It has been about a year since I clipped my wings as a cabin crew with a major European airline. Even though there are no more disruptive sleep patterns, working graveyard shifts and sodium-laden plane food, I still miss flying very much.
I have to admit the initial process of getting used to a routine 9-to-6 corporate job took some getting used to (I was never a morning person to begin with!), I am truly grateful for my flying experience in giving me essential people skills and instilling that can-do work attitude which benefited me in my career post-flying - and I am proud these essential life skills will always be a part of me.
Here's the top 10 useful skills that my cabin crew role has given to me:
1. Creating a Great First Impression
Ever was assigned Door L1 or Door L2 to welcome and bid farewell to 300+ passengers? You were the first face that passengers see when they board the aircraft and the last face they see when they leave. I fondly remember my Door L2 role for a Christmas Eve flight to Helsinki - having the opportunity to wish "Merry Christmas" to a full flight of 300+ passengers during disembarkation on a Christmas morning is still one of my fondest memories in any job I had.
You have learnt a smile is universal and appreciated in any language and culture, and goes a long, long way.
Remember the pre-boarding rush - with time against you, to check the safety equipment and catering, and to prepare and ensure everything is in perfect order - and yet, somehow squeeze in a little precious moment for a quick make-up touchup to look flawless when the first passenger steps onboard? Yeah, you did it.
You know how to create a great first impression and a lasting one, even in a matter of seconds.
2. Being an Expert Conversationalist
One of the best perks of being a cabin crew is meeting passengers and colleagues from all walks of life and from all over the world. Making small talk has become second nature to you!
Ice-breakers with strangers is your expertise! You have developed a natural flair to make people you talk to feel at ease. People feel wonderful when talking to you because you are a great listener and you are expert at small talk.
Your worldly views, rich knowledge of cultures and cuisines, appreciation for travel, and of course, juicy stories of flying also intrigue everyone you meet.
Every job requires strong communication skills. 'nuff said.
3. Strong Sense of Responsibility
In performing safety equipment checks thoroughly, you ensured the safety of your passengers and your colleagues onboard.
As the passengers enjoyed their inflight entertainment, or worked on their laptop for their meeting after flight or sleeping soundly, you patrolled the cabin, checked lavatories and kept a look-out for anything odd or amiss.
You were (and probably still are) proficient medical procedures and in CPR steps - you could (or even had) saved lives.
How many jobs out there offered you this level of responsibility? In donning our uniform, we were all unsung heroes.
4. Being Calm and Handling Emotions
Professionalism.That's the essence of being a cabin crew.
You never let emotions to take over you - despite angry passengers yelling at you for weather delays and for missing special meals they didn't pre-order. Even if it wasn't our fault, we offered apologies on behalf of everything - from the belligerent weather and turbulence to the faulty entertainment system to running out of meal choice to the mom at 34D who couldn't control her screaming infant to the sloppy cook who left a sample of his hair in the food, and so on.
We did all that because we were representatives not just of our airline, but the aviation industry, our diverse nationalities, our rich cultures and we were proud of that and still are. Professionalism runs in our blood.
You have learnt to stay calm, and react constructively to each unique situation, and help to put people at ease. Diffusing tense situations with logic and empathy have become second nature to you. Emotions are just a by-product for gossip fodder later in the galley.
By not just handling your own emotions, but those of your passengers, you work magic on people.
Ever was late for a flight? So was I!
One of life's greatest lessons learnt.
Now your time-management skills impress everyone else.
6. Being an Amazing Team Player
Running the inflight operations isn't a one-cabin crew show - you have learnt it was physically and mentally impossible to be setting up the bassinet, handling out immigration forms, heating up the meals in the ovens, and handling three passengers' water request all at the same time.
Working closely with strangers - colleagues we had only just met at the pre-flight briefing, to smoothly execute the inflight service and ensure the safety and comfort for a planeload of passengers summarizes the extreme teamwork skills of cabin attendants.
Hardcore team-players we all are! We work hard together and play even harder thereafter. #cabincrewlife
7. Being Organised and Meticulous
We all know of disorganised cabin crew who didn't last long on the job!
Every item on the aircraft had to be placed back in its rightful place - from ice tongs to children fun-packs to spare air-sickness bags to the every one of the 30-odd special meals (X 2! - for both dinner and breakfast services).
Sloppiness is for noobs.
Cabin crew organisational skill level: Epic.
Dear colleagues, #youhavebeenwarned
8. Mental Strength
Remember your cabin crew interview(s) - how many times did you not give up after failing?
Remember the days on end away from loved ones (and for some airline crew - even weeks to months)?
Remember being all alone in a cold dark hotel room binge-watching classic television series - because of time difference, your loved ones were already asleep so there wasn't anyone to skype with?
Remember those nasty colleagues who play the blame game?
Truth be told, the journey of being a cabin crew can sometimes be a very lonely job but you had endured on.
You held on to the joys:
seeing your loved ones the moment you land,
the positive impact you had on your passengers and fellow colleagues,
the gratitude and compliments you received from passengers over the years,
and not to mention, your colleagues-turned-besties.
You have learnt to appreciate and be grateful for the good things going in your life and to treasure the happy moments.
You have grown to be a strong soul. What didn't kill you made you so much stronger. Be proud of that.
When times are tough, never forget this quote from Henry Ford,
"When everything seems to be going against you,
remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it".
9. Nothing is Personal Attitude
We have seen the world and met all different kinds of people in every kind of situation - we have developed a strong intuition of what will pass and what will matter in the long run. #whatreallymatters
Did that opinion really matter after the flight? How about the next flight? Or next year?
We don't take things personally - and this will be a vital skill for any successful post-flying career.
10. Going the Extra Mile for People
Once a crew, always a crew.
Even after I clipped my wings, people still mistaken me for being a current crew. Rest assured, people can tell your flying background and you will be grateful for that.
Your colleagues and customers will appreciate the extra mile you go for them. That politeness and helpfulness in your DNA shines through. Also, the tell-tale giveaway sign in your lighting speed in wolfing down your lunch - a habit inculcated in your golden flying days - gobbling up your crew meal to maximise your crew bunk rest time.
However fast you eat, you have always been a people's person - and you still are.
Just wanting to share one of my favourite cabin crew quotes:
People may not remember what you've said to them,
but they remember what you did for them.
So these are my top 10 career skills I have gained during my time as a flying crew. These skills have really added a boost to my current career and will always be in my DNA and I am thoroughly proud of it. #onceacabincrewalwaysacabincrew
Oh, sorry to dampen your spirit but #wanderlust is forever.
"L3 (- well, that's my favourite inflight position), doors disarmed and cross checked." - Gavin