Lessons learned at the Singapore Airlines Training Center – part 2

During a tour of the Singapore Airlines Training Center this week, there was a heavy emphasis on how well-trained the airline crews must be. (See this earlier post for some safety tips.)

But most people are much more interested to learn about the training regimen for the always-beautiful-and- incredibly-poised Singapore Girls that are the hallmark of the Singapore Airlines service.

Becoming a Singapore Girl (that’s the airline’s official term) is not only an honor; it’s hard work. Before taking to the air, Singapore Girls (and boys) must make it through an on-the-ground training course that is 3 1/2 months long – the longest in the industry.

And those chosen to be “transformed from trainees into gems,” explained Foo Juat Fang, assistant manager for cabin crew training – human factors and grooming, must excel in classes designed to teach everything from beauty and deportment to how to handle emergency situations and the age-old tradition of in-flight ‘souveniring’: the tendency of some passengers to pocket anything not tied down.

After watching a short role-playing session in which a class of trainees showed us how they might deal with a variety of stereotypical passengers, our tour group quizzed the instructors:

Q: How would you deal with a passenger complaining about other passengers gathering in the aisle and being too loud?

A: We might encourage the loud passengers to return to their seats ‘for safety’ and offer ear plugs to the person who was complaining.

Q: What would you do if you saw someone pocketing one of the Givenchy plates?

A: We’d assume that they do not know that is not appropriate. And mention that we’ll pass along to the airline the suggestion that there be a way for passengers to purchase these items.

Q: And how do Singapore Girls and all crew members maintain their energy and strength for those long 12-hour flights?

A: We encourage them to get plenty of rest before each flight and stay hydrated during the flight with water, not coffee or tea. And when they are off-duty, we encourage them to be active in sports such as as cycling, dragon boat racing and martial arts.

Q: What other secrets or special skills do you teach them?

A: We teach them to walk without being heard and, especially in business and First Class, we teach them to be there before you push the button – to read your mind.