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Behind the scenes: come fly with Ana!

Read in: Deutsch

Zurich Airport, 6.00 a.m. I’m here to meet SWISS cabin crew member Ana Wellauer, whom I’ll be accompanying on her flight today. I’m not at my best at such an early hour, but Ana is beaming. “Are you ready?” she asks. “Let’s go to the OPC!” The OPC is the Operations Center, and our first stop. Crew members don’t check in at the usual airport terminal desks: they do so at the OPC.

The OPC is deserted when we enter. “It’ll be a lot busier later,” Ana assures me as she logs in on a PC and prints out the details of her flight today – up to Hamburg and then back to Zurich. Does she prefer long-haul rotations or short-haul duties like today’s, I ask. “I like both,” she replies. “The longhaul rotations give you a longer layover – time at the destination, when you can explore a little, go shopping and spend an evening with your fellow crew members. Today we’ll have just under 35 minutes in Hamburg, which isn’t enough for anything! But on the plus side, I’ll be home in good time tonight …”

6.25 a.m. We meet up with the other crew members for the preflight briefing: the commander, the co-pilot, the maître de cabine and two further flight attendants. Ana is especially pleased to see one of them: she did her training with her three-and-a-half years ago, and this is the first time they will be flying together since. “When you think that we have some 3,800 cabin crew members at SWISS, that’s not really surprising,” Ana says. “You’ll hardly ever have the same crew twice.” The crew discuss the flight ahead. What’s the weather like en route? How many frequent flyers will they have on board, and how many children? Who’ll be in the galley preparing the meals? Once everyone knows what they’ll be doing, it’s off to and through the security check. And the mood is chatty and casual as we get into the bus that will take us out to our aircraft, an Airbus A321.

So how did Ana come to be a cabin crew member? “It was a very spur-of-the-moment thing,” she recalls. “After I’d done my baccalaureate, I wanted to take a year off before I went to university. I had a friend who was doing her flight attendant training at the time, and she was always showing me pictures from her course. I just wanted to do it too! That was three-and-a-half years ago, and I’m still here today!” Ana will be working in the Business Class section on today’s flight. And as soon as we’re aboard, she starts her preparations. Is everything there, and where it needs to be? She unpacks the newspapers and gets the water bottles ready to offer to the guests. Boarding will begin shortly, and the flight is due to depart at 7.25 a.m. Once we’re up in the air and at our cruising altitude and the “fasten seat belt” signs are off, Ana starts preparing the breakfasts, putting rolls and croissants in the oven, making coffee and tea and handing out fresh fruit salad and muesli. On a flight as short as this, everything has to run as smoothly as possible. It’ll be much the same routine on the return flight to Zurich. And Ana has just ten minutes on the ground in Hamburg to sit down and grab a bite to eat before the new passengers come aboard. For all the time pressure, though, she’s still relaxed as she shares what she loves most about her job. “No two flights are the same,” she says, “so you never get bored. You go all over the world, too, getting to know new cultures and communicating in so many languages.” “I also love the human side,” she continues. “The contacts with our customers and working within our team, which is different for every rotation – I get to know so many people!” And what are the biggest challenges? “The time zones,” she replies. “Jet lag can be really tiring. And still always looking fresh: that’s probably the greatest challenge of all!”

Ana’s still looking fresh as we touch down in Zurich again just after 11 a.m. The OPC is buzzing like a beehive now, just as she’d said it would. “A lot of our long-haul flights leave just after noon: that’s why it’s so busy,” she explains. As we say goodbye, I ask Ana one final question: what makes her work so special? “I spent last Christmas on a Tokyo layover and at Disneyland,” she says. “What other job could offer me that?”

Being a SWISS cabin crew member is a fascinating and hugely varied job. And with the new and bigger aircraft we’re acquiring soon, we’re creating over 500 new positions. Interested? We’d love to hear from you!

Duties

– Caring for international guests on board

– Assuring and applying the safety and security regulations on board

– Preparing the aircraft cabin

– Organising the workflow in the galley

– Conducting the meal and beverage service

– Carrying out the on-board sales

Requirements

– Swiss nationality or an EU passport

– Minimum age 18 years

– Minimum height 158 centimetres

– Normal weight

– Excellent health and ability to work under pressure

– Applicants with completed school education, apprenticeship or similar higher school diploma preferred

– Very good English and German language skills; French, Italian or Spanish are an advantage (language stays recommended)

– Charming, friendly, outgoing, service orientated

– Quality awareness in terms of traditional Swiss hospitality

– Well-groomed appearance, no visible tattoos, impeccable manners

– Flexibility (e.g. irregular work schedule)

– Completed military service if applicable

– Good swimming skills

All applications must be submitted online. For further details please visit swiss.com/career

Text: Vanessa Schaub Photos: Agi Simoes