It goes without saying that the year 2020 brought to each and every one of us trials, tribulations, fear, worry, uncertainty, and anxiety.
The COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe and brought with it death, poverty, and unemployment. Millions of people worldwide were left wondering where their next paycheck may be coming from.
It’s no secret that practically every business and industry had to redefine its practices, policies, and procedures. Largely impacted was the airline industry.
Seemingly overnight, flights were canceled, travelers were panicking to fly home, borders were closed and subsequently, jobs were lost. In May of 2020, Air Canada alone announced that they had plans to lay off more than 20,000 employees amidst the pressures of the pandemic (SOURCE). This number does not account for the many other Canadian airlines that were forced to make similar adjustments.
As the world begins to transition into its new definition of normal, and new restrictions get lifted daily, so too must Canada’s airlines begin to transition and adjust into their new role post-COVID.
Melanie Kis, who has been a flight attendant (for a company she has chosen not to disclose) since 1999 is no stranger to the airline industry and the many changes it has faced over the last 22 years, but nothing – not even 911 – could have prepared her for the upheaval that the Coronavirus would bring.
"In 22 years I've never seen a shutdown like this. I mean, I worked through SARS and it didn't even compare. The closest thing I've ever experienced to this level of shut down was 911 and even that was only for a few months at most."
- Melanie Kis
Prior to the pandemic, Melanie had worked 21 years to gain seniority within her company. Being a flight attendant not only allowed her to pursue her love of traveling, but it also allowed her to be around for her school-aged children and have a flexible schedule which she could basically make for herself.
In March of 2020, Canada – alongside many other countries – made the difficult decision to hold a nationwide shutdown and implement a ban on all non-essential travel. From one day to the next, Canadians went from regular life to establishing home offices, home daycares, schools, and home gyms.
After more than 20 years in the airline industry, Melanie’s last thought was that she may lose her job. But, as we all know by now, COVID came with many surprises, and for Melanie, being laid off was one of them.
"I always knew I would go back. It was just a matter of when. As the weeks and months continued to pass I started to question things, but we always had a feeling we would go back."
- Melanie Kis
Thankfully, Melanie saw the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity, rather than an obstacle. She took her newfound role in stride and made the most of the influx of time she suddenly had with her two children. She also took her time off to work on her self-made business which launched not long ago. Focusing on mindfulness, wellness, and self-love, Melanie built a life-coaching business to help other women achieve their highest potential.
To learn more about Melanie and what she does, visit https://www.instagram.com/melaniekisofficial/
As weeks turned into months, and months eventually turned into an entire trip around the sun, Melanie began to feel as though her future as a flight attendant was grim.
Finally, after 18 months on the ground, Melanie got the call that she would be returning to the air once more. On July 18th, she took her first flight since March of 2020 to Calgary and Toronto and fell in love all over again.
Of course, a year and a half on the ground brings with it a lot of adjustment up in the sky.
"I mean, the mask thing wasn't new. We'd been wearing masks for a long time, so that feels pretty normal. I think the biggest adjustment is not getting to wear comfy clothes or having to do my hair every day. To cut costs, I stopped getting my hair cut and colored, so being back in the air also means being back in the salon which was a nice treat."
- Melanie Kis
After two decades in the industry, Melanie compares her experience returning aboard to that of riding a bike; “It just sort of all comes back to you.”
And as I’m sure you can imagine, just like the airline staff, Canadian travelers are equally excited to be back on board and seeing more of the world once more.
"There was this collective energy amongst the crew and passengers. It's like we were all breathing one big sigh of relief."
- Melanie Kis
As the world continues to erupt from its COVID cocoon, we must all continue to be diligent in implementing public health guidelines. It’s been a tirelessly long tunnel, but we’re all starting to see the light at the end of it.
Just as Melanie did, remember to make the most of every day, to appreciate the little things, and to remember that sometimes life is about the journey, not the destination.