Korea Thoughts - KAL Flight Attendants

As you all know, I visited Korea for three weeks for vacation and had a blast there. During that time, I ate a lot, drank a lot and thought a lot. The foods and drinks I’ve consumed are stored in my belly. The thoughts, I’m going to gradually write in my blog.

Although there are lots of issues with Korean Air about “Gapjil” (bossing around? Is the closest English term that I know -it’s a unique phenomenon that’s prevalent in Korea, hence there’s really no proper translation), it provides the best service for people who fly to Korea.

First, it provides direct flight from major cities. Washington’s Dulles airport (IAD) also has a direct flight to Incheon (ICN) that leaves everyday. The flight takes about 13 hours which feels longer than you could ever imagine.

Second, flight attendants. Korean Air has the most beautiful flight attendants, period. Every time I flew with them, they never disappointed me. The combination of their uniform, perfect makeup and artificial smile makes them shine amidst tried passengers who wear the most convenient clothes in preparation for a 13 hour haul.

I thought about what makes them special. After all, flight attendant isn’t a high skill job (not to sound rude of anything). You don’t need a thorough understanding of GAAP or need to understand the subtleties of the U.S constitution. Most of their time is spent preparing for meals and then they serve meals/drinks.

I think during my flight, 2 meals were served and there was a brief snack + a few water trips. Anyways, unless an emergency breaks out, their job is not materially different from a waiter from Cheesecake Factory.

But what distinguishes them from your typical waitress?

After some quick google searches, I learned that there’s about a 4 mo. Training sessions once they are hired. My guess is that they learn how to “smile” to customers, how to stand and walk and how to cope in emergency.

What really stands out from them is the posture. Not to mention that most flight attendants (at least for Korean air) are tall (probably 165cm +?) they maintain the perfect posture every time they walk through the corridor. Back straight while walking with a sense of purpose. It’s hard to explain how they look with words. You just have to be there. And you’ll think that they didn’t acquire that naturally. It’s something that can be attained after months of training.

Then there’s smile.

Flight attendants are known as emotional laborers, along with call center employees. It’s because they provide service to customers and when you do so, you can’t do it with your face full of frowns. They have to hide their emotions behind a well coordinated smile. I learned that there’s something called “wait smile”. It’s the facial expression they need to make while they don’t do anything.

(Imagine that you have to smile for nothing. It won’t be easy, as smile is normally a by product of our emotions.)

Regardless, I think smile is what makes them so beautiful, along with the uniform and perfectly groomed hair.

On the ground, they may be no different without the uniform, the hair, the posture and the smile. But in the sky, they are the angels.

I won’t ever be wearing a uniform, and I probably can’t have the same hair, but I think I could adopt their postures and smile. I may not be a beautiful swan, but it’s not a bad idea to be a pretty duck first.

Taeyang YouComment