International Flight Attendant Day

 In Member Articles, News, Professional aviators

Today is International Flight Attendant Day, a day to recognise and celebrate the work of the dedicated individuals keeping travellers safe in the air.

Flight attendants and BWPA members Samantha Waller and Elechi Mbonye tell us what they enjoy about their roles.

Samantha Waller

I am Mixed Fleet Cabin Crew with British Airways (BA), based at Heathrow. I applied for this rewarding role after working as Race Teams Coordinator for Red Bull Air Race and Flight Operations Manager for Weald Air Services at Headcorn Aerodrome. I achieved my PPL 11 years ago and wanted to learn more about commercial aviation operations, with a view to undertaking my ATPLs and becoming a commercial pilot.

The best part of my role is just how varied it can be, from short haul to long haul destinations and the incredibly interesting customers and crew that I have the privilege to serve and work with. No one day is the same.

My favourite destinations are anywhere I have time to explore on longer trips or can meet up with friends who live abroad. I particularly like South America and the Caribbean so I can go scuba-diving. The most surprising part of my role is dealing with all the aspects of human behaviour that we witness on board!

I am presently furloughed and, having completed a PhD, I am satisfying my curiosity and appetite for learning by enhancing my professional skills through online courses. Ideally, I’d like to stay with BA and progress to the other side of the flight deck door.

Elechi Mbonye

I started flying two and a half years ago with Virgin Atlantic. I didn’t have any flying experience, having spent the previous decade working in the city. I had always wanted to fly with Virgin so when I saw that they had re-opened their application process, I took the plunge. Incredibly I was successful, and since then everything I would describe as my ‘day-to-day’ working life has changed!

It is more of a lifestyle than a job. It never ceases to amaze how I can turn up at the pre-flight briefing, meet ten strangers for the first time who then during that four-day trip turn into lifelong friends. To no longer think it’s strange to eat ice-cream at five in the morning or to enjoy curry for breakfast.

COVID-19 has upended my ‘normal’ and it’s been a particularly sobering time for all, especially in aviation. I’m still flying, although the precious cargo I look after onboard now is critical PPE supplies for the NHS, picked up and brought back in 29-hour round trip patterns! It’s heartening to see so many groups coming together at this time.

I spend my onboard break time studying for my PPL in preparation for Stapleford Aerodrome’s re-opening. I plan to undertake my PPL/ME/CB/IR before starting my CPL.

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