Singapore flight attendants, better known as Singapore Girls, are consistently ranked among the top five best cabin staff in the world. But a blog post by a former Singapore Girl, known only as “Hilary”, sheds new light on how her life was as a flight attendant.
Her post has been labelled by some as nothing more than a “Mega-Rant”. However, as a flight attendant myself, I must admit that the working culture she describes isn’t far off from the truth.
I do urge you to do your own research though. This is just a matter of her own opinion based on her personal experience. So please keep an open mind when reading her blog post below.
Life As A Flight Attendant
It’s Not All Bad. But…
“Ok it’s not a BAD job. There are always two sides to something.
No doubt, on the surface it seems so glamorous and fun to be a crew, you get to shop in Paris, go to USA, have breakfast in Tokyo and lunch in LA but the work is tough. Crew really work very hard for the money!
You are not only a waitress in the air, but also a safety officer, baggage porter, bar tender, toilet cleaner, policeman, babysitter, maid etc. The list goes on. Many girls don’t know this before they join and they’re in for the shock of their lives once they start the job.
It got so bad to a point where I used to cry before going on flights. My batchgirl experienced this pre-flight blues too and I was quite comforted that I wasn’t the only one. I cried because I dreaded going to work, I dreaded the work itself- the nonstop labour-intensive work where you literally walk to London.
Also I didn’t want to be away from my family. It was quite bad I really hated this and asked myself why I wanted this job so badly in the first place. Like I said, you won’t know what you’re in for until you finally join this industry.
In this job, you’ll miss out on birthdays, weddings, Christmas, Chinese New Years etc & it is very sad.
“The work is really super labour intensive!! Crew will enter the aircraft about 20 minutes before boarding of passengers. Within these 20 minutes there’s so much to do!!!!!!
For stewardesses. (Female cabin crew)
•Set up newspaper trolley, cut all the newspapers meant for 200+ people and display them nicely
•Arrange the menu cards
•Dress the toilets with moisturizer, eu de toilet, paper towerls and toilet rolls, as well as making sure lavatory call light is working
• Combine headset bags, 3 into 2 because 1 bag only has 50 headsets and there are probably more than 120 people in the cabin.
• Heat up towels
• Do a security sweep for the cabins
For the stewards (Male cabin crew)
• Organise galley
•Make sure there’s enough coffee and tea pots and breadbaskets
•Check meals with the caterer, make sure all the meals and special meals that’s supposed to be there, are there.
• For business class is even worse because there’s crockery instead of trays and the guys need to arrange everything.
There was once I did this flight to Sydney. It was a A380, it can take 399 passengers in economy class so you can imagine the chaos. Sydney flights are really really tough and A LOT of crew always take MC for Sydney flights, yes it’s THAT bad. You practically walk all the way to Sydney and you work until your panties become a G-string.
Customers – and Seniors – Are Always Right
“In this job, you cannot argue or explain your actions. For example if your boss asks you “why you do this??” And if you try explaining yourself, it is seen as being argumentative and defensive. You should just say “sorry I won’t do it again”. Even if you are right, you are wrong sometimes. It doesn’t make sense and I hate this.
And if your boss tells you off and tells you how to do things the “correct” way, you just gotta suck thumb and say “oh I’m so sorry. Thank you for sharing with me I will take note”. I cannot stand it. Obviously I don’t mean it but I HAVE to do this to survive. No choice.
In SQ, crew fear passengers but in other airlines, the passengers fear the crew. We cannot say no. This is really bad because it has led to some passengers being so spoilt, unreasonable and they demand for the moon.
If you really want to survive in this job, the only way is to eat humble pie. There’s no “explaining” yourself because in SIA culture it is deemed as defensive and argumentative. I find this ridiculous to be honest. So whatever or whoever corrects you, just say sorry & thank you.
SIA stands for SORRY I APOLOGIZE and applicable for fellow crew & passengers.
“I think also another major reason why I left was because I hated the culture and the vices associated with this job.
Flying can be bad especially if you end up falling into the life of vice.
It’s temptation island- pretty girls, handsome boys, 4 star hotel rooms.
Being surrounded in such a work environment you really really have to keep on guard and watch yourself to make sure you don’t give in to temptations like drinking, smoking etc. Not ALL crew drink and smoke and party but majority do.
If you have made “rules” for yourself, stand by it and don’t falter. It is very very hard I know.
I’m no exception. I’m only human & fall too.
Can you imagine other “bad habits” like drinking, smoking & splurging on branded bags? Once you start, you may not be able to stop.
Sometimes when I went to Chanel or Prada stores with crew & when they bought stuff, honestly it was very very tempting. Why was I even hesitating? I could well afford it. Every one was buying something, be it spending almost $200 on just a tiny Prada Credit Card holder or $50 on a key chain, sometimes they bought they just for the sake of it or simply just because they could.
Fatigue And Health
“The kind of fatigue a crew experiences is unlike normal fatigue. It’s hard to explain, it’s like a combination of physical fatigue, mental fatigue, being on your feet for hours and also the result of being stuck in a metal tube with low oxygen levels and breathing in recycled air filled with millions of germs.
You’re Up For A Rude Surprise
“I know some people might think that we asked for it because we chose to fly. But honestly if you ask all the crew, we really didn’t know what we were in for and most of us really regret. The work is totally opposite from what you imagine it to be.
All in all, if you ask me if I would let my daughter fly next time, I would say no. I would definitely discourage her but it’s also dependent on one’s personality type. My parents were crew before and upon hearing my interest to join the airlines, they actually told me not to. The airlines today and 30 years ago is so different.
This is why so many crew are quitting & therefore there’s cabin crew recruitment so so often.
What Really Hurts
“The only thing that people say that really hurts crew a lot is when they look down on us. They think being a stewardess is a lousy job, a job where people who are not smart/can’t study do. Just a high class waitress serving and cleaning up after people.
What I Learned
“Apart from all these negativity like the rude passengers and all, I really learned a lot. Like my tolerance capacity tank has increased so much and I’m able to take more shit. Hahaha nah but seriously, I’m thankful for being able to visit so many countries (although we have only 24 hours on short haul flights and 1.5 days on long haul flights) and flying helped me save so much money! Plus because of this I managed to pay for my wedding.
Also after working in this service line, I’ve come to understand how important it is to be grateful to whoever has served you. A small “thank you” can do wonders.
Even after a rough flight, standing at the door bidding passengers goodbye, even a simple “thank you so much for taking care of us” just warms my heart and makes me so happy that suddenly all the tiredness and anger that was in me just dissipates. It’s like all my slogging during the flight was all worth while.
Now I make sure I am even nicer to people like waitresses. When my food takes a little longer than usual, I’m more patient because I can understand it may not be their fault. Same, if the plane was delayed by weather and the passengers scold us. It’s not our fault I didn’t make it rain or have a thunderstorm but we always take the blame because we are the last people the passengers get to see.
It’s been a year since she quit her job. She currently has only one “demanding passenger” to take care of – her husband.
[H/T: 1 Year After SQ]