This is the part of my training I have been particularly looking forward to. After successfully completing the safety, security and medical parts of my training, we could finally devote our time to the beautiful things in life – literally. Just the thought of the word appearance triggered a sense of joy among the female participants, as a neat and sophisticated appearance is part of an outstanding flight attendant. It starts with a fitting uniform, paired with good manners and extends to that perfectly applied lipstick. After all, we’re representing SWISS – the national airline of Switzerland.
But let’s rewind for a minute: I felt slightly nervous and excited at the same time, when I left my house in uniform for the first time on this rainy Monday morning. What will the commuters on the train think about me? Will they comment on my uniform or just throw me a mustering glance? When I entered the class room with my soaked umbrella, some of my fellow classmates were already engaged in heated discussion. Someone had been approached on the street and been asked for directions, while somebody helped carry a female colleague’s crew bag (the suitcase provided to flight attendants) up the stairs. Yet another one was even allowed to ride First Class. Yep, looks like that uniform really does have some magical powers. All we had to do now, was to learn how to use them.
Seeing all my colleagues in uniform was a beautiful, but somehow also strange sight. They looked so different all of a sudden. More adult. But now it was game on. The day was divided into different workshops. First of all, we had to familiarize ourselves with certain do’s and don’ts. For example, what tights conform to the uniform standard or what the minimum height of our heels should be. Up to this point, I had no idea what the difference between 20DEN and 40DEN is, though by now, this kind of stuff was second nature to me (For those of you unfamiliar with it as well, DEN denotes the degree of opaqueness of tights). Information regarding jewelry was also provided – after all, there are specific regulations in place regarding that. For example, we were instructed on what kind of earrings to wear, which wristband colors are permitted, and which precious metals can be combined. I too, had to part with some of my most treasured pieces of jewelry, as long as the SWISS logo was a part of my clothing.
This was followed by a part dealing with cosmetics, touching on a number of issues that went much deeper than solely revolving around ways to perfectly apply make-up. We learned numerous things on how to take care of our skin, teeth, hair, and our nails. We were further introduced to the newest methods, and which tips and tricks existed to optimize our appearance. Naturally, this was followed by a make-up course, which was one of my highlights of the day.
I was not only fascinated by the fact that we were in a real beauty salon with great products, but by our transformation as well. Pretty crazy what difference a little colour can do. We were also allowed to try out different looks. Thanks SWISS, that was fun! Our male colleagues were of course offered a more masculine alternative, mainly focusing on their hands. Facial hair was mentioned as well. Some were even subjected to a live demonstration in line with the German saying “schnipp schnapp, Haare ab”, which loosely translates to snip snap, hair gone. Well, you get the picture.
After lunch we went on to the hair salon, where we were shown how real flight attendants sport their hair. For example, it is really important that long hair is tied together neatly. There are several options: from braids to pony tails, almost anything goes. But of course, some rules apply here as well: long hair has to be tied down with elastic bands in 10 cm intervals. But there are also certain elastic bands that are not permitted. As a rule of thumb, it should be as plain and simple as possible. So refrain from putting flowers in your hair, diamonds, bows, or even feathers. We women really went at it, trying out all looks imaginable with the help of our instructors. In the end, creations bearing names such as “the banana” or “bun” were easily accomplished, depending, of course, on hair type and talent.
As the evening neared, the metamorphosis was complete. Wow. I looked totally different, somehow seemingly more adult. A little insecure at first, I was now determined to embark on my future as a flight attendant. After looking at our mirror image for what felt like 15 minutes, we were thoroughly inspected by the SWISS uniform and quality professionals. Does the jacket fit perfectly? Is that skirt too short? Who needs different shoes and who could use a slightly larger shirt? These minor things still had to be corrected.
An exciting and remarkable day was slowly about to end. We now looked like real flight attendants. But we still had to learn the trade of our daily tasks, as well as getting acquainted with the services and products on board. So off we went to the product and service part of our training, where the magic finally happens.