09 Mar "I wanted to be a cabin crew, but never thought I was good enough"
Interview with Beata Clark , former Qatar Airways cabin crew
Beata used to be my flatmate when I was working for Qatar Airways. Find out her amazing story and and what she did in order to become a cabin crew.
Tell us about yourself before becoming a flight attendant.
Before I began my adventure as cabin crew I worked as a manager at a very popular club and restaurant in Warsaw. I remember how great it was! Events, celebrities, night life… I met so many people! This was a great job for me, nothing boring about it. However, at the same time I was trying to finish my degree and it wasn’t easy to manage night shifts at the club, and university on weekends. I had to resign, find some stability and focus on my studies. I tried working for a real estate agency but this only lasted for a month, followed by another try in the city’s waterworks. The computer-desk combination didn’t work for me. Too dull! I was jobless for a while, finished my uni in the mean time and started to think what I really wanted to do with my life. I remembered that in high school I wanted to be a cabin crew, but never thought I was good enough. Travelling, meeting people, wearing a chic uniform..I wanted all this glamorous life style to be mine! I didn’t know that time how much of hard work is behind all of this. I started applying for flying jobs.
How did you find out about Qatar Airways recruiting in Poland?
From the newspaper. I found a job ad for Qatar Airways somewhere at the end of 2005. I didn’t know much about them, but I went for the interview. To my surprise I passed all stages of interview because there were many other people who I thought were more prepared than I was and had better English skills. But fortunately I got the job, not them, and the new chapter in my life began.
How did you feel leaving Europe for a Middle Eastern country?
I had doubts especially about living in an Islamic country, but at the same time all this felt so tempting and exotic. I was almost 26 at that time but some of my colleagues were 30. All training was in English, so I had to study extra hard. It wasn’t the easiest thing ever, but they want you to do good, they want you to pass the exams. The company paid for your ticket to come to Qatar and invested money in your training. You are an important asset for them you usually get all the support you need.
How was cabin crew life for you?
While I was a flight attendant, I had no worries! Every roster was different, every flight was different. Besides, the crew you worked with were also different almost every time. You had to be ready to face unexpected situations, be professional and positive. Turbulence? Keep smiling! Annoying passenger? Keep smiling!
Some of the people looked at you like you were some sort of trolley-dolly waitress always ready to serve them food and drinks. They don’t realise that in case of any emergency or life treating situation, you are the one who knows the airplane cabin like your own home and you’ve been trained almost like a CIA agent. You actually feel almost like a secret agent, under cover: behind the “smiling waitress” there is this skilful person who knows the location of every piece of safety equipment, who knows how to help someone in the case of a heart attack, how to fight a fire on board or what to do in case of ditching emergency. And that’s only the beginning. Sounds scary? Also, on behalf of the company, I experienced 3 royal weddings, as a hostess. First one was in January 2007 and it really impressed me. I’ve also done a few brand new aircraft deliveries from Hamburg and Toulouse and promotions of Qatar Airways in the Paris Air Show.
Now let’s talk about the other face of this exciting profession: Snorkelling and sunbathing in Maldives today, safari in South Africa 3 days after and shopping in New York next week. How does it sound? Oh, yeah baby! It’s an addictive life style, I’m telling you! Good salary too! Many of the people I use to work with saved enough to buy a house or apartment. Oh, let’s not forget about the major benefits you get from working for an airline: discounted airfares to wherever you want! When I’ve decided that it was time for a change, after 4 years as a flight attendant, I was already part of the first class crew.
And one day you have just decided that it is time to leave all these behind?
Yes, I got engaged and decided to get married and move to Australia.
Did you enjoy your life in Qatar?
Qatar is not an easy country for relationships, especially if you are not married. You have to respect the Islamic law if you want to stay out of trouble. On top of this, you work for a company who is very conscious about their reputation so you have to play by their rules, which sometimes are not very easy to understand for Europeans.
What’s next, after you stopped flying? Any plans to come back in the aviation field?
I live in Australia now, I’m a wife and a mother of a little boy. I’ve recently applied for a few flying jobs. I had a phone interview today. Fingers crossed! As I’ve mentioned before, it’s a very addictive lifestyle and I want to get back out there!