Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Whenever I happened to cross paths with cabin crew colleagues returning to the Operations Center early in the morning from long-haul destinations such as Mumbai, Hong Kong, Johannesburg and Bangkok with bags full of treasures and aromas from these distant places, my own desire to work on such a rotation intensified. By contrast, I would be preparing for duty on a flight to a rather less exotic destination, such as Hannover. My impatience grew with the awareness that practically all of the flight attendants with whom I had been through basic training had by now acquired their first long-haul experience and raved about the destinations and the flights. I admit that I am rather impatient!
At last, after a lengthy wait, my opportunity to work a long-haul rotation arrived. I already imagined myself in Hong Kong, enjoying the breath-taking view from the Peak, or in São Paulo, sipping a Caipirinha. But before these dreams could become reality, I still had to get through a two-week training period to prepare me for the various advantages and disadvantages of long-haul duty.
The course finally got under way at the beginning of May. I found myself with two colleagues I knew from basic training and 17 others in a Swiss Aviation Training (SAT) classroom. The three of us just wanted the two weeks to go by as quickly as possible so that we could get back to flying, this time on a long-haul route. Even though we had only ten months’ worth of experience, in the classroom we still felt like birds without wings. With a wistful twinge we watched through the window as our “babies” flew majestically past. We could already imagine ourselves aboard a widebody aircraft en route to a faraway place somewhere in the big wide world. Following a series of safety and service exercises and having passed several tests, we were ready, even though we were somewhat nervous and excited prior to the first flights.
As it turned out, my first-long rotation was to São Paulo. I was very glad to see a familiar face, that of my instructor, among the crew. Her presence helped to ease my nervousness. Even though I was by now used to working on short-haul aircraft, this first long-haul experience definitely felt like a step up: an additional class, an additional aisle, an additional pilot, and a cabin crew twice the size of what I was used to. Once boarding was completed and we had taken our own seats, any sense of nervousness disappeared. LX92 taxied along the runway and took off for São Paulo at precisely 22:38. And I was there on board.