Welcome to the newest section of this website called "Profiles", a section where we interview and feature flight attendantrs and stewards. This is where you get to know your cabin crew and who they are. Yes inside an aircraft, they may be those who will greet you, lead you to your seat, ask you to put on your seatbelts, to do safety demos, ask you chicken beef, water, and tea; but there's more to these flight attendants than meets the eye. So meet our very first flight attendant to be featured in this section - Jessica Mai Cairney!
She must be one of the most influential cabin crew of Emirates, with a following of 60,000 on Instagram. Jessica Cairney had been flying for 7 years, that is 3 years with Virgin Australia and presently with Emirates for 4 years! Nope she is not half Filipina, she is half Australian and half Thai. This 26 year old flight attendant loves seeing new places and trying out new cuisine, in fact, she has even tried balut during her only layover in Manila. How we wish though she comes back for a longer layover so we can make her try our other popular street food! How about some Kwek Kwek, Isaw, and Betamax, Jessica?
Jessica never expected to be an "influencer" on social media. All she did was just to post pictures of her travels, showcasing new spots, her activities, and her life as a cabin crew. To her 60,000 followers, she is Jessica Cairney the Emirates flight attendant, but we did wonder one time, who is Jessica Cairney as an individual? Why is she influential? We would feature her on our Facebook page from time to time so we guess it is just right to get to know her too!
We are happy and privileged to get to interview Jessica, asking about her reaction being an influencer, her family, her love life, and knowing why Manila played an important role in her life.
Hi Jessica! Thank you for granting us this interview! It seems like you are one of those “most influential cabin crew” of Emirates with 60,000 followers on Instagram! Did you ever expect this?
I honestly never ever expected for my social media to get this big and it truly happened so suddenly but I’m so grateful for it because I get to share my love of traveling and flying with people all over and I, in return, get to meet some lovely people I otherwise would never have known.
Was being a flight attendant a childhood dream of yours? Please share us your cabin crew journey, including the struggles you went through.
I have actually always wanted to be a flight attendant as my mum used to take me back to Thailand for a holiday each year. We would fly Thai Airways and seeing the graciousness and beauty of the Thai flight attendants was what inspired me to become one. Those who know me personally will know that I am truly Thai in my heart and so until this day, I think Thai cabin crew are one of the most beautiful there is. They’re always so gracious and smiling. I decided to finish Year 12 at Woonona High School in Wollongong, Australia and apply for Virgin Australia straight away. To my suprise I was accepted and started training right away. It was my first real job besides waitressing and so it was difficult during training because all the aircraft terminology was new to me. I struggled to remember it all. My passion for flying pushed me through all the struggles and exams and I met some wonderful cabin crew at Virgin who are still in my life today
There are plenty of Filipinos who want to be cabin crew members. In fact, the “Cabin Crew Inspirational Stories” section on our website ITSACREWLIFE has the most number of page views from future and present cabin crew. Aside from working hard and never giving up, what advices could you give your fellow Filipino followers?
My advice to all the Philipino and non Philipino followers is to study hard because it’s not easy, especially if it’s your first time in aviation. Be positive no matter what comes. I was never as positive as I am today and I’m so blessed that I was able to find that positivity in all things good and bad in my life sooner rather than later. Actually today, I find that most of my followers appreciate me for my positivity and happiness. It’s always hard to be positive when things are rough and trust me ive been through many things in my life but I wouldn’t be the person that I am today if even one of those bad things didn’t happen to me. Good things truly come to those who have a positive outlook on life and so if you will take anything from me ... be positive!
How is it working with your Filipino colleagues? Who is or are your closest Filipino cabin crew friends? Did they ever invite you to come over to the Philippines or to bid a flight together to Manila or Cebu?
I love Filipino crew on board they are so cute and respectful and because they’re also Asian, I have a certain love towards them more than any other nationality. They are always smiling and are very funny when you get to talk to them. I have actually been to the Philippines on an Emirates flight a very long time ago and it was such an amazing experience! I wanted to experience the local market so I went to this huge busy market that had a big white Church in the middle with people holding candles and praying. I tried so much street food and even tried the infamous Balut! I still can’t believe I did that hahahah
Would you be excited to come over, experience the country, get a tan in our beaches, meet fellow Filipino cabin crew from our local airlines, and try our best dishes here like isaw, Adidas, Betamax, and helmet?
I would love to come on a holiday though and actually have more than 24 hours to see the country and explore more thoroughly. You guys have such beautiful beaches and wonderful food!
Anyway, let us get to know you more. Please share us a little something about your family?
So about my family I have a rather small family here in Australia as it’s just my mum and dad. I also have my two half sisters in Thailand and my mums family there as well. My dad has always been my best friend and so because we’re so much alike even in our looks we can clash sometimes but he was always more of the soft one, so growing up I was definitely a daddy’s girl ... still am. My mum taught me respect, especially in the Thai way. For example how to respect my elders, how to be poised as a Thai woman, things like this. My dad has taught me so many things as well but what I’ll always remember him saying is "If you end up with one good friend in your life, then you’re lucky".
In raising you, who was stricter, your dad or your mom?
Who was stricter? Hahah definitely my mom was stricter, my dad was always the one I went to for comfort or if I needed something. Although now looking back, my mom taught me so many things that again have shaped me to be the person I am today and for that I’m thankful.
Parents, sometimes they have their own personal dreams for you, like some parents wanted their daughter to be a doctor, some wanted to be a lawyer, and so on. Did your parents also have a dream for you to follow?
My dad was always supportive of anything that I wanted to pursue so long as I was a good person. I used to be extremely good at swimming and tennis, so he always wished for me to pursue that goal. My mom also loved the cabin crew dream but wanted me to become a Thai actress in Thailand. Long story short, when I was younger and living in Thailand I almost made it into the industry but had to make the choice between staying in Thailand to learn how to read, write and speak fluently to become an actress or going back home to finish school. As much as I loved modeling and everything that came with it, I couldn’t give up school and that honestly was my priority.
You are engaged to a flight steward who happens to be a colleague of yours. How long have you been together?
Yes I am happily married to an Egyptian man who also works in business class with me at Emirates. We have been together for almost 4 years now and he is truly one of the best things that happened in my life.
So now, share us your love story. Let us tell you that many of our readers love these stories, especially if it is an inter-aviation industry relationship.
Ironically we actually met on the Manila flight that I was just talking about. It was a Boeing 777 and we were both in economy at the time. We got along well and just had regular conversations with each other. After that flight we didn’t keep in touch and almost three months later we were rostered a Bangkok flight together. When I saw him in the briefing room I was so excited and we gave each other a hug and it sounds really corny but when we were doing service in the cabin, he was in front of me and he did something ( I honestly forgot ), but I liked what he did so I said "omg I love you" and it kind of started from there. Immediately after we landed back into dubai he asked me to wait for him at the baggage carousel and he told me how he felt about me and that he wanted to ask for my number to keep in touch. I was full of butterflies and there was just something about him that made me fall in love with him very quickly. I think it was his honesty and the way he treats me as a woman from day one until now. He still tells me every day that I am beautiful even when I don’t feel it and he never forgets to share his love with me. It’s one of those relationships where you are like best friends but also married you know?
How has flying and working together as a cabin crew strengthened your relationship?
We’re blessed that we both work in the aviation industry because we both understand each other and that really makes things easy in the relationship. When one of us comes home exhausted we get it, when we’ve had a bad day and just want to vent we listen and can offer our thoughts and advice because we understand the struggles that can happen on board sometimes.
What was the most unforgettable layover you both were at?
We had actually had so many layovers together but my favorite was New York where I took him to see his first broadway show which was Aladdin because we secretly think of ourselves as Aladdin and Jasmine.
Let’s go to your life as a flight attendant. We know that the cabin crew training is like going through the hole of a needle over and over again. The thick thick CCOM, the quizzes and tests everyday, the drills, and more, the struggle is real. Share us, how did your training go? How long was it?
Initial training was okay for me as I had been through a similar training at Virgin before but I still find the exams a stressful period of my life. As do all of the cabin crew. Just knowing that you’re career depends on passing an exam is very daunting for me and I have stress issues which a lot of you don’t know so there you go! Initial training was almost two months and although it was hard it was also so much fun. Being with your friends every single day, going through the same struggles together, laughing together, crying together and then eventually graduating together it is a special thing. Until this day I am still best friends with two of my batch mates and they honestly were the reason why I stayed so long in Dubai.
Okay, we do understand also that after you are released to fly, there are still like many changes and adjustments that you go through, some like being away from family, working with more senior cabin crew, working on a shifting schedule, and more. What were some of these adjustments that you had to cope up to?
I did struggle being away from home in the beginning especially because I had never been overseas besides Thailand previously so it was scary but my friends got me through it and I became so independent because of it. In terms of shift work it honestly is still a struggle until today but your body kind of learns to deal with it as bad as that sounds. You learn to sleep whenever you feel tired whether that be 2am in the morning or 2pm in the afternoon. Working with senior crew was and is never an issue for me and you can actually learn so much from these people. Of course like every job you will find those who have probably been in their career for too long and are just bitter at life but you learn to ignore them and not let them affect you. There is a lot of negativity in the aviation industry and so you need to learn to rise above that and not let it affect you. It goes back to the being positive thing that I was talking about previously. There is nothing more unattractive than a negative human being so don’t ever let it grab you.
How about those passengers who does not follow instructions like staying in their seats while fasten seatbelt signs are on, not putting up their window shades, keeping their seat on an upright position during take-off, and all? How do you make the obey you?
As for passengers and how do I get them to listen to me I find it’s all about the way you speak to them. Like I said I’m a genuinely happy person and so most customers will see that on board and repsond to me in the same positive way. So When time comes for me to ask them to put their seat upright they usually do without hesitating as they already have a small relationship and trust with me if you know what I mean. I am now in business class so it’s alot easier to build a nice rapport with my customers.
What do you usually do on layovers?
On layovers I usually go out either with the crew or myself and explore the country to look for some good food. I am a foodie at heart and I have a passion for cooking. So when I’m at the outstation especially on Asian layovers, I’ll head straight to the local market to try out all the local cuisines.
Among all the countries you had flown to, which country always excites you whenever you are scheduled to fly there? Why is that so?
People always ask me for my favorite destinations and it’s so so hard to say but Bangkok obviously because I am a Thai at heart and i just love the feeling of stepping out of the airport and smelling the Thai air ... yes it does have a particular smell! New York, oh my god, New York has a special place in my heart. My husband still asks me why until this day because when you think about it, it’s a busy city full of people and tourists but the excitement of it and the colours and lights just get inside my heart. Oh and I am in love with broadway! I’ve seen many shows, I have actually written about them all on one of my blog posts. Every time I go no matter how tired I am, I make sure to watch one! Vietnam and Japan are just amazing, Japan I actually want on a holiday many years back and Vietnam I plan to go with my dad soon! Asia in general if I get it on my roster I am a happy chappy! Oh also Switzerland I went there with my mum, dad and husband last year and it was just magical! So clean and untouched it was a dream come true!
Who or what inspires you to wake-up with a smile everyday?
Who inspires me? well as cliche as it sounds my husband inspires me. He inspires me to be a better human being every single day. He is so calm, kind and truly a good man at heart and I’ve become such a better person since I’ve met him.
What makes you laugh?
What makes me laugh? Animal videos I love animals and so anything with dogs or any animals just makes my heart sing. My dad also makes me laugh every day he is just the best dad ever.
What makes you cry?
What makes me cry? Sad movies ... I recently watched Legend of the Fall with my husband and we were both in tears. One of my favorite classics ever! Also, slaughterhouse footage makes me cry, what we do to animals behind closed doors is truly horrific and it makes me cry to know that people can do this to them with no regrets. Oh and spiders hahahah I am severely scared of spiders to the point where I will cry
What is your life quote?
My life quote has always been ... life is too short so live it like every day is your last.
Is the bottle half full or half empty?
Is the bottle half full or half empty? Well I have always thought about this since I was younger and I just thought that the bottle is always refillable?
Who is Jessica Cairney?
Who is Jessica Cairney? She is a normal girl just like every one else who fought hard for what she has in life and who is truly thankful to all that she has and who she can share it with.
In one sentence, how would you want to be remembered?
I want to be remembered as a kind human being.
Any messages to your Filipino followers and to Flyhigh Manila?
I truly hope that something here from my words inspires you to do something that you’ve been wanting to do whether it be aviation related or not because you can achieve so much more than you ever think possible. Trust me, my self confidence was absolutely horrible growing up and only recently have I realized that I can do whatever i put my mind to if I just work hard and think of the good. Bless you all for reading and I hope to see you guys on my social media jesscairney_ek and my blog wanderlusthop.com. I can’t wait to have some more Filipino friends.
Thank you for this interview Jessica, and we hope to see you in our country soon!