I was a flight attendant once. I never planned on becoming one but somehow, after graduation from college, I accidentally got hold of an application form through a friend. I casually filled out the form, mailed it, then didn’t think about it afterwards.

Stewards of the skies

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Months later, I received (I know this is going to sound archaic) a telegram from the airline company. Okay, telephones had already been invented then but my family had just moved into our new home and we were still waiting for our telephone service.

Now, let’s continue…

My mother was so thrilled because I was being invited for an interview. She said it was her dream to become a flight attendant but had not been permitted by her guardian to become one. To cut to the chase, I ended up being accepted by the company as a trainee.

Fresh out of college and with no prior work experience, I had no idea what to expect from the training, let alone from the experience of joining the workforce.

I went to class everyday. At the end of each lesson, a test was given. You were allowed only two mistakes. If you exceeded this, you were given a retake, for which you were only allowed one mistake. If you still failed the retake, you were out. As simple as that. Sayonara.

It was always a very sad moment whenever someone did not make the cut and had to go.

The training covered first aid, aircraft familiarization, emergency procedures, swimming, speech, customer relations, food service and personality development. I personally dreaded the  tests on emergency procedures where one was required to perform an evacuation procedure in a mock-up.

Somehow, I was fortunate enough to pass the training.  All of us heaved a collective sigh of relief when it was over.

Each flight was an entirely unique experience – sometimes exhilarating, frustrating, annoying, or even frightening. (Technical problems do happen!)

You always worked with a different set of people in a confined space so your skills in getting along with others were always tested. I was fortunate to have met and made friends with several wonderful people. However, sometimes, you had the bad fortune of having co-workers who seemed to have sworn themselves to wickedness – such unhappy creatures.

And then there were still the passengers to deal with – who could be nasty, naughty or nice.

I was a flight attendant for two years. The time I spent there influenced my work ethic in a big way. It taught me valuable lessons in discipline, humility, hard work, perseverance, tolerance, professionalism, and so many other things.

Even now, it is disappointing that there is still so much that people do not understand about flight attendants.

It is not uncommon for flight attendants to be called dignified waitresses and be depicted in unflattering ways. People do not know the rigorous training that a flight attendant has to pass before she is allowed to “fly” or “given her wings”.

Philippine Airlines PR 102

Flickr photo

 

The flight attendant’s main duty is to ensure, first, the safety, and then, the comfort of the passengers. The fact that they are prettified is only a bonus or a marketing strategy. These good-looking flight attendants are actually capable of administering first aid, extinguishing different types of fires, disarming a hijacker and facilitating an evacuation and leading one to safety.

So the next time you are flying the friendly skies, do remember that it takes more than an eyelash curler, lipstick and a blusher to become a flight attendant.  They are not models or mannequins. A majority of them have college degrees. Some even have masteral degrees and are licensed engineers, former bankers, or some other professionals who merely decided to switch careers.

So, stop ogling at your flight attendant. You can actually strike up a conversation with them and realize that beneath the charming smile, they are actually thinking creatures who are yearning for some intelligent conversation from their passengers.

 


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19 Comments to “Flight Attendants”

  1. Ibarra says:

    I like your blogs for their honesty and humor. You write about interesting topics. As far as this essay is concerned, I agree with your thoughts on flight attendants. There is so much stereotyping and discrimination against people who work in the service industry in general and especially with flight attendants. In truth, to serve takes a lot of dignity, intelligence and character. To do this at 10,000 feet takes guts and poise also. If I was not so scared of heights, I would love to be a member of the flight crew. Its one of the best ways to see the world!!

  2. filipina at home says:

    Thanks for your thoughts. You could still become a member of the flight crew. It’s never too late!

  3. purpleaddict says:

    I never understood why people discriminate against FA’s. I think it could be a glamorous job. My friend and I actually planned on becoming one for a middle eastern airline some years ago (nyahaha!) Anyway, I’ve been living in EU for almost 2 years now and I observed the ones we have at home are nicer and more courteous…just my observation.

    I’m not sure if you’ve seen this already but they were playing this in UK last year. I just love this advert!

  4. I have always said that it’s our innate Filipino hospitality that makes the difference for Philippine Airlines (and other PHL airline companies perhaps).

    The You Tube vid is funny. The flight crew and cabin crew do have that kind of effect on people (anywhere in the world, I would say) but the advertisement kind of exaggerates that a bit….Nice sense of humor there…;-)

    Thanks for dropping by Purpleaddict (perfect name for you!) ;-)

  5. carloi says:

    My girlfriend’s dream is to become a flight attendant too and she’ll try her luck next year. I hope she can make it.

    What do you do to those who are nasty and naughty passengers?

  6. Hi Carloi,

    If your girlfriend does become a flight attendant, she will be made to undergo training and that would include handling difficult passengers. Don’t worry too much. Nasty and naughty passengers are actually few and far between. The world is still dominated by nice people. :-)

    Thanks for dropping by.

  7. carloi says:

    I definitely agree with you “The world is still dominated by nice people”

    Thanks for the help. Nice video from purpleaddict. :)

    FYI:
    This page ranks 2nd on the first page of Google when used the key term “Filipina Flight Attendant Blog” :)

  8. Wow, thanks for that info, Carloi! I never would have guessed otherwise. Good luck to your girlfriend. I would love to know how things turn out! ;-)

  9. ryza says:

    hello, good afternoon! i really loved to be come Flight Stewardess when I grow up and I’m planning to apply it already, but I’m afraid because i have a problem in my speech because it’s not too clear, is Flight Stewardess should be always to talk?

  10. Monique Gloria says:

    Thank you so much for writing about being a flight attendant. I am so proud to have had you as a member of our family. ;)
    Is there any chance you can write more about flying? Like why we request pax to put up the window shades, the footrests, and yes, why they have to keep their bulky, beautiful LV’s inside the stowage bins and not under the seat in an emergency exit window seat area. And, yes, they do have to keep their seatbelts loosely fastened during the entire flight. Passengers need to be aware why these rules are being “imposed”. That we are not doing this because we want to “power trip”, but because we do care about their safety and well-being.
    And, you are so very right about nasty passengers being few. They usually are the ones who missed out on their Tonka trucks and Barbie dolls when they were young. Kidding aside, we just have to put ourselves in their shoes. They’re just really tired and want extra attention.
    Hope to see you in the friendly skies! God bless!

  11. karl says:

    The names of the women in the background are ‘jam’ and ‘cristina.’ I’m quite certain, primarily because I’ve worked with them for several years. On a personal opinion, it would be the perfect career for you to grow and learn more about the real world around you. I’m a totally different person than I were 10 years ago. Apparently, I came out a better man…

  12. @Monique Gloria – You’re most welcome. :) I wrote a blogpost last December 2010 called When Flight Attendants Dance as a reaction to the dancing FA videos that I saw on Facebook.

    This is the link: http://www.filipinaathome.com/.....nts-dance/

    Yes, I would love to write more about flying! Thanks for visiting! :-)

    @Ryza- If you think your speech might get in the way of your dream, there is still time to do something about it. Speech classes might be able to help. I wish you all the best!

    @Karl – Thanks for dropping by Karl. I totally agree with you, flying is a one-of-a-kind experience which offers countless opportunities to learn and grow.

  13. mic says:

    hello. i wanna ask if how much is your salary? :)

  14. O.Maddela says:

    Your blog was so inspiring. like you my girl friend is also a flight attendant in Asiana Airlines, every day they are tasked to do different homeworks and trainings. She told me they will be picked up in the hotel from 7AM and will got back around 7:30PM and will do a lot of home works. Lets support Asian and Intl F.A’s..

  15. Eppie Acusar says:

    You make us proud to be a flight attendant, you simply stated the facts well.It does not take a while to see that you have the three B’s , Beauty, Brains and Brand. I say that because being a flight attendant is really creating a brand that surpasses all stereotypes .We are made not just picked out. You may be picked out but if your are not cut out, you wont make it.
    Thanks, I am proud to be one.

  16. Kay Larrauri says:

    I was a flight attendant a few years ago before i started my own family. I flew for Saudia Airlines, Royal Brunei Airlines, and then the Royal family of Brunei. I will forever cherish that part of my life because it thought me so much. In fact, I am still able to use a lot of our safety procedures in my home and family life. A lot of people can think otherwise about our experiences, but as for me, it is the one that thought me patience, compassion, empathy and strength. Congratulations to each and every steward and stewardess! Only we know how fun and wonderful it is to be one!

  17. Joyce says:

    I was a flight attendant for 10 years. I would say that those 10 wondelful years would come close to being the best years of my life! I made friends with co-workers from varying cultures and different walks of life. I am still in-touch with a good number of them. They have become friends for life.
    I learned so much about almost everything! Culture, history, music, cuisine, engineering, technology, architecture, politics, religion, human relations, the environment, business and so much more.It was a whole gamut of learning that we experienced everyday. I am so blessed to have been given the opportunity to be an FA.

    Now, there is so much that I can tell my children. So many experiences I can share with them.

  18. Betty Low says:

    Hi there!

    I was a flight attendant for 11 years and I do have the same sentiments as you for being an air crew. Makes me smile when I read your stories as it has an uncanny coincidence to what I’ve experienced in the flying world.

    Keep writing…I’ll promise to keep smiling!
    Thanks!

    Kind regards,
    Betty Low

  19. @Eppie – Thanks for the very nice words. You have every reason to be a proud member of the cabin crew. Becoming one is no walk in the park.

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