Hi Boh Tong,
Greetings! I've been following your blog for a number of years now (how many times have you read this opening line, right?), and I've finally worked up the courage to write you. :)
Your blog brings back many memories from years past, when I used to fly with SIA. While I definitely didn't fly for as long as you did, I also remember the long layovers or 'night stops' as we call it, and can't help thinking how different things were back then.
My name is xxxxx and I presently reside in the United States in the state of Florida. I moved here 4 and a half years ago, and while I love it here, I have definitely missed Singapore! Having been an 'air girl' once, I decided to return to the airline industry and am currently employed with xxxxxx Airlines. Boy, is it different in xxx or what?!
Your blog posts about SIA cabin crew helped me recall how tough it was to be one. With SIA's exacting standards on customer service, strong emphasis on weight and looks and comprehensive initial training, I will say that it is a very much respected company in this part of the world. Fellow xx flight attendants often gasp whenever I tell them I used to be a 'SIA Girl', and they want to know all about it! One F/A even asked me if I considered xx a 'downgrade' lol...I guess there are pros and cons.
I scoured most of your blog to see if there were others in my shoes, as in, ex-SIA cabin crew who are now flying with a Western carrier, and I couldn't find any. So I thought I'd offer you this perspective, I hope you don't mind? Let me list it out to make the read less tedious. ;)
1. New Hire: Juniors are known as New Hires and seniority, as you know, is EVERYTHING in the airline industry. As New Hires, we get the worst lines (schedules) and remain on Reserve (similar to standby, only worse) for as long as we are not senior enough to hold our own lines.
2. Bases: XX has many bases throughout the US. Due to the sheer size of the country, a lot of F/As do not live where they are based. I for one, don't. So we commute to work by flight or by other means. I drive from home to base, and my drive takes me 4 hrs. Yup, you read it right. So I have to rent a place close to base, and often don't go home for weeks at a time because of the commute and work demands. By the way, I am Miami-based.
3. Reserve: Aah, that word all New Hires dread. Our Reserve schedules last 1 whole month. Standby to us means we have to literally wait at the airport in full uniform and luggage to be called out to flight whenever we're needed. Standby sessions last 6 hours, and Reserve blocks can last up to 6 days a time, 24 hrs a day. We get the option to bid for 12 hr sessions too, but that also means we get pushed to the top of the list to be called out.
As a New Hire, our Reserve schedules are 1 month on, 1 month off. Eg, I'm on Reserve in Oct, Nov is my line month, Dec is my Reserve month etc. for the first 3 years then, it's 3 months off and 1 month on. Our upcoming new union contract is going to have all New Hires on Reserve every single month until they gain 1 yr then it's 1 on/1 off till 3 yrs. Confused yet?
In other words, Crew Scheduling owns us. : /
4. Airports: All bases except HQ which is in Dallas-Ft Worth Texas, requires F/As to work out of 3 airports. How you get there is your own problem, except for Reserve month when they will arrange transportation only out of 1 of the airports. And the airports are FAR apart from one another. I'm talking close to 1 hr's drive away far.
5. Salary: The starting pay is a joke. I make approximately USD 1300 - 2000 a month and that's if I fly high time on Domestic flights (more than 85 flight hrs a month), and pick up flights on my days off. We also have to pay for our uniforms, amongst other things.
6. Basic Training: Initial training is held at Dallas-Ft. Worth TX and is 8 and a half weeks long, and we are NOT paid for it. Except for those living there, all trainees have to share a small hotel room with a classmate that the airline picked out for you and you are not allowed to change room mates no matter how bad it gets. And we are not considered employees until the day after graduation.
7. Schedules: We get our schedules or rosters through a complicated bidding process, which I had to attend a class to understand.
That's all I will inundate you with for today. I guess my point here is that while I understand how hard it is to be a cabin crew with SIA, there are those out there who have it worse. LOL. I've grown used to my job, but if I could turn back time, I might not have done this!
Thank you for reading my loooong email Boh Tong. Just someone else out there in this world who is trying to reach out to you and say you're doing such a great job at helping others.