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Sky's the limit for Cathay flight crew

Published on Thursday, 03 May 2012
Cathay Pacific crew Kit Lam (from left) and Dennis Li, with Maple Cheng, career development and resourcing manager, in flight services.
Photo: Gary Mak

The job of a flight attendant is like no other – it is full of excitement and lets you see the world. But, for it to be interesting, the job requires a certain type of person who can fully enjoy its challenges and meet its requirements with zest and delight.

“Being a flight attendant is an amazing job, which enables me to see and feel things happening around us from a different perspective. Every flight is a new experience and I can make use of my creativity and flexibility every day,” says flight attendant Dennis Li, who has been with Cathay Pacific for some six years.

Li says he joined because he enjoys meeting colleagues from various countries and backgrounds, as well as passengers from all over the world, and learning more about different cultures.

Li enjoyed and appreciated the six-week induction training that introduces new hires to various aspects of the job, including food and beverage handling, service delivery and  languages, and safety procedures. He found the training useful for not only his job but also his daily life.

“Every day is a new challenge for an inductee at Cathay Pacific. But I was amazed when I received my crew certificate and realised how much I learned and how much better a person I became in just six weeks,” he says.

Flight purser Kit Lam had enough of having to take work home and worrying about next day’s meetings when she decided to apply with Cathay Pacific, more than seven years ago. She  genuinely likes smiling, exploring the world and meeting different people. “The job nature suited my personality well. This provided me with motivation to join,” Lam says.

 “Candidates with service-oriented experience will have some advantage as they can understand how to treat customers in the right manner,” notes Maple Cheng, career development and resourcing manager, in-flight services.

Cheng says the most important aspect of the training is safety, including handling  emergencies. 

Lam’s most vivid memory is the training’s smoke assessment. “I wore a face mask connected to an oxygen bottle and entered a room with my partner. It was dark and full of smoke. We could hardly see but we needed to rescue people inside. Honestly, I was a bit frightened. At that moment, my partner held my hand and we encouraged each other. We then quickly ‘rescued’ our passenger and evacuated. I never imagined that we might  need to be  ‘firewomen’. I still remember how I felt  at that moment.”

Both Li and Lam initially found jetlag hard to deal with, but they say that regular exercise helps. Finding the right work-life balance also takes some practice, but Lam now swaps flight duties with colleagues, which allows her to make better use of her days off. “Good time-management helps me balance my work and life well,” she says. 

Serving “straight from the heart” is not easy to learn either, because every passenger is different. “One of the challenges when I first joined was to observe and be sensitive to our passengers’ needs,” says Li. “We have to be attentive to detail, and put ourselves in our passengers’ shoes. We have to offer our passengers services they need even before they ask.”

Air crew applicants are urged to gain a better understanding of the job and its requirements, and to polish useful personal qualities. Service industry experience also helps. Most important of all is motivation and a passion for work and life. 

 

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