When Singapore Airlines (SIA) celebrates her 70th anniversary in 2017, cabin crew Andre and Jessie Png will have more reasons to pop the champagne – they will be marking 30 years of service with the company, and 25 years of marriage.
Despite being two trainee batches apart, the pair has been inseparable throughout their career since meeting at the training centre.
Besides date nights at Charlie’s corner, a watering hole near the old SIA club in Changi, they shared similar flight schedules – thanks to a team-flying arrangement in the early days. Later on, couple-coding allowed married cabin crew couples to operate the same flights wherever possible.
The charming Inflight Supervisor and Chief Stewardess, who have two grown-up sons, share with us what life as a cabin crew couple is like and how working for the same company has played a significant role in their relationship.
Can you share a little on your favourite parts about being a cabin crew?
Andre: I derive the greatest pleasure seeing passengers leave the plane happy, whether it was my colleagues or myself who made the flight pleasant, enjoyable and safe. Of course, once I’m off duty, I enjoy the food, sightseeing, good weather, and snow.
Jessie: The days off (laughs). It’s the lifestyle. We get to travel around the world. At the same time, when we come back, we have a few days off to spend with the family. You don’t bring your work home either. Once a flight is over, you are free.
That brings us to our next question – What are your favourite destinations to travel to?
A: I like Japan. The food’s good; it’s organised, systematic, safe and you can go out any time you want.
J: For me, Paris because I love cooking and baking, and it’s where I get all my ingredients and dairy products. I have a friend who lives there and he always takes me to really big supermarkets to get my groceries.
How did the both of you spend time together as a couple despite a busy flight schedule?
A: Before we had children, we were couple-coded and flew together. After we had children, someone had to be at home, so Jessie took on the role of “flying mother”, where she spent seven-and-a-half years doing only turnaround flights.
J: We’re lucky because the company let us choose the turnaround scheme. When I was a first-time mother, I wanted to be home every day.
A: It means she flies to destinations like Jakarta and back. So there’s a parent at home every day.
When you are off duty, whether overseas or in Singapore, what do you do to relax?
J: When we were new to the job, we would rest upon reaching the country, then go sightseeing and eat.
A: From Stonehenge to the pyramids in Cairo, and cruises down the Nile river.
J: It was like a free honeymoon! We’ve covered most of the sightseeing areas, so now it’s more of getting rest and buying stuff for the children. Our priorities are different now.
Does working in the same company allow you to understand each other’s work better?
A: We understand when either of us wants to rest after a flight. Other people may not realise we need to rest and run errands like banking, and other housekeeping matters.
J: As a fellow crew member, I know what he does after landing and I understand his job better.
Do you exchange pointers on how to provide better service onboard?
J: Of course. He’s my coach. After every flight, I share with him how I handled certain situations onboard. Since he is an inflight supervisor, he’s more experienced and is able to give me advice. Two heads are better than one.
A: When I experienced an earthquake in Taipei, the local authorities, Singapore Airlines and everybody else were calling me and asking if my crew were safe. There were so many things going through my mind in addition to the aftershock. After I texted her, she prompted me to create a Whatsapp group to contact all my crew members, instead of calling them one by one.
Do you apply the same level of dedication to both your marriage and service?
A: Yes, of course. We are practically married to the job. It’s been almost 30 years. I’ve been married to SIA for longer than I’ve been single.
J: After all these years, we’re still very dedicated. We still put in our best when we go onboard.
Can you tell us about your most memorable experience as a cabin crew?
A: Jessie was an assignment crew for seven years, and it offered many opportunities. For example, her wedding dress was featured in The Straits Times in 1993. The newspaper wanted to feature a particular gown, so it needed people from different walks of life. There was a stewardess, a lawyer and a doctor. She (Jessie) made the centre page in the paper’s Sunday Life! section. I collected about 10 copies.
J: He framed it up and gave it to me as our 10th-anniversary gift.
A: That was a wonderful time. Life is really exciting and it’s all because we are working for the same company, doing the things we love.
Any unforgettable flights you have operated on?
J: One of my flights had an entire row of fully occupied bassinets. When I saw that one of the mothers was having trouble with her crying baby, I offered to carry and pat the baby to sleep. She was so grateful. Following that, the other mothers in the same row specifically looked for me to help them – one after the other – when they had the same problem. It was amusing for everyone, but I’m glad that I managed to calm all the babies.
Experience a career beyond the ordinary! Visit singaporeair.com/cabincrewcareers to find out how you can join us as a cabin crew member.
PHOTOGRAPHY: VERONICA TAY
GROOMING: LENY /PALETTE INC
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.