We took a look at a Quora thread that asked, “What is the dark side of being an air hostess in India?”
Well I have 4 of my sisters currently flying in the Indian Aviation companies and my mother was an ex-cabin crew. All my life I have heard loads of stories and the irritation coming right out. I guess I could qualify to answer this:
- Body clock – As Som rightly mentioned the body clock is disturbed majorly. I have seen my sister doing an early morning departure coming back home and going back again with a minimum rest(Usually 11 to 12 hours DGCA Approved). Also they are rosterred in such a way that they are flying six days a week with no fixed off also their timing change from flight to flight. But a lot of airlines are considerate enough to give enough rest time after a long international flight to get over the jet lag.
- Whiny Travellers – Again a point well raised by Som. To add to this even creepy passengers. Usually they get such passengers twice a week. Passengers ogling having one too many drinks acting too smart. Usually the ideology behind the duty of a cabin crew is totally misunderstood. They are treated as a low class servant/waitress/waiter. The primary duty of a cabin crew is not serving food and alcohol and entertainment of passenger, it is 110% safety and security of the passengers as well as the flight. There are robust examinations and regular refreshers for the same. So next time as passengers be more considerate rather than acting bossy.
- Family emergencies are usually taken care of which is not really a problem. But seasonal vacation when it is a peak season for travel like Diwali, summer holidays, Christmas etc. are a problem for the crew as they are usually on a flight on these days unless rosterred off. They are given birthday offs though.
- The pay is pretty decent compared to an average fresher in India but far lesser than the things that are coping up with. Pilots are well taken care of when it comes to pay in India.
- Yes indeed energy is one aspect where one can never let reduce be it bad passengers, scary weather etc. It is like what my very close friend mentions. It is all about putting up a show for a couple of hours after that you are back to your life.
- Health wise there are major set backs. Because of lack of sleep, untimely food, less consumption of water (leading to kidney stones my mother has those), loss of memory (Btw a cabin crew cannot be a legal witness as per the law, due to cabin pressure and altitude they tend to have a bad memory), fluctuation in weight.
- Bad fellow crew members, probably this happens more often than bad passengers. Team members acting lazy, unruly, dumbfound, careless, in panic, bossy, least bothered, etc. This is a regular the stories I have heard. Its like “If one crew member doesn’t do his/her job properly the whole team fails”, what a cabin crew friend of mine had said. In India usually people from certain areas of the country act more in the said manner. So usually the stereotypes come out.
- Emergency / death on board this would be a global thing but still is one of the dark side on the Cabin crew life. If during an emergency / death on board happens the Cabin crew in-charge as well as the first crew assisting needs to write a huge essay about it also needs to answer a panel with questions let alone the amount of CPR + defibrillator and seeing the person passing away right in front of you. Trust me the stories I have heard, no one would want to be in such a situation. Usually the cabin crew is debriefed and asked to take a week off to recover mentally/emotionally.
- Treatment by friends. Usually it gets annoying for them to answer all their friends. “No I can’t give you free tickets”, “No I don’t earn lakhs of Rupees a month”, and blocking the numerous friend request on social media. I have read the messages sent by randomest people to my sister, some of the funniest and worst English (more like hinglish).
All in All every career has a dark side but it is one of the most prestigious ones in India.
Note to Travellers : Next time you travel by any of the airlines even though you have shelled out a huge sum for that last minute ticket or booked prior to get a cheaper one, please treat the air hostesses and crew properly, you don’t own them. If they are smiling at you the least you could do is smile back and wish them a Good day. Try to be a part of their happy stories which they come back and tell their brother/sisters/parents/partners/friends.