Written by Mond Ortiz
I have met and personally interacted with a lot of senior and junior cabin crew. I have hanged out with quite a number of them after work and all I can say is that they are all wonderful people. I get to share short conversations with them, a few bottles of our favorite beers, and a lot of laughter. Though more often I would hang with seniors, perhaps because my age is closer to theirs, I too had a lot of moments with junior cabin crew members.
Due to the many stories I hear from various cabin crew members, I one day asked one of them, "is there really a wall between the seniors and juniors?" She was quick to mention that despite her being nice and gentle to the juniors, there is a wall between both, and it is one sad reality in the commercial aviation industry. I went on to asked as to why there is a certain wall wherein both juniors and seniors have to work harmoniously with one another and she said it's because some tend to abuse their seniority despite being one batch apart from the junior, and that the some juniors have already developed a certain stigma on their seniors.
This does not go for all airlines and for majority of our cabin crew but indeed, this is a sad reality brewing among colleagues.
Hanging out with both seniors and juniors has its advantage and that is seeing everything from a wider perspective. Personally, I hope we put an end to this, tearing down the wall that divides the seniors and juniors like how the Wall of Berlin was brought down to unite the two Germanys. Instead of pointing fingers, let's all just realize our obligations to one another, both as seniors and juniors.
To our senior cabin crew, your obligation to your juniors is to be an inspirer, a teacher, a leader, a brother/sister, and a role model. Learn to inspire them to always be at their best. Recognize their positive traits and correct their negative traits as a cabin crew. Teach them ways and means which may help them be a better cabin crew and a team player. Share your experience and lessons that it may help the juniors better meet expectations. Be a leader and not a boss. Showing your authority to your juniors will not get you anywhere but being a leader to them will leave a legacy in their hearts. Do not force them to respect you, instead, earn your juniors's respect, that's more long term and genuine. Be a role model too to your juniors where they will look up to you and say "I want to be like you when I become a senior". At the same time, be like a sister, brother, mom, dad, tito, tita, cousin(tahan minsan) when off the aircraft. Yes I do recognize that a certain respect and recognition of authority and ranking is still standard protocol but let's avoid taking this too far. Listen also to your juniors. A good leader is also a good listener. When I would witness training classes in Philippine Airlines, I noticed how their trainers can be very strict with the new trainees. Some really gets scolded on, and some trainers raising their voice on the trainees to point out mistakes and important points. But guess what. After graduation, I would always see these trainees now turned official cabin crew really cry and thank their trainers. Most would even call their trainers as their second parents like mom and dad. To me, that is leadership! And I hope some seniors learn from their trainers.
To our junior cabin crew, your obligation is to respect your seniors authority or tenure, learn from them, take criticisms constructively, be a friend, and to be an apprentice leader. In time, you will be seniors so learn from your present seniors especially if they are doing the right thing. If they correct you, take it constructively and do not take it against them. Perhaps, they may be correct. Learn from your seniors especially when it comes to service and procedures. Converse with them, talk with them, listen to them also, just do not overdo it to the point of becoming "sipsip". Off the plane, you are still both cabin crew and they had been through what you are now going through. Learn from your seniors. Trust me, there is so much to learn from them. Do not look at them as "boss" but see them as your "ates", "kuyas", "nanays", "tatays", "titos", "titas", whatever. In most times, many seniors try their best to reach out to their juniors but sometimes, some of the latter tend to really stay far. Last, please do not be carried away by "gossip". Use your better judgement instead of someone else. If you have certain issues on your seniors, try to talk to them straight instead of gossiping it.
At the end, in time of an unfortunate situation on board your flight, you will all play one role, and that's to be safety professionals, making sure all passengers are safe and away from danger. No junior - senior.
Nothing is more beautiful than seeing all cabin crew united as one, regardless of tenure, seniority, and even airline. You are all one family, watching after one another. As what Jay of A Fly Guy's Cabin Crew Lounge have said, "united by wings."
To all juniors, never forget that one day, you will be seniors. And to our seniors, never forget too that in one point of your lives, you were once a junior.