Monica Stoltz from Kulula chats to Debashine Thangevelo about being a flight attendant and her plans for Women's Day:
How do you manage to look so immaculate, especially on those long-haul flights? I get myself into a good skin care routine because we work in an enclosed environment for long hours. Red lips are every woman’s secret weapon. It can brighten up your face. Stay hydrated. We have heard this repeatedly, but working or travelling on a aircraft leads to a decrease in hydration.
What is your greatest job satisfaction? A perk of the job is getting to experience the destinations our passengers travel to. I also admire every time an almost 80-ton metal tube (aircraft) takes off safely into familiar skies. Can you share your top three fondest memories? My first flight. Growing up in a small town, I was never exposed to the idea of becoming an flight attendant until my cousin, who was flying at the time, gave me the opportunity to fly. On that day I was lucky enough to join the pilots on the flight deck for the take-off. In 2010, when South Africa hosted the soccer world cup, it was a great experience to meet all the enthusiastic supporters visiting us. We did a chartered flight to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Usually, when we land there, we fly straight back to Johannesburg. On that day, we had a layover and myself and the crew took to the majestic Victoria waterfalls. Unforgettable.
Debunk the misconceptions around your job. The job is glamorous, to some extent. Many flight attendants don’t realise what the job entails until they’re doing it. With an estimate of 100 000 flights per day globally, there is work to be done. With that said, we lead normal lives. Our training as cabin crew consists of 90% safety and simulated emergency drills. We undergo strict assessments every few months with a yearly recurrent training. This ensures a high standard of safety.
What’s a typical day in the life of a flight attendant? We are given an individual work roster and it differs day to day. An example of an early morning four-sector day: wake up at 3am, preparation for the day starts at 5am, first flight takes off at 6.20am, the last flight lands at 2.30pm and the work day ends at 3pm. Having off days during the week gives me the opportunity to run errands without the bustle of crowds.
As someone who spends a lot of time in the air, what are your packing tips? Pack only what you need for the duration of your stay. I always have a small backpack with me.
What’s your must-have accessory on a flight? Wet wipes and your favourite moisturiser. I have a multipurpose eight-hour cream I keep close by.
When travelling, as a regular person, how do you find the shoe being on the other foot, so to speak? I will admit queueing in line for check-in at the security gate and for boarding is a test of anyone’s patience.
How will you be celebrating Women’s Day? I am working so I will be celebrating in spirit with my colleagues and fellow passengers.