Travel Spotlight – Gina Hisham
This was taken in Toulouse, France 2012, where we were sent to bring back the first A380 for MH. – Gina
The Travel Spotlight is back for 2014 and this time I’ve invited a former flight stewardess to answer a few questions from myself and the readers on the behind-the-scenes of her high flying career in our very own Malaysian Airlines. You may have seen her recently as the spokesperson during the One World launch and perhaps when you were flying with the airlines. Gina not only gives us an insight into the service industry but also a humble learning that we should treat one another with respect and love despite the uniform.
You’ve been with the airline industry for 19 years which amounts to thousands of passengers during your service period. Do you still remember your first flight? Was it a good first experience?
Definitely. Prior to joining MAS, I had never been on a plane before. The nearest I ever came to a plane was a mock up aircraft, the academy used for our training purposes. I remember my first flight was to Jakarta. It was surreal being on the plane. The smell, the heat, everything! When the plane first took off, I was so nervous. And when the seat belt sign went off and it was time to start my duty, I remembered my first step then. I felt like I was walking on air. Like an astronaut!
You recently became a mother and still continued on the industry. Has this somehow changed your perception at work eg: more empathy for parents travelling with their young children.
A definite yes, again. Well, although I have always loved children and could really entertain them on board, after becoming a mom myself, I realised that I was more sensitive to the needs of other parents and definitely always sympathised with them when their kids were difficult. What I always used to assure the parents were, “I am a mom of two very active toddlers. I know how you feel.”
Flying from one location to another especially during long haul can mess up our body clock. How do you manage jet lag while working?
I sleep when I can. The moment I feel sleepy, I sleep. The rest, shopping and all, can wait. That said, the last time I had any sleep, undisturbed, I slept for a straight 18 hours. Flat out.
What’s your advice for passengers who get nervous when flying?
The rule of the thumb. It is more dangerous, to be on the road than on air. Period.
Any famous celebrity or politicians that you’ve served during your career?
I have had the opportunity of having the Manchester United team when they were at the height of their champions league success (2001/2002). Sorry, I had to put that in because I am the Ultimate Red Devil’s fan. I have had the royal family of Botswana, including our very own Sultans, Lindsay Wagner ( Bionic Woman ), Joan Collins ( Dynasty ) , Danii Minogue and her then boyfriend Jacques Villeneuve, George Benson, Micheal Bolton, Susan Sarandon, Gong Li, Alan Tam, Jacky Chan (twice)!
When do you take time to eat while in the air? There’s always so many requests by passengers all the time! – by @xavieremir
If I told you I didn’t, you wouldn’t believe me. I can’t speak for all but the ‘kebaya’ is so restrictive that even if you eat a little, it feels tight, even after two bites. That too and also because I am afraid of getting a tummy ache on board and having to run to the loo, during duty isn’t fantastic. So, I don’t eat. I however, drink lots of fluids during flight.
What’s the kindest thing someone has ever done for you on board? – by @helena
Oh dear. I once had to position back ( Travel in uniform ) as a passenger because of compassionate reasons and a passenger on seeing that I was too weak to eat, helped me open my cutlery pack and made me eat as I was a little unwell. 🙂
Have you encountered any rude passengers on board? How did you handle that situation? – by @bartotie
Rude? Plenty. Apart from snapping their fingers and clapping their hands to get my attention, I once had this passenger refer to me as the maid. That was so uncool.
Have you ever found any strange items left behind by passengers after they’ve alighted from the airplane?
Underwear. A rather amorous couple who couldn’t keep their hands from each other, was so drunk when they got off the plane, that he forgot… uhm, his underwear. I will never look at Calvin Klein’s, the same way again.
Now that you’ve hung your ‘kebaya’, what are your thoughts on travelling for work vs traveling for leisure? Which would you rather prefer?
There are so many places in the world I haven’t gone too. When I first joined the airlines, our overseas stays were much longer compared to the minimum rest we have now. There is still so much to see and explore. Especially, here in Asia.
Gina has since hung up her ‘kebaya’ uniform for a life in the exotic Kingdom of Wonder with her husband and two adorable kids.
At the moment she is enjoying her time as a stay-at-home mom and wife, spending it with her loved ones while immersing herself in the local culture. She does this while job searching for her next career adventure.
If you have any leads for her, feel free to drop her an email at email@example.com