When I was a little girl I had always longed to become an Air Hostess. It was everything to me. I loved the glamour; the way the girls would walk through the airports and look so pristine. I loved that their nail varnish matched their lipstick. The uniform looked so classy and each and every member of the crew was perfect from their shoes to their hair. I was amazed by the idea of being an Air Hostess.
After leaving school (which I loathed) I was determined to be Cabin Crew and so the hard work began. I found myself at college studying Aviation in order to tick all the necessary boxes. This course was incredibly fun as it was exactly what I wished to do. I was one step closer to being where I needed to be. I was being trained by professionals who had worked in the Aviation Environment for years and I had the pleasure of being taught by them. I wanted to know as much as I could.
While studying Flight Crew and Resort Representatives in my second year of college, I worked full time as a receptionist at the Hilton Hotel in order to get my own place and be as independent as I could be prior to being an Air Hostess. The balance between work and study as difficult as it was, I could not let this stand in the way of my lofty ambitions. This constant juggling of priorities was difficult, yet my dream did not leave my heart for one second. I was consistently applying for cabin crew jobs. I never lost sight of my goal despite setbacks with Monarch and Thomas Cook. There’s no denying that there were tears but you have to roll with the punches. I’d have been a fool to think there’d be no setbacks.
The rejections were easy to maneuver due to the fact I had a wonderful support network. My Mum is the best person in my life; she has always given me the confidence and told me I could do anything if I put my mind to it. She told me I was clever enough to do whatever in life and that if I work hard I can have anything I want. I took this all very literally, and still do. My sister is so intelligent and inspires me everyday. Whilst pushing against the difficulties of having dyslexia she is a role model student at university and writes beautiful pieces of work. A future Historian with ground breaking work to her name; you watch this space! My partner at the time was also very supportive. She had my best interest at heart and believed in me so much that she often gave me the confidence that I didn’t always have. She loved me entirely and just wanted me to be happy. It did’t work out between us but i’m lucky enough to still have her in my life as a very good friend.
I was content in life. I’d come to the realisation that maybe my dream was too big for someone like me. Until one day i’d seen a job for Cabin Crew at British Airways. I applied straight away and promised myself that this was it. If i didn’t get this job I was going to stay in hospitality. I loved hospitality, I loved the guests and meeting different people, I loved that everyday is different. I’d convinced myself that I could live the rest of my life in this job.
After 3 days I got an email through to say i’d been invited to an assessment day and interview. This was in London. I got up at 4.00am for my interview, my sister did my hair in a tight bun and I wore a navy blue suite. My dad drove me down to London and we was stuck in traffic for hours! I eventually arrived but I was 10 minutes late. I didn’t want to go in, I was devastated; I’d come all that way, got up so early and its 8.10am and i’d already blown my chances before even entering the waterside head quarters. Dad apologised profusely but said to go in and if they don’t want to see me, fine we will leave but at least give it a try. So i did. It was the best piece of advice I have ever been given.
To my surprise, the kind receptionist got me registered, told me to calm down and that I was going to be okay. I signed my name. Explained about the traffic on the M25 and that i’d come all the way from Nottingham. The receptionist smiled, told me to calm down and to take a deep breath, told me I had lipstick on my tooth (SO THANKFUL) and asked me to take a seat. I walked over and started to mingle with my competition.
The day lasted about 6 hours maybe more, there were a few group activities that I had to compete in. I’d been to quite a few of these assessment days before so I knew what was entailed. It usually moves in parts, some go in the morning, the ones that get through stay on for lunch and then there are more activities in the afternoon. I knew that we were all being watched from the moment we got in there – so me being late, let’s just say that wouldn’t have gone un-noticed. After the last group session we waited for everyone to have their one to one interview. I had mine, it was intense and I answered the questions to the best of my ability..
I got the email a day later and I could not believe it. I had been successful. Out of 3000 applicants they wanted me?! The email explained when I was to have my uniform fitting and when I should expect my induction pack in the post, and when I was to take my medical to ensure I was ‘fit to fly’. I was ecstatic. I couldn’t believe my luck. Everything I had ever wanted had come true. My dream that I worked so hard towards was about to become a reality. I had 8 weeks to get my life in order before moving down to London to prepare for my 6 week extensive training that was about to happen. I didn’t know what to do about my flat, I had to find somewhere to live in London and I had no way of getting to and from work as I still did not drive.
The weeks flew by and everything had come together. I was nervous and excited to start my training but I was also very homesick and had no real company down in London. I’d made a few friends on the course but I was still so very lonely. To get to the training centre it took me nearly 2 and a half hours on 1 tube and 2 buses. I’d be up at 4.15am to get ready and be there for 8am every day. I wouldn’t finish until 5.30pm some days and it would take even longer to get home, i’d usually get back for around 8pm. I’d then have my pot noodle sandwich and revise for nearly 3 hours and then get to bed, ready for the next day, ready for the next test.
I’d count down the days to see my family and boyfriend. I’d get so upset leaving Nottingham and having to go back down to London and I felt as if something just wasn’t right. I’d catch the coach to and from London to visit my family as it was my cheapest option. Why was I not loving every second of this? Why did I dread everyday? The course was intense, and there was a test everyday, i’d revise every night to ensure i’d pass the test the following day. Once we got our uniforms we had to look amazing all the time. My nails had to be manicured and match my lipstick, my make up had to be perfect, my hair grips had to match the colour of my hair, my hat needed to sit on my forehead to the right slightly, my cravat had to be tucked in and rolled around so it sat perfectly above my shirt, my watch had to have a small face, my tights had to be 15 denier any thicker and i’d get a strike. 3 strikes and i’m out. The pressure of all of this, and being away from home, and being lonely was exhausting.
I was paying for my oyster card in London which cost me over £90 a month, as well as coach fare to get back home as often as I could afford, as well as my rent and other bills for my flat back home, as well as my rent for the room I was living in in London, as well as my make up, and manicured nails and tights and specific 2.5 cm heels. My boyfriend had come to spend a week with me while I was in London and we literally had £20 to our names. The last night we treated ourselves to a pizza, it was incredible and I can still taste it now! Everything was an expense and I could barely afford to live.
Wings day finally approached and I had one last test before the wings ceremony in the afternoon. If all goes well, i’d finally done it. Not eating for the last 3 nights was worth it because i’d finally proved to myself and everyone else that ever doubted me that i’d done it.
I was awarded my wings and cried like a baby, I was so happy. I wanted my mum. I wanted to show her that it didn’t matter that we didn’t have a lot growing up, and it wasn’t all smiles and rainbows because i’d done it. She’d raised her little baby to be a fighter to always strive for the best and to continue no matter how hard life tries to get you down. If you believe in yourself you can do anything and I did. My dream had come true and my first flight was the next day.
My first flight was to Pisa, there and back. I loved every second of it, I was so overwhelmed and now I had two wonderful days off with my family and boyfriend before my commute to Heathrow to fly again.
I flew as Cabin Crew for British Airways for several months, i’d travelled and seen places i’d only hoped of seeing. I’d had a supersize Big Mac, and stood outside the Las Vegas sign and met Elvis. I’d seen Mount Fuji and crossed the Shibuya crossing and sung Karaoke in Japan. I’d sunbathed in Cape Town and drunk cocktails with my fellow crew. I’d seen things I thought were only possible in my dreams and I have memories that will fulfil me for life. However, I was unhappy. I was getting myself in to debt travelling to London from Nottingham. I was paying for hotels to ensure I could get to my flight on time the next day. I had rent to pay for my flat at home and was borrowing money. I missed my family, I was homesick, I missed my boyfriend and suddenly my Grandma fell ill. I was home from Africa in time to luckily say my goodbyes before she passed. It was then that I realised I needed to be home. I needed to be with my family, I never wanted to miss something again. Her death made me re-evaluate my life and what I wanted. I knew then that being an air hostess wasn’t it.
The glamorous lifestyle wasn’t all it had been cracked up to be. I was exhausted all of the time. I came back from Japan and slept for two and a half days. My body was deprived of sleep and my mind didn’t know what day it was or time zone. I was anxious about the next time I had to leave my family and partner, I was worried I’d missed my flight after commuting for so many hours to get there. I was worrying about flights going missing and terrorist attacks. I was clearly suffering with anxiety; I wasn’t aware this was anxiety at the time, I’d always been ‘a worrier’ and then the panic attacks started. It was then I knew this was bigger than reasonable concerns, some of my thoughts had become irrational. I decided to hand in my notice. I wasn’t happy. I didn’t work my last flight because it was my best friends wedding the next day and that was more important to me. My priorities had changed, and so had I.
After handing in my notice I was out of work for nearly 3 months. I struggled with the fact that i’d worked so hard to become Cabin Crew in a very competitive industry and I didn’t like it. It wasn’t what I hoped it would be. I was gutted and I literally thought my life was over; I had no A Levels, only qualifications in Aviation and Flight Crew. I felt so low and extremely unemployable. I didn’t want to go back to college because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, I was 22 and I had lived the dream. I had achieved my one and only goal from being so small. What would I do next? I applied for jobs,any job to try and find something that would ensure I could pay the money back that I owed, and my rent. Every interview i’d go to i’d get the same question: ‘Cabin Crew at British Airways?! Why would anyone give that up?’ Nobody could understand..
Since then I have worked as a HR administrator at a hospital and i’m now a Front Office Shift Leader at a beautiful hotel. I am re-discovering who I am and who I want to be. I have plans for the future, and for the first time in a long time I am happy again, I know I am where i’m supposed to be in life and I look forward to the future with my family, friends and the love of my life.
Lots of Love,