Ever wonder what goes on Behind The Scenes at an airport.
I always did.
Now I know.
Lean in and let me share my new secrets with you.
My colleague Kelly Yazdani and I went to visit the ramp team of a major airline in Florida on Friday May 24th. It all began last summer at the GSE - Ground Support Equipment - show in Las Vegas. Immediately after the show, a member of this airline’s maintenance team purchased two of our IceVest HiVis Safety Vests for his two-man crew. He was so positively impressed that he introduced them - and, eventually, us - to the Station Manager for his airport.
Kelly then laid the ground work for our visit by meeting the airline's team leads back in April to talk through logistics and discuss the pilot program. This meeting allowed all the parties to get bought into our innovation and excited about the idea of keeping their teams more productive and comfortable.
The day of our visit arrived! Kelly and I were escorted through the back corridors of the airport! We went through the special security section that commercial passengers never get to see. This is a special TSA station for the airport workers.
And this is where your checked luggage disappears behind the check-in counter. Now you know!
Then… we came out of the building right onto the runway. It’s really very cool to be standing by the plane … like people used to do all the time back before jetways.
You can sometimes see this in classic movies. Like Casablanca.
(Play it Sam! If she can take it so can I!)
And so there we were.
The Ramp Supervisor was our most excellent guide. He led us to their team break room. There we were introduced to the six pilot program participants.
We started off by providing a brief tutorial on how to wear and use our HiVis Vests with IcePlates to stay cool and hydrated. The whole team was excited to use the gear.
Then they went right out to “work the plane.”
That’s their insider lingo for “load bags.”
Now you know!
Half of the six were sent to load a smaller E190 passenger plane, of Brazilian make. Their role was to test functionality and mobility of the team wearing our gear inside the belly of the smallest passenger plane available at the airport. The biggest member of that team -- and at 6’3” I mean Big! -- was sent into the belly of the aircraft.
The others stayed outside, throwing the bags onto the conveyor belt. It was 95 degrees F that day. The guys told us stories about how sometimes it gets up to over 120 degrees out there.
Within three minutes they exclaimed what a positive impact our gear was making on their day. That’s just what we are here to do!
They experienced no issues with the Vest on the smaller plane. And every member asked if they were going to be able to drink out of the IcePlates in the future.
“Is this water can I drink it?”
“Absolutely,” I said.
That team worked for another 90 minutes, without interruption, on three more planes.
The other team of three worked three larger planes. Two of them were military veterans. Our products were completely intuitive to them, requiring no instruction or explanation.
The third member of this team was a larger guy. He didn’t like the cooling on his chest so much. When we switched him to the backpack version he declared he would never work another shift without it.
They used the pockets in the ToolBelt intuitively. Used the loop on the Vest for pins, badges. Used all the functionalities. It was just natural, a tribute to the savvy design by our inventor/co-founder/CEO Justin. He always designs our products with the benefits and convenience of the end-user at the forefront of his mind.
At least another dozen, not part of the pilot program, came over to check it all out. They expressed eagerness to give it a try. Every person who tried it talked about how much they loved it!
True pioneers in aviation innovation... they posed for photos. History in the making!
Afterwards, the team felt cooler, better, and were excited at the prospect of drinking the ice cold water. They looked forward to using our gear every day.
One member of their team had just transferred from LGA. He hadn’t fully acclimated to the hotter Florida environment. So he in particular found wearing the HiVis Vest (and IcePlate) a huge improvement in comfort.
The female ramp workers were just as excited as the guys. The female ramp workers will be involved with the next phase of the test and are excited at the prospect. Our products are designed to be comfortable for all body types.
The thing I personally liked the best was the culture on the ramp. The management had thoroughly prepped the workers. The teams had a great attitude, had fun, and appreciated an opportunity to be pioneers. How great to make a little history in using our HiVis Vests with IcePlates to become more productive … while also being far more comfortable while working the plane in the hot climate of Florida.
So now you - too - are in on the secret of what goes on behind the scenes in an airport!
Play it, Sam!