They told us that the material used for our uniform was specially made to withstand a few seconds of blazing heat during potential fire evacuation. They were fire-resistant garments and have cost the company quite a substantial sum to provide crew members the best possible uniform. A total set of uniform for one cabin crew could easily fetch a price tag of RM20 thousands.They urged the cabin crew to take the best care of their uniforms and to wear them with pride.
We were told.
We did feel proud wearing them.
It was in 1996 and it has been 14 years since then. Those instructors who trained us during our initial training have since left the airline. They have told us, the uniform had been designed and tailored by this Italian designer Gherardini.It is indeed true, Gherardini’s house of boutique had been commissioned,however he had had a short life here with this great airline. Due to this fact, we were foolishly believed that our uniform were made with the best of materials to protect us from any element of fire emergency.At least for a few crucial seconds in saving life.
We were young and naive trainees with the airline. The instructors explained how the nature of our job requires special garment to protect cabin crew during fire evacuation. It was a company’s obligation to provide safe and comfortable uniform for the cabin crew.
We grinned from ear to ear knowing this.
Proud we were wearing the uniforms thinking that we’re special bunch of cabin crew with special attention given by the company. When we were actually started flying, noticed that the airline’s ground handling staff were wearing the same uniform except different in colors. But, we never took an effort to investigate this glaring similarity. We still believed that our uniform were specially made with fire-retardant material and theirs were not.
Later, after few years of flying and we have developed friendship with ground handling staff, we managed to have a closer look at their uniforms. Theirs were in fact, were made with the same material albeit their duties and check that have nothing to do with fire. It is so generous of the airline to provide such highly priced uniform to thousands of staff of whom required no special protection from fire as what the cabin crew might have to experience.
The question is until today, the purportedly fire retardant uniforms had been used to instill pride or simply it was true that everyone had been given a set of uniform that cost the airline RM20K each? Or was it simply a bluff, a stupid bluff to the young trainees like us?
Why then in 1996, the safety and comfort of crew had been company’s priority by giving us the best material for our uniform but today in 2010, the cabin crew are being provided with cheap skate materials? Or our lives getting cheaper thus the materials given are getting uglier?
Currently, the shirt is made with a synthetic material and not a shred of cotton could be felt on the skin. When we sweat, the perspiration does not get absorbed into the material and it makes the skin feels itchy and warm. The material does not “breathe”, thus keeping the heat on our body.It takes ages to be properly ironed out and if the setting of heat is slightly higher, it easily burns the shirt. It goes the same to the pants. The jacket is also getting very thin and flimsy. The stewardess’ kebaya does not hold properly to the structure of their body. If it being worn my slightly heavy stewardess, she may appear very fat and if being worn by a slightly thin person, she appears to be utterly skinny. The material fades its colors after few washes too.
So, if our safety was paramount important to the airline back then in 1996 and what is the value of our lives to today’s worth?
What has become of our profession to this great airline? Take pride with it?
Go to hell! I do my job for the money nowadays. No more extra miles or to go beyond expectations.