‘To be honest, I had never intended to be a ‘frequent flyer’, but then I found myself in an assessment with fifty other travellers, dreamers and individuals.’ And before I could even think about it, my new career above the clouds was set.
They are called cabin crew, flight attendants or trolley dollies. I am talking about those people who are stuck with you on a plane in order to ensure your safety and well-being. The ones who welcome you with a bright smile, who pour your tomato juice and get paid for travelling around the world.
It happened in mid-February, when I found myself in a deep winter depression; tired of work and life itself. Being surrounded by the same places, same people and same dramas every single day. Maybe because of this, I intuitively went for an event of an international airline from the Middle East. I did not know at that time that the gulf airline came to Zurich to hire new crew members.
Living in a fast-paced city and working while flying to the most beautiful and underrated destinations around the world; The core statement of the video, which was showed at the beginning of the event, truly aroused my fantasies and of all the people around me. However, Mira, the representative of the airline and host of the event, also mentioned the downsides of the adventure. Constantly changing climate and time zones, tedious passengers and long working hours are only a few examples.
‘As a cabin crew, flying to New York can sometimes be like walking to New York.’
With that sentence, Mira summed up the short presentation about the job and the life in Dubai. So far, so good. But than we were told that fifty of us had the chance to go through an assessment – on the same day! The shock was written in my face, but there was no time to think about whether I wanted to participate or just leave the room at that point. Each candidate was assigned a number and got 90 seconds to introduce himself or herself to Mira. This bloody 90 seconds could have already decided your future!
To my astonishment, I became one of those 50 lucky ones to go through the assessment. I was unexpectedly a step closer to my one-way ticket to Dubai.
I was impressed how many people came from abroad to be part of this event. Sophia from Malaysia, had already participated a couple of times and she told me that this job is one of the most sought-after in her home country. Girls of all ages are admiring the glamourous women in their uniform and their red hat. As soon as they reach the mandatory age of 21, they apply for it. Hoping their life to become a better one by getting a job in the middle east. While in Kuala Lumpur more than 300 people try their luck, we were only about 100 that day in Zurich.
Sava from Serbia and his friend skipped their lectures at university to travel all the way to Zurich and Hong-Kong based Ming took a whole week off to take a chance at several airlines within Europe. But what distinguished myself from all those people? I felt like being in a wrong movie and I was utterly lost while everyone else seemed to know exactly what happened next.
Whoever thinks that a flight attendant has mainly two qualifications, which is constant smiling and the ability to differentiate a ham from a cheese sandwich; well he or she is obviously very narrow-minded.
The role of a cabin crew goes beyond being flexible, team-oriented and keeping a clear head even in hectic and abnormal situations. And I think that’s exactly what Mira wanted to see from us. Maybe not in the most expected manner, though.
For example, we were asked to think about unconventional uses for a lipstick or to put ourselves in the role of a manager of a theme park; dealing with customer complaints at the entrance. While presenting our ideas, it seemed that Mira took note of every single word that we said.
The assessment went on. Round after round. And after every task, we had to wait for the results outside the examination room. For some of us, the journey to Dubai ended even before it really started. If you were lucky, your number was called out for another round.
Eventually, there was nine of us left and one English exam to go, before we were invited for a final interview the next day.
I never figured out what the actual selection criteria for the airline was. I also never found out how many of us were selected for the job. But to put an end to the story in a nutshell; it took another two months until my screen on the phone was flashing with an incoming call from Dubai. The friendly voice of a lady at the other end announced with pleasure my employment for the airline.
‘Jennifer, welcome on board. You will be soon part of our cabin crew.’
Even though my heart was beating like crazy, I tried to make notes so as not to miss out on any of the information given to me by the lady. However, at the end of the call the slip of paper was nothing more than a piece of abstract art. Never mind! Something was clearly standing out; ’28th August 2015 = Departure from Zurich to Dubai!’
Note: This text is slightly adapted from its original version in German in order to enhance the readability and comprehension.