Flight attendant Dominika adopted a dog during the pandemic. She found the stray while working abroad, so before she could welcome the pup into her home, Dominika first had to find a way to put it on board.
From teacher to aviation professional
Dominika’s career in the aviation industry began in 2017 when the former English teacher decided to leave her previous job in the education sector, having spent 16 years teaching high school students. “It was kind of boring for me to stay the whole life in this profession, and I thought that it would be nice to try doing something else before I reached my 40s. I was looking for something that would be connected with the English language and traveling. [The cabin crew job] was the only profession that met my requirements at the time, ” Dominika recalls.
She applied for the cabin crew position in one of ACMI and charter airlines and her adventurous career path took off. Dominika admits that unpredictability and cultural diversity are the main objectives that have fascinated her in the cabin crew’s job.
“You never know what to expect, whether it will be a tough flight or not, everything depends on the particular operation. I think the unpredictability, the unexpected situations create some adrenalin that attracts you to this profession. In our job we meet a lot of different personalities, lots of different people from various cultures and this is really interesting, because you get to know how people function in other societies. It also teaches you how to be flexible and adapt to various situations and diverse people as well.”
“It’s really nice to get to know so many personalities and professionals on different levels. There is no space for monotony,” she smiles.
Effective time management during the pandemic
Dominika says that the ongoing pandemic has significantly affected her professional life. Slightly before the pandemic hit the industry, the flight attendant was supposed to be promoted by the airline she is working for. However, she did not receive her long-awaited promotion. Instead, Dominika was temporarily grounded due to strict pandemic-related restrictions that resulted in a sharp decrease in the passenger demand for air travel.
“[The pandemic] has had a really strong impact on all of us. I had to stop flying for seven months. I was supposed to be promoted by the company, but due to the pandemic, my training was terminated and now I have to wait for it for an indefinite time.”
The flight attendant was given a chance to re-start her job partly for a three-month period in October 2020. She now impatiently waits for the global pandemic situation to improve and hopes to get back into more intensive operations in April or May 2021.
Dominika has noticed that the uncertainty regarding the job prospects in the aviation industry has harshly affected some aviation professionals in terms of mental health.
“From my perspective, I did not waste my time when I stayed at home for seven months. I was able to do a lot of private things that usually take a long time to complete because this is connected with a lot of shopping, arranging things, construction works, etc. But I was quite lucky because I was able to finish the things that I always wanted to and which I would not be able to do when I was actively flying. So, these were good seven months for me, I must say.”
“However, I would say the pandemic has a bad mental effect on some people because they don’t know when they will start flying again and earn more money. And the company doesn’t know either, because I think that now the aviation industry has been destroyed by the virus. Some people have been staying at home for a whole year, at the moment still waiting to be called on duty. But I have to say that the company [to which she is working for – ed.] is doing its best trying to involve all the people into flying. It attempts to rotate the staff and it shows that they do not forget about us. It is important.”
The challenges of duty onboard amid the pandemic
The rapidly spreading virus has forced air carriers worldwide to take additional measures to ensure a high hygiene level onboard an aircraft. Dominika says that since the start of the pandemic, the daily cabin crew routine has also changed significantly.
“I think we are now more aware of how dangerous it [virus – ed.] can be. A lot of bacteria come from all of us, as well as from the food and rubbish on board the plane. So, we all quickly understood the importance of being careful in our job. The masks and gloves that we are wearing all the time during flights, make it really difficult for us to work and breathe. Sometimes a cabin crew member has to wear a mask for 10 hours uninterruptedly and this is why your face gets really tired and sometimes it becomes really difficult to breathe. Especially in my case, I need to be careful because I am allergic to many things.”
“As for the hygiene on board, we should pay more attention to precise cleaning, constantly spraying the disinfectant everywhere and making the area as clean as it is possible. All the food that we have on board and all the rubbish later, this is all bacteria and it needs to be reduced, minimized because we stay in this environment for many hours. If we want to stay healthy and if we want to continue flying, then certain precautions need to be taken.”
The dog rescue mission
In October 2020, when Dominika was called on duty for operations in Kosovo, she found a homeless dog that melted her heart. The flight attendant was so worried about the puppy that she started building plans on how to give the dog a new home.
“When I came to Kosovo, for my first rotation, I noticed a small dog laying on the grass in front of our hotel. I started feeding her and then a lot of other crew members were involved in petting this dog. I called her Mela and after three months, when I came to Kosovo for the second rotation in December 2020, I decided to adopt her and take her home to Poland where I live.”
However, the dog rescue mission was challenging, the flight attendant recalls. She managed to do all the necessary paperwork and vaccination for her new pet quickly but struggled to find a way to transport the homeless animal since the dog was too big to be transported in the aircraft cabin.
“I was really stressed at that time. I had to go to the vet and had to vaccinate her. I had to spend a lot of money to buy a container, etc. So, I was really under pressure as it was difficult to organize everything. I didn’t know how to transport her and whether there would be certain connections, whether airlines would take her in the cargo hold because she’s too big to be carried in the cabin. My company was fascinated with the story so they helped me a lot to rescue the dog. I’m very thankful because it was nice of them to help me with it.”
“I think that a mutual relationship and support for each other in these difficult times is crucial for us,” Dominika smiles.