Jumpseat Stories: My Flight Attendant Journey

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I have not blogged for a while because I have been very preoccupied by some things and I am flying. Well, I haven’t actually spoken about my job as a flight attendant, but in the light of the recent tragedies in the airline industry involving some well known carriers, this blog is dedicated to the unsung heroes inside the metal capsule.

Let me tell you how I became an unexpected flight attendant.

Back home, girls from 18 to 35 vie for the coveted spot during open days and assessment days. I have encountered an open day with 600 plus of girls of different beauty, height and physique where only 30 of them are lucky to be accepted. Top Middle East carriers hire a lot of Filipinas back home, and mind you, the competition is neck deep. During an assessment day for Emirates, I backed out on the first day when I saw my competitors. They were either ex fliers or currently flying for Cebu Pacific, Zest Air, or Philippine Airlines. Some were applicants who were rejected countless of times but zealous with their aim to pass and they were very familiar with the game of group discussions, role playing and interviews. When I arrived at the interview site, the place was already swarming with beautiful girls. Literally beautiful girls. I felt out of place. My only background in terms of a competition such as that was an unexpected beauty title that I won way back and a strong conversational skill that will hopefully win me a place among them. Anyhow, I backed out, went home and did further research. Until another open day came and I braved the challenge. I did not get in though. I felt bad for a time, since my head already has played countless scenarios of places to go, strangers to meet, hotels to stay and the perks of being a flight attendant.

Fast forward four months later, my college friend informed me of an ACMI company hiring for flight attendants. I did not understand what ACMI meant. All that registered in my head was “flight attendant” and they were hiring. I chided myself that this is my last shot to a super star kind of life. After all, flight attendant for me was all about nonstop travel and beautiful countries to see. In the end, I got hired. And I was super excited I could not sleep. During the recruitment process, I was asked if I knew how to swim 50 meters unaided. I said YES even if I didn’t know how. I told myself that I will learn swimming in the public pool later. We had the training in one of the top hotels in Cebu and we spent a month learning the complex SEP or the Safety and Emergency Procedure manual. Too complex, too technical and too foreign for my taste. Yet, I devoured them all like a hungry monster. I actively participated in every activity, feeling giddy and excited to start a new chapter of my career. I said goodbye to being a nurse too hastily. I did not look back to Nursing and I never even thought about the consequence of my change of career.

Training was difficult for me to comprehend, especially when we reached the legalities of our duties and topics like Flight Duty Time, Flight Duty Period and how to count your legality. All throughout the course of the training, safety and security were repeated countless of times. Apart from memorizing equipment, their locations and uses and other details about them, we were also drilled with evacuation techniques, how to deal any possible emergency situations, and how to protect the cockpit and ourselves from acts of terrorisms and possible breaches in security. Day by day, topics by topics, those things were fed to us like morning pills. I realized during the end of our course that we, as flight attendants hold a major responsibility in ensuring safety and security of our passengers and the aircraft and ourselves. Passenger care and comfort were of least importance as safety and security. Of course, I concede that passenger comfort and service should not be overlooked but in-flight safety is critical. I did not fully understand well how significant and how can we put into practice extreme caution in our job. I thought that passenger checks and security procedures were done at airport customs and checks in every points of the airport clearances. But I realized that, we as flight attendants are the last security point when we check passengers’ passes during boarding ensuring that they are actually on the right flight, passenger profiling and taking notice of anything suspicious in the aircraft.

Fast forward to four years later, I am still here in the airline industry, enjoying a higher position and with more responsibilities. I could say that, although this is not my ideal airline, I am beyond blessed to be able to do a job that I enjoyed. I get to do the job I dreamt of and I get to see places. I meet people from all walks of life and from different places and I get to educate myself further. I have learned so many things, how culture varies from one tribe to another or countries to countries even they are only separated by borders. I have cultivated deeper respect to religions, especially from where I am based.

Being a flight attendant is not easy. And it is not all about glamour or the travels or the hotels. We are so much more. We are more than the make ups and the hairstyles. We are more of oven burns, and lavatory cleaning. We are more than the beautiful smiles and happy vibes. We are more of prioritizing your meals first even if we are hungry and putting our bladder on hold just to finish the service. We are more than the happy pictures we post in Facebook or Instagram. We are more of the lack of sleep because of frequently flying, minimum rests and altered sleep pattern, yet we strive to remain awake and do our silent reviews in times of takeoff and landing. We are more than the five star hotels and buffet breakfasts. We are more of ensuring your seat-belt is fastened securely whenever the fasten seatbelt sign is on and our nonstop announcements to take your seats during taxiing.

I am more than a flight attendant. I am more of a superhero up there making sure that your trip is safe and enjoyable even if at some point I want to strangle you because you are way too demanding, annoying or obnoxious.

To the heroes of MH370, MH17, GE222 and AH5017, may you all find peace. Flight attendants do not die. They just fly higher.

To all the flight attendants all over the world, may our skies always be safe.

Have a safe flight everyone! ❤

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