Thirty-year-old flight attendant Huynh Ngoc Mai, though a mother of a small child, remains as youthful and confident as ever. Over the past decade, her radiant eyes and smile have become both a trademark and a secret weapon that help her put people at ease and leave a lasting impression with passengers.
Thirty-year-old flight attendant Huynh Ngoc Mai, though a mother of a small child, remains as youthful and confident as ever. In the past decade, her radiant eyes and smile have become both a trademark and a secret weapon that help her put people at ease and leave a lasting impression with passengers.
A flight attendant is best described by their beauty, diligence and sacrifice. (Photo: Huynh Mai).
How she embarked on this career
Mai has been working in the aviation industry for a decade. The Saigonese flight attendant started her career back in 2010. Ever since, the thought of changing jobs has never even crossed her mind. However, this was not her first career choice. After graduating from high school, Mai took a course in the Japanese language at the HCMC University of Foreign Languages and IT. Her mother came across a job advertisement for flight attendants from VNA and encouraged her to apply. Back then, being a flight attendant was not a common career choice. Before her interview, Mai spent time in an Internet café looking up information about VNA and the job itself. Less than two months after the interview, she got a job offer.
“It is the dream of many Vietnamese girls. I am one of the lucky few who have made it, so I can’t give up.”
Mai couldn’t help being proud when she first put on the lovely ao dai uniform of VNA in preparation for her first flight. She told herself, “It is the dream of many Vietnamese girls. I am one of the lucky few who have made it, so I can’t give up.” In the beginning, Mai struggled to adapt to the new working environment. Her purser advising her, “It is your first flight, so you have the right to make mistakes and correct them. I am always here to support you,” is still fresh in her mind until this day. These words of encouragement truly empowered the novice flight attendant.
What she has learned over the past decade is that there are no fastidious passengers; they just find it hard to control their emotions at times. “Being a flight attendant is unique in that you must predict passengers’ emotions and needs, find out what their problems are, and address them accordingly,” said Mai.
When asked to describe VNA’ flight attendants in three words, she chose beauty, diligence, and sacrifice. “At VNA, female flight attendants appear pretty and put-together all the time, because we were trained on how to uphold our image three to six months in advance of our first flight. We are also diligent. At peak times, we never complain about packed flight schedules. And amid the coronavirus outbreak, no one has ever skipped a flight,” she explained.
Women should not only reinforce knowledge and life skills but also takimg care of appearance to have more opportunities in life. (Photo: Huynh Mai).
“At VNA, female flight attendants appear pretty and put-together all the time, because we were trained on how to uphold our image three to six months in advance of our first flight. We are also diligent. At peak times, we never complain about packed flight schedules. And amid the coronavirus outbreak, no one has ever skipped a flight.”
Last but not least, Mai highlighted the sacrifice that flight attendants make, “Many only associate our job with privileges, for example, having breakfast in Hanoi, having coffee in Danang at noon, and having pastries with coffee at the foot of the Eiffel Tower on the next day. But behind those privileges are our sacrifice. No one knows how tough it is for us to wake up at 3 or 4 am and to serve on three or four routes or on 12-hour flights.”
“During holidays, while others get to rest and reunite with their families, flight attendants pick up their suitcases and head to work. Married flight attendants have to not only take care of their families but also finish their work. It is what sets the service sector apart – we make our sacrifice first, and when everyone goes back to work, we get to rest and spend time with our families,” she added.
When asked how to make oneself different, Mai revealed, “First, do your job well to leave a good impression on your colleagues and passengers. Second, learn something new every day to communicate more professionally. Last but not least, everyone smiles differently, thus creating different impressions on passengers. That’s why I practiced how to smile in a way that puts passengers at ease. I still feel rewarded when they tell me that they like how I smile and that I should smile more, because I know it has become my unique selling point.”
The beauty of a woman
Mai does not put outer beauty over inner beauty, or vice versa. “It is good to have both. That’s why we women should not only reinforce our knowledge and life skills but also take care of our appearance to have more opportunities in life,” she shared with a bright smile.
Together with her beloved daughter. (Photo: Huynh Mai).
Her tips for a youthful appearance are drinking fresh juice and exercising every day. Mai cooks and bakes for her family in her free time. On her days off, she takes her children out and spends quality time with her family to re-energize herself.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” is the anonymous proverb that she lives by. “We can’t change everyone or everything around us, but we can change ourselves. Our small action may inspire others and lead to something bigger,” she explained.
Mai also loves observing her colleagues and taking note of how they behave or respond and what they do or say when interacting with passengers. She has not only learned from her observations but also passed them down to novice flight attendants.
This upcoming June marks her 10th year working as a flight attendant, but Mai does not plan to have any special celebration. “This is what I love doing, so it has never felt like work to me. I find it enjoyable instead, and that’s why everything goes smoothly. Finishing the tasks that I am entrusted with is the best way to celebrate,” she said.
Mai is no longer afraid of the epidemic. (Photo: Huynh Mai).
Amid the complex developments of the COVID-19 epidemic, the Group and the cabin crew division have provided support and reassurance to flight attendants, according to Mai. “Being motivated by the Group, we are no longer afraid of what is happening. We focus on our work and are determined to complete any tasks assigned,” she shared. “On every Women’s Day, a mini-concert is traditionally held prior to our flights, where we women are gifted bottled juice to bring aboard. The COVID-19 epidemic may result in some adjustments to the celebration this year. I am happy to join regardless,” Mai added.
“I wish VNA’ women in particular and Vietnamese women, in general, a happy Women’s Day. I hope that your smile will never fade because if you smile at life, it will smile back at you,” she said when asked to send her best wishes to other women on Women’s Day.”
Bich Thao, Mai Huong – Collaborators