20 Apr Paul Tufescu – from church painter to cabin crew
Paul Tufescu, apparently a shy young man, amazed me during a flight with his wide smile and availability to help everybody on board, colleagues included. While working as a church painter in Moldavia, for the love of flying, Paul gave up his job, to join a so-called women’s world, as a cabin crew.
Paul, please tell us about the period when you were a cabin crew at Qatar Airways and also about how the recruitment interview was conducted?
The period in which the first 8 Romanians came to Qatar Airways, in 2003, was a memorable one, considering that I had the chance to be a part of one of the most beautiful stages of this company’s evolution. Why do I say memorable? Because I had the most beautiful flight schedule anyone would have dreamt of during his cabin crew career, with 11 days of layover in Shanghai, 7 days in Singapore, 9 in Bangkok, 5 in Casablanca, 4 in Paris and so on.
During the 7 years spent there, I used to work about 22, 23 days a month with 7 or 8 days off and 30 days of annual leave, which could be used all at once or whenever needed. There have been ups and downs, but what matters most is the personality of the one that interprets the experience. I’ll say that I have always been guided by my flying passion and the desire to do everything as it should be done.
I had my recruitment interview in Dubai. There were about 250 candidates and recruiting officer was the current Manager of the Cabin Crew Department, Saliy Karunanayke, at that time, Deputy Manager of the Cabin Crew Department. The first phase of the interview was the candidates’ introduction. Each had to come forward and present themselves (name, age, occupation, hobbies and why they would like to be a cabin crew). After eliminations, the written English test followed, a very easy one, considering that it consisted of filling in verbs or given words in a text, and finally writing an essay. Then there was a 15 minutes break… “in case anyone wants to smoke”, a recruiter was observing those who were smoking … and after the break another round of eliminations followed, those who smoked being on the list!After that we have been divided into groups and have been given a hypothetical situation, a shipwreck on an island for my group: what would we do first, once arrived on that island. After the elimination of some other participants, the face-to-face interview with Mr. Saliy followed, who, after convincing himself that my English was good, started looking out of the window, asking me what each building was, who occupied it, and concluded with asking me when would I be able to join their team. Since I had to give the company I was working fort a minimum of 30 days resignation warning, Qatar Airways informed me that I will be given an answer within 2 weeks. And it was a favourable one.
What were you thinking of when landing?
When landing … I may say there are 2 answers: when landing in other countries, most of the time I was thinking about what I should do during my stay in that country: where to go, what to visit, if I had any friends there, and so on. When landing in Doha, most of the time my first thought was to take a good nap, message my parents to let them know everything was fine, then check my roster for the things to be done during the following days, meet some friends, arrange some permit if I was planning to travel on my own and so on.
Have you ever faced any alarming situations in Doha or during your flights?
Alarming situations, allow me to tell you, I had plenty !!!
On a flight Doha-Milan-Rome, we had a snake on board of the plane, which gave me a little headache because, as I was speaking Italian, being forced to make the emergency announcements, I had one of the leading roles, next to the snake :). “Snakes on a Plane” is still a catchy story inside the company.
During two other flights, this time to the DAC (Dakha, Bangladesh) and to LHR (London) I had to handcuff passengers … I would need an entire day to tell you these stories and I would drain my laptop’s battery to tell them in detail. To cut it short, for the London flight, my action was justified by the fact that a Pakistani passenger tried to touch one of my colleague’s private parts. On another flight, this time to MUC (Munich) we had to give first aid to an elder woman who was in an acute alcohol poisoning state.
After all these stories you have told me, it seems futile to ask you if you consider yourself to be a brave person …
No, it’s not futile. As a cabin crew, of course you have to be brave. I think anyone who dares to fly should know that it is a nice, special job, but that it also has risks. Acknowledged risks have advantages and disadvantages; travel isn’t everything, to know for sure everything you need to do, at any given moment, and put these things into practice, makes the difference between someone who is touring the world on a plane and someone who came to do their job. I met a lot of cabin crew members who chose this job to travel the world, without concern for their work but I also met people who understand that this is still a job to be done well, not only to be used as a travel agency.
After the experience with Qatar Airways you preferred working for the Emirates Airline, on a ground staff position, and then again as a cabin crew for Flydubai. What did the ground staff job imply?
Indeed, at the Emirates I have worked for 2 years at the Ground Staff Department. And it was something special. I have to confess that, at the Emirates, there was the best management team I have ever had! It had nothing to do with the Qatar Airways period, and all the rules they had there. Everything is exquisite compared to Qatar Airways. While I worked for them, I held 2 positions. Six months a year working at the contact centre (Call Centre) and another 6 months as a tour guide, both positions at the Emirates because it is a big company and has many departments, a Tourism Department included. My experience as a tour guide was nice, I had about 50 tourists daily, taking them to visit all of the 7 emirates here and after that I had to perform another type of customer service, this time on the telephone, for the other remaining 6 months.
For my work I was given an Excellence in Customer Service Award.
Did you miss the flying days at Emirates Airlines as ground staff?
Of course I missed flying and so I found a second home with the people from Flydubai, a fast-growing company, a company that finally gives me the opportunity to have my dream job, the cabin crew one, back, with turnaround flights (back and forth at the base on the same day) and a very simple role, but giving me the chance to be at home every day (Dubai), the kind of company that is suitable for families, although I’m still not married.
The flight virus, luckily, brought me back on board! Once you fly for so many years it’s not easy to quit flying, obviously I started applying for other companies for the flight attendant position and was back on board as soon as opportunity arose … Flight is an incurable “disease”!