Written by F/A AC (not her real name)
During my flight to Washington from Doha, a father complaining that his son wasn’t satisfied with our food. He said he loves our company for the past 14 years but got disappointed on this particular flight. He doesn’t speak great English and it seemed to me that he was a Bulgarian. He kept on talking about his flight from Sofia to Doha to US.
Out of frustration, he kept on mumbling words and complaints that I don't understand. It came to a point that this passenger doesn’t want to talk to me anymore. Ah. I know this one. Another ranting moment against the company I fly for..
“Sir, I apologize for whatever it is that you didn't like but I would also appreciate if you could talk to me and tell me what happened so I can assist you further. I won’t leave until you tell me what’s going on,” I told him.
Turns out that they thought we served them pork sausage. I explained slowly that we never serve pork onboard. We are a Middle East airline where pork is prohibited. He also told me he and his wife doesn’t like eggs and they prefer something with rice for food. He told me his sons are still hungry. He told me he wants beer and whisky.
“That’s it?” I thought so.
I told him I understood everything and asked him to kindly wait for me for a moment.
I went back to the galley and told myself I won’t have any complaints on my zone today. Not today. Not on my watch.
In the end, I gave them additional four more servings of food on top of the ones I gave them earlier so even his kids can still eat again. Where did I get those extra? From our food, our crew meal’s cart which is supposed to be OUR food.
Now, I can see a smile on the father’s face. I went back to the galley for his beer and whisky on a breakfast service. BREAKFAST SERVICE. Who drinks alcohol during breakfast?
Who cares? I’d rather sleep well knowing I got a happy customer than wake up with a “complaint email.”
Now, his smile is even wider and he kept on saying thank you a hundred times already. Finally, the storm is over. From a ranting passenger to a praising one, this was the ending I was aiming to have. Maybe I should have my assessment today so I could get an “EE”. I promised myself never in my life will a complaint get unresolved. Not today. Never on my watch.
So, you may be wondering what is the relation of the photos with the post.
This was me after that flight. Unpacked. Unchanged. Unbathed. Right after opening my hotel room door, I went back to the bed and slept right away. I woke up after 8 hours at 4 in the morning, local time, with my uniform and stockings on, all lights on, and make-up unwashed. When I got up, I tried to remember which country I was in and what time zone it is. I tried to remember what happened before I slept. I tried to remember what happened on my last flight.
With my sanity coming back to life at 4 in the morning, I realized the reality of each flight I operate and the job I have.
THIS IS THE UGLY SIDE OF BEING A FLIGHT ATTENDANT:
Fourteen hours direct flight. Sometimes 18.
Confusing time zones.
Unhealthy environment. Unhealthy style of living.
Non stop services. Non stop passenger call bells.
YES, we clean the toilet bowls and floors with pukes and poops. We throw and hold some baby diapers.
We appease complaining and demanding customers. We revive fainting ones. We comfort those with fear of flying and panic attacks.
The stress of flying itself does take a toll on our bodies like back pains and body injuries brought by quite a number entitled customers who think we should lift their bags unto the overhead compartments.
Add skipping meals and giving our own food to passengers to make them happy.
Physically, emotionally, mentally drained, at the end of each flight, we get to our hotel rooms without energy anymore.
This is my job. Our job, but I still like it.
I LOVE IT.
They say being a flight attendant isn’t for everyone. I couldn’t agree more. Why is that so, you may ask?
People only see the looks. the glamour, the fashion the perks, and the money, but only the chosen few will see the reality beyond all the glitz and finally appreciate the true beauty in it.
The ones who don’t deserve it rants and complains all the time. Eventually, they will leave for all the wrong reasons but the ones who still appreciate it remains. They will love it even more. They continue to embrace everything this job has including the rotten and ugly ones.
This is the naked, unlovely, and unpleasing truth of my job. Despite all these, I am committed to what and why I came here for. It was not the glamour nor the praise nor money.
It was for the PURPOSE, the purpose of serving and loving others, and caring for the underprivileged. The purpose of doing something that is far greater than myself.
“Living with a purpose” - it should be the number one requirement for everyone who aspire to become like us. For if the recruiter only bases her criteria with applicants who only has sole “whys” of going different places, experiencing new adventures or earning big amounts, these people are bound to be future complainers and quitters.
I still laugh whenever I remember that I fell asleep with everything on and it happens most of the time. But every time I would think that this job isn’t only about “tea or coffee”, or “chicken or beef”, I always remember that special moment I did to the father yesterday and it will remind me again of why and what I’m doing.
Being a flight attendant is ugly and beautiful at the same time. It’s just up to you how you’re going to see it at your own perspective.
As for me? It’s not only beautiful. It’s incomparable in a classic way. It is full of soul and humanely satisfying.
It is THE BEST.