Virgin Australia Captain Steven Carseldine is heartened by the camaraderie amongst the VA team.
"With the medical and technical situations that have arisen on flights throughout my career with Virgin Australia, the main thing that stands out is the level of support that I and other crew members have received when needed. From the smallest situation of someone being air sick to an extreme case of a death on board, there are no limits to what the crew are willing to do to ensure the welfare of all guests are maintained. All of this, as well as being supported by fellow crew and managers, make me proud to be part of the Virgin Australia team," said Captain Carseldine.
"It really is the people that make the airline a great place to work. It has always been, and what always will be, what keeps Virgin Australia such a close community and it is amazing to be part of that. I find that we all create such a great relationship and that we aren't just another employee. From the guests, to the crew and behind the scenes in management and training, everyone has the same support, friendship and respect for each other."
Captain Carseldine has been with the airline since 2002, flying domestically for eight years before moving across into long-haul international flights where he regularly pilots Boeing 777 aircraft. He began his career with General Aviation and says that it was a natural progression to work for a major commercial airline.
"Virgin Blue had just started operations and I was excited to see they were recruiting at the time that I was looking for the next career step. I thought it would be a great opportunity to start with a new dynamic airline," he said.
"Since beginning with Virgin Australia, I have had great opportunities to progress to the position I have always aimed for. I still feel the support to explore other avenues if desired such as other aircraft types, training, checking or management roles. I find this very important in a career as it creates long-term goals and loyalty to your airline."
Virgin Australia was known as Virgin Blue Airlines when it first took to the skies in 2000 with seven return flights a day between Sydney and Brisbane. Virgin's rapid expansion, to become a principle domestic Australian carrier, benefited from Ansett Airlines being placed into administration in 2001. The airline, which comes under Richard Branson's Virgin Group, now serves over 40 Australian destinations from the primary transport hubs of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. New destinations are regularly added – Bundaberg and Moranbah will receive services from Brisbane in the coming months. The "Blue" from the name was dropped in 2011.
Virgin Australia began flying long haul from Sydney to Los Angeles in 2009 under the name of V Australia. The airline now flies to Los Angeles daily from Sydney, four times a week from Brisbane and three times a week from Melbourne. While Abu Dhabi, which was added in 2011, is currently the only other international destination served by the airline, when utilising code share agreements with such airlines as Etihad, Delta, Singapore Airlines and Air Zealand, the VA international reach is substantial.
Captain Carseldine's advice for travellers taking long haul flights is to minimise the risk of running late. This could mean staying at a hotel close to the airport the night before or adding an extra hour to your travel time for unexpected delays en route. The experienced pilot acknowledges that even if you are considerably early, you never seem to have enough time for duty-free shopping.
When it comes to flying with children, Captain Carseldine advices that parents should do their research on the optimum seating arrangements for families.
"Many websites have seating charts with information on leg space, bassinet fittings and entertainment systems. Armed with this information you can enhance your flying experience," he said.
"My favourite airport is Abu Dhabi International Airport. From a flight deck perspective, flying into this major international hub can present many interesting challenges such as high temperatures, traffic congestion and cultural differences. In my experience the speed and ease of passport and visa processing makes transiting here hassle free."
And when asked about his favourite destination, Captain Carseldine speaks glowing of Los Angeles.
"With it being the gateway to other amazing cities in the USA, this destination offers a host of many famous attractions including The Sunset Strip, Disneyland and Hollywood just to name a few," he said.
"I've always wanted to see the Aurora Borealis, the northern lights so for that reason I would have to say my dream destination is Iceland, but for the historical factor the Galapagos Islands are next on my to-do list!"