18 October, 2017

French public services strike

We would like to inform you that a public services strike in France is due tomorrow 19th of October that might cause some restrictions in our operations.

Check the status of your flight in http://www.vueling.com/en/vueling-services/flight-information/flights-status

We apologize for the inconvenience.

9 October, 2017

ATC Industrial action strike in France

ATC Industrial action strike in France

We would like to inform you that an air traffic controllers strike in France is due tomorrow 10th of October that causes some restrictions in our operations.

Please check here the cancelled flights.

It is not necessary for you to go to the airport in order to make any of these changes. You have 7 days since the date of the affected flight to manage your booking.

These are the options at your disposal:


  • Free change for another flight leaving up to 15 days before or after scheduled departure.
  • Ask refund of affected flight; reimbursements will be made within the next 7 days.

You can change your flight or refund your booking by clicking here.

Additionally, you can contact our special telephone number 902 808 009 from Spain, 931220851 for any mobile phones and local calls (Barcelona), 33184884814 from France, 390694801256 from Italy, and (+34) 93 122 00 55 from rest of the world.

Passengers who are affected by this strike and that have bookings made through www.vueling.com have been notified by e-mail and SMS to those contacts showed on booking.

Passengers who are affected by this strike and that have booked through a travel agency or an online travel agency must contact to their own costumer service to make any changes or ask refund.

Finally, those passengers who have a booking made by Iberia or British Airways in codeshare with Vueling must ask directly to those Airlines for any changes or refund.

For this reason, we kindly ask you to check previously your flight status before going to the airport.

Please check here all the information about Passengers’ Rights.

2 October, 2017

On Tuesday, the 3rd of October : Minimum services on public transportation due to general strike in Barcelona

Due to a general strike, there will be serious disruptions to Barcelona metro and bus services Tuesday 3 October.

  • From 6.30 and 9.30 am and from 17.00 and 20.00 pm, 25% minimum services.
  • Other times, no service.

From “Azafata” To Passenger Cabin Crew – The Story

The dictionary of the Real Academia Española (Royal Spanish Academy) has an entry beginning with the letter “A”, for which the first definition reads: “low-lipped tray or platter, woven in wicker or made of straw, gold, silver, brass, earthenware or other materials”, while the second definition briefly states it to be a “wooden washbasin”. The entry in question has all but fallen into disuse, although it is closely linked to the aeronautical sector – azafate.

Etymology, a branch of linguistics which studies the origin of words, as well as their evolution in form and meaning, describes the term as having evolved over virtually the last 500 years, when flying was still a pipe dream. The word azafata (stewardess) began to be used in the 16th century to refer to a widow of the nobility appointed by the Spanish court to take the queen’s garments to her chamber, as well as the jewellery she would wear each day. She was dubbed azafata on account of her carrying these accoutrements on an azafate (tray).

How is it that such an odd and antiquated charge should end up being applied to one of the occupations most closely linked to air transport? Well, it all began in 1946, when Iberia embarked on its first ever intercontinental flight, from Madrid to Buenos Aires, with several stopovers on the way, making this route an airborne adventure taking a whopping two days between Europe and the Americas. The sheer length of the journey led those in charge of the company to float the idea that passengers should be attended to by staff hired specifically for that in-flight task.

The profession was not new, however, as it actually dates from the time of the zeppelins. In 1912, a month before the sinking of the Titanic, Heinrich Kubis became the first flight attendant serving passengers of the airline DELAG, which offered pleasure flights above Germany’s landscapes in zeppelins and included an on-board courtesy service provided by Herr Kubis. Years later, in the late 1920s, some British and American companies also began to take on some professionals from the hospitality sector to attend to passengers on specific routes by serving up drinks and cold food as a perk.After the stock market crash of 1929, which ushered in the Great Depression in the United States, United Airlines hired the lady who was to become the first female flight attendant, Ellen Church. A nurse by profession, she endowed the occupation with a profile that went somewhat beyond just serving in-flight food and drink, and which involved all passengers’ needs being catered for, at a time when flying as an everyday occurrence was still a long, long way in the future.

Returning to Spain in 1946; while ways were being sought to streamline that legendary Madrid-Buenos Aires route, involving several stopovers on the way, efforts were also under way to best define in Spanish the new profession of “steward” or “purser”, both of which terms had been borrowed from the maritime sphere. Iberia’s directors who, like those at Vueling, belonged to the IAG group, embarked on something akin to a brainstorming session and came up with such words as aeromoza, aeroviaria, provisoria, mayordoma… However, the casting vote fell to the company’s managing director, César Gómez Lucía, an adherent of rather elaborate, ornate language, who decided to retrieve an archaic Spanish term for the new profession – azafata – as he assumed that the airline’s passengers would be treated “like kings and queens” during their flight by the first crew of attendants hired for the purpose. The idea caught on and the term was used for decades, with the variant azafato being applied to male attendants.

The term azafata was subsequently used in other professions which, while not relevant to aviation, had to do with attending to the public, as in congresses, trade fairs and other events which are usually unrelated to aeroplanes or air transport. A variation on the term – azafata de tierra or “ground azafata”– was also erroneously applied to personnel at check-in or those who served passengers at airports. This eventually led to the position being redefined more professionally by the acronym PCC or Passenger Cabin Crew. Apart from more accurately defining the mission undertaken by so-called “flight attendants”, the term is gender neutral and refers to a profession which encompasses far more than what passengers may be aware of. Contrary to what is thought, they are not merely the friendly side of the airline and the personnel that spend most time with passengers, but those who proactively ensure the on-board safety of each aircraft and each flight.

Vueling currently has 3.000 PCCs. Their numbers on each flight are regulated by aeronautical legislation which, for any commercial aircraft with a capacity of 19 to 50 seats, mandates the presence of one PCC and two pilots. Those seating over 50 require a second PCC. The makeup of Vueling fleets provides for a cabin crew of three to five PCCs, of which one is designated as the chief purser or cabin service director.

Hence, Airbus A319s, with a seating capacity of 144 in the Vueling configuration, carry a crew of three PCCs, while Airbus A320s, in both their 180 and 186 seat versions, fly with four PCCs. For their part, the Airbus A321s, with a capacity of 220 seats, carry five air stewards on their flights.

What sort of training and qualifications are required of these commercial aviation professionals? This is an interesting subject to be dealt with in a forthcoming instalment of Vueling News.

Javier Ortega Figueiral   @Sr_JOF

21 September, 2017

An Airbus is piloted from the sides

Videogame enthusiasts might be surprised to know that a commercial aircraft like our A320 or A321 is flown using a very similar device to the one which they use in their leisure time – a joystick – although, in the case of aviation, the term “flight control stick” is usually applied and preferred when talking about this steering device.

On a flight deck, one of the most striking differences between an Airbus operated by Vueling and another commercial aircraft like a Boeing is the use of a “sidestick” instead of the “horned” steering column which has been in use since the inception of flying. Conventional steering sees the pilot causing the aircraft to ascend, descend or turn by means of a number of pulleys and wires leading from the controls to the external surfaces of the aeroplane. This has changed in new-generation aircraft like the A320s, manufactured as of the late 1980s, in which the device responds to the pilot’s steering orders by conveying them via a number of electrical signals to the flight control computers, which calculate the optimal deflection of the control surfaces required to comply with the pilot’s request. This system is known as fly by wire, which at its core has seven flight control computers tasked with verifying the orders received, applying flight control laws and controlling movement through hydraulic and servoactuator systems, ensuring all parameters are kept within the aircraft’s so-called “normal flight envelope”.

Pilots hold that an Airbus sidestick does not convey the same feeling of forces exerted by the air on the aircraft’s surfaces and that, more than a steering device, it is an actuator to ensure that an  aircraft operates correctly. In fact, inside the device is a spring which always returns the sidestick to its neutral position. The way the pilot impinges on the sidestick is translated into demands on the computer and, once the sidestick is centred again, the computer ensures the last values for those parameters are kept constant, which can even involve moving control surfaces if this is necessary for maintaining them. It has two buttons at the top – one, which is like a trigger, activates the microphone incorporated in the headphones or in the oxygen mask. It is activated when the pilot needs to communicate by radio frequency, whether to talk to air flight controllers or other aircraft. The other feature is a press button. This is the so-called priority button, the main function of which is to switch off the autopilot, as well as to cede priority to one of the two sides – either that of the captain or pilot-in-command, who is always seated on the left side of the cabin, or that of the first officer, commonly known as the co-pilot, who is seated on the right at the front of the aircraft.

Coordination between the two is crucial for the flight to go off smoothly. The two aviators decide between them who is in charge of “flying” the aircraft at any given moment. In other words, who is in charge of executing the flight when the autopilot is switched off. The phrase, “I have controls”, is uttered to confirm this. Additionally, should the occasion arise, if the button is pressed and held for 40 seconds, control priority goes to whoever has requested it by locking out the opposite side’s control stick. This is usually implemented on training and test flights.

Lastly, compared to other same-generation aircraft, the Airbus has a not-to-be-underestimated feature which pilots appreciate – the fact that the flight control stick is not placed centrally on the flight deck, freeing up their view of all the indicators. Further, when committing the new cockpit design, the space where conventional controls would normally be placed was adapted to fit a folding table for both pilots to use, whether for temporarily leaving their papers, putting down some item or eating. When not in use, it is folded up and concealed between the flight deck screens, in similar fashion to the folding tables attached to the backs of all other seats on the aircraft. Details of an 80s design which have since made life much easier for aviators during their working day.


Javier Ortega Figueiral (@Sr_JOF)