Anyone flying Mango for business right now would be exceptionally lucky to encounter Chante’ Le-Tania Shanmogum. At just 26 years old, her experience in the aviation industry spans over seven years, but what really makes her so special, are her efforts to empower and uplift women.
Aside from her role as a Durban-based flight attendant, she is the founder of the online Facebook group #GirlCode, which currently boasts a whopping 37, 584 members. The community, now expanding to Instagram, provides a platform for women to come together and offer support for one another.
Not just a job
Chante’ explains that becoming a flight attendant was always something she wanted to do, ever since she was a little girl. “There is something about the way a flight attendant walks with purpose, pulling her bag through the terminal that makes you want to be one. I used to watch, admiring their beautiful makeup and hair and I was like, I want that!”
She admits that this is what sparked her drive to eventually take to the skies to become one, but once she started learning more about what the job entails, she realised that it’s not just about being a pretty face with a roller bag.
“It’s a security officer on board. It’s medical personnel on board. It’s a friend on board. It’s comfort on board,” she explains.
“We become close to our passengers and develop meaningful relationships with our frequent fliers,” she explains. “My role as a flight attendant is important to me because not only have I been able to make sure that my family is comfortable, but it reminds me that I can achieve every goal that I set for myself…. It’s not just a job, it’s a dream.”
Impacts of Covid-19 in aviation
Chante’ admits that it breaks her heart knowing that she and her fellow flight attendants have to go through the current struggles to hold on to their dreams.
“It’s hard when the when you work so hard building your career, with those you love rooting for you and then you see people around you losing their jobs, you see airlines going through business rescue and the tourism industry crumbling. It’s really, really hard. You feel for these people and then you think, am I going to be next? Not all of us have something to fall back on or a second qualification because we’ve put our all into the aviation industry.”
She further explains that the aviation industry is integral, not only in contributing to our economy but to the everyday people behind the scenes who keep it running. “To many, the industry is so much more than what you see it at face value. It means bread on the table. It means school. It means college. It sustains livelihoods.”
Hopes for the industry
Chante’s greatest hope is to see the aviation industry boom once again. “I’d love to see people traveling abroad. I’d love to see every flight of mine to the full capacity and I’d love to see flight routes fully booked over certain dates.”
She also admits that she also wants to see travel consultants busy again with bookings: “I want us to us come back as hard as possible and make up for lost times. I want to see us rise above every challenge that was set for us,” she adds.
And as for her advice to women in the sector, she encourages them to have courage, to stay strong together, and to use their voice. “We need to take up our seat on our thrones and support each other during this time. Let’s not give up. Let’s not just fight for our jobs and to support our families, but for our dreams.”