The job of a flight attendant comes with its own share of perks: international travel, experiencing different cultures, and the chance to see the world from a whole new vantage point—literally! We talk to ex-flight attendant Nazmee Sehar Ahmed, who tells us more about this high-flying job and helps us uncloud the details of one’s life in the skies. By Bayar Jain

1. What inspired you to become a flight attendant, and what has the experience been like for you?

 

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As a child, I always aspired to become a flight attendant because of the mystery that surrounds the whole affair and the glamour attached to it. However, these plans kept changing as I grew older and I almost forgot about it! But after my graduation, casual talk with some of my friends led me to go for an interview that was being held by a Middle-Eastern airline. And, the rest is history.

The experience has been an eye-opener of sorts. I got the privilege to explore almost six continents and over 70 cities worldwide, and even interacted and connected with over 172 nationalities!

2. What was your first flight as an air hostess like, and where did you go?

 

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My first flight was to London, United Kingdom. It was really exciting since, while growing up, I always looked forward to visiting the city someday! In the beginning, it was also a bit overwhelming getting used to the safety security norms, despite undergoing a rigorous, two-month training beforehand.

3. In-flight crews are known for their cordial hospitality. How did you deal with ‘off-days’ when you were feeling low yourself?

 

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We were honest about our feelings with our colleagues at work, so we always supported and lifted each other’s moods—off day or not. Once in uniform, nothing else seemed to matter inside the aircraft. I always had my best smile on! As the cliché goes, if one loves their job, there is never a dull day. For me, too, there was always something to look forward to like a new city, food, shopping, etc.

4. The job of a flight attendant is seen as a glamourous way to travel the world. How accurate or inaccurate is this perception?

We are made to look glamorous, but inside the aircraft at 40,000 feet above the ground, nothing stays glamorous except our uniforms. The general belief, then, is that we are nothing less than ‘trolly dollies’. However, the reality is quite different as we have a huge responsibility for maintaining high standards of safety and security, as well as dealing with medical emergencies.

5. What are some ill-effects of being a flight attendant that is often ignored by common masses? How did you cope with these?

 

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The effects on health are the worst. We are exposed to high radiation, controlled cabin pressure, changing time zones, lack of fresh oxygen… and the list goes on. Personally, I was affected by the development of hydrops in my right ear (fluid buildup) and vertigo because of which I was grounded for a few months and eventually decided to resign.

6. When did you start out as a flight attendant, and how many countries did you visit during your job?

 

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I started out in July, 2011 and I visited over 60 countries during the job. Frankly, I don’t even know the exact count!

7. Which place was your favourite and why?

 

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Prague and Budapest for their beauty and history. Also, London because of its energy and familiarity.

8. What are the various stumbling blocks that you had to overcome during your job?

Balancing personal life and my health.

9. How important is fitness for a flight attendant—both, mental and physical? 

 

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Both are very important and cannot be ignored at any point. We had strict rules in place to keep a check on sick leaves. Physical weight was monitored from time to time, and any behaviour which led to passenger complaints or colleagues raising internal issues were also monitored and regulated with timely warnings and suspensions. Any mental health-related issues of crew members were tested by mental health professionals. With such a system in place, it was very difficult to take both physical and mental health lightly.

10. How did you ensure the same?

By eating clean, monitoring sleep and regular exercise. Staying connected with family and friends also helped. Visiting them often made me deal with their absence better.

11. Your most memorable flight yet?

 

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It has to be the one with my parents on board!

12. What is the best thing about being a flight attendant?

 

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Of course, the travel, shopping and all the good food you get to try from around the world! But on a more serious note, working in a multinational environment makes one evolve into a more culturally sensitive human being. In my case, it has definitely taught me invaluable life lessons and skills.

13. Your dream destination?

Greenland to see the northern lights. Although, I did catch a glimpse of it from the cockpit once while we flew over it on our return from Los Angeles, USA.

14. What are the various new measures or procedural changes that you think current flight attendants have had to usher in because of the pandemic?

 

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Definitely, standards related to hygiene and cabin cleanliness. Wearing PPE’s (personal protective equipment), maintaining social distancing and alteration in inflight meal service is the new norm.

15. What are your predictions for the aviation industry, particularly in the post-COVID-19 world?

I feel it depends on the restrictions placed by various governments. The industry will definitely rely less on wide-body aircrafts like the A380 and 747 Jumbo. In fact, some airlines have already done away with A380 aircrafts. Due to travel restrictions imposed by various governments and global economic meltdown, the aviation industry has definitely come to a standstill, and its comeback will also be slow wherein smaller aircrafts will play a pivotal role in order to bounce back stronger.

Related: 7 Secrets That Flight Attendants Will Never Tell You!