From our Point of View series.
Miu Chi Lee is a 26-year-old air hostess at Cathay Pacific. The young millennial opens up about her job as an air hostess and experiencing life on the road (or tarmac, if you will).
There’s always going to be another chance
Once upon a time, opportunities felt like they only came around once. When I was younger, even just a couple of years ago, I felt the pressure to go out with friends and to always be doing something. But now, at my age, I’m learning to be alone.
When I first started [as an air hostess], I would see gaps between my work schedule and I’d wonder where I should go. I’d see seven days in April and then I’d think I should go diving. I’d see three days in Hong Kong and I’d be wondering who I should try and visit. I’d see larger gaps and wonder if I should get out of Hong Kong while I have the chance. I’d use every opportunity I could to get out, to go travel, to be social and to see friends. But right now, I’m spending more time at home and it’s fine. I don’t always have to be going out like that. Personally, I think life works in cycles and you can’t always be moving like that.
Learning to be alone
Nowadays, I can spend the entire day at home and not feel bored. The other day I even went to see a movie by myself. Originally I had organized to see it with a friend but she changed her mind at brunch. When I got home I found a convenient time and I just went. After uploading a story to my Instagram, many friends messaged to ask if I was okay, and wondered why I had to go by myself. “Don’t you have anyone to go with?” they asked. But why do they have to ask that? I’m fine. Usually I prefer to watch movies at home but it was convenient and I wanted to go. I can do that, it’s not a problem.
Life in the sky
It’s good. Why not? You don’t need to buy your own ticket, you don’t need a hotel, there’s an allowance and I can enjoy the food and sightseeing. You won’t feel bored. If you do office work you go to the same place every day from 9am-5pm, but for us, we get to feel excited.
Love isn’t in the air
I’ve got so many friends who do [long distance relationships], but what I think is, they just don’t want to give up their life — even if they’re married.
In Hong Kong many people who are married have to take care of their kids so they take the Hainan flight path. It’s a turnaround or overnight flight, and some days they work for 10 to 15 hours [on a return route]. If you cannot leave Hong Kong or cannot leave your family then it’s the path you have to choose. I have even heard of people who have babies who use long hauls as a break [from parenting].
Some crew members will also endure the Sydney flight scheme, which has shorter rest times, in order to make it work, cutting their benefits and allowances — that’s one way to try and put effort into a relationship.
It also depends on whether you can accept long distance relationships. Maybe you will miss your partner but when you have a stable relationship, I don’t think it’s a problem. A friend of mine flew for a year after she married. Another has now been married for three months. Can you give up the job or marriage? I think for them it’s difficult to choose, but for myself, I will not support the scheme because it cuts my allowances. But for my friend’s reasons, she really needs it — It’s a choice she’s willing to make.
In the past, I dated someone in New York. I tried it for a few months flying there two to three times per month — but maybe I wasn’t in love with him enough.
More from our Point of View series.