Confessions of an air stewardess

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By Zul Othman
The New Paper | Tue, Apr 10, 2012

She gets to travel the world as a stewardess for a major airline.

While the travelling is nice, the 35-year-old – who requests to go by the name Florence because she is worried about her airline objecting to the interview – says the job is far from glamorous.

“Some of the things we do certainly don’t fit with the glamour people normally associate with being a stewardess”, says the Malaysian, who has been in the industry for 10 years.

“You have to deal with difficult passengers and demanding supervisors.”

“Some passengers think because they paid for the flight, we are at their beck and call.”

Once, a passenger threw water at her just because she took 10 minutes to bring him another glass filled with ice cubes.

Another time, she had to go down on her knees to scrub the toilet. “Let’s just say a passenger got really drunk and wasn’t good with the aiming,” she laughs.

So how does she deal with all this? “You’ve got to smile and suck it up,” she says matter-of-factly.

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Requests from passengers can range from the mundane, like asking for water that has to be at a certain temperature or requests for more pillows, to the offbeat – like how a passenger insisted that the crew hang up his socks because he was caught in the rain prior to boarding the flight.

But interesting moments are few and far between, claims Florence.

“The good thing is you meet different passengers on every flight but our job can be quite repetitive”.

It’s the same serve-and-smile thing, she says with a grimace.

She confesses that she would not actually recommend her job to anyone now.

“It’s not much of a career progression, is it?” she says.

Previously a teacher in Johor Baru, Florence says she never dreamed of becoming a flight stewardess.

Until one day, she saw a recruitment ad in the newspaper.

She decided to give it a go because “I heard the money was good and I always wanted to travel”.

Her first steps into the job was, in her own words, an eye opener.

“Imagine me, a girl from a small kampung joining a major airline. I was shy and wasn’t very good at interacting with people,” she recalls.

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Joining a major airline was a “culture shock”, she added.

“In my first year, I saw flight crew making out on the plane, usually when the passengers were asleep.

“I was very shocked… but now I don’t bat an eyelid when that happens.”

When pressed for more details, she claims it’s not uncommon, but it’s not that frequent either.

Passengers are the toughest part of the job. They get upset, irritable and sometimes very loud – which risks making others more upset.

Her secret to handling the tough ones? Giving out a little more alcohol when they ask for some, so that “they’ll be more relaxed”.

The kind of passengers she dreads are those in business class.

“They are not all bad, of course,” she chuckles.

“But you have to understand business-class passengers are usually your high-powered types who travel for work.

“Sometimes, we get those who clearly had a bad day at the office. On one flight, I had this passenger who was on the phone as he was boarding the plane, calling his office to explain a deal had gone through.”

Florence said she approached him and advised to switch off his mobile.

Displeased, he snapped at her.

“That is why I prefer working in either the first or economy class – these passengers are generally more relaxed on a flight,” she says.

But the most frustrating thing about the job is the lack of a social life.

“You are always overseas and your days off are never fixed,” she explains.

“You don’t have enough time to spend with the family, and you don’t really meet anyone outside the cabin crew circles.”

Which is why so many stewards and stewardesses hook up. Her 36-year-old boyfriend is an air steward.

“When you are abroad, you don’t do much but stay in the hotel so that’s when couples ‘hook up’,” she reveals.

Not all of these relationships last.

Affairs – which Florence claims happen quite often – are a job hazard, especially if a steward is married to another stewardess in the same airline, she adds.

“You can get lonely when you are abroad. Most of us deal with loneliness in different ways – some have drinks with the guys and sometimes, things go too far.”

As for her own relationship – Florence has been with her boyfriend for two years – she admits that it takes some effort to make it work.

“We don’t fly to the same destinations.

“We see each other when we’re not working. Sometimes I’ll try to exchange duties with someone so I can be with him.”

Secrets of the trade

1. Always have plenty of rest. When you are tired, you might get emotional when dealing with difficult passengers.

2. You always work hardest on the shortest flights. When passengers ask you for anything out of the ordinary, politely remind them of the flight time. That way, you’re less likely to be interrupted when you are doing your job.

3. Always pretend to be busy, even when the passengers are resting. That way, your supervisors might think you are preoccupied and not ask you to do things you don’t want to do – like washing the toilet!

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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About Gintai_昇泰

I'm a Chinese Singaporean living in the Eastern part of Singapore. I tweet on current affairs & inspirational quotes. I blog on issues or events if they interest me. I write for pleasure. I also write mainly for my family and friends. At least they know I'm still alive and well. It's a free country. No one is forcing you to read if you don't like what I write. I'm entitled to my own opinions. Having said that, there are still retards, morons and losers out there hiding behind anonymity hurling all kinds of insults and wicked remarks on my blog. I guess we'll just have to live with these cowardly mangy dogs found in any society. Sigh!
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21 Responses to Confessions of an air stewardess

  1. I’ve always known that it’s not a glamorous job. That’s why I’ve never bothered even to apply. However, dentistry isn’t that glamorous either. There are many books with confession stories by former sir stewardesses out there. The Mile Hi Club by Janet Chew is one.

    http://www.newagedentists.com/book-reviews/the-mile-hi-club-memoirs-of-a-stewardess/

    • Toothfully,
      What an excellent review of that book! Very detailed description of the book. I think I must read after reading your review. The publisher shld thank you for write up on this juicy book. Looks like hell to me than galmourous! Really langgar!

  2. agongkia says:

    We must be proud of whatever job we do.Whether as a waitress,a cleaner or a salesgirl selling liquor on board or on land.
    I am not qualified to be a crew as I know myself that I would land my self not with trouble
    but with wife everywhere if I become one.
    Dun know to regret or not .

  3. Wait a minute. Did I see wrongly? “With wife everywhere?” Really langgar!

  4. L says:

    this reminds me of all the army ads that we have seen….. they always show u all the sexy glamorous parts of the job – flying fighter plane, tanks all rolling out and shooting all over the place, infantry soldier playing with all kinds of hi-tech toys…. things which you will NOT be doing 80% of the time…

    to me, there is no such thing as a glamorous or an easy job….. every job has its good and bad points and the impt thing is to go in with your eyes wide open and once you made the decision, you have to work hard at it whether you are the cleaner or the CEO.. the difference between the cleaner and the CEO is just the job scope….

    think abt it, even IF an easy/atas job exists, dont you think it would have been already taken up by someone else ahead of you?? (maybe like for example, a minister without portfolio? haha.)

    • L says:

      ohh i forgot.. an easier job – president.. HAHA!!

      • You know it reminds me years ago when I heard the CO of the Bomb Disposal Unit (BDU) saying their job is 90% skill and 10% luck. But after they joined the unit, it’s the other way round! Really langgar dah!
        President’s job easy? Didn’t one ex-President say that it’s like a “prison” with guards all over the place and around him all the time? He can’t go to the HC to eat his favourite roti prata like us commoners! Every job is not like what we think as glamorous!

  5. Maryann Francis says:

    Why do you chose to be the mouthpiece of The New Paper? Why are you reproducing their rubbish? The quality of journalism in that paper is appalling, it is nothing more than a sensational rag to sell ads and to keep some of the most horrendous “journalists” in this country employed. Don’t waste bandwidth please! And stop the temptation to turn every thing into an opportunity to criticize the establishment. How you link the lives of cabin crew to the alcoholic ex-president is completely below the belt, a really low blow coming from what I initially thought is an articulate, (though often plagiarizing) “writer” like you. If you continue to do this, your fans will leave you one by one.

    • agongkia says:

      I dun read New Paper and if Gintai didn’t mention here,I may not have a chance to express my views and “Confess” like the air stewardess.

      I dun see how his article can lead to any temptation to criticize any establishment.The word president may not mean the president that one always think it should be.There are people who set up a company with zero staff and give himself the title of President.
      Maybe he is referring to me,a self confess chee ko peh to him .
      I cannot claim to be a fan yet but I like to read his blog.
      I do have my own opinion on his blog and if there is a need,may one day email him privately to give my opinion. I prefer to give encouragement .

      But Gintai,hehe…dun try to think that I visit your blog because of your “special Char Bor photos”
      Post lesser of such photo before you frighten your fan like Auntie L and SG girl next door.I will still visit even without those photo.Till you kick me out for uttering nonsense.

      Lets have some sense of humour.It will brighten up our days.Cheers.

      • Agongkia,
        Thks for your comments. If I got just a handful of readers like yourself to discuss and ponder over issues of the day I will be very happy. I really don’t need lots of fans. It’s of no consequence to me. In fact, I prefer it this way. Sometimes others copy my blog or reblog my post. Even WP MPs also plagiarize and brin it up in parliament. Does that mean that we condemn them? It’s quite subjective in a way. It’s meat to you but poison to others.

  6. Hi Maryann Francis,
    Thks for your feedback. I assure you that I still have lots of respect for that man. Someone mentioned and I just replied. No malicious intent. We are humans and not perfect. We made mistakes. I was merely stating the facts. I didn’t mention his name. I’m sorry if you feel offended. It’s best that we don’t hide the facts but face it bravely.

    • agongkia says:

      I must buy you Liang Teh one day.

    • L says:

      exactly. i tot we are just talking abt job scopes of diff jobs suddenly ppl say this is crticising.. wtf?? facts is facts… the truth hurts, therefore if it hurts, its true…

      anyway, lets not feed trolls… ignore is the best..

      • Thks for your comment. I believe we must be responsible. Even as we mention certain things it’s best that we leave the good name out. For the record, I do respect that ex-President. You notice that I didn’t condemn or pass judgement on him. I was just stating the facts about the aspects of his job which is actually not as glamorous as one might think. It has it’s share of problems or restrictions too. No malicious intent at all. Just to prove my point only.

  7. agongkia says:

    Cabin crews should think only on the positive side if they wish to stay longer and enjoy being one instead of the usual old complaint on nasty pax.
    They haven’t met someone like me who may be worse , asking them to help to look for my contact len,which will drop because of beoing them .
    They have many chances of meeting their Mr Right and can choose the richest ,handsome ,pretty and chio chio one.Majority of travellers are more well to do.
    Can also have a chance to chat with Chow Yuen Fatt or Hong Hui Hui.Sometimes even PM also chat with them asking whether they are married .Isn’t Ah Fatt’s wife Jasmine a former stewardess?

    Smile,smile and smile,I dun see it stressful to be a crew. Wash toilet also must smile.I haven’t got a chance to see them washing toilet so far .I will offer to help if I see one.Take pride in whatever thing we do.

  8. Nina says:

    Would like to briefly comment on the article 🙂

    1) outsiders of the job scope who thinks that job which requires travelling such as stewardess, pilots or businessman is a glamorous job, fail to understand with empathy. Yes going around the world and good salary are the perks but a job is still a job and difficult nonetheless, not forgetting leaving their loved ones back home.

    2) it’s upsetting that the stewardess has come to a point where she feels some need to hook up or drink to manage loneliness. Again, a job is a job, you chose it and the perils comes with it, please do not blame on loneliness to succumb to job hazard. Also technology connects you back home. Speaking of which, where is their faith and commitment.

    I’m speaking as a pilot’s wife and I’m greatly aware of the challenges. I just wish that those in this industry dedicate to this job with good intention of earning an income, carpe diem and remember the roots of your wall of support back home to think twice before doing things which may hurt your parents and families 🙂

  9. Thank you Nina for sharing with us your perspective. Not all ppl behave the same way. Some are more discipline than others. Don’t worry too much. Wish you all the best.

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