They are easy on the eye, have gorgeous smiles and an aura that leaves people agape long after they’ve passed by.
It must be exciting to fly around the world and sleep in 5-star hotels and not pay a single coin for it.
This is the luxurious life that an air hostess leads.
Claire Nirere has been an air hostess for over a year now. She says her life is a dream come true and that she wouldn’t trade her job for anything, at least not just yet.
Choosing to be an airhostess was not her dream but more of an opportunity that came her way, however, she has grown to love it deeply.
“I never thought I would end up in this career seeing that I hold a degree in accounting but an opportunity came and I grabbed it. Now see where I am. I am traveling to exotic places and having the time of my life, I love it,” she says.
In a span of one year, she has been to places she never imagined she would go to, places around the region and across Africa.
“I enjoy being an air hostess; it’s awesome, especially for me, because I am a very social person so I get the chance to meet and interact with different people, understand how they live and more. It is an interesting job, the travelling and fun that comes with it,” she says.
The 27-year-old has been to Johannesburg, Nairobi, Kampala, Bujumbura, Mombasa, Dar es Salaam and very many other beautiful locations in Africa.
Even though she’s been to many places, Dubai in the UAE is her favourite destination. “It’s fun and is a city full of opportunities because it opens up someone’s mind, especially if one is business oriented,” she says.
Nirere says that aside from the juicy perks that come with the job, one’s personality drastically changes for the better.
“Before I joined airline services, I was shy and couldn’t stand in front of people to address them but I am now a very confident person. My job has done that for me and I am so proud.”
However, like any career, being an air hostess comes with challenges too.
“The challenges, though not many, are there. The time differences of the countries can make one get jetlag, for instance I can fly from Kigali at night but get to Dubai during the day. The head gets tired with the changing time zones and it affects your body at some point,” she says.
Nirere, however, says that if one learns how to schedule themselves, they can try to cope by ensuring that they find enough time to rest.
The other issue is the frequent advances from passengers. However, Nirere says, it is not a challenge for her personally.
“These things happen. I am a girl and I don’t find it strange because it’s the same thing that happens when I am not at work so it has nothing to do with me being a hostess,” she says.
Florine Uwera has been an air hostess for five years now and like Nirere, Uwera says she wouldn’t trade her job for anything.
“Being an air hostess comes with a lot of advantages, we get to travel to exciting destinations and we spend nights in luxurious hotels. We do anything we want during our layovers like shopping, and exploring the places. The boat cruises and desert safari are the best. As long as we are ready for the flight and get enough rest, it’s all good,” she says.
Aside from their tight schedule, Uwera doesn’t find the job challenging in any way and that the whole package is too good to be true.
“We learn a lot from this job and how to communicate with people. I am well contented with what I do,” Uwera adds.
Uwera hopes to continue serving as an air hostess till she starts a family.
Felix Rugamba’s dream was to be in aviation and even though he started out with the airline’s call centre office he was willing to make it to the cabin crew.
When he joined RwandAir in 2012, he started as a call centre agent where he worked for six months but later joined the cabin air services. It was a dream come true for him.
“I was very ambitious and really wanted to become part of the cabin crew because it is such an exciting job. I also wanted to get the experience in the hospitality sector, like learning how to take care of people, and also, travelling, seeing new places and having fun,” he says.
He takes pride in having been able to visit one of the most beautiful cities on the continent, Abidjan in Ivory Coast. He says it is his favourite destination because of the beauty the city possesses and its people that he found so warm and welcoming.
“The city has beautiful monuments and being close to the Atlantic Ocean makes its view spectacular. I had a great time there,” he says.
Rugamba has also travelled to Libreville Gabon, the Middle East and Mumbai in India, among other cities.
Rugamba encourages anyone whose dream is to become an air hostess to go for it.
“Being an air hostess is one of the most respected jobs around the whole world. It gives you exposure and knowledge from travelling to different places and meeting different people,” he says.
What it takes to become an air hostess?
According to Zulfat Mukarubega, the founder of University of Tourism, Technology and Business Studies, for one to be a good air hostess, they have to take up courses that can help them be efficient in their work.
University of Tourism, Technology and Business Studies is one of the universities that offer courses for flight attendants.
One of the qualities a good air hostess has to possess, Mukarubega says, is being swift and quick in what they do.
“They also have to be good when it comes to handling people, for instance, managing some passengers can be hard to deal with but they must have the ability to deal with them politely because in this sector, the client comes first,” he says.
An air hostess should also have a friendly and pleasant personality, language proficiency and great communication skills.
Mukarubega explains that a person interested in such a profession can take up a two-year international course that can help them earn a diploma or take up a three-year-course and get a degree.
Students who go for tourism can also work in aviation as air hostesses.
Dennis Rwiyamirira, the manager of Cabin Services at RwandAir, explains that the specific requirements for an air hostess are a Bachelor’s degree, language proficiency and also, to be between the ages of 21 to 30 years.
“To a certain extent, physical appearance matters but we mostly look at the person’s body mass index, it has to be proportional,” Rwiyamirira notes.
“One has to be well groomed with a good attitude, friendly, empathic, sincere, a quick decision maker, composed and attentive.”