Picture this. The seat belt sign has just been switched off after take-off. The cabin crew (myself included) start to take our jackets and high heels off, and change into our in-flight attire. This includes a waistcoat, and low heeled “cabin shoes” for women. I start to survey the cabin to try and ascertain what the flight will be like. This means, how full the aircraft is, how many special meals and if any passengers need assistance.
The flight from Copenhagen back to Dubai is a Boeing 777-300 (2 class).
This means that there is no First Class, so Business Class is larger, as is economy class. I notice that the flight in Economy Class is half empty, save for a massive school group towards the aft of the aircraft. I make a mental note to go and chat to them once all of our “official” duties have been completed. After the first full meal service, including a bar service (cold drinks) and clearance (which is taking the meals away and providing tea/coffee) it is my turn to interact with our passengers. I make my way over to the school group, armed with company issue- cards and a Polaroid camera. This is a special part of the service (time and crew resources permitting) where we make our customers feel extra welcome and valued. I also carry my own personal store of stickers and markers around (boy and girl themed) so that there is something to make everyone smile!
I make my way down the aisle, smiling and attending to call bells on the way. Once I introduce myself and start chatting to the school group, I learn that they are from Canberra (the capital of Australia) and that they have been on a 2 week trip to Scandinavia for History class. I talk and laugh with them as they show me photos and give me Tim Tams (an iconic Australian biscuit) to eat. Afterwards, it is my turn to have a quick bite from the crew cart, which is awesome because catering at outstations* is always a nice treat!
The little things that make a difference…
While I am eating, one of the students came into the back galley to say hello. While we were talking, the call bell went off in the area where she and her peers were sitting. As it turned out, the school group was getting a bit thirsty so I headed back to the galley (with my new assistant in tow) to prepare some juices on our signature Sterling silver trays. She was watching closely as I carefully poured the juices, found some snacks and also some napkins. She asked so many questions about flying and working in the sky that I felt like i was being interviewed! Suddenly I had an idea. I gave her my waistcoat, and my hat. The look on the teacher’s face when she realised her student was serving her was priceless!
It may seem trivial to let students help me, essentially, do my job, but after speaking to them, and taking photos together and generally having a good time, it dawned upon me that these are the best things in life. The simple, free, kind little acts that make someone smile, and for which you receive nothing in return.
I didn’t give this any further thought until a few months down the track. It was June in Dubai, sickly humid and it was almost unbearable to run out of your apartment and into a waiting air- conditioned taxi. Our graduation day after 6 months probation and my Ab Initio training was finally here!
We had a ceremony in which our names were called, we were acknowledged by batch and by country for our completion of probation. My parents even came to visit and watch! Towards the end of the ceremony, the trainers spoke of some Noujum Star awards to give out. These were for outstanding Customer Service. They started to share stories of crew who had done exceptional things in their time with Emirates. They started to share a story of an Australian Crew member who had gone to Copenhagen and met a school group…. all of the sudden I realised that it was me!
I went on stage to accept my award and my bunch of flowers and felt much like Miss Universe (but in a red hat!). To stand on stage, and see my family and new friends smiling back at me was definitely my proudest moment as crew. To be recognized positively for a job that I love was just as rewarding as the act of kindness itself. When working in the sky, a little kindness goes a long way and I was so happy to make myself and my airline proud!
Being Cabin Crew is equal parts rewarding as it is challenging, and I guarantee that if you are kind, and have an open mind you will have so much to be proud of too.