset costs.
KBW: Was working in a supermarket your first choice when looking for a new job?
Brian: Yes, with the employment market adapting the way it is, I knew supermarkets or delivery work would offer my family and I some security.
KBW: How did you come across the role?
Brian: I applied for multiple roles within the main supermarket chains via their recruitment links on their main websites.
KBW: What does your new role involve?
Brian: It’s a whole variety of roles. Officially, I’m part of the store checkout team, but with the current situation having created unprecedented demand on the supermarket trade, overtime has been available in different areas of the store. These activities include; assisting in collating orders for the home delivery service, unloading and moving store deliveries around, re-arranging displays, monitoring and guiding the flow of customers around the store, helping the customer service desk, and assisting and monitoring new starters on the checkouts. I have already been trained to supervise the checkout areas, and assist with overcoming any challenges along the way. It is very varied, making every day different and filled with new challenges.
KBW: What would you say to someone out of work and looking for a new position, would you encourage then to embark on a career in a supermarket?
Brian: I would definitely recommend it and encourage them to do so, yes. It’s a great role for personal development – with multiple options for development within the industry.
KBW: Do you see this as a potential, more permanent change of career? Brian: Although flying is my dream job, I am thoroughly enjoying my new career! Every day brings new interactions, new challenges, and new chances for personal development.