Category Archives: Training

Supernumerary 2

We’ve made it through the first one.  I have Ian at my side, we’ve been training together.  The chef looks friendly enough, I guess.  We’re going to London and no matter how scary everyone makes this flight out to be, we’re excited!  So we silently finish our briefing and we march over to the Boeing 777 that’s taking us to the UK.

On board we start our security searches, Ian will be in the cabin and I’ll be in the galley, on the return sector we will swap.  So I’ve changed into my chef’s uniform and I’ve started breaking seals and checking the carts.  Our guests board about 10 minutes later and we start serving welcome drinks.  Hayyakum.

“Cabin crew seats for departure” and we’re off.  All smiles. Can’t believe I’m going to be by myself next time.

7 hours later I’m sealing all the carts that stay on board, my mind is rushing knowing that this is the last time I have someone to show me how and what.  Chef reassures me that it’ll all make sense and that we will get used to it.  We rush to the economy galley and we sit down as quick as we can, buckle up and ready for landing.

Ian and I are determined to see some of London.  Th crew think we are nuts, but we’re suppi’s, we don’t know much.  So once were finally checked in, I start the walk to my hotel room.  This place is creepy.  Long dimly lit hallways and quiet rooms, looks like it could have been a hospital ages ago, but instead of white tiles, light brown carpet fills the hallways and the rooms.  I rush myself out of my uniform and into London weather-proof clothes.  Gotta get out of this place.

IMG_2469Ian meets me downstairs in shorts, this isn’t exactly bikini weather, so he goes back upstairs.  Finally after figuring out how to get into the city, we find ourselves on a big red bus back to the airport.  We have to catch a train to Piccadilly Circus.  At the airport train station, we find the nearest thing that looks like it could spit out a train ticket, but we’re soon met by an “Assistant” to help us get a handy little card called an Oyster Card (weird) for public transport in London.  And about 5 minutes later were on a train.

And about 45 minutes later we’re still on a train.

IMG_2466Finally we get off and we walk straight onto what looks like the Times Square of London.  And it’s raining, of course!  Damn I’m starving, Ian is determined to have Fish & Chips.  So we start to walk around.  And its still raining.  I find myself in a bookstore asking a girl where to go have dinner, IMG_2465she points us in the right direction and after two hours of running around the streets of London, we finally decide to eat at a small little random place we found.  Two plates of battered fish and soggy chips later, we are once again getting rained on.

The nearest taxi picks us up and were taken to the Big Ben, smack right next to it.  Problem is, it’s dark out, there are no other taxis around us now and, you guessed it, it’s raining.  So we’ve made peace with the fact that our socks inside our shoes are soaked in the little puddles of water we’re carrying with us, the map we had is now paper mache and we have no idea where we are or how to get back to the train station.  The lady standing next to us at the bus stop is giggling at us as Ian and I are laughing so hard our stomachs hurt.  So he starts counting down.. 3, 2, 1 and we’re sprinting down the street in the general direction of somewhere else.


We are now taking pictures and we’re drenched and loving London.  Ah finally, a taxi.  The taxi driver laughs at our state and drops us at the train station.   I have to fight to stay awake, bed will be good.  45 minutes later and we’re back on the big red bus to the hotel.

Luckily I am way too tired to care about the ghosts who haunt this creepy place, I turn my AC down as far as it will go and I cuddle up for a good nights sleep.  Sweet bliss.



I remember it like it was yesterday.  I ran to my laptop, threw open the screen and typed my password in as fast as I could manage.  And there it was, my first ever roster..  image1 (1)

Geneva, Switzerland was to be my first ever destination.  My first supernumerary flight or suppi, to make it easier.  Preparing for the flight was insane, trying to remember everything they taught us.  I had to pack, I had to do a quick online search for what to pack, I had to get my uniform dry cleaned, my buttons had to be put into my jacket, my trolley bag had to be stocked with first class order forms and my Cabin Crew Quick Reference guide so that I don’t forget any part of safety searches.  And on top of that I had to make sure that I knew everything there is to be know about the airport in Geneva, what aircraft we were on, what the service was, who the crew was, and most importantly, whether I packed extra underwear.  I was sh….. nervous.  I was definitely nervous.

Luckily I had about 2 weeks to do all that.  So I sat in service training waiting for my mom to respond to my text trying to figure out whether she will be at my graduation or not.  I was flying her to Abu Dhabi to visit for 10 days.  I couldn’t wait.  BUT I had to pass service first, so back to how to serve Champagne at 40000ft it was for the moment.

My trainers were amazing, I mean they still are.  I could ask them anything, and on top of that, they were still flying as Chefs as well, so honestly they were just available for any question.  Mostly at this stage they were interested in what our first flights were.  I had some random chef as my first suppi chef and was reassured that he is really nice and that I shouldn’t worry..

So I graduated and I smiled and waved and shook the hands of all my trainers and my new managers and the heads of the departments, and I walked out of the room knowing that within a couple of days my first flight is upon me.  And just as I thought that, my trainer comes to me all smiley “see you tomorrow morning, crew changes”.

WHAT?  Ha!  My service trainer was now my suppi chef.  So happy.  All the crazy worries just disappeared and I could relax for the first time in weeks.  Now whether or not he intentionally put himself on my flight or not is still a mystery, but I was happy none the less.

A sleepless night and a lot of prep and pep talk from my mom later and I’m standing outside in my uniform waiting for pickup.  The bus is late, apparently it’s normal.  I get to the airport and I follow the crew, cause what on earth else should I do?  I go through security screening and check myself in and report for duty.  I get my baggage tags, tag my bag and I leave my massive “Trunki” suitcase to be loaded onto the A330-300 that will take us all to Geneva.  Moments later I am in the mail room picking up the newest revision of our safety manuals and realize that there is a lot that goes into running an airline.  Next minute I’m standing in the hallway with my trainer/suppi chef waiting to go into briefing.

My Cabin Manager starts:  “Good morning everyone, everybody has all their legal documents? All fit to operate this flight EY051 to Geneva?”


“Right, please introduce yourselves.”

Mark says his bit:  “Morning, name is Mark, I’m from Scotland, Imke over here will be your In-Flight Chef for the flight, I will be your onboard coach.”

Wait… WHAT?! “Hi, my name is Imke, I’m from South Africa and I speak Afrikaans, Mark is insane, I will be your suppi chef on this flight.”

I laughed from start to finish, this was going to be a good day.  Again we went through security, and got onto a bus that takes us to the aircraft. As soon as we got on, we got dressed in our Chefs whites and Mark started his security search and set up the cabin with the cabin crew in First Class.  Good grief they were quick.  The flight was eye-opening.  The amount of stuff I learnt in the 7 hours I spent in a galley on a plane made all my training make sense.  I had to take orders, pour drinks, cook food, plate desserts, make notes (I didn’t make notes) and I had to make sure my makeup was up to standard, operate doors, secure the cabin, clear coffee and tea and smile.  Thank goodness for suppi flights with great chefs!

We rush off the plane at the end on the flight and it hit me.  I was in cabin crew uniform, walking through 10606413_10204154937329551_5546813690966678608_nan airport somewhere in Switzerland smiling like I’ve never known how to smile, pulling my trolley bag and laughing with the rest of the crew.  I was so happy.  Tired, but happy.  This was the day my world changed, my horizons broadened and my soul settled down.  I am a chef, but I’m cabin crew at heart.





Obviously I can’t go into detail, but training was tiring, it was brutal.

Mentally and physically I was tested to breaking point.

This is why…

Transport picked us up at 5:40.  Then we drive to the Etihad Training Academy for 40 minutes.  When we get there, we have time for coffee, checking our classroom for the day and we go sit down.  We were given rules to live by, how to dress, how to walk, how to act.  Smile ALWAYS.  We go from classroom to classroom week by week and we fall asleep on the bus ride home.  Then we get home and we eat.  And then we study, we do our homework and prep for the next day.  Then we sleep and it all starts over again.

We were taught that daily we needed to look immaculate.  Dressed in black and white, everyone at the academy knew that we were the new kids.  Everyone is always smiling, happy and laughing.  The trainers are awesome.

Our Induction Trainers in the first week taught us about the company, about who to contact when, how to access our new email accounts and see our rosters.  We went for a thorough medical examination, vaccinations (ouch) and x-rays.  We had our picture taken for our company ID’s and we were fitted for our new uniforms.10615973_10204026463437784_2944012621983304802_n

10610831_10204026464877820_8949746154935174755_nIn the second week we met our Safety Trainers.  They were excellent.  Spending two weeks in their loving care and having them cram a million pages of information into our brains was insane.  We had simulation sessions, to simulate emergency situations.  We fought real fires and shouted our lungs out.  We learned how to be assertive in stressful situations and we were moulded into not only immaculately looking, but also calm and well trained cabin crew.  10457204_10204026465597838_4932413954439685362_n

Followed by making sure our aircraft is kept safe, we were given First Aid Training.  We were taught how to handle severe medical situations, including childbirth and anaphylaxis.  We 10599646_10204052042197237_1983368745982504832_nare able to handle just about any medical emergency while still keeping our aircraft safe and looking perfect while doing so.

After that we were given over to the Service Trainers, they stopped at nothing to make sure we knew everything about every ingredient and every wine and every piece of linen on the aircraft.  They polished us.  We were explained how to use all the equipment on board, from oven to skillet to toaster and even the coffee maker.  And then there was the ‘How to speak’ lesson, explaining to us how to address VVIP’s and end even children.  Working in First Class takes dedication.10592903_10204218041187108_7506882113877500624_n

Honestly after seven weeks of little sleep, lots of study, and information overload to the point of mushy-brain syndrome, I am confidently walking into briefings and onto aircraft with my head held high, feeling safe and capable.  The training was intense, but thorough and an incredible amount of fun and laughter.