Let me take you through a crew’s typical day of work. As an example, let’s take a flight that departs at 0600hrs. (We’re working backwards here).
- ETD @ 0600hrs - you should be airborne by this time. Generally, a crew has to sign in for a flight (called reporting time) 1.5 hrs earlier. That means,
- Reporting @ 0430hrs - you should be at the airport & signed in for duty by this time. What about traveling to the airport? Lucky for us, the company provides transportation. Pick up time (depending on your location from the airport) is generally 1.5hrs earlier.
- Pick up @ 0300hrs - So, that means, at the honk of the cab/van, you gotta grab your trolley bag and hastily hop on the pick up. But what about preparation time? I’d say 1.5hrs will be a ’safe time’ for a stewardess. Hey, hair & make-up takes time k (at least for me it does), especially if it’s at wee hours of the morning. (Once, I was so groggy, I squeezed facial cleanser onto my toothbrush….) So, to be on the safe side, 1.5hrs is good. Which brings us to,.
- Wake up @ 0130hrs - woo hoo….
In a nutshell, if you’re going for a 6am flight, you gotta wake up by 1.30am. That’s a good 4.5hrs. You could drive leisurely from KL to Penang with 4.5hrs, or you could be in bed for 4.5hrs…or better still you could be in bed and dreaming that you’re in bed with a McSteamy or McDreamy for 4.5hrs for that matter!
Now we’re only talking about what’s happening before the flight. And LOTSA things could happen before the flight. Some typical ones are;
- You overslept - Major no no! It doesn’t matter if you’ve forgotten to set the alarm or the bell did ring but you just HAD to snooze the damn thing….if you’re late, you’re screwed. No aircraft will wait for a late crew. (hey, it rhymes!)
- Say you do wake up in time, you take a shower and then you start to do your hair. You do the routine steps, same old s*** that you do every time. But somehow, it just won’t work. A little hairspray here, a few pins there. The more you try, the more disastrous it becomes. (I have long hair so I put them up in a simple bun but even that seems impossible sometimes.) As a result, you might end up looking like a mak cik…or worse for those who sport the french twist (fondly known as croissant among the crew) - instead of a perfect twist, it goes like 20-30 degrees off! I’ve seen some unfortunate ones who look like they have a growth out of the backs of their heads….
- Next comes make-up - Integral part of the decorum, certain airlines have rules that you MUST apply foundation, powder, eyeliner, mascara, minimum combination of 2 eyeshadow colours, blusher and lipstick. (Wah, like opera…yalor but I know of a Middle East airline that requires only lipstick and blusher, cool!) So, you start layering your face with all sorts of products. By the time you get to the eyes, your hands are all tired. Eyeliner? Good luck with that. One false move and you’ll start cursing at how incompetent your hands are. And try as you might, you’ll only make matters worse….
- Right, what else could go wrong? Hmm…what about pick up? Like most of the rest who rely on the company’s transportation, I have encountered problems with the cab drivers before. Being late is not too bad, but what if the cab doesn’t show? So at 3am, you gotta call for a back up. By the time it arrives, you’re all flustered, you sweat, your make-up starts to get blotchy, your hair goes senget another 10 degrees….
Might I remind you that these are just some of the stuff that could happen BEFORE you even start work.
Lots of people think that being a cabin crew is great. The job’s easy (well, I somehow agree on this but not whole heartedly), the pay’s good (arguable), you look good all the time (the power of make-up and lotsa effort too) and you get off days all the time (quite true). Like any other jobs, things could go wrong. And when s*** happens, they happen with a vengeance. And everything’s a disaster from there on.
But I bet your job doesn’t require you to wake up 4.5hrs earlier
Hooray for that!