April 27, 2009

There's More Than One Way to Spread Your Wings...

(Props to "Donna Jensen" for the title quote)

It was a comment from 'M' of Aviation Crazy that got me thinking back to when I first thought about a career in the skies. M mentioned having a life-long dream to be a flight attendant, and having many obstacles which so far have stood in the way. I too know how this feels... for you see, FA was not always my preferred job choice.

My mother tells me that from a very young age, I was intrigued and obsessed by anything to do with aircraft. I'd sit in the backyard for hours, watching planes fly over. My first wood shop project was a model airplane with a swivelling wing to store it away neatly. My favourite cartoon was about a jumbo jet and his airport vehicle friends. (At age 3)

Both during and after school, I eagerly devoured any book on aviation I could find, loving the day I found a box of aircraft magazine at the local charity shop for $4. That box kept me entertained all winter! I drew planes, I watched planes, I learned their shapes and engine sounds and liveries and airline uniforms and all that sort of thing. Most of all, I loved going to the airport with my dad and watching the planes taking off and landing. It was always a thrill when a friendly crew would wave from the cockpit.

But at this stage, my focus wasn't on the glamorous flight attendants with their perfect hair, cute uniforms and model makeup. I wanted to be wearing pants and a peaked cap, and sitting up the front left seat, the best one in the house! Yes, before she was cabin crew, TT wanted to be a pilot!

I went to flight school, learnt theory, flight law, meteorology and all those things that pilots need to know. I sweated over navigation exams, fuel calculations, weight and balances and loadsheets. I even got my student license and had a full medical. It was then that my plan hit turbulence. I didn't quite meet the requirements to hold an airline license. I remember being very upset. At the time, I felt what was the point, if I wasn't going to sit up the front of an airliner, and wear the jaunty cap, jetting all over the country and maybe even the world?

So I went on with life, hoping that over the next few years either the requirements wouuld change, or a solution would be found in the medical world. Then along came LASIK eye surgery. I wasn't so keen on this, plus I was running out of money to train. Then Emirates happened to come to my city. I saw the ad in the newspaper. I'd never even thought of becoming a flight attendant before. Looking at the ad, with the crew wearing her glossy red lipstick and the hat at a jaunty angle on her head, I thought- What if there is another way to get where I want? wouldn't be flying, but I'd still be in the sky.

So there began my journey to become a flight attendant, as I shared some of it on my JS blog, in the very beginning of that one, in late 2004/early 2005. (I'll try to re-post some of those entries if anyone reading is interested) It wasn't easy, and it took quite awhile, but eventually I got there. I took a detour, through the ground side of the airport, through baggage halls and help desks, answering angry phone calls and checking bags, then moving on the dispatching and ramp operations, until one day, interview after failed interview, rejecton letter after rejection letter, I got that 'golden phonecall'- I finally had a job as cabin crew.

Do I wish I were up in the pointy end of the plane? Sometimes. But I do know this- that quite possibly, I am better suited to being a flight attendant than I ever was to be a pilot. It just goes to show, you might be aiming for a specific target, but just being among the stars around it can be just as enjoyable.


  1. Wow, you worked for EK? I didn't know ! Please do repost those entries ! Please, pretty please !

  2. I remember those days back on JS the stories of the check in desks, ahh good and bad memories I bet for you there. At least you got up in the air where you wanted to belong.

  3. You wanted to be a pilot, and even got right up to the point before being rejected. I salute you!! Wow that is awesome. However you still got your dream job of being in the air!! I would need to correct some teeth before even going any further LOL

    PS: Thanks for the link here to my blog!!

  4. I had no idea TT, what an interesting post! Maybe one day you will pick up where you left off tho??? :D

  5. Hehehe Airboy, oopsie, I think we have a crossed wire! While I would have LOVED to work for EK, it was just their ad which put me on the FA path. I got a lot of experience from going through their intense process, which is what help me get through the other airline's hiring.

    EK always has been a tough nut to crack for me, and so far, no luck! Though somehow a few bloggers have that impression! Must be all my EK friends!!! :D

  6. Stu, I do miss the friends, but definitely not the craziest of the passengers! Or getting rained on out on the tarmac. Which I know you're familiar with! :P

    GoT, only for a hobby now! Talking to careeer pilots has put me off a bit, hehe!

    AC, no problem! I used to worry about my teeth (which is where I think I went wrong with EK) but I found not such a problem with the regional airlines and airlines from my own country! Sometimes it just depends on who you get on the day...

  7. A very feel good post TT. So glad to hear that you are doing what you love.


Pick up the interphone, make your announcement!