Part 3 of our Back to the Skies Q&A series, leads us to speak with a Flight Attendant who works in the business aviation sector, to see if and how her experience of being in the skies during the pandemic differed to that of the pilots and cabin crew working for commercial airlines.

1. What impact did the pandemic have on your job?

Luckily, it didn’t impact my job too much really because I work in the business aviation sector, so I continued to fly throughout the entire pandemic.

That said, although we continued to fly, we weren’t flying as frequently as before as we kept getting stuck in various countries. This was due to issues trying obtain permits to land resulting in longer layovers.

Sometimes it was also an issue just getting out to an aircraft or getting home so I ended up staying away on duty for longer periods than I would have normally. I was only on furlough for one month in the end though, so was very lucky in the sense that I could continue to work.

2. What was your initial reaction when the aviation industry came to a complete halt during the pandemic?

My initial reaction was complete shock but because I was still travelling with work when it all started I witnessed the devastating effects it was having on the industry as a whole.

As one of the lucky ones who was still able to travel with my job during such a turbulent time, I saw many ghost airports that would usually be bustling with people waiting for flights.

I was also travelling back and forth from the United States quite a lot and there would be about 10 passengers, maybe less, on each flight – it just made me feel really sad.

3. Do you feel that the pandemic has affected your mental or physical health in any way?

No, I don’t feel that my mental or physical health has changed, although it has most certainly been challenged at times.

I had to complete 10 days quarantine in a hotel in Malaysia over the Christmas and New Year period. We were tested on arrival to which I tested positive with no symptoms of the virus whatsoever. I did find that experience extremely tough as I couldn’t see any of my family or friends and missed a holiday I had booked to go on over that period – that would definitely have been the time I felt most challenged.

4. What positives were you able to take away from NOT being in the skies?

As I was still working during the pandemic I would say this doesn’t apply to me personally.

That said, if I was to have not been in the sky and had a different experience I would say that the positives would be that you could spend so much more quality time with your family.

In between flying I was staying with my mum and my brother so I definitely got to spend a lot more time with them that I would not have normally.

5. What has the pandemic taught you about the aviation industry?

The pandemic has taught me that anything can change at any given moment, so to expect the unexpected.

It also made me think about job security. I had so many friends in other airlines that lost their jobs due to the pandemic so it made me feel extremely grateful for what I have as it could have been a very different experience.

6. How do you feel air travel is evolving post-pandemic?

Air travel is absolutely booming at the moment, certainly in my company as I’m in the private aviation sector.

For the past year, we have been extremely busy. When the pandemic initially started we weren’t flying as much, whereas now we are flying every single day – it’s been a big change. That said, I’ve noticed that the commercial airline industry also seems to be getting back to pre-pandemic levels which is really good news.

7. What do you believe to be the biggest challenge in your job post pandemic?

The biggest challenge now is to avoid contracting Covid in countries where the rules are really strict and restrictions remain high.

I worry about having to quarantine again!

8. Have you noticed a change in the reactions/expectations of passengers when flying since the pandemic?

During the pandemic I did notice a change in passenger’s reactions in relation to the in-flight service aspect.

Some passengers refused to have in-flight service and some didn’t want crew present in the cabin at all during flight. Even though they were flying on a private jet, some passengers still wanted to wear full protective breathing equipment (PBE) whilst on board and were fearful of contracting the virus whilst travelling.

Now, passengers are mostly very relaxed and things seem to be getting back to some kind of normality.

9. What’s the best thing about being cabin crew?

From my perspective the best things about being cabin crew is seeing the world, trying new and different cuisines, meeting new people from different cultures and backgrounds and never knowing where you will be flying to next. It’s just one big adventure.

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