Flight attendant requested anonymity
Flight attendants are brave but at the same time, they have their personal fears. We are human also. We get sick, we are susceptible to diseases and viruses. But I am a flight attendant, and I have the sworn duty that regardless of the situation, I have to ensure my passengers that they will arrive safe and in one-piece. A day ago, I was one of the flight attendants of a mainland China flight from Manila.
A day before my flight, I was checking my roster to see if my flight would be cancelled. I was hoping it would but it was not. My first reaction? "Sana hindi ako magka-nCoV (I hope I don't get nCoV), the fast spreading virus which has now affected 8,000 people and claimed 200 lives. I was afraid, and I simply had to drown my fears in prayers. I was also messaging my flymates the night before. We were wishing each other safe flights, and we also reminded each other of important stuff to bring like face masks, alcohol, and wipes.
The day of my Beijing flight came. "Lord, please protektahan nyo po kami" was all I prayed for before my flight. As I was heading to the office to sign-in, many thoughts were going through my head. How many of our passengers are actually from Wuhan province? Will I have to go through quarantine after? Will anyone fall ill in the flight? I admit, I was afraid, but suddenly after touching my wings nameplate, I was reminded again that I am a flight attendant. Despite the fear, I have to be brave. I have a sworn duty. I have to take care of the passengers regardless of where they are from. I have to serve them. My fear turned into inspiration. Bahala na if I get nCov, for as long as I know I contracted it in the line of duty, but sana hindi naman. I am a flight attendant, kaya ko ito.
After signing-in, I approached my flymates with the traditional "FA (name), flying with you" greet, but this time, it was not just a usual one. We shook hands with a tight grip, looked into each other's eyes, with that look that says "kaya natin ito, FA tayo!" Our lead crew then gave the usual briefing then we headed out to the aircraft with the whole flight crew. Before entering, we stopped, gathered, and prayed. We prayed for our safety, the safety of our passengers, and the healing of all people who are fighting the 2019-nCoV. We did our normal procedure, and sanitized again before passengers boarded. "Lord, this is for you" was what I said. I checked the manifest and the flight was far from full.
Passengers started boarding, Almost all were Chinese. All were in face mask. We greeted each and every passenger. We treated them like as though nothing happened but with our face masks and extra precaution. We went through all our normal standard compliance procedures. Fear no longer existed in me. I am a flight attendant, I fear nothing. We were also observing passengers if any would cough or sneeze. Well coughing inside an aircraft is a normal side, but throughout the flight, I only heard one, and it was not a cough. It was a slight ahem but my colleague stood-up and offered water to the passenger. We would constantly sanitize not only to protect ourselves but to ensure the cleanliness and germ-free environment on board.
While we were serving them, I noticed that they too had fears of the virus. I felt this certain pinch in my heart that despite them being Chinese, these are no aliens, they are human beings. They too have the same fear which I had. They seemed nervous. Nevertheless, I remained committed to my sworn duty as a flight attendant, and that is to take care of my passengers. More than that, I wanted them to smile and be strong amidst the outbreak. Even if I was wearing a mask, I would still smile under it, and they knew I was smiling. So did my co-crew. Our eyes showed it. We knew that somehow, it helped easen their fear.
After landing in Beijing and deplaning the passengers, I and my co-crew gathered together and prayed again for our safety for the return flight. The return flight to Manila was alsmost full, mostly Filipinos, with some Chinese on this one. I did my normal duty. Welcome them, assist those who need assistance, guiding passengers to their seats, and at the same time, observing them.
As I was on my jumpseat before the aircraft powered-up, I prayed once again. "Lord, thank you for making me strong and brave. Thank you for allowing me to serve."
The flight went smoothly. The Filipinos were excited to be home but I am not sure if they had to go through quarantine. During deplaning, I thanked each and everyone of them, with my mask, but my eyes were showing that I was still smiling under my mask. They smiled back and said "salamat ren".
After leaving the aircraft, me and my co-crew gathered at the airbridge, formed a circle, held hands, and prayed. Then after, we gave each other a tight hug.
We did it! Mission accomplished!
I was told that incubation period would be like 2 weeks. But what the heck, I am confident that God heard our prayers and He gave us the necessary protection. If in the remotest possibility that I would get the virus, well, I can say that I contracted it in the line of duty, just like a soldier who was wounded in battle for their country.
Looking back at that flight, I was once again reminded about my "why" I decided to become a flight attendant. Yes the glamour, the benefits of travelling around, and the perks as they say. But those do not define who we are as flight attendants. What defines us flight attendant is how we face the toughest and most fearful situations that we may encounter. We were trained to face danger with open arms, being the last to leave the aircraft during an actual emergency situation. We were taught how to save lives, how to prioritize the lives of our passengers over our own, and we trained immensely for that.
Behind our smiles and our fears, we are flight attendants and nothing can stop us from fulfilling our duty as safety professionals and as guardians of our passengers in the sky.
My salute to each and every colleague of mine who placed their fears in the backburner in the name of bringing home our passengers, regardless of where, what race, and situation.
Safe flight to every one of you!