I must admit I was a bit nervous! The first day at school is always something special and that is never going to change. What should I wear? What will my classmates be like? What can I expect? A combination of anticipation and uncertainty accompanied me on my way to the airport. I was finally able to kick off my adventure above the clouds:
8 am on a Thursday morning. Meeting place: In front of Operation Center 1 (also referred to as OPC) at the airport. The atmosphere was casual from the start as some people already knew each other from the Assessment Day. Our Team Leader welcomed us and before we knew it, we were in a room with cute name tags and lots of SWISS decorations.
We started off introducing ourselves and it soon transpired that we were a colourful class! Lots of different backgrounds and stories – definitely a dynamic group. Also in terms of age. But whether 35 or 19, the training ahead was the same for everyone. After the introductions had been made, I was looking forward to getting to know a few people better.
The morning primarily involved learning more about the world of SWISS. And took the form of various items of group work. For example, we learned the SWISS values and analysed their meaning. There was also a mini foray into the world of social media at SWISS. Those representing such a large company should observe some of its Do’s and Dont’s. After all, you are always immediately recognisable in your uniform wherever you go.
Lunch was followed by a paper chase through the OPC. We visited various stations in small teams. For example, the “Crew Service Center” or our “Team Support Office”, enabling us to casually familiarise ourselves with our “flight preparation area”.
But they saved the best for last when the destinations for our respective trial flights were revealed. After all the speculation during the day, we were obviously all very excited.
The trial flight was to demonstrate to us prospective cabin crew members what to expect during everyday operations after completing our training – testing the waters, so to speak. We are on board the flight as an “additional” person who does not yet have any emergency duties. We can’t do that until after our licence training which we will face in the next few weeks of training.
When my group was the last one to return to the room, the names of European cities could be heard from every corner: Madrid, Rome, Barcelona, Stockholm, Amsterdam. But where was my sheet? Where would I have the pleasure of greeting passengers on a plane for the first time? Somewhat impatiently, I told our Team Leader that I was unable to find my document. It was missing on account of a system error. So I had to keep my curiosity at bay for another while – which was anything but easy. Thankfully, our colleagues in the Support Team did everything they could to find out where my trial flight was going. And I was relieved to receive a call the next day. In fact, it was definitely worth the wait. Lucky me – I was able to choose whether I wished to fly to Madrid or London. As London had been my absolute favourite from the very beginning, it was an easy decision to make. London’s calling, baby! The following weekend!
Sunday afternoon saw me set off for the airport. Smartly dressed the way we were taught the first day. It goes without saying that I had to buy a new blazer and slacks especially for the occasion. After all, you only get one shot at making a good first impression. With the SWISS pin on my chest, I already felt very SWISS. What could possibly go wrong now?
Somewhat nervous, I waited outside the briefing room, much too early of course – in due form. Once the crew said hello, the ice was broken; they were all really nice and friendly and my nervousness dissipated for the time being.
At the briefing, the Maître de Cabine provided us with the most important items of information. How many passengers we could expect in SWISS Business and SWISS Economy, how many special meals were on board and whether there were any VIPs, HONS or SENS on the passenger list. The various working positions were also allocated: two on the right, three on the right and four on the left. I hadn’t a clue what they were talking about.
The pilots joined us a few minutes later. They greeted us politely and listed some more key data: flight time, weather and whether we could expect turbulence. Everything looked fine on this Sunday afternoon.
We left the OPC, went through security and then straight to the aircraft. I was delighted to see that it was an Airbus A320P. A gorgeous plane, I think!
The flight went according to plan. The passengers and crew were all in flying form. But when I heard “Martina, would you ask the row on the left what they’d like to drink and I’ll do the row on the right”, my nerves returned with a bang! For all my awkwardness, I spilt some apple juice over a passenger. Thankfully, he had his table down so I was saved a lot of embarrassment – and his trousers remained dry. I apologised politely and he smiled. If that passenger happens to be reading this – sorry again! A little charm helps in solving practically any problem. First lesson learned.
As I still wasn’t that familiar with the products, I was intent on serving certain guests Fanta or Iced Tea. But that’s all part of being new! By the time I’d reached row 4, I had finally worked it out. It’s such a strange feeling to be at the mercy of so many people. Do they all know that today is my first day on the job? Are they all critically monitoring my every move? Ok, don’t let anything distract you. Of course you need a little practice but you get used to it pretty fast.
When we were finished, I was allowed to distribute our world-famous SWISS Schöggeli and have a nibble of one of the Business Meals that were left over. Delicious!
Exhausted but over the moon, we landed back in Zurich that Sunday evening.
A brilliant first day, full of impressions and knowing that I am in the right place. An adventure above the clouds: this is where I wanted to be and it’s where I want to stay for now!
I couldn’t wait to tell my class the next morning about how it had gone and of course to find out how the others had all gotten on. In any case, my first day was a success. And these fond memories will stay with me for a long time.
My next post will be a bit wilder: I’ll be reporting on how my class experienced the “Safety and Medical” course and where I came close to my limits. These were definitely the two most intensive weeks of training. So fasten your seatbelts and stay tuned.