This article is part of Singapore Airlines’ “Beyond the Cabin” video series, in which cabin crew explore their favourite cities and share how their hobbies enrich their service delivery.
New York City is every movie buff’s dream. After all, there are thousands of films set in the city – from the iconic King Kong, in which the titular gorilla scales the Empire State Building, to Birdman, which tells the story of a has-been actor attempting to produce a Broadway play.
This cultural cachet is precisely what Fadzil Hassan, an In-Flight Manager with Singapore Airlines – and an ardent cinephile – adores about the Big Apple. “I’m a big movie fan and I’ve always wanted to visit New York City ever since I was young, as there are numerous films and TV series set here,” says Fadzil, who has been flying with the Airline for 34 years.
Fadzil has visited many famous filming locations in New York City, including the Friends apartment building (left) and the Ghostbusters Fire Station (right)
Silver screen inspiration
As a child, Fadzil was captivated by King Kong, which features the Big Apple’s towering skyscrapers as its backdrop. “The modern-day metropolis depicted on screen was a far cry from what Singapore was back in 1977, when the movie was released,” he recalls. In the same vein, he remembers being amazed by the city scenes portrayed in West Side Story, which is set in the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City.
Fadzil also particularly loves Ghostbusters, in which a motley crew seeks to protect the city from paranormal activity. “I watched it in my teens and pleaded with my parents to take me for a holiday to New York City, which they eventually did,” he shares. On that memorable trip, he managed to visit several Ghostbusters filming locations, including the New York Public Library – the location of the first ghost encounter in the movie – and 55 Central Park West, also known as the Ghostbusters Fire Station.
Some of Fadzil’s other favourite movies shot in the Big Apple include Night at the Museum, part of which was filmed at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. “Do you know that you can see the real exhibits behind the characters featured in the movie?” Fadzil says.
Of course, there’s also Saturday Night Fever – especially the scene in which John Travolta struts along a sidewalk in Brooklyn to the song “Staying Alive” by the Bee Gees. “When I visited New York City as a cabin crew member, the first thing I did was to go to that exact street and attempt to recreate one of the most iconic scenes in movie history!” Fadzil laughs.
Just like there are no limits to the imagination when it comes to filmmaking, I live by the principle that we should go above and beyond when it comes to providing the best service on board
Fadzil loves soaking up the sights and sounds of New York City
Big Apple magic
It’s no surprise that Fadzil has fallen in love with New York City. “After all, this is where you’ll find famous landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street and Times Square,” he says.
Fadzil also enjoys experiencing the city’s sheer diversity. “New York City is a melting pot both culturally and gastronomically. There are so many ethnic enclaves including Chinatown, Koreatown, Little Tokyo, Little Brazil, Little Italy and Little Dominican Republic – each with its own unique culture and cuisine,” he shares. “Each time I’m in New York City, I always try to visit these neighbourhoods to experience what they have to offer.”
For a dose of art, Fadzil suggests visiting the Met Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park. “With its Gothic architecture, the museum feels like a throwback to the past. Interestingly, the land upon which it is built was once a gathering place for diverse Native people,” he notes.
While the Big Apple can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming thanks to its fast pace of living, Fadzil recommends going with the flow and taking it all in. “I love the energy and the good vibes here,” he says. “My advice to anyone visiting New York City is to embrace the rhythm of the city that never sleeps – and to have the time of your life while doing so!”
What to see and do in New York City for first-timers
This sprawling 843-acre green lung in the heart of Manhattan is a must-visit when in New York City. Here, you can stroll through lush woodlands, climb a miniature castle, hire a rowboat, marvel at the critters at the Central Park Zoo, and much more.
Located at the intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue, this commercial centre is known for its enormous billboards and flashing neon signs. If you’re in the Big Apple on New Year’s Eve, Fadzil recommends heading here for the highly anticipated countdown. “This is when the Square comes alive with dazzling lights and grand fireworks,” he says.
Staten Island Ferry
Take in amazing vistas of the Statue of Liberty and the city skyline on this ferry, which transports passengers from Manhattan to Staten Island. For the best views, sit on the right side of the ferry on the way to Staten Island, and on the left side while en route back to Manhattan.
Short for “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass”, this neighbourhood is known for its cobblestone streets lined with hip cafes and indie boutiques. Visitors also flock here for postcard-perfect views of the Manhattan Bridge, best seen from Washington Street.
Art imitates life
Fadzil’s love for film has enriched him in many ways – for instance, by teaching him the importance of being professional at all times. “As a performer, you must always give your best, no matter the circumstances, as this is what the audience expects. Similarly, as cabin crew members, we must give our 100% as this is what our customers expect from us,” he reflects.
Fadzil’s love for film has shaped his service delivery on board
As a cabin crew member, he draws inspiration from his favourite movies to create memorable moments for customers. For instance, he once paid homage to a scene from The Wedding Singer, in which the lead actor serenaded his girlfriend over the in-flight passenger announcement system. “Two customers were celebrating their 50th anniversary on board, so my crew and I made a card for the couple and I sang an Elvis Presley song in front of everyone in the cabin. The couple were touched and told us that we had created an extraordinary moment for them,” he recalls. For their efforts, the crew won the SOAR and CEO Service Excellence Award, which recognises individuals and teams for outstanding performance.
“Just like there are no limits to the imagination when it comes to filmmaking, I live by the principle that we should go above and beyond when it comes to providing the best service on board,” Fadzil says. “This is the encouragement I always give not only to myself, but also to my crew on every flight in order to delight our customers.”