The Sky's The Limit!

Zoe Clemett followed her dream of becoming Cabin Crew and now she nears the end of her first season, she shares her experience.

My name is Zoe and I am nearing the end of my winter season at AirTanker! Not only that, this is my first ever season as Cabin Crew. It's something I've always wanted to do and has exceeded all my expectations. Everyone that I have met has been so kind and willing to help me. There is such a team ethic in the company, from flight deck and cabin crew to the instructors, engineers and dispatchers. Everyone is willing to help no matter what department they are from 

I can't say it was easy, I had to leave my hometown which meant leaving my friends, family and life as I knew it. In the beginning, there were so many times I doubted myself as I was leaving a full-time permanent job for a seasonal one. 

Will I like it? Will I make new friends?

Little to my knowledge, when I had my first day of training with AirTanker I learnt that I wasn't the only one who was new to the job. To this day, I still remember to this day, walking into the training centre and being very nervous - everything felt so overwhelming. However, within minutes I was greeted and then introduced to everyone on the course, these people I would be spending the majority of the next 4 weeks. We laughed together, shared stories and revised together, I truly feel as though in just 4 weeks, I had made some friends for life. 

The training was intense but so interesting; the highlight for me was the practical day. I put out a fire, put a smoke hood on in a smoke filled cabin, performed water drills, emergency landing/ditching drills and of course... went down the emergency slide! One thing I found hard in the training was learning the direction diagram, it was like a foreign language to me. However, with guidance from the instructors and colleagues I managed to pass the exam with 100% marks. I was so eager to tell my friends and family back home and their reaction was amazing, saying how proud they were of me was a great feeling. Throughout my training I would keep them updated with how I was getting on and the amount of messages I received saying how proud they were of me, reinforced I had made the right choice. 

I will never forget my first familiarisation flight, everyone was so eager to show me the ropes and they honestly couldn't have done anymore if they tried. 

I relocated to Manchester for the job, due to the 90 minute standbys. It’s a good job I did, because on my first week of standbys I got a call, I got told I was going to Paris and then New York. I was so excited as it was going to be my first operating flight and my first time in both Paris and New York. I’ve been on standby a lot but I find it exciting because everything happens so quickly. I have lost count of how many times I check my roster each day, but it changes so quickly. Once, I checked my roster at 9am and I had no changes, checked it again at 11am and found I was going to Punta Cana in 3 days’ time. I was swapping the jumpers and boots needed in New York to sandals and bikinis. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be visiting yet another beautiful country.

I’m so lucky with my layovers, I’ve been able to explore Germany, Paris, New York and the Dominican Republic so far. I’ve gone from eating Currywurst in Dusseldorf to sight-seeing in snowy New York to trying water sports in Puerto Plata. I was at the Rockefeller centre when the tree and ice rink were there which has always been a dream of mine, along with visiting ground zero which was such an emotional experience. I had flown on a little jet from Punta Cana to Puerto Plata which was also another experience I would never have had if it wasn’t for Air Tanker. It was the smallest aircraft I’d ever been on. There was no door between the cockpit and the main cabin which meant that we could see the runway on take-off and landing. We all found it so exciting being able to see what the pilot could in the critical stages of flight.

My most exciting moment, which I will never forget was the first time being in the flight deck during the flight. I was amazed, it felt so surreal and I channelled my inner aviation geek. The Captain and First officer were lovely, once I told them it was my first time in the flight deck during flight they couldn’t have been more welcoming. It was a night flight and we were flying over the Atlantic so there wasn’t much to see out the window but plenty to see inside. The captain lit up every button and explained what they all do. He showed me how they communicated whilst over the Atlantic and it was like a text message system and he showed me why. He asked to increase the incline of the plane and ATC accepted and I was able to witness the whole process. The week prior he had flown to Las Vegas and had taken pictures of the Grand Canyon whilst he was there, it was breathtaking to see. I was so thankful for both the Captain and the First officer for their time and knowledge as it really did mean a lot to me. This was something I wouldn’t have been able to experience if it wasn’t for AirTanker giving me the opportunity of working for them this winter.

A funny moment that I will always remember is me and another cabin crew member trying to go the extra mile and pronounce the on board meals in German as this was the native language of the passengers. Little to our knowledge, what we thought was pasta wasn’t pasta at all and the passengers though it was hilarious. Also on the same flight I was offering water with the choice of still or sparkling. I had served 3 consecutive rows who didn’t understand “still or sparkling” and replied with “Gas or no gas” followed by their choice. So the fourth row I go to I said “Gas or no gas” the passenger looked at me so confused and asked what I meant. I then said “Still or sparkling” they understood straight away and I just couldn’t believe what had happened. I had used my initiative and it just backfired on me.

 It’s also been nice transferring my skills to suit my new job role. In my previous job I was a special needs teaching assistant and in on flight in particular I used this to its full potential. Whilst operating on a flight to Punta Cana I noticed a group of deaf passengers sat towards the rear of the aircraft. From my previous job I was trained in sign language and knew that I could bring in these skills to be very useful. I told the other cabin crew members this and they asked for me to show them some basics too, which I did. It was time to go out and do a drinks service and it was time for me to put my knowledge to good use. I got to the first row of which the group were sat in and began to sign, asking what they’d like to drink. The smiles on their faces couldn’t have been any bigger and this made me feel so humbled. It was such a god feeling knowing what an impact I had made to them. I then asked them their names and they asked mine. When I got back to the galley my cabin supervisor thanked me and told me that he had signed thank you to a passenger and they signed it back. It made me feel so fulfilled knowing that this is what I brought to the team and it benefited both passengers and crew.

Overall, working as a member of Cabin Crew is such a unique and exciting job and unlike any other job. My confidence in the job role has come on in leaps and bounds, even after my first operational flight. On my second operational flight I had other cabin crew members asking me questions as it was their first operating flight for AirTanker. This then made me realise that I had definitely made the right choice in changing my career and I have never looked back. Initially for me, I struggled at the thought of leaving home and a job that I was settled in but now I wouldn’t change it for the world. The only thing I don’t understand is, why everyone doesn’t want to do this job. For me it was the best decision I have ever made and AirTanker have made me feel so welcome and learning the AirTanker way has been so interesting, learning their standards and their way of doing things. When times got hard I always remembered a quote that I had read ‘If your dreams don’t scare you then they’re not big enough’ I can honestly say this dream was so worth being scared for and the fear of the unknown has turned into excitement for what is to come

25 March 2019