I’ve always loved the idea of travelling. It is amazing to see new places and experience what they have to offer. The fact that we can connect with people in places that are far away, makes the world considerably smaller. To board a flight and arrive at your destination a few hours later is simply magical.
I feel like we have a craving to be on the move and explore. While doing so, we learn and become people with a deep understanding of how the world works and how we can contribute to making it a better place. Isn’t it just so special to feel a connection when you are some place iconic that you have seen on social media or in a movie?
This urge to travel is often what brings people to pursue a career in aviation. Bedazzled with the idea of a lavish lifestyle. Living the dream while staying in the best hotels worldwide, experiencing local culture and cuisine by having fresh pain au chocolate for breakfast in Paris, roaming the streets of Tokyo during cherry blossom season, and going on expensive shopping trips to the fashion capital of Milan. Not to mention, European Christmas markets with mulled wine, breathtaking sunsets from Table Mountain and delicious lamb tagine in Marrakesh. The most common answer to the question, “Why do you want to become a Cabin crew?” is something along the lines of “Because I love experiencing different cultures and working with people from different backgrounds.”
I will admit that being a cabin crew for an international airline came with many benefits and granted me opportunities and experiences that I will cherish forever and would have never experienced otherwise.
The hard truth is that being an aviator is not like going on a holiday that has been planned out for months or even years. You don’t always get to decide where you are going or how long your stay will be. Duties are subject to change and along with that, your plans too. This means that you cannot always commit when on duty, and that it is better to plan trips or special occasions during your time off. There are also other factors that come into play. As someone who has been dreaming of scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef for as long as I can remember, I was never able to. It is not because I never went to Australia, but rather with the limitation of not being able to fly within a certain amount of time after scuba diving at a certain depth. Your body must have enough time to off-gas excess the nitrogen in your bloodstream after scuba diving and with the decreased ambient pressure in the cabin, air bubbles can form and lead to decompression sickness. This is life-threatening.
Another example is the time when I requested a flight to Hong Kong to visit dear friends whom I haven’t seen in years. We spent the entire month planning activities and were extremely excited to see each other. I did not pack much, other than one outfit and my slops. When I signed on for duty, the system notified me that I was an hour late for sign-on. At the far end of the room, a crew controller called my employee number and informed me that I had a last-minute duty change and would now operate the sixteen-hour flight to snowy Dallas, Texas instead of the eight-hour flight to sunny Hong Kong. I was not mentally prepared for such a lengthy duty. Nor did I pack enough food or sleepwear to take inflight rest. My summer outfit stood no chance against the snowfall and in a word, I was disappointed! Once I got onboard, most of the pre-flight duties were already completed and the majority of the crew was under the impression that I was late for my planned duty. This caused some friction and could have led to unnecessary conflict. Luckily, I am easygoing and adapted to the situation. Even though I was disappointed that I would not get to see my friends this time, I knew that there would be a next, and I always loved a trip out to America. I was in no state mentally or physically to go out once we arrived at our hotel. The only thing on my mind was to pop out for some hot food and get into bed. As I had very little to choose from, my outfit of choice was a pair of Asics accompanied by the warmest items in my bag, a fluffy winter pyjama set and a wind breaker. These were staples that I always kept in my suitcase. Throwing caution to the wind, I headed out feeling slightly embarrassed about what I was wearing. The layover concluded within 24 hours, and we headed back home on another long flight. This time I was better prepared.
This industry is filled with excitement and wonder. It can grant amazing opportunities and bring people closer together. However, not everyone understands the nature of aviation, as it can be costly in many ways. It is expensive to get licensed and keep that license current. It also costs time. This can be time away from loved ones or missed special events like birthdays or holidays. For these reasons, many people decide to pursue a different career path after some time.
I do not wish to discourage you if this is your dream. Instead, I wish to share my experiences and stories in the hopes of creating a realistic understanding of what to expect.