FLYING DURING A PANDEMIC

After almost 4 months on ground waiting patiently to be rostered a flight, my dreams came true when I refreshed my roster to find I had been rostered a turnaround flight the next day to Mumbai, India.

HOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED!

I’ve operated many India turnarounds in my life and from my experience it is one flight I’m normally NOT happy to operate. The old me used to complain seeing an India turnaround on my roster as the flight is normally short yet overbooked and extremely busy. All crew know that on these flights you won’t be kicking back in the aft galley, leisurely chatting with your colleagues and sipping on green tea with lemon… no, on these flights you better be prepared to earn your money. In between service and securing the cabin for landing, there is next to no time to even drink a glass of water. You might devour a quick bite to eat if you’re lucky.

My flight to Mumbai this month however was an entirely different experience for me. As I’ve not worked in such a long period of time, not knowing if or when I will ever return to my beloved career in aviation, I cannot even describe the overwhelming sense of gratitude I felt to finally operate a flight. I have never been so happy to go to work, I didn’t care where I was going or how challenging the flight would be, I just was grateful to simply work. I truly felt like the luckiest girl in the world to have been rostered that flight to India. On the morning of my flight, I made a pledge to myself that no matter what happens, no matter who I work with, how demanding the customers are, no matter what situation I am faced with, I will remain positive and give my 100% dedication to the job I love doing.

I won’t lie the flight itself was super busy and hard work. The flight was about fifty percent full however we didn’t fly with as many crew as per normal so there was only four of us working in the economy cabin (normally there would be double that amount). We had to work on behalf of two people in order to achieve the same result as having a full crew compliment. This did not deter me or my colleagues, I was blessed with such a great team that helped and supported one another to achieve success. The entire team was very hard working which made my life a whole lot easier. Anyone who works as cabin crew knows that no matter how great you are, this job requires teamwork and you are nothing without the rest of your colleagues. The flight will simply be chaos if you can’t work together and help one another.

A lot has changed on board due to the current situation. For one we now have to completely cover in PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) which includes not only a mask and gloves but a hair net, a gown which covers you from the neck to your ankles, and a visor to protect the eyes. The drink service has changed – instead of pouring a glass of water or juice for our customers we now provide them with a water cup or juice box. We also don’t open any soft drink or beer cans for the passengers and let them do it themselves. Everything is designed to encourage the least amount of interaction between the customer and the cabin crew which is very ironic as our job is usually to INTERACT with the customers. Regardless of all the restrictions it’s still possible to deliver five star customer service with body language and the way you respond to the their requests. Although sometimes hearing the customer’s requests behind their face mask is a challenge… my listening skills are definitely being tested!

Despite going to work at such a crazy time and putting myself on the front line, I did feel very protected from the virus. It wasn’t just the PPE that we as cabin crew get to wear but also the measures that Emirates is taking in order to sanitise and clean the aircraft. Passengers are all required to wear a mask and sometimes even required to wear a full visor covering their entire face depending on the country they are travelling to. Customers are seated in alternating seats to meet social distancing requirements. Also, each customer is extensively screened prior to boarding the aircraft so that we prevent taking any sick passengers with us on our journey. I found customers to be very understanding of the current situation and the changes to the service and structure that taking place on board.

The feeling I had throughout my 12 hour day was pure bliss! Yes it was difficult at times and my back was really starting to hurt by the end of the flight from physical exhaustion but I never stopped to feel anything but grateful the entire flight. If you could see my face behind my mask you would see I had the biggest smile on it from ear to ear particularly as I was sitting on R4 jump seat for takeoff and landing – I really missed that feeling! While I was sitting there I actually THANKED corona for teaching me to be grateful for this job and for allowing me to realise what I want in my life. I realised I truly love aviation, not just the travel but now after 2.5 years I really fell in love with the job itself and it’s something I wish to pursue if I am able. I hope I never forget this feeling of being grateful to go to work because it’s definitely one thing I have taken for granted most of my life which I think a lot of us do (especially coming from the western world)

As the flight to India was a repatriation flight, the majority of customers on that flight who I spoke to explained they were returning home to India after having lost their jobs in Dubai and had been stranded for 4 months there. These days while I’m not flying it’s easy for me to feel unhappy for my loss of work and income, but after meeting people in a worse situation than me I am immediately grateful for what I do have. It’s such a trying time for all of us and I think it’s so important to just extend as much kindness and empathy to everyone we encounter throughout our days. We are all going through a time of uncertainty and everyone is dealing with things the best they know how. I truly believe that the world could do with a little bit more kindness and understanding right now, no matter how big or small the act may be.

August Roster

In terms of next month’s roster, I have a lot of standby which I’m hoping will turn into flights. I was rostered 3 flight when the roster was published but already 2 out of 3 of them have been removed. The only one still standing is London Heathrow (HAHA how fitting, if you read my past few blogs you will know I do London/UK flights all the time!) If this flight doesn’t get removed from my roster I’ll be the happiest girl in the world to operate another one of my beloved UK flights! πŸ˜€

Until next time my friends, stay safe and let’s spread KINDNESS as if it were covid-19!!!! πŸ˜› Xxxx

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