A career flying, aviation or shift working in general requires certain amount of “absence” from employees. No, I don’t mean sick days (these are swiftly monitored and should you be taking above your quota, investigations will be made), I’m referring to missing out on significant events, in your life or the lives of those around you. Becoming Cabin Crew means that you are never guaranteed to be present at Christmas, Birthdays, Anniversaries, Parties, even funerals…or even just for your usual weekly screening of trash TV (hello, Thursday nights ft. the Bachelorette).
This is due to the nature of the rosters and shift work. It is not that your colleagues don’t want to help you out, but sometimes they simply can’t. There are legality clauses and turnaround times to consider, which means they cannot fly certain sectors back to back without minimum legal rest, or may be crossing too many time zones and need to acclimatise first.
Often the busiest times for airlines are when the rest of the non-shift working population are off! Public holidays, special sporting events, school holidays, religious holidays… basically any time there is a long weekend, people travel, and you will most likely be needed at work. This can be disheartening, especially during the Christmas/New Year period when you want is to see your family. One of the perks of flying (particularly for an international carrier) is that you might actually be on a layover for Christmas, or your birthday. This means you could be exploring a new city, going shopping, sightseeing and eating out in a once-in-a-lifetime destination! Imagine waking up in Times Square on Christmas Eve, or toasting to a New Year under the Eifel Tower. Dreams really can become a reality with flying!
If all else fails and you are flying during the actual day of the holiday, view it as a positive that you are at work and distracted. Planes are like aerodynamic time capsules. It doesn’t matter what is going on outside, what the time or day is at your destination. It is quite easy to forget what planet you are on, let alone the date on particularly lengthy flights. You might even lose a day or two with the time differences! Be sure to pack your electronic devices, chargers and adapters to ensure that you can Skype or Face Time your relatives. Check ahead! Did you know that Facetime is banned in the Middle East, and Facebook is illegal in China?
Take comfort in the fact that at the end of the day, if you are really tired, have had a tough flight and just want to wallow in your own self-pity then Netflix and room service in your plush hotel room is the way to go!
An important point to remember
is that sacrificing your holidays can have great benefits! These include extra (holiday) pay rates, days in Lieu and even having a valid excuse to miss out on an event that you may be dreading! It isn’t easy, but someone has to work on the holidays so that everyone else can enjoy theirs. Above all, remind yourself that successful people are willing to do the things that unsuccessful people do not. If you try your hardest to be positive, professional and polite in Aviation at all times, I assure you that it won’t go unnoticed by your passengers and managers alike!