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Flight attendant shares tips for a comfortable flight when wearing a face mask

 Huwaida working on board a TUI flight (Photo: Courtesy)

The TUI smile is one of the best known logos in the travel industry – but, thanks to the pandemic, passengers on its planes are not seeing any from the cabin crew.

Instead, with their usual cheery grins hidden by masks, the staff are learning to “smize” in the skies.

What’s a smize? It’s to ‘’smile with your eyes’’, an expression coined by USA TV personality Tyra Banks on TV show America’s Next Top Model.

We asked 40-year-old Gatwick- based cabin crew member Huwaida Maxwell – who’s worked on TUI short- and long-haul routes for 13 years – how she and her colleagues are delivering service with a “smize” in the corona travel era.

Check out Huwaida's answers below - including her top tips for passengers wearing masks.

 Huwaida unmasked and ready to join a holiday flight (Photo: Courtesy)

What are your top tips for delivering friendly service behind a mask?

  • Be yourself, always be happy and – believe me – customers will see it through your masks.

  • Always talk loud and clear – it’s even worth practising your mask voice. Our voices must play an even bigger role than usual, so try to speak up as much as you can.

  • Use gestures and body ­language – a friendly wave, a little giggle nodding, shaking your head etc.

  • I find the best way to practise smiling with my eyes is in the mirror at home. We’re all about smiling at TUI and that doesn’t stop because we have to wear masks.

When in flight, does the mask tend to hamper your customer service?

I don’t see any issue with wearing a mask at all. You can always tell someone is smiling from their eyes – so, if anything, having the mask on only enhances the amount of eye contact you have with customers.

 Huwaida and a colleague welcome passengers on board a TUI plane (Photo: Courtesy)

We can still hear our customers loud and clear and I make sure I have fun and joke with them. Sometimes they’ll ask for a couple of beers and I’ll make a joke: “was that a cup of peas?”

It’s small, random things like that which make them smile. I think we do a good job of reminding customers that we’re still the same friendly faces behind the masks.

Do you have any tips for customers wearing masks on flights?

  • Fabric masks are better for a longer flight time providing you change them on a regular basis, around every three to four hours.

  • I always wash my personal one with fabric conditioner as it smells really nice. While working, we wear surgical ones which we change regularly.

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