After 5 years as Cabin Crew: nothing is hard if you have your wings
Lili worked for 5 years as Cabin Crew for Etihad Airways. She left the company when she was pregnant with her first child, but she has flying deep in her blood. For her “nothing is hard for those who got their wings”. Lili is brave, she followed her dream and started working for Etihad Airways in 2008, when there weren’t so many information about this company in the Middle East.
I was so excited to hear her story as it radiates passion and dedication. Nevertheless, Lili is a beautiful soul, a former amazing cabin crew.
How did you start flying? Tell us about your first encounter with aviation
Dear Anca, through this interview I hope to inspire young people to fly, to chase their dreams and do things with passion. I got to fly because that was my faith. I didn’t choose this job, this job chose me. I never thought that one day I will do this or that I will arrive that far, I think I didn’t allow myself dreaming so far. But then I got my wings and I learned to fly. I simply applied to all the jobs I thought were interesting, even for those abroad and one day I woke up with a phone call from a recruiting agency who offered me the possibility to attend an interview with an airline company from UAE. (I hadn’t even heard of this country.) Normally, I would have ignored such an invitation, because I was called to go in another city to attend the interview. I was 27 years old and I wanted to leave the country, to see how the world is. I succeeded the second time, therefore in august 2008 I arrived in Abu Dhabi. It was a whole different world, at first it was hard to accommodate with such high temperatures, but I had the luck to know someone from my hometown who made the accomodation easier. We are still very good friends till this day, and she is my connection with UAE and with the job among the clouds. I had 2 months of intensive training. We had courses till the afternoon, we arrived home at midnight and the next day we woke up in the morning to study and at 11 am we were going again back to the academy. It seemed liked my dreem job fit me like a glove. And it was exactly like that. I graduated with high grades at Safety and it was my strong point along my career
You worked 5 years for Etihad Airways. How was your first flight? Where did you fly?
The first flight was extremely difficult, I was supposed to be an Observer during the flight, but I had to work exactly the same as the others in order to satisfy all the passengers requests, it was a very interesting experience for me. The flight was full, on a small airplane (A320). I must say that even before knowing about this job, I was passionate about the shows on National Geographic related to airplanes (Aircraft Investigations, Disasters in air). There may be a destiny, right?
How was a day for an Etihad Airways flight attendant?
A flying day was a real ritual, because it meant the same make-up, the same hair style, same uniform and a Briefing before each flight. After this, you will walk proudly with the whole crew under the starring eyes of the passengers. The flights were mostly tiring, but everything was fine as long as the crew knew how to communicate and work in a team. If this didn’t happen, the flight would be a failure, but each flight is a lesson. This job/world taught me to be grateful (for the fact that I was born in Romania and I had the chance to have an education, for the fact that I knew 4 seasons, and so on.), I learned to be the best, to be patient, to respect different cultures, to accept that we are all what we are.
Tell us a funny story of one of your flights.
Hmm, there were so many. I remember on the second flight as an Observer when my colleagues along with the Captain tried to prank me. Ah, a whole flight laughed when the copilot forgot to deactivate “PA” (public announcement) and all the passengers heard their private conversation after landing.
Have you ever encountered an emergency situation? How did you react?
Fortunate, I haven’t had serious incidents in my 5 years as Cabin Crew. I once had a gentleman who fell in a deep sleep and his wife thought he died. In this kind of situations most important it is to remain calm, to talk with your passengers and to ask the help of your colleagues. In general, I am a strong person, I don’t panic and I manage to deal calmly with this kind of situations and to be useful when needed.
Which was one of the great satisfactions that this job offered you?
Seeing happy people: that hand shake when they left the airplane, that “thank you” in their language, the joy of offering a smile. And not least, the joy of seeing and living for a short period of time in all those places I had the privilege to arrive to.
What will be the disadvantages of this job?
Oh, the minuses…yes, they are plenty. Seen from outside, it is a wonderful job, and nobody knows what it truly means. It involves a lot of physical work, not only mentally, it is about working long hours, taking care of people, washing toilets if necessary, cleaning vomit and the list goes on. The idea is that from the moment you arrived in the airplane till landing, the airplane is your home, and from the moment the doors are closed till opening you are there for anything that the passengers need and trust me a lot can happen: babies can be born, people could die, accidents can happen, and so on.
Do you miss flying? How is your life now? What plans you have in the future?
Yes, I miss it, even if I don’t have time to think about it and my baby girl is offering me all the joy and satisfaction I need. I was still working for Etihad Airways when I got pregnant (I had a long distance relationship with my husband, he was in Romania, and Lia happened on one of our escapades in Istanbul). I flew for 2 more months with her in my belly and my last flight was the longest one. What can I say? It was an amazing experience, I will always say that, I am glad I had this opportunity. If I had another age when I left, I would have arrived far… I left from a FJ position (First and Business Class Attendant), and I was about to become Cabin Senior, but I didn’t had the opportunity. I have a tattoo “Alis Grave nil” (Nothing is hard for those who have their wings)