Tia Chetty and Mella Molina Ignacio talk about life as cabin crew. Picture: Instagram/Collage

Long haul flights, rude passengers and jet lag are just some of the challenges cabin crew endure in their job. But, there's plenty of perks, too. 

When they are not serving guests on overcrowded flights, flight attendants paint the town red by exploring exotic destinations, sampling cuisine and immersing themselves in the local culture and its attractions. 

That's not all, many of the airlines offer an allowance to their crew to use for touring destinations where layovers are more than 24 hours. Two of them reveal their travel lifestyles to Clinton Moodley. 


‘Every day feels like a holiday’ 

Mella Molina Ignacio, a 34-year-old flight attendant for LATAM Airlines, has been flying since 2011. Ignacio, an industrial designer by profession, says that every flight feels like a holiday. 

“Every time you fly and stay in a different country feels like a holiday. The airline always gets its crew the best hotels for a good rest and where possible we get to explore. 

“I don’t have to spend money in hotels as we get a daily allowance to cover food and other expenses when abroad,” he says. 

 He started his career when he was 26 years old. He says being a flight attendant gave him financial security. 

“It allowed me the chance to get to know the world around me and travel within my country, which is an expensive thing to do in Chile. The job also allowed me to develop trust, leadership and other skills. Those are some of the pros for me,” says Ignacio. 

His most lavish holiday? A month-long trip to Europe with his mom. The duo explored every part, from the palaces, castles and popular attractions. 

Easter Island where he spent days floating on his back on Anakena beach comes a close second. He says he never pays for a First Class ticket as he often gets upgraded. 


A year-long adventure 

For Tia Chetty, who moved to Dubai with her family two years ago from Johannesburg, being a flight attendant happened purely by chance. 

Chetty, the founder of an online fashion store, was in search of a job when she heard that Emirates was looking for stewards. 

“My heart was longing to travel and get out of my shell. When Emirates advertised the job, I decided to jump at the opportunity. 

“It has been only a year, but it has been an adventure. Being a flight attendant opens you up to many different cultures and destinations,”  she says.

 The 22-year-old says layovers feels like a mini-vacation. 

“Layovers are a dream. You get to travel to the city and take part in a few activities. It’s the best way to experience a place.” 

When she packs, she takes along her camera and clothes to suit all types of weather.