Life at MAN - Christine Wild (Lounge Duty Manager)
Every year more than 700,000 passengers visit one of Manchester Airport’s executive lounges to relax and unwind pre-flight.
Christine Wild, a Lounge Duty Manager, explains why the popularity of lounges is soaring, and recounts her stories of visits from some famous faces.
How long have you been working at the airport?
I've worked at Manchester Airport for nearly five years now. I came from a restaurant background, so this was a very exciting challenge for me. I don't like flying, believe it or not! When I saw this opportunity come up, I thought it might help me get over my fears, being surrounded by people who are excited about their trips away, and I'm not as scared of the planes anymore, so I do hopefully plan to have two holidays next year.
What does your job involve?
The main responsibility of a Lounge Duty Manager is to make sure that the lounge runs efficiently. We’re there to take care of the passengers, and also our team - happy teams, happy passengers!
A typical day in the lounge starts with making sure that all the reservation cards are out. We do have spaces then to take walk-up guests when we’re very busy, and we can make sure that if there's peaks and troughs we're staffed accordingly in those areas.
We then have to make sure that the buffet food is rotated and kept fresh, including swapping over between the breakfast and lunch menus, and check in with our passengers to make sure theyre enjoying their experience and answer any questions they may have.
How many lounges are there?
There are currently five lounges at Manchester Airport – two in T2, two in T3 and one in T1, under our Escape and 1903 brands. Escape is more family-oriented and 1903 is our premium offering. I’m predominantly based in the T2 lounges, but we do cover the other lounges as and when needed.
Why should passengers choose to visit the lounges?
Using the lounge when you’re going on holiday is a real treat for yourself and will help you destress and get off to the right start. When you get to the lounge, the next step is the plane, and when you see passengers in the lounges you’ll notice they’re comfortable, they’re relaxing.
There are quieter areas if people want a little bit more privacy. If anyone's a little nervous you’ll always find a member of staff willing to help. We'll be able to help them, take them a coffee, put them at ease and make a difference to their journey.
What do you enjoy the most about working at the airport?
I am a talker, so to me, this was my perfect job – a job where I got paid to talk to people. I love to find out where they're going, where they've been. Airport life is a lot more exciting than other hospitality settings - people are a lot more willing to talk to you and to share their stories. A lot of our regular flyers feel part of our family. They recognise our colleagues and we know their names. That creates a really friendly and enjoyable environment to work in. It is a great job to have.
What skills are needed for the role?
The main skill I think you need is to be able to read a situation. A lot of people find travelling very stressful and we need to make sure that the time they spend with us helps get rid of that stress and makes them excited about their journey again.
We have very, very good staff working for us and I think that is what people remember when they leave us and go away on their travels. The facilities in the lounges are great, the food is tasty, but really, it’s the staff and the atmosphere we create that keeps people coming back again and again.
Who’s the most famous person you’ve served?
There have been a few! The most famous person that everybody would recognise is Terry Crews. My favourite was Paddy McGuinness because he felt like I saw him every day, he was so friendly, chatty and approachable. The most modest is probably Erik ten Hag, the Manchester United manager. He was very polite but unassuming and just wanted to be treated like everyone else.
Would you recommend working at the airport?
I feel very proud to tell people I work at the airport. I can say it with a smile on my face. It's a great environment and I've made some very good friends amongst the team and the passengers. I’d highly recommend it as a job to anybody.
What do you do in your free time?
I like to spend it with my grandchildren. I have a new baby grandson and two older grandchildren, so to me, my favourite time is spent with them.