Staying Strong: A cabin crew perspective on the Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash

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By on Monday 4th Aug, 2014 at 13:03

By Patricia Green
About a year ago, I wrote a feature here about the Asiana incident in San Francisco and what it meant to us as Cabin Crew. Their courage in a catastrophic event exemplified our role to the extreme and really reminds us of what we need to be capable of and what we are trained for ultimately…the things we hope will never happen.

As part of my constant studies and passion for aviation, I was reading about United 232 in 1989 at Sioux City. It was one of the first things I studied when I did my initial cabin crew training course, way back when. Just a few days ago I read the surviving Flight Attendant’s account and in those moments, I was in her shoes going through my well rehearsed procedures and willing everything to work out...

Some say it was a disaster, some say it was a miracle that anyone survived. It made me think about how we as Cabin Crew are so very unique and often unappreciated and most of us do our job because we love it. Recent events with our dear friends at MAS (the Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash in Ukraine) along with two other occurrences recently have prompted me to write something again in a similar vein. These events have been beyond belief and sometimes we cannot even find the right words to justify or even make sense of such unpredictable events.

Cabin Crew role in the wake of aviation disasters

I know it has made some current Cabin Crew reassess their career and maybe even discouraged some future Cabin Crew from applying, such is the nature of the job. But, these atrocities are still very rare and the chances of being involved in such an incident are still very low although it still shocks us to the core that things like this can ever happen and in such a short space of time.

In my 14 years flying and thousands of flight hours, I have only ever had one serious event which was severe wake turbulence on a private jet and my life truly flashed before my eyes. It made me nervous for a while afterwards on flights but I talked about it with my pilots, understood what had happened and learned that it is rare and was just unlucky. I have also flown in war zones and dark places that many people may never have even heard of, but luckily for me, no major incidents.

Overcoming uncertainty and fear

I was flying on 9/11 too and also on the demise of Concorde and I will never forget the silence and sense of shock that reverberated around the crew base – a usually bright and buzzing hub was suddenly sterile and cold. We were suddenly uncertain, unsecure and a touch scared. We are asked at our briefing if we are fit to fly – in that moment you know you must not give in to the fear, do your job and do it well.

These events are so close to our hearts and our daily life, so we cannot imagine how hard it must be to be directly involved especially when there are only a handful of answers and little justice. I can only imagine how sad the Cabin Crew at MAS – Malaysia Airlines - are feeling and I hope that they can somehow stay strong and keep flying with their missing colleagues standing close by and protecting them.

Supporting colleagues in times of crisis

We stand united as a team of Cabin Crew no matter what country, or what airline most of us stick together and support our colleagues in crisis. We should always be proud of what we do and keep our high standards of safety and security and not let fear take over. Remember that the most dangerous part of your journey each day is driving to the airport, not the flight itself.

The chances are still 11 million to 1 that you will ever be involved in such an event and you would have to fly every day for 55,000 years before an incident occurred. These are still uncertain times and we don’t have all the answers, just horrible tragedies - I have no doubt that our industry has changed forever but we will learn, recount and reassess these events and it will make aviation better and safer in the long run.

Look after each other and remember your worth as Cabin Crew, stay strong and supportive – remember we are a worldwide team and any event like these hits us all hard. Our hearts go out to all of those involved, you are never alone.

About the author:

Patricia Green has been Cabin Crew for major airlines in the UK and Middle East for seven years and also an SCCM. She has also worked as a VIP Flight Attendant working for very high profile clients and world leaders on their private jets.

More recently Patricia moved to flying on a freelance basis in order to concentrate on working as a freelance instructor as well as setting up as a Cabin Crew Consultant. She advises potential crew how to get their dream job and helps experienced crew move from commercial to corporate flying. In response to many requests from fellow crew and students, Patricia has written a series of E-books to help guide new crew with lots of insider advice and useful hints and tips.

For more information please visit

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