VIP flight attendant: how to keep your wings despite double crisis?
“Nothing can take away my wings”, says Anastasia Petridou, an experienced cabin crew member who used to work as a VIP flight attendant for a European private jet operator. After 14 years in aviation, Anastasia had to leave the industry due to the pandemic and is now a receptionist in a health clinic in the United Kingdom.
Having grown up in Greece, Anastasia moved to the UK while chasing her life’s dream of a career in the airline business. A stubborn and always positive-minded woman has reached her goal and still keeps showing inner strength and determination despite all the challenges life has sent her. Even before the pandemic, there were many of those.
“Once you’ve tried to work onboard the aircraft, you will never forget it. You will walk down the street but will always keep your eyes up to the skies even if you don’t fly anymore”, smiles Anastasia and says that the planes have had a magical effect on her since childhood.
“I remember playing with model airplanes since an early age. I also remember when I went to a book exhibition in my town, I bought a flight recorder book and didn’t even know what it was. I chose that book because it had a plane on the cover.”
Anastasia says that her father initially did not support her decision to choose the cabin crew career, preferring a doctor’s path instead and reiterating that she needed to build a steady lifestyle and settle down. “But I always knew what I wanted to do in my life and it was flying”, she says.
Her career began in 2006, when she joined Cyprus Airways, a Lanarca-based Cypriot airline, where she gained some cabin crew experience working on Airbus A320 Family aircraft as well as wide-body A330s for operations in Europe and the Middle East region. She had also worked for major Greece-based air operators, including Aegean Airlines (32A) and Olympic, where she expanded her professional abilities working on Boeing 737s, various ATR, and Dash 8 Q400 jets.
“I did a contract with Flybe where I was working on Embraer E175 and E195 jets while flying all over Nordics in cooperation with SAS as Flybe cabin crew based at Arlanda. [...] I met Flybe as they came as instructors in Greece for Q400 and I was trained in Exeter to operate as Olympic Air Crew operated by Flybe based Athens,” Anastasia remembers and points out that she even had worked as a Senior Cabin Crew member while flying for Olympic Air and Flybe.
But when the financial crisis hit Greece, she received an attractive offer from a British regional airline Flybe. Anastasia decided to spread her wings and move to the UK without even imagining what challenges were waiting for her in the foreign country. “The reason why I moved to the UK was a crisis in Greece,” she remembers. However, the airline had financial problems at the time and the flight attendant was made redundant in September 2019.
“From the time I stopped flying, it was really hard for me to find a job. I remember, I struggled so much with unemployment - I applied for more than 375 different jobs at that time. I was even looking for a toilet cleaner position. I was alone in the foreign country, I had bills to pay, I needed a constant income and I could not let myself just sit while waiting for some manna falling from the sky,” the flight attendant remembers.
On her birthday in January 2020, she was offered a VIP flight attendant position in a private air carrier and it seemed that her career rolled back the clock but the global pandemic ruined Anastasia’s plans once more. Since the roaster of a cabin crew member at a private jet company slightly differs from the ones common to commercial aviation, the flight attendant had to be as much flexible as she could and had to be ready for a duty call at a short notice. This is why Anastasia moved once again, but this time she switched the city she has lived in before, to stay closer to the airport where her employer was based in.
“[The company] made me move to be closer to the airport. And it was significantly more expensive.”
“It was the end of July 2020, when I was made redundant and it was a traumatic experience for me. When I started working for a private airline, everything was finally fine. I was planning my holidays, I was supposed to fly and see my partner, my family. But based on my contract, due to the fact that I had been employed recently and was on a probation period, they just sent me a notice that soon I would lose my job. I couldn’t even ask for compensation. I’ve done a lot to have this job, so it was really depressing,” she remembers.
“Due to the Covid restrictions, I haven’t seen my family for more than a year now,” Anastasia adds.
However, the experienced flight attendant found a solution to a problem and joined a local health clinic in London as a receptionist, but now she mainly works as a Staff of Members Lounge. Simultaneously, she has also started an online business Enhanzz Global with a Swiss skincare and nutrition company.
“I intend to pass the most positive message out there. It will take some time for aviation to go back on track but it’s very important to adapt to the situation nowadays as well as to understand that everything is in our hands. What really surprises me though is that even with the current Covid situation, people are skeptical to try something new. They have a bigger fear to go out of their comfort zone than focus on success. I believe in self-growth and I don't wait passively for opportunities to come. Opportunities are endless and you are your only limitation.”
“I am determined to become successful and I just decided to change my mindset. Everything depends on ourselves, on our personal determination to go through every battle life sends us. There is nothing a person cannot do”, Anastasia says.
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