Why A Flight Attendant?
Regardless of where I’ve lived throughout my life, planes have always followed, or at least I would like to think so. Infact, I don’t think there has ever been a home I’ve resided in, where I didn’t hear or see planes fly by. My mum’s side of the family have always been a huge part of the aviation industry and so I’m very grateful to be able to say, that I’ve been flying before I even took my first steps! When I was younger, my mum used to work for Air India, the main office in Southall and so she always made sure to take us away at least 4 or 5 times a year. I’ve been lucky enough to experience so many cultures along the way. My parents taught me at a very early age that learning about different cultures is important, it makes you more aware of the world we live in, and teaches you to respect other people’s beliefs and the way they live their life.
So, burning question... when did I decide I wanted to become a flight attendant? Well, when I was 7 (this is such a cute story if I do say so myself), I flew with Virgin Atlantic to Washington, Maryland, to visit my aunty for a few months. I say visit, but it was in fact to reform and rebrand me as a child. I was so naughty and disruptive, that my parents decided to ship me off to America, in hopes that I would come back in a new and improved Archna.
Back to the VS story, I actually have so many fond memories of the crew looking after me. I had a window seat, which is my favourite place to sit on an A/C as a passenger, I prefer the flight deck when I’m flying as crew. I remember having a Virgin Atlantic kids backpack full of goodies and toys, and a rubix cube which I broke within 5 minutes, who even breaks a rubix cube?
I was checked up on every half an hour and the crew made sure I was entertained throughout the flight. Infact, they even let me wear a little jacket and hand out Ice cream in business class. I had so much fun on the flight itself, that I couldn’t wait to fly back home. I think that’s where my excitement of flying comes from, I don’t usually care where I’m flying to, as long as I’m on a plane!
When I returned back to the UK, I remember telling my mum that if I wasn't able to exist within the first dream of mine, becoming an air hostess would be my second dream. I never really kept this in my mind as I grew older because I was such a young girl. In all honesty when I was in my teens, I really wanted to become a scenes of crimes officer. A scenes of crimes officer is just the UK’s term for being a crime scene investigator, I used to binge watch CSI on channel five after school every day, it was my favourite show. It’s safe to say I was heavily influenced into pursuing my career in Forensics because of American TV.
When I studied at the University of East London, I had the most amazing view of London City Airport from my bedroom window. Funnily enough when I moved there I remember all of my uni friends saying that they had a really hard time falling asleep because of the frequent arrivals and departures into and out of LCY. Personally I found the roaring engines soothing and they often put me to sleep when I had restless nights or anxiety flare ups.
I often sat at my desk and found myself staring into the distance and watching different aircrafts take off and land, which wasn’t great because I would always get distracted from doing my uni work! I used to always whisper to myself, “I wish I was on that plane”.
Views from my University Bedroom Window - Docklands
Shortly after I finished my exams and moved out of halls, I decided that I would continue to live in London and carry on working for the jewelry store that I had worked in for while I was at uni. I had a great team and being assistant manager, I thought it would look great on my CV. One day, when I was downstairs doing “managerial duties” something prompted me to apply as cabin crew! I was seeing signs everywhere prior to this actually, I was on a train and a lady walked past me, and her bag caught my attention. I vaguely remember it had something written along the lines of: Emirates careers. I decided to start the application process that afternoon. but I didn’t finish it because I didn’t actually think I would make it to the assessment day, (mainly because I thought I wasn’t tall or good enough). A few days later I received an email to finish the application, and so I thought about it a little and actually sent it off on the 15th of August 2016!
I remember praying wholeheartedly every night, I genuinely didn’t want to do anything more than get my wings. I made it past the elimination process and thankfully made it to the interview stage. Needless to say, the hardest interview of MY LIFE. Mostly because I wanted the job so desperately. I remember crying at the end of the interview because I became so emotional telling the recruiters how much I wanted this, but thankfully, I don’t think they noticed!
Fast forward to my wings day, I had about four weeks of intense training prior to receiving my unconditional offer and firm contract. There were so many sleepless nights, I was exhausted from the vast amounts of revision and information thrown at me. Looking back, there were days where I thought I would never be able to manage the sheer weight of responsibilities that flight attendants had to carry. It’s not just serving tea or coffee, or offering you chicken or beef. I had to be versatile and learn aspects of being a firemen, a midwife, a paramedic and a police officer, should there ever be an emergency on board.
The hardest exam for me was probably learning how to initiate CPR, although I remember failing one multiple choice exam and having to retake it the next day. I went home crying that evening because usually, failing a retake means you don’t receive your contract and that you’ve failed the training stage. I stayed up the whole night that evening revising but mostly crying because I was an emotional wreck. I really thought I had thrown away one of the biggest opportunities of my life, but I persisted and I managed to pass the retake.
My first flight was on the 2nd of April 2017. Overall the process of becoming cabin crew for me personally, was challenging. Especially because the screening process took forever. Usually the recruiters say, that once you’re in the air, it’ll take at least 6 months to figure out whether flying is for you or not. Mainly because there’s a lot of odd hours involved, you have to be extremely flexible and you’re always jet lagged. I think if you can get past the negatives of being a cabin crew member, you can really enjoy flying. I remember disliking the food service, it used to take hours to finish, and only then would you have the opportunity to eat and finally take a break (usually standing up or sitting down near the toilets). Sometimes I could go three hours without taking a sip of water, because I’m too busy to remember to stay hydrated. I would say that it's a very hands on job, and that you are on your feet for the majority of the time.
I quickly changed my perspective on the service, and tried to make it more enjoyable by just having fun with the crew and being myself. I now accept the fact that I have to actually be a waitress in the sky throughout the flight, and it makes the job a lot easier than looking at it as a negative. After all, I am primarily there for the passenger’s safety, but also to make their trip more enjoyable until they get to their destination.
The first three months flying were HELL, I remember just not being able to get grasp of it. All the different aircrafts and variations, nothing was ever in the same place. I constantly got told off, I was really slow, because naturally I am a perfectionist. Unfortunately I had some really mean crew and they told me to speed up because I shouldn’t spend so long serving each passenger. I had it quite rough and remember crying in the toilet on several occasions. It was as dramatic as it sounds, to be completely honest.
6 months in, I really enjoyed flying, I was getting used to staying up at odd hours, eating food at random times in the day and just getting the hang of the different roles and responsibilities on each flight. I absolutely love meeting different crew every day, it’s refreshing when you come from working mostly in call centers and in retail where you see the same faces every day. I guess there’s positives and negatives to both. I often feel lonely not knowing the crew, but I swear we’re all torn from the same cloth. It always feels like I’m flying with a little sky family that I only met 10 minutes ago.
Personally, I feel that being a Flight Attendant is the best suited role for me, I don’t know what I would do if it wasn’t flying, but I do come across crew who join and absolutely hate it. I get a lot of friends and family always say that they feel like they could never do what I do, but I feel it’s one of those things that could go either way for someone! I would say if you’re brave, have a passion for flying, genuinely care about looking after others and you’re are up for the challenges along the way, this would be the perfect career choice for you.
Now you know my story! I hope this inspires you to go and chase your childhood dream!
Until next time honey bee,
The Archive xx