Written and contributed by F/A Crisher Saldariega
To all aspiring cabin crew, allow me to share my story. I was speechless when I finally graduated and received my wings. I can’t believe I got through everything. Promise! With sheer prayers and hard work, nothing is impossible. Of course, a lot of preparation was needed and that's what I want to exactly share to you, my story!
If you really liked this job and you were asked, “If you will be given a chance to change yourself what would it be and why?” do not answer it as though there is nothing to change and you are too proud of where you are. That would be a big no no! For me, the best would be “if there is anything I should change along the way, it would be my past mistakes as change is constant and it is the next permanent thing in this world after death and taxes.”
I remember a quote during my graduation which was “small town girl with big city dreams.” We are all proud about our ambitions, our achievements, and where we started. It is free to dream! I am from Mindanao, your typical probinsyana. I did not come from any of those big schools but God lead and lighted my path well. Amen for that. We all have room for improvements. We have to accept the fact that we always have to improve and to make changes to fit the cabin crew requirements and expectations! It’s a childhood dream right, and if we really want it, we will do everything just to prepare for it. Let’s avoid the “I’ll try but if it is not for me, then so be it” mentality. We will never get anywhere. We are blessed in different ways so we really do have to prepare for it.
It’s like this. I am not so much into make-up. I don’t even know how to bun my hair. I am not slim, I even have a double chin. Who said though I cannot lost weight, so before I applied, I did kickboxing and all sorts of exercises just to fin the standard requirements. In short, I had to lose weight.
I had to watch videos in YouTube just to learn how to fix my hair, how to apply eyeshadow, red lipstick and lipliner to add shape on my lips. I had to learn how to take care of my face, skin, and teeth. I also had my upper lip area and legs waxed because it will not look nice in stockings. My dad was even against the waxing thing because he wanted it all natural but then I again, I wanted this badly that I have to adhere to every requirement and standard.
I had to practice how to sit properly because I used to be boyish when sitting. I used to indulge into outdoor activities like longboard but when I started training, I had to learn how to take care of my skin, how to sit properly, and to eat in public with gesture. We cannot use our mobile phones while walking in the airport; we cannot go out in public places or anywhere wearing our uniforms except for in the office, terminal, and aircraft. We had to cover ourselves all the way to the neck with a black jacket if we had to. I had to adjust to all these.
I am usually mistaken as “mataray” because I am a quiet person and I wasn’t comfortable with the idea that people would misinterpret or mistaken me as such. In this line of work though, I had to learn how to better my interpersonal and social skills because we deal with different kinds of people and personalities every day. It is a policy in Philippine Airlines to greet any living being with a “good morning”, “good afternoon”, and “good evening”, wherein it taught me to be more respectful. Even if you see them plenty of times in a day, you just have to greet them until you get used to it to the point if becomes a part of your being. No matter how tired we were and even if we are not feeling well, we had to always smile. The turbulence in the skies plus the erratic eating schedules makes us indulge into “stress eating”, reason why we do also gain weight along the line.
Allow me to reveal something only my family and my barkada are aware of, I am a super immature person. Perhaps, that’s how God made me initially but he allowed life experiences to mold me up. I was like the family’s baby. Among my friends, I am the one not allowed to cuss. I am the only one in the family where my mom and dad would tell me “I love you baby!” Yes, that’s how much of a kiddo I was.
When I because a flight attendant though, especially when I became a lead cabin crew, I would eat safety and security all day. I had to use all my senses, eyes, nose, and ears. I had to learn to keep awake especially during morning flights which was quite a challenge. You are talking to someone on the left and on the right, you are on the task of inputting the timings. Even during and after a rough flight, I had to always smile to keep passengers at ease during such times. You have to make them feel that all is but normal and good. Medical situations on board are also a challenge. You should know what to do, they should be all embedded in your brains, step by step because all eyes will be on you. That is your flight, and you are like the superhero of the passengers. You have to always be vigilant and responsible, there is simply no time for “selfie here” and “selfie there” because you also have to think and be ready for any unfortunate situation that may arise especially during take-off and landing.
To all passengers, please always read the safety card and do not get mad at us if we always have to brief you about how and when to open the emergency exits. It is part of our job; we were trained and mandated by the airline to do that. We are also bound by civil aviation laws which is why we have to finish the whole emergency exit briefing. Stopping or interfering with this safety task can get you arrested under RA9497 Section 81 article 9 which states that “Any person who, while on board an aircraft, interferes with a crewmember's or flight attendant's performance of their duties, assaults, intimidates, or threatens any crewmember or flight attendant, shall be subjected to imprisonment from one (1) year to three (3) years or a fine of not less than Fifty thousand pesos (Php50,000.00) but not exceeding Five hundred thousand pesos (Php500,000.00), or both, as determined by the court;”
There are a lot to think of, read, check, write, listen to, and analyze, but you just have to believe in yourself and to always pray.
Last but not least, always take care of your health. It is your greatest asset.
Goodluck to all aspiring flight attendants! Break a leg! Be prepared.