Flight attendant Garbiela’s story stretches from working as a barista in an airport café, to flying the world as cabin crew. She tells of the exotic vacation on a remote Thai island where she found out she had lost the job she loved.
“I was working in an airport as a barista in the coffee shop for three years. Every day, from early mornings, I constantly saw crews getting ready for flights. While making some beverages for crew members, I made friends with some of the flight attendants who encouraged me to apply for a job with an airline,” Gabriela remembers.
“I did not know what to expect since I had never done anything similar before, but I took the challenge and became a cabin crew member. And these were the best two years of my life!“
Gabriela says every morning while on duty she was getting up with a smile on her face as the flight attendant’s position had quickly won her heart. Being an active and empathetic person, she loved endless conversations with passengers onboard. During the time she became a true aviation geek.
The flight attendant was so passionate about her job in the airline that she even invited her brother to join the company she was flying for. She was dreaming that one day they both could be flying to the same destinations. However, due to strict airline rules and later the pandemic, Gabriela’s dream never came true.
During the winter season in 2020, just before the global pandemic, Gabriela decided to go on a holiday trip to Thailand. The airline was operating fewer flights due to standard seasonal fluctuations and the flight attendant thought that it was the perfect moment to take some rest.
Slightly before the vacation, the global media had been increasingly reporting about a new respiratory disease in the Asia region. Initially, Gabriela did not take the news seriously because the virus was spreading only locally.
While Gabriela and her boyfriend were exploring the northern part of Thailand, the virus began to expand in the country and massive lockdowns were implemented.
“Massive lockdowns started very quickly and hotels no longer accepted new guests, so we could not find a place to sleep. We even had to eat sitting on a sidewalk of a street because restaurants would not let anybody in. We realized that situation became very serious and we needed to find a place to stay.”
“We had to consider how to deal with the situation as we lost opportunity to return to our home country since the airlines began canceling international operations. […] We had limited choices of managing the situation and nobody wanted to accommodate foreigners because of the virus fear, so we moved for self-isolation in Koh Yao Noi, a small island.“
Since there were no Covid-infected people on Koh Yoa Noi island yet, the local authorities decided to go under a complete lockdown from the rest of the world. The couple was lucky enough to get onto the last ferry to the place. Gabriela remembers that she felt scared and confused after realizing that they would be stuck on the island for an indefinite time. But at the same time, she tried to comfort herself thinking that both of them would be safe while living on the island.
“We spent two months living in Koh Yao Noi, tirelessly trying to get flight tickets. But it was complicated. Airlines allowed us to buy tickets, but the flights would immediately get canceled.”
“On the other hand, the host of the place where we stayed was very hospitable, he provided us fresh food and everything we needed. We explored every single corner of the island and I can say we enjoyed the time spent there despite all the uncertainty of the situation.”
While being on lockdown on the island, Gabriela received an unpleasant warning letter from her company saying that the airline was temporarily laying off its employees and the flight attendant was one of them.
“I realized that was over and I lost the job I loved so much. I was shocked to lose a stable income, my plans were ruined… that made me upset. I felt lost,” she remembers.
After two months on the island, the road home was tiring both physically and psychologically, especially due to gloomy future perspectives. For a while, Gabriela hoped she could return to the airline job. When her savings started to melt quickly, Gabriela decided to start a new career in the field of finance.
“When I lost my job with the airline, I realized that maybe it should have happened. Maybe fate itself decided it for me. I was looking for a job with a steady income where I could communicate with people. Although I have never had a similar experience, I accepted the offer for a financial consultant position at a large international financial company.”
“I was thinking that since I came to the aviation world with no experience and it worked well, I could take a risk once more. And I succeeded.”
“The pandemic has shown to all of us that in uncertain situations it is extremely important to be able to make important decisions quickly despite the stress or other odds. Although I have no plans to return to aviation at this moment, the memories of this job will warm up my heart forever.”
This story was first published on February 24, 2021. Updated on March 2, 2021.