Ashlee Koekemoer’s destiny may not have been written in the stars, as they say, but she was influenced by contrails in the sky.
“When I was a kid, I lived near the airport, and I would always see aeroplanes fly over my house as they were on their final descent. So, it’s always been a dream of mine. And then when I was thirteen, I got into my first aircraft and I just fell in love with it. That’s how I became an air hostess,” says Ashlee who know works for FlySafair (whose slogan is appropriately, For The Love Of Flying).
It’s easy to see that Ashlee would be a natural at her job. Immediately warm and welcoming, she wears her heart on her pink FlySafair sleeve. And she loves meeting new people—a requisite of her job as a cabin crew member.
“What I like most about my job is the fact that I meet new and interesting people. You literally meet different faces every single day from all walks of life. And that’s something that I like—I like meeting and working with diverse people.”
There for your safety
One of the things Ashlee wishes travellers knew about her job, is that it’s more than just, ‘chicken or beef?’ The cabin crew is there for your safety and indeed, few travellers know about the rigour of their qualifications.
“We actually go through a lot of training. We go through firefighting, which not many people know about. We literally go into this simulator and we put out fires in case there’s a fire 35 000 feet above ground. We also do aviation medical, so they will teach us how to deliver a baby. Or how to deal with heart attacks or strokes or epilepsy.”
Ashlee acknowledges that conducting your job at 35 000 feet above sea level, for anyone, is not a normal situation. But this also makes her and her colleagues masters at adapting to robust operating procedures to keep passengers safe.
She’s used to the new Covid-19 protocols by now, reminding passengers to wear masks, practice good hygiene and avoid physical contact. But there are some things she still misses from pre-pandemic times.
“Sometimes I do miss the smiles because with a mask you can’t see people’s faces. You can’t see people’s expressions. Sometimes it’s even hard to understand them or hear them. It’s been a change that I’ve had to adapt to.”
Ashlee’s advice to travellers during this time is to listen to the flight crew who are equipped to answer any of your questions. And Ashlee has dealt with her fair share of strange questions (like the time a passenger pointed out the window and asked what the white fluffy things were). Cloudy or sunny, smooth flying or a touch of turbulence, the cabin crew on your flight are ready to welcome you back and get you safely to your destination.