Joanne Patrick from British Airways (Operated by Comair) chats to Debashine Thangevelo about being a flight attendant and her plans for Women's Day:
How do you guys manage to look so immaculate, especially on those long-haul flights? Maybe we are born with it. Just kidding. Skill and dedication to detail enhance the outer beauty. When in uniform we must take pride as we are representing our company at the highest of standards. There are a few tricks we can share. Most of us use a good brand of make-up and perfume. A refreshing body spritzer, enough sleep and drinking plenty of water helps as well.
What is your greatest job satisfaction? I have a passion to fly and to serve. There is nothing more rewarding than doing what you love and assisting our passengers in the process. I aim to provide our flyers with a memorable experience that keeps them using British Airways as their airline of choice.
Can you share your top three fondest memories? Working alongside Reach For A Dream, I assisted my crew to fulfil a child’s wish of flying for the first time. We made the flight so special and gave her VIP treatment on the aircraft. It was heart-warming to see the excitement on her face as we took off. It reminded me that life is so precious.
Being a brand ambassador for BA operated by Comair, we celebrated our company’s 70th anniversary with a cake extreme, making the largest B737-800 aircraft cake at OR Tambo international Airport. It was a proud moment when I was chosen as the flight attendant to hand over the knife at the cake-cutting ceremony. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
We meet many famous and iconic people on-board. During my first month of flying, I had Yvonne Chaka Chaka sitting in Club (Business Class). She has been one of my top local female idols in the music industry. She encouraged me to follow my dreams and we took a photo together. That moment was the catalyst for my ever-growing celebrity album.
Debunk the misconceptions around your job. We do not take joy in reprimanding you when you are not complying with safety regulations. We are there primarily for safety, we write annual exams and are trained in vital courses such as first aid and firefighting that could help save lives. When we ask you for your boarding pass it is a security check for the flight number and the date. The seat number is more for your information.
What’s a typical day in the life of a flight attendant? We are there before the sun rises or way after it has set. We meet our crew and pilots to discuss flight information. We work as a team to get to our aircraft prepared for your arrival. It’s not just chicken or beef. We are here for your comfort and safety. We greet you with a smile and say goodbye. We work hard to ensure that everything is done according to safety standards. We live our lives out of a suitcase. We travel the world not knowing the life-changing adventures that await us.
As someone who spends a lot of time in the air, what are your packing tips? Always pack a jersey, cellphone with charger, meds, travel documentation, money and a pen in your carry-on luggage. Don’t leave liquids lying loosely in the stowage as cabin pressure happens to bottles that aren’t sealed properly. Wet wipes can be your best friend.
What’s your must-have accessory on a flight? My cellphone. I can keep in touch and it’s useful for entertainment. Google Translate is useful on all the cross-border flights. I take loads of pictures and have my electronic boarding pass available.
When travelling, as a regular person, how do you find the shoe being on the other foot, so to speak? I have more empathy towards passengers. The whole waiting period and standing in queues can get you feeling impatient at times. It’s the little things like luggage space, having a good meal option or simply the level of service you receive that can make or break your flying experience.
Lastly, how will you be celebrating Women’s Day? A fabulous breakfast is what I have in store for me. I will be working, so I shall be sure to wish our all our phenomenal females a fantastic Women’s Day.