Tag Archives: cabin crew

The In-between (of two trips, not the creepy one…)

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A few days back I had a sudden itch to write…and nowhere to write seeing as it was one of the few times I did not have pen and paper with me. And before anyone asks, no. I couldn’t write on my phone. That’s just an exercise in frustration. So here I am now, still tired and mildly sick (f*** off cold, I’m not calling in sick for you!) and trying to kill some time before I gotta leave for the cinema. More on that later. What caused this sudden spur of inspiration (and most likely the bloody cold)? My most recent and first trip to Bangkok.

I didn’t know what to expect to be honest. The pictures online looked pretty but the stories I heard from fellow cabin crew ranged from hilarious to downright terrifying. I had people try to talk me out of the flight on account of how difficult it can get. Not in terms of weather. (Though we did have to secure the cabin a couple of times on account of anything not bolted doing a vague impression of a trampoline artist.) No…. It’s the worrying amounts of alcohol passengers consume. I kid you not people, we were out of wine by the end of our flight back. That is a feat in and of itself. And not one to be proud of. I get it. It’s over eleven hours stuck in a flying sardine can, it can get boring. But seriously? That’s the solution? Here’s a radical alternative people: READ A BOOK!

But I digress. What I meant to talk about was not my frustration with the amounts of alcohol I had to serve, but rather my first impressions with this new place I visited. And shall be visiting again soon (bless you Scheduling….) I….liked it. I mean this was my first time anywhere in southeast Asia so the novelty factor was strong but still. Despite the incomprehensible (to me) language and writing in the signposting, despite the bone-deep tiredness (and suspiciously little jet-lag), there was just something about the place that made me feel comfortable. Wish I could say what it was though.

Not just the friendliness of the people and the warmth of the weather. Or even the familiarity of a fleet market. (Those of you who have been in Athens, think Monastiraki but bigger.) Whatever it was, it was nice being in a place where I didn’t feel like I need to keep checking over my shoulder every few minutes. And now that I have a first idea of the place I can see about joining a tour or something. Call me a tourist, but dang it I wanna see those floating markets! I’d have done it on my previous trip but let’s just say the pick-up for the tour is at ungodly o’clock and leave it at that…

Anyway I’ll write more about this after I’m back again. Maybe by then I’ll have figured out exactly what about this place makes me so… I don’t know. Comfortable seems to be the best word for it. And between then and now there’s also probably gonna be something about Black Panther. I’m watching it later today! Hurray!

Organised chaos is the way to live

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People often ask me why I chose to work as cabin crew, seeing as the constant human contact and changes of schedule might not be the best for an introvert with an almost pathological fear of missing appointments. Yes, the prospect of travelling is a huge plus but still! How do you deal with the difficulties? Well, dear reader, to answer the first half of this question….. I am a spectacular liar. No, I do not make a habit of making up stories of embellishing the truth. I am however very good as lying about myself. People expect me to be friendly on the job, so sure! I can lie and be friendly, even act like the prospect of being around people without reprieve for, sometimes eleven or twelve hours, is not just easy but also welcome. After, these people will likely never see them again. It also helps that much as I am not comfortable around people, I love listening to stories. Like with travelling, I will put up with A LOT if it means that by the end of it I’ll have a good tale to come back to. Still hate when people get over-friendly though…. Like, we just met? Why the hell are you hugging me like we went to school together?

As for the second bit, yes I enjoy routine to an extent. I like knowing that, if a day goes spectacularly bad, I’ll have a few certainties to fall back to. That however is not the same as needing a schedule to function. Quite the contrary, I operate best when under pressure. Give an adrenaline shot and the need to improvise on the spot and you’ll have me at my best (at least not when research is involved). If I have to chuck the rulebook out the closest window, even better. This was actually on my greatest challenges during training: The Rules. For me they are something to pay attention to, take into consideration and respect. After all, they were put down  for a reason, however obscure it is. And I’d never ignore them just for the giggles if there was a safety issue. But following them like they’re the Bible (or any other religious text of your choice…)? No thanks. Best way to get me to poke at something is to tell me not to question it. Juvenile on my part perhaps, but I’ve always learnt better when I understood the why before the how.

And to build on that I have to question (heh!) something I heard near the end of the first part of my training. Our instructor gave us a personality test, one of the fancy ones that modern companies love and yet is not that far from those I used to take on teen magazines. I’ll spare you the gory details but my results could be summed up as:

  • “give me the facts”
  • “spare me the sob story”
  • “screw the rules, we need results”

And all that to the surprise of no one exactly… What did come to a surprise to me was that, apparently, when it comes to cabin crew airlines like the so-called “fluffy bunnies”. And I don’t mean this as an insult, it’s literally how the type was summed up by the quiz. You know the ones! Super empathetic, super nice, make amazing crying shoulders and, if you’re like me, you avoid them like the plague lest they suffocate you. Absolute sweethearts and gods of customer service/placating but frankly I wouldn’t trust them with a flashlight in an emergency. I’m talking about the general type here, not anyone in particular. I have no doubt there are people out there who go from marshmallow to absolute badass at the drop of the hat. I just wonder, even taking the importance, nay vitality, of happy customers into account, you’d prefer a personality type with a tendency to crack under pressure as your primary choice. Especially considering how important safety is.

Am I being too cynical? Probably. I’ve never been one to trust people explicitly, especially people who’s first question is “how are you feeling?!” instead of “how can we solve the problem?”. Tough love is a thing, you know. A wonderful, wonderful thing.

 

On a completely unrelated note, Thor 3 will be coming out the day after I return from my next trip. Expect ravings of the extra fangirlish, super tired type, as  I ignore my minor jetlag and major lack of sleep to drag myself to the closest cinema and enjoy the cinematic version of the End-All (sorta….not really) before the actual End-All comes up and collectively kicks our asses.

Buckle up buttercup!

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Oh my how the chips have fallen… So last time I was here I was applying for my crew visa, right? -quick check of past posts- Yup! Also hunting for cabin bags. Well I’m happy to report that all this has been sorted out and not only do I have two shiny new cabin bags but also my passport back with the visa inside. Yay!

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Next couple items on the list were the medical/security interview/uniform fitting and the online pre-course learning. Can I just say that, for the record, the security interview is not nearly as nerve-wrecking as the name implies? Really it’s just a series of painfully common sense questions. Answer, sign and boom you’re done!  Frankly the medical was more fun if only by virtue of taking place on a couple of different rooms. It’s what you might expect: they check your weight, your height, your blood pressure, all the usual. Oh and the eyes too! I’m led to believe that it’s not much different from the average doctor check-up. I wouldn’t know since I’m of the opinion that unless you’re dying then you can probably sort it out yourself at home.

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Then again, I’m a disturbingly healthy young woman who hasn’t had anything more serious than a stomach bug in decades. Even the doctor examining me was surprised at my lack of hospital visits. Come on mate! Are you telling me people here rush to the GP at the slightest sniffle? Of course there was also the fun part that involved needles… They check your immunisation record and top you up with any ones you might be missing. Judging by what some of the other people in the waiting room told me, I got off easy with only three injections. I’d say I got off easy because the only side-effects I got from that roller coaster were a little nausea that evening and a two day cramp on my left arm (where two of the three injections were done). To quote my mother, the nurse was rather heavy handed when armed with a syringe. Also, apparently, it’s weird if you don’t start crying when the needle pinches you? I didn’t know! I mean, sure, as a child I could be heard through walls with how loud I was screaming every time someone tried to give me a vaccine, but I was six! At most! Unless you have a debilitating fear of needles (in which case my heart goes out to you, nasty little buggers those needles…) why would you act like you’re an extra in Friday the 13th? But I digress!

The uniform fitting was infinitely more fun. Related imageIt felt a little that scene in Cinderella where the mice fix her dress, and not just because I really felt like a different person when I stood in front of the mirror in full uniform. You really do get to try everything and I was lucky enough to get the correct size on all items on the first try. That ought to teach you Mr. Wardrobe (I have no idea what the poor guy’s actual job title is, but he was in charge of helping us newbies to sort out our uniform)! When a lady tells you she’s an eight, you don’t doubt her word! What? You thought I’d not know my dress size? -indignant sniff- All joking aside, he was really nice. Even offered me jaffa cakes! And the uniform itself is for the most part very comfortable. For all that I like tight clothes in the summer, if I’m going to do anything as physically demanding as a cabin crew job then I want to be able to move freely in my clothes. And look pretty in them, I suppose…

My personal highlights had to be the service vest and the coat. Weird choices, I know, but the vest made my figure look like I was wearing a corset. Without the discomfort of actually wearing a corset. What more can a girl ask. And the coat? The coat was W.A.R.M. Anyone who has met me knows that I get easily cold. And I don’t mean chilly. I mean “can’t feel her fingers and toes” cold. But that baby? It felt like I was wearing a duvet with sleeves. And yes, I may have daydreamed about that on occasion.

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My only real issue was the suit jacket. It looks gorgeous yeah but I don’t know what was going through the designer’s brain when he came up with because it is sooooo restricting! As in, if it’s buttoned (like it’s supposed to be) I can’t lift my arms more than 30 degrees. Pretty sure the guys don’t have that problem… Thankfully we don’t have to wear it in the cabin , during service, when most of the heavy lifting and moving about would happen but it still feels like the sort of detail that should have been taken into account. The only thing I was not able to try on were the trousers. Apparently lady-cabin crew are expected to wear the skirt part of the uniform exclusively for a certain period of time, though we can request to wear trousers further down the line.

Usually I’m not one to scream sexism all over the internet. I am aware that I have joined a profession that is woefully backward in terms of gender equality, never mind their fondness of mostly showing female employees in their promotional material. If you think I’m exaggerating, the Guardian wrote a pretty interesting article last year on the ongoing “Trouser Wars”. The fact that women were “allowed” to wear trousers only last year, and even then under very limiting conditions is telling I think. Call me foolishly optimistic but I didn’t imagine the question of uniform trousers would actually be an issue. My mother worked cabin crew when I was a child and I only remember seeing her in trousers when she was in uniform. And that was in Greece, around seventeen years ago. Mr. Wardrobe explained it away when I asked as “most women prefer the skirt because it looks more stylish” and “the trousers aren’t very well made”. Far be it from me to sound like a conspiracy theorist but if the trousers are really not as well-made, then it sounds like an incredibly male reasoning of “they’ll have to wear the skirts if the trousers are terrible”. To which I reply, if my choice is freeze while looking pretty because I landed a, say, Moscow flight in January, or look a little less chic and not lose all sensation below the knee, then you bet your XY chromosome I’ll pick the trousers. No doubt this is a subject I’ll pick up again in the future, but for now, with things picking up speed, not even stubborn lingering traces of misogyny can ruin my mood.

I just finished my pre-training course last night too. Yes, that is a thing and I suspect my instructors during the actual training are forever grateful they don’t have to cover the basics with us and can move to what, I imagine, will be the more practical how-to of the job.

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Meanwhile I am (again) taking a page out of my childhood idol’s book and take notes on everything. Sure, it slows down my progress through the modules but at least I’ll have something to fall back to when my mind inevitably blanks and I’m left staring at acronyms in desperation and incomprehension. Also, it’s easier to revise when all the highlights are in the same place. Whether that’s a leftover of my school years or not, I know that if I want to remember something I need to write it down, preferably in multiple colours. Then I just picture the pages and scan for what I actually need. Mind palace? Ha! I have a library. Eat your heart out Sherlock! -ahem- No, but seriously. When the training starts and we are being tested every day it’ll be so much easier. Anyway, enough rambling about my studying habits!

I actually got the e-mail with the information regarding the first week of training (where we get our attestation, which is why they N.E.W.T. us) on my birthday, a few days ago. Pretty awesome timing I think. I have fifty pages of coursework to crunch through before we start (EXCITEMENT!) and my schedule which is kinda weird. We have eight modules to do over six days but we won’t be doing them in consecutive order. I don’t get it. Is it an aviation thing? An English thing? Their way to keep us on our toes? I’ve already asked a friend to hold my book so that I can actually test myself before the terrifying official tests. Just need to print out the handout, which I’ll be doing very soon. I need to finish the Aviation Medicine pre-training before I get started with that, but it shouldn’t take me more than a day. Then I have until the 24th to work through the handbook. Easy stuff!

Anyway, I need to sign off. I’ve been hanging out at the coffee shop a little to long. The lunch crowd is starting to descend and I’m taking up one of the bigger tables. It has plugs! Sue me! And anyway, I have a belated birthday outing this evening so I need to get some chores out of the way before I go about making myself pretty for the public.

Peace out!

 

Go away anxiety! I’m busy(-ish)!

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I remember back in high school when my friends would ask me how on earth I stayed calm before tests or exams. The answer, unfortunately, was not magic. Rather, it was a curious of acknowledging the inevitable, compartmentalising and just good, ol’ plain not caring. That last bit especially has helped me through quite a lot of would-be panic inducing scenarios. See, the trick is, that if deep-down you are indifferent to the result then why should you stress over it. I invite students of psychology to tell me how many different levels of self-manipulation, denial and repression are involved in this.

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Ironically that also means that when I’m truly invested in something I…well….I over-prepare. And by that I mean, read every single scrap of information that I can find on the subject. Which eventually will lead me older and older stuff (posts, articles, book extracts… I don’t have a big library at my beck and call anymore, so it’s the terrifying depths of the internet that I turn to). Of course, anything older than two years needs to be take with a big, heaping tablespoon of salt, especially if it’s regulations-related. Doesn’t stop me from reading it. And then privately freaking out about contradicting sources.

But what is the current cause of the anxiety I bemoan up at the title line? Well, to put it briefly, paperwork. Tomorrow is my appointment at the US Consular Office to sort out my visa (and liven up, my so-far boring passport…). Here’s the problem, if it might be called so: I’ve done the prepwork that’s required (application, picture, payment, la-di-da…) and even crosschecked it with a fellow candidate AND the (not quite clear) instructions BA has provided us with. Everything that needs printing has been printed, all the papers I need to have with me are in their neat little folder, heck I’ve even picked out an outfit and worked out train timings! Explain to me then why for the past eight hours my brain has been kinda like….

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Rei on the outside, Usagi on the inside…

-sigh- This is finals all over again. To the best of my knowledge I’m perfectly prepared and (knowing me) will there way ahead of schedule…. There are zero things at my application that might lead to me being denied the visa. So why? What possible cause would my brain have to go down the Apocalypse Now route of scenarios? I sometimes joke that I panic over insignificant things so that when an actual crisis comes up, I’m all paniced-out and therefore able to focus. So maybe my subconscious has delegated this whole shebang under “not Earth-shatteringly important”?

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On top of that there is always the ever-present dilemma of buying the cabin bag I’ll need to get eventually now (when Debenhams has an absolutely beautiful sale going on…) and wreak further havoc to my budget or leave it for later and risk missing the sale and paying three times the amount. And of course some paperwork I need to complete for my medical exam on the 31st which I’ve been putting off solely because I despise filling out forms. They have a magical way of making me feel fifteen years younger than I actually am, and I am hardly old enough for that to mean “charmingly young”. (It’s more like “toddler”).

So yeah…unloading online it is. And probably working out until my joints feel like they made out of half-cooked dough… But on the bright side Infinity Wars’ trailer should be coming out soonish and all things Black Panther and Thor 3 so far look bloody gorgeous. Thank you Marvel for continuing to fire up my little fangirl heart!

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There’s no reason for this gif. I just find it hilarious!

 

That moment when you land back to Earth…

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I’ve been off the grid here for a while now, haven’t I? Mostly because there are only so many ways I can talk about what it’s like to drudge through a fairly boring day-today, with only the occasional spike in my anxiety to spice things up. But now… now I have Stuff to look ahead to. Pretty sure I mentioned here, what feels like centuries ago, that I was jousting with the pre-employment processes of British Airways. Well! I am delighted to report that I have officially exited that circle of Hell and my life is back on some semblance of track! So what have I been up to these past few months?

Not much really, until I got that blessed e-mail, informing me of my start date. THAT is when things got interesting! Suddenly I had a timeline and a list of things that needed to be completed. Things like finding a new place, filling out a few last pieces of paperwork, booking my medical appointment, sorting out my visa, packing… Oh gods, the packing! My new place is slightly closer to Heathrow, though each really a temporary solution until I get to flying full time and some other things get sorted out… Medical is all booked and I just need to fill out the paperwork I need to present and show up looking pretty and healthy. (Lot’s of fruits and veggies for me in the near future!) The US visa is the one that closest to being at 100% done, mostly because my appointment is next Monday. I’ve also had to hunt down a pair of court shoes and update my closet (my bank account is currently in deep mourning over that fact). The shoes should arrive at the store any day now and once I have them, they will replace my slippers inside the house. Because, let’s be honest. New shoes will hurt your feet the first few times you were them. In my case, it’s usually my heel that takes the brunt of that and I’ve hobbled back home on bleeding feet often enough to know that this is not something I want happening on the first day on the job. As for the wardrobe update….that was one of the few times I went shopping unwillingly. Left to my own devices I’d spend the majority of my life dressed either in PJs or the sort of clothes you’d find in a fantasy show (stakes and magical swords optional). In other words, my office-appropriate outfits could be counted in one hand. And I have anywhere between four and six weeks of training in which I’m expected to show up in office chic. You do the math dear reader.

Speaking of wardrobe updates, here’s a funny thing that happened the other day. I had ordered a few t-shirts online. When the parcel finally arrived (with an unexpected customs charge and wasn’t that fun…) I realised there were a few extra t-shirts on top of the stuff I had ordered. A few e-mails with the company later and here’s what I learnt. Another customer’s order was accidentally packed with mine. Now, under different circumstances I’d roll my eyes at this show of disorganisation. But! It just so happened that the person in question had ordered designs I was planning on getting myself whenever I had money to spare next. And I get to keep them. So no. I’m not complaining. In fact I may have done a mini happy dance on my bed when they told me I didn’t have to return the extras. 😀

What else, what else… I’m trying to motivate myself to exercise a bit more and touch up my German. Neither being activities I particularly enjoy so I haven’t exactly been successful so far. I tell myself to walking around counts for something and my scales seem to agree but unfortunately  that does very little for my flexibility. Looks like I’ll have to look up some yoga tutorials or cheat-sheets or something…. And I need to look into the whole luggage situation. I may have to buy a new cabin bag but given my finances currently looking like they are in their inglorious death-throws I’ll have to put that off for later. And pray there’ll be a huge sale when I get around to actually buying it. I kept getting the feeling that I’m going to school again and let me tell you it’s not just the excitement of learning something new, it’s not just the word “training” being thrown around like spare change, it’s not just meeting other people with the same brand of crazy as me. It’s the avalanche of expenses that come with it. I mean yeah, it’s exciting expenses. Made less exciting by the fact that I am not dragging my mother down the aisle of a store, throwing everything that catches my eye on the cart and not worrying about paying the bill in the end. #thingsImissfrommychildhood

….

My conscience informs me that that is what being an adult means. To which I reply:

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(How cute is that cat?)

-ahem- Yeah….

Well this is at the stage where my rambles cease to be even slightly coherent, so I’m gonna sign out.

See y’all soon. Hopefully.