Being an airline flight attendant is a desirable career for many graduates, according to Attaporn Thamrongkiatkul of Thai Airways, as he reflects on his 16 years of experience as a steward.
He enjoys serving in the first class cabin, and says his job remains a challenge and rewards him with more than the joy of travelling and a good income.
A Phuketian, Mr Attaporn graduated in hotel management from Concord University in the US, and holds an MBA from Naresuan University. Candidates for the airline job come from surprisingly diverse fields of experience, he says, including former doctors, pharmacists, dentists, police and actors.
Having graduated from the US, and while waiting to start his master’s degree, Mr Attaporn was looking for work. A friend mentioned that Thai Airways was recruiting.
He found that the job really suited him; he liked travelling and he loved working with fellow flight attendants.
“The only thing that sometimes brings problems is when we can’t satisfy moody passengers. But that’s part of our job,” said Mr Attaporn.
But there are also occasions that bring huge satisfaction, he says, recalling, “I rescued a passenger once who was unconscious and very ill. On another occasion a Thai man who was ill and wanted to die back home flew on my aircraft.
“When he came aboard, he said he felt that he was home when he saw us and we helped comfort him. We heard that he died not long after arriving home.”
He has lost count of how many hours he has flown, but says that he now averages 85 hours of flying time a month.
“I have been everywhere but my favourite destination is Japan. When we have a bit of time there, I always travel to small villages in the countryside, rent a bicycle and try all the food I can find. There are many nice villages to visit,” he said.
While he could work until his retirement at 60 years of age, Mr Attaporn says he planned to step down in the next seven years because he has other work, both as a lecturer at a university and as a business consultant. He plans to become a financial consultant for hotel industry after leaving the airline.