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Fatiha Ouchan

Cabin Hostess, Dubai

So much has changed around the world — how are you feeling about all of this?

I look at all of this is in a positive and hopeful way because that is the only way you can get through this. There are challenges for sure in terms of work and servicing flights, but I might say, I've been a bit lucky. I was in China when the outbreak began, so when the rest of the world was unaware and not thinking about what was happening, I was experiencing everything firsthand. I saw how local authorities were dealing with things, including crew and passenger protocols. I learned quickly that I should adopt Asian safety precautions, as I knew this would keep me, my colleagues and the passengers I fly with, safe.

Has your daily life changed?

I definitely started making changes quickly. I bought my own personal thermometer and started checking my temperature twice a day. I took care and wore a mask, plus changed my gloves more frequently during service. I noticed that customers really appreciated this and considered this to be highly professional. I saw the real change from March onwards, when the Coronavirus hit Europe and the West. Overall, the pandemic has not changed my attitude towards flying or working or continuing to serve our customers. I will be there for the company and remain flexible.

Have you noticed any differences in the way you are interacting with customers?

More customers are coming on board wearing masks, particularly our customers from Asia. During service, they would usually remove their masks, as they would get comfortable and feel at home. Once it came to disembark the aircraft, they would wear their masks again.

In general, I never get too close to customers, because it is very important to give them a private space. This is one of the reasons why customers choose VistaJet, to have privacy. I only go in the cabin or interact when it is required. When the virus became global, a few customers specifically mentioned that they didn't want to have any interaction with the crew and did not want to have any service at all. In these instances, I would prepare everything in the cabin in advance, to avoid unnecessary contact.

Understandably our service has changed slightly — now it is more advisable to use disposable plates and cutlery. My personal opinion is that we're still flying on a business jet, we're still providing unmatched service and I take pride in that. To offer steak on a disposable plate with disposable cutlery is not advisable. We have all the facilities on board to provide clean, washed plates and cutlery. As we do this ourselves, we can also ensure that safety and hygiene standards are maintained. In any case, we just have to be prepared to adjust according to the circumstances and the preference of each passenger.

As a company, VistaJet always aims to say "Yes". Do you think you are still able to do that?

Absolutely! Most customers understand the challenges we're facing at the moment and are often appreciative of everything we do; this even includes our younger passengers. I had a recent flight on a Global 6000 with a family from Asia, I was the only Cabin Hostess onboard, and spent a total of sixteen hours with them, from departure to landing. We were able to offer a full service and even managed to keep the kids entertained by playing movies and offering them snacks. When they disembarked, the children, especially the youngest one, was so happy that he wanted to hug me (we of course did not hug!), but it was amazing for a five-year-old to feel so appreciative of the service I had provided.

I know you're accustomed to traveling all the time, but what are your family’s feelings towards this?

Well, I have not been home yet! When I left Dubai, I told my boyfriend that I didn't know when I will be home. All I could do was take precautions and pack extra items in my suitcase. Luckily, he is very supportive and understanding — he knows how important my job is to me.

My brother advised me to stop work or stay home until the pandemic was over, but I said no. I told him I would continue working and be there for those in need. I think this is a great time to unite and to do all we can to get through this successfully. I'm seeing this from all my colleagues, there is a togetherness which I really appreciate and it makes me feel like, yes, this is why I do what I do. No matter what the challenge, we can figure it out together – clients, crew, company – it's all one.

You have such a positive attitude about all this. What are you doing to stay positive?

When I left Dubai, I took my study books with me because I had to prepare for my exams, which are now delayed. I'm studying International Relations and I find it very interesting how much it relates to everything happening in the world right now. Being in aviation really helps me to understand different countries and gain a first-hand perspective.

I also make sure that I get sufficient fresh air. If I can’t go outside, I always do a bit of cardio exercise in my room.

This is now a period where we have a lot of time for ourselves. I don't know when we will get this opportunity again so I will use this time to continue working on myself. I'm taking this change in a positive way. I have wings and these wings are meant to fly.

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