Confessions of an ex-air stewardess
People used to watch as she strutted through the airport.
Some would even whip out their phones and cameras to take photos of Joanne and her colleagues walking towards the plane.
It's part and parcel of life as air crew.
Well, just a small part of it, says Joanne, a former flight stewardess.
"People think, 'Wah, so glamorous'. Little do they know that I had to clean toilets on the plane or clean up after passengers when they vomit," says the 25-year-old, who declines to use her real name.
As soon as the air crew enter the aircraft, it is crunch time.
Seats need to be reset.
Headsets need replacing in the seat pockets.
Overhead compartments need to be scanned for forgotten items and security threats.
Complete this, and one still has to deal with the passengers themselves.
"I've had things thrown in my face when we could not fulfil last-minute requests for seat changes.
"People think that because they paid for the flight, they deserve everything."
Worse still are people who try to touch her or take voyeuristic photos.
Then, there are also the strangest encounters.
Once, drunk passenger on an Australia-bound flight grew rowdy and helped himself to a bottle of wine in the plane's galley.
He started getting touchy-feely too, but Joanne firmly made him return to his seat.
Says Joanne: "He was this close to being restrained."
Once, a man accused a group of passengers of carrying a bomb on the plane, shocking others in the process.
On the pilot's orders, she searched the passenger and found drugs instead.
Another time, an adult passenger went on a hunger strike because he was unhappy with the food. Joanne had to coax him to eat as part of her "good service".
"It's like being a nanny, a security guard and a waitress combined," says Joanne with a laugh.
There is a small cabin space for crew to rest.
But sometimes, she doesn't really bother to rest because it might ruin her make-up and hairdo, she confesses.
Cabin crew take pride in being professional, she says.
"No matter how tired or frustrated you are, once you leave the crew cabin, you have to put on a smile," she says.
Despite the difficulties, working as a flight stewardess can be a rewarding experience because of the travel perks and relatively high salary.
She has visited nearly every country in the world and got to interact with thousands of people in her two-year stint.
"I loved trying out the cuisines of the various countries, and it all tasted so good!" she says, singling out Greece and India as memorable gastronomic stops.
She says she has fantastic memories and good stories to tell of wonderful people and passengers.
Sheepishly, she says that despite the difficulties during her flight, when she gets a simple "thank you" from a passenger for service rendered, it cancels out all the negatives.
Joanne left the job as she found greener pastures elsewhere, she says.
But she adds that she has no regrets.
"It is quite an experience, and I have learnt a lot about dealing with people."
SECRETS OF THE TRADE
1 Study your procedures well so you are prepared for every situation. Every passenger relies on you to know what to do.
2 Carry an extra uniform on board in case of food spillage and airsick passengers - which are very common.
3 Flight crew are not spared from the possibilities of lost luggage. Make sure you keep a bag of essential items with you so that you can continue working on your return flight.