A new travel company has been set up by airline cabin crew members, including some who lost their jobs as a result of the COVID pandemic.
Called Doors2Manual Travel Concierge, the agency is part of Hays Travel Independence Group.
The team will serve customers over the phone, video link and by email, working flexible hours and using their experience of travelling the globe to match clients with their perfect holidays.
Two more ‘crew’ will join within the next few weeks and there are plans to expand the number in the team to 20 by the end of next year.
Director Sally Henry, who is handling Doors2Manual’s launch, said: “This is the first time airline crew have come together in such a way to share their vast travel knowledge gained from years and years of flying experience.
“The crew’s passion and love for travel resonates strongly and it’s fantastic we keep this talent and knowledge in the industry, rather than lose them as a casualty of COVID.
“By partnering with Hays Travel I’m confident that the Doors2Manual crew will have access to the best-in-class systems, support, and suppliers. People’s holidays are now more important than ever before, and the concierge crew will be able to offer insights and insider tips from their wealth of experience to ensure customers receive the very best service.”
Natasha Marson, Head of Hays Independence Group, said: “Right from our initial contact with Doors2Manual I was excited by their ideas, catchy name and unique crew culture. We are thrilled to be able to support this team to build their business in a pandemic, with full sales support from business development manager Helen Williamson and our internal Sunderland-based teams.”
The team consists of (pictured above, from left):
Elaine Graham lives in Belfast and, when the pandemic hit, had just returned from California and was furloughed from her job at British Airways, where she had been cabin crew for 24 years.
She started her cabin crew career on European routes, then spent two and a half years flying mid to long-haul from Gatwick to many Caribbean destinations before moving to flying long-haul from Heathrow to many destinations including the far east.
Laura Reynolds lives in Stratford-upon-Avon and was in Australia on holiday with her family when the pandemic hit and were unable to get home for eight weeks.
Currently on maternity leave, she plans to return as cabin crew for Virgin Atlantic next February, flying long-haul three or four times a month and says Doors2Manual means she can stay working in the travel industry when not in the air.
Janna Beech is based in Maidstone and was a Cabin Service Supervisor for Virgin Atlantic for 18 years but was made redundant at the start of the pandemic.
Her travel experiences include hiking amongst the giant redwoods outside of San Francisco and driving a red Cadillac to go wine tasting in Napa Valley. She was the first crew member to recently book a Doors2Manual holiday for clients to go to Seminyak, Bali which is one of Janna’s favourite destinations along with California, Florida and Italy. She has two young girls who love travelling as much as their mum.
Fiona Mallinson is a mum-of-two based in Stansted and was cabin crew with Titan Airways before the pandemic and whilst grounded worked at a hospital both in biosecurity and as a COVID vaccinator.
She also joined Project Wingman, a voluntary organisation that recreated airline lounges in hospitals serving tea, coffee and cake as well as organising donations. It was specifically for NHS staff to come along and take a breather.
She has been to hundreds of destinations as cabin crew, which she says are ‘not always top of mind for tourists, yet often should be’.