Singapore Airlines Secrets
If you’re contemplating becoming a Singaporean girl, it’s best you understand what you’re signing up for. If you think you can handle the stress that comes with the glitz and glam of the job, you might be surprised. More than just “high-class waitresses” in the sky, SQ girls deal with a lot more than just nasty passengers and homesickness.
Here’s our inside scoop from an anonymous source that reveals SQ girl secrets the public doesn’t know.
1. The most feared Top 10 names in SIA
An insider term that strikes fear among the cabin crew—the Top 10 represents the 10 strictest SIA staff members that all the stewards and stewardesses take heed of. When these names are listed on their roster, the more senior ones have no qualms about giving away good flights like London or Copenhagen, provided some dauntless soul out there is willing to take it up.
Meanwhile, probationary crew who can’t swap flights for their first 6 months are left with little choice, and have to be on their toes all the time. The top 10 takes the infamous “zapping” (nitpicking/bullying) to the next level.
2. The cons of being in it for the long haul
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classifies airline crew members as radiation workers. There are forms of cosmic ionising radiation that soar through space and charge towards Earth. So people who spend a lot of time higher up in the air—such as flight crew—are more exposed to cosmic rays. And ionising radiation, which includes these cosmic rays, is linked to cancer in humans and fertility issues for women.
These are conversations that fill the galleys during lull periods, but more often than not, the lifestyle of a cabin crew gets too comfortable to be given up for these reasons.
3. Observing the crew culture is the only way to survive
With flying, there’s the black-and-white code of conduct—like the CAAS and IATA provisions—and then there’re unspoken rules. Always let your seniors pick their work positions first. Offer a drink to cabin crew members that come into your galley. Hang out with your set of crew at the outstation and ditch the hermit life, or risk coming across as antisocial or rude.
Like most workplaces with high professionalism and structure, there is hierarchy. If you want to rise in the ranks, respecting your seniors, maintaining good work ethic and mastering the art of “wayang” can go a long way. You don’t want to be blacklisted in a company where everyone knows everyone, and news spreads in private WhatsApp group chats like wildfire.
4. Brace yourself for the loneliness ahead
On her Instagram feed, she’s picnicking below the Eiffel Tower and shopping at Bicester Village, but what she never puts on social media is the loneliness of always being on the road. The cabin crew is rotated every flight, so there isn’t a constant set of colleagues whom you can form meaningful relationships with.
Even if you become BFFs with another stewardess after spending a week together, you may not be scheduled on flight with her for another 2-3 years. That’s just due to the sheer size of the company and how many staff there are.
You can, however, swap shifts with others and try to work on the same flights with friends. But it’s not easy to forge and maintain relationships in an ever-changing workplace.
5. Gay best friends
But you’ll make so many gay best friends, and they’ll tell you when your eyeliner is en pointe or when you’re using the wrong shade of foundation. The stewards are friendly and easy to get along with—a basic requirement to qualify for SIA. Hey, just because it’s difficult to maintain friendships, doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
6. Handling rabak passengers on board
The cabin crew deal with lots of intoxicated passengers, especially when they chug bottles down upon finding out that the alcohol is free-flow. There are times when a crew member has to personally take care of drunkards and bring them to a corner to sober them up…after cleaning up their vomit. And dealing with the smell isn’t a favourable experience either when they puke 2 hours into a 7-hour flight.
Here’s a tidbit not many know of: if a passenger starts getting groggy from the alcohol, the crew will start diluting his/her drinks in the next few rounds they adamantly order, and even stagger them on purpose.
7. Getting to see priceless sights from restricted views
It is almost ritual for newbies to take the cockpit’s jump seat on her SNY (supernumerary) flight, and watch the aircraft take off and land before their eyes. The lucky ones even get to don the pilot’s headsets for a while and tune into the Air Traffic Controllers’ stream of updates and codewords from ground.
There’s no office view more incredible than that of Mount Fuji and Cape Town from up high, and the Moscow-Houston route even grants a chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis. If your captain is in a good mood, you may even enter the cockpit for a panoramic view.
8. Homework still has to be done
The perks of working in the service industry’s frontline are flexible hours that aren’t confined to 9-5, and a job scope that doesn’t require you to bring work home. Nonetheless, research needs to be done on airport information before every flight. Cabin crew are required to read up on a station’s alcohol restrictions, newspaper trolley set-ups, and airport security ratings, to name a few.
9. You’ll end up investing quite a bit in skincare
Firstly, when the hours of the job aren’t fixed, the irregular sleeping patterns that follow can really screw up your body clock. Secondly, you can be scheduled to fly for days, back-to-back. So you have to be able to survive on barely 2 hours of sleep per night sometimes.
Not to mention, cabin crew practically live in the dry, confined cabin air, which can take a toll on their physical well-being—more prone to falling sick, and aging their skin years ahead of time. From moisturising hand creams to hydrating sprays, every SQ girl’s handbag is a Doraemon pouch of skincare products from beauty brands all over the world.
10. Squatting in a kebaya is no easy feat
The iconic kebaya limits a lot of movement, so it’s hard to manoeuvre comfortably, especially when your work requires you to walk up and down the plane non-stop, and reach for compartments high above and down below. In training school, you’ll be taught how to walk, sit and kneel in it, and these soon before second nature once you ease into the routines on board.
In spite of these, you’d still be grateful that the footwear are sandals. Imagine strutting from Singapore to Amsterdam over 13 hours in heels!
11. The allure of parties and perks
Entry to clubs like Zouk and F Club. 20% off all house pours. Event invites. Not only do you get to stay in the 4-5 star hotel accommodations overseas once you land, but the parties and high-life are at your fingertips as an SQ girl. That’s the same reason why crew go out and dance all night even after having just touched down from a long flight. There’s just no reason to resist it.
You can also save significant amounts from the allowances you’re given for overseas cuisine and uniform dry-cleaning, so it can cover daily expenditure on top of your salary if carefully moderated.
12. It’s harder to save money!
Theoretically, you can save significant amounts from the meal and laundry allowances to cover your daily expenses. But be wary, after becoming well-travelled and exposed to premium lifestyle choices, you may find yourself wanting more.
A lot of SQ girls have found themselves in sticky situations where they’ve splurged on branded bags and fancy cars, but can’t afford to eat a decent meal at a restaurant. Remember to control yourselves at DFS and the outlet stores overseas, ladies.
13. You will get homesick
As exciting as it sounds to be paid to travel, jumping from continent to continent may lose its novelty after the honeymoon period. Some girls can’t even handle it during the 2-year bond. It can get tough being alone in a hotel room thousands of miles away from home during the holidays, seeing passengers more than you do family and friends.
By the time you return and have a good rest, it’s time to jet off for another 11 days. You have to understand the commitment that comes with the job, and accept you’ll have to miss some festive gatherings, public holidays, and maybe even major celebrations with loved ones.
Air Stewardess Life
As long as you recognise both the risks and rewards, you’ll fit the bill. It’s important to understand your motivations to join SQ to be disciplined enough to thrive here. So just keep your end goal in mind—it’s what’ll keep you grounded 35,000 feet in the air.
Cover Image: Source