What does an international courtship look like?
If you ask Singapore Airlines cabin crew and married couple Melvyn Tan and Carmen Yu, it’s a little like this: first date in Melbourne; first kiss in Frankfurt (“Or maybe it was New York,” said Tan); and dates at numerous landmarks all over the world.
“But I proposed in Singapore, in my room at my parent’s place in Bedok,” the 33-year-old recalled with a laugh, his wife, 34, by his side.
Now married for seven years, the Leading Steward and Stewardess have served over 10 years each with the Airline. They share with us the joys of building their careers together:
What was it like for the two of you while you were courting and flying?
Melvyn: Communication wasn’t as convenient as it is now. Back then, we didn’t have communications tools such as WhatsApp. We talked using MSN Messenger. When we had common days off, we would go out for movies. We would also exchange our monthly rosters and try to swop flights with colleagues so that we could serve on the same flight.
Carmen: Still, it was challenging as we could go up to a week or 10 days without seeing each another. But somehow, we made it work.
What lessons did you learn on the job that has helped you in your relationship?
M: We learnt to trust each other completely. As we couldn’t always be together, we needed to trust each other to be faithful.
We also treasured all the little moments we had together and not sweat the small stuff or fight over minor issues.
C: We learnt to value quality time as we don’t have a lot of time to spend together or with our loved ones.
Also, we are in the service industry, and we always do our best to make sure passengers are happy. We have translated some of these practices to our marriage. For example, I would understand if my husband is tired after a long flight. Even if we had missed each other and I would like us to go out together, I would let him have time to rest first.
What is the best thing about your job?
M: Each flight is different and I love meeting new passengers, getting to know new colleagues, and reconnecting with those whom I have already met. We also go to different places each time. It’s a very colourful life.
Plus, now that we are married, we are couple coded when it comes to our flight rosters. This means that about 70 per cent of the time, we will be rostered on the same flight.
C: We do not bring any work home! We just focus on giving our best onboard and making sure passengers have a wonderful flight. Then, we rest and enjoy our time during layovers.
What are you looking forward to in the future, career-wise?
M: I will soon be land-bound for two months as I will be joining a company-sponsored intensive German course. Learning to speak German will help me provide better service on German routes. It will also open up more routes for me to fly too.”
What is your best travel tip?
M: Always pack a mini first-aid kid – include items like medication for fever and tummy upsets, plasters, and bandages.
C: Be safe but also travel with an open mind. Be curious. Our own travels have broadened our horizons.
It has also made us appreciate Singapore so much more. We now know how lucky we are.
By Esther Au Yong, SilverKris, June 2017
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