What’s life really like behind the bright smiles, perfect uniforms and five-star hotel stays of jet-setting flight attendants? In a three-part series on the inflight service industry, Yahoo! Singapore finds out that it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. In the first part of this series, we explain how the initial attraction and glamour attached to the job can be quickly replaced by travel fatigue and loneliness. (For the purposes of this series, only first names have been used as most flight crew are bound by confidentiality agreements)
A glamorous life in the skies, jet-setting to exotic cities like Tokyo, London and Paris -- and being paid (very well) to do it.
To many, the perfectly coiffed and immaculate airline crew have it all – striding confidently and elegantly through international airports and being able to picnic at the Eiffel Tower one week and then be on safari in South Africa the next, all the while staying in five-star luxury hotels.
But ask the flight stewards and stewardesses themselves and you get a very different picture.
“Supermodels in uniform? Most of the time, we feel like waitresses – just further above ground,” scoffs a senior stewardess Vanessa K, 34, who flies with a well-known Hong Kong carrier.
She isn’t the only flight crew to feel this way. All 15 air stewards and stewardesses from various airlines Yahoo! Singapore spoke to expressed similar sentiments: that when the novelty of flying wears thin and the trips get longer, the shiny veneer of glamour and excitement disappears quickly to be replaced with loneliness and homesickness.
Add to that the recent allowance and hiring cutbacks facing the airline industry due to stiff competition from budget carriers and an increasing number of flight crew are ditching their jobs to find stability back home and on land.
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