Crew Talk: Adele Khumalo


Having flown all over South Africa and the globe, cabin crew member Adele Khumalo has been a part of the SAA family for 20 years now. She shares her experiences

I chose the career because…

After resigning from a position at a bank, I was job hunting and landed up at a recruitment agency entitled Quas. That was in 1998. They used to play the song “I Believe I Can Fly”, and it was like an anthem to me. It instilled in me the love of flying while I was learning all about a career in the clouds! I have never looked back.

Adele Khumalo SAA Cabin Crew member

What I love most about my job is…

The flexibility it comes with. The fact that I am not stuck in traffic, or do not have to deal with month-end vibes and queues. What inspires me most, is the fact that we never age. My tongue-in-cheek theory is that cabin pressure and the cold of the cabin keeps me young… Think about it, food is refrigerated to keep it fresh!

I am never subjected to day-to-day office work – my office is in the sky. I am an international person, and my life is always on the move. I am always in a different time zone.

I love the different cultures I encounter; it reminds me that the world is a book, and that those who do not travel, read only one page. Never a dull moment!

Of which the most memorable was…

On a flight from London, we had a couple with a little two-year-old girl travelling to South Africa for the first time. She had the heart of everyone on board, running around and making baby talk with everyone.

Adele Khumalo SAA Cabin Crew Member on a Camel

Suddenly we had a medical emergency, and it was the same girl. The parents had no idea what was wrong with her – she had never shown these symptoms before. Luckily, we had three doctors on board, and they all examined her. The call was made to turn back to Heathrow, two hours into the flight.

The whole cabin had so much empathy with the couple… we were like a family. We were in tears. The best thing was when I got a letter of appreciation from those parents. For me, it was like a sign that she is okay, and they are grateful. I was deeply touched.

My life outside the cabin

The Bible is my manual of life. I read it to understand exactly what God is saying to me at that moment.

Adele Khumalo in the cockpit

I also love my international gym membership of every hotel. I enjoy the different skin and beauty products, and tips I learn about natural ingredients, mostly in my kitchen. I also keep abreast of the latest trends and fashion, and I audition for television advertisements.


Favourite Destination 


It is our stopover for the flight to Washington, DC in the United States of America, and we usually spend a night there.


We frequent a place entitled Gabriels on the La pointe des Almadies. Usually, we take meat to cook on the fire, and then buy seafood from Gabriel. It is a really cool place to hang out at for a relaxed barbecue, browse through the antiques that the locals sell, and listen to some local musicians.

Local seafood

Dakar is well-known for the huge variety of delicious seafood that you can buy from fishermen from the local village of Soumbédioune. Prawns, lobsters, sea urchins, tilapia, thiof (a species of grouper), giant barracuda, tuna, lotte (monkfish), snapper, swordfish, mackerel, and yaboy (sardinella) are just some of the bounty carried off the pirogues (canoes) and sold at daily fish markets like the one on the beach at Soumbédioune.


Adele’s Top Travel Tips 

  • Always bring your own small medical kit.
  • Remember to pack hand sanitiser and hand cream.
  • Wet wipes are useful to freshen up.
  • A skin moisturiser is an essential element of your hand luggage. The cabin’s air-con dries out your skin.
  • Eyedrops are useful to moisturise your eyes.
  • I always pack a sunhat, sunblock and sunglasses. Even if you think it is going to be cold at your destination, the weather can change.
  • A small, warm scarf is such a handy and lightweight item to pack. It can keep you warm on board, as well as if the weather turns at your destination.
  • I like to keep fit, so you will always find trainers and gym wear in my luggage. And a skipping-rope. If there is no gym, you can still skip.


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