A part of the SAA family for 24 years, Senior Purser LEON FREDERICK shares his experiences and passion for travel
I HAD NEVER CONSIDERED BEING A FLIGHT ATTENDANT as a career option, but the dawn of our democracy ushered in many great opportunities. One day, while I was sitting at my desk doing mundane 8-to-4 tasks, I received a message from a friend that South African Airways was looking for cabin crew. I didn’t know much about what a cabin crew member does – but I went for the interview, and one month later I was invited to be part of the SAA family.
WHAT I LOVE MOST ABOUT MY JOB…
Are the daily interactions with people from different walks of life. I look forward to the energy and enthusiasm of my colleagues, who become my family once I leave home. I’m fortunate enough to work with some of the most awesome, talented, funny and dedicated individuals.
I also love that I’m able to have a positive impact on people’s lives every day, and create lasting positive memories. As I sign off my flights, I always know I did the job to the best of my ability, and effected change in our valued guests’ experience of our airline.
My journey at SAA has been one of great privilege and honour. I am indebted to the airline for many of my life blessings. It’s created a balance between my professional and personal life. As the saying goes, being a cabin crew member is more of a lifestyle than a regular job.
SOME OF MY MEMORABLE MOMENTS ARE…
The times I receive a heartfelt “thank you” from a passenger for a job well done. I enjoy the sincere appreciation I get from my passengers, and the thanks they share as they disembark. It really makes my day. My favourite quote is one I often use in pre-flight briefings to motivate my team: “Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card, and the way you make others feel is your trademark.” I believe this can be applied in all life situations, every day.
MY FAVOURITE THING ABOUT TRAVEL…
Is the way it’s broadened my horizons. When I first started travelling, I loved seeing the countries, and experiencing the cultures, cuisines and shopping experiences they offered. Now, years later, I enjoy the destinations differently.
I love to sit in Central Park, and watch the bustle of New Yorkers and tourists. The city that never sleeps has always fed my soul, and my daughters remind of it daily – their names are Brooklyn and Georgia.
In Frankfurt, I love to run along the river, and I look forward to having a German schnitzel with a refreshing local beer. In Washington, I love to visit the inner city or Georgetown, the university neighbourhood. The museums are overflowing with heritage and the rich history of the United States.
Asia is amazing. Hong Kong is always alive and moving at a fast pace; the streets are colourful and filled with thousands of people. I love wandering around the many markets, where you can find pretty much anything at a great price – if you’re prepared to haggle!
And let’s not forget our wonderful African continent: nobody in the world displays humility and hospitality better than Africans do, from the busy streets and markets of Lagos to the warm akwaaba welcome of Accra. Watching the metamorphosis of our continent is so inspiring.
FAVOURITE DESTINATION: NEW YORK
SHOPPING Manhattan has all the high-end fashion stores, but the real bargains can be found outside the city at outlet malls. We often go to The Mills at Jersey Gardens(30 minutes by bus) – it has all the favourite American brands under one roof, at affordable prices.
FOOD New York is a melting pot of culture, so it’s easy to find authentic cuisine from around the world. For meals on the go, there are food carts on every corner that sell cheap, fresh, great-tasting bites. A slice of pizza from Ray’s Pizza is a must after a long day exploring the city.
THE SIGHTS I love Central Park– it’s beautiful at any time of the year. The Empire State Buildingis a must with its 360° view over this incredible city. You should also take in some of the renowned museums, and ferry across to the iconic Statue of Liberty.
LEON’S TOP TRAVEL TIPS
Always carry these with you:
A change of clothing Pack it in your carry-on in case your luggage does not reach your destination. And pack smartly: roll (don’t fold) to create more space.
Correct documentation Make sure your passport is valid, and that you have the necessary visas.
Travel and medical insurance These are a must.
A small medical kit Include remedies for colds and flu, stomach issues, allergies and pain/fever.
A battery pack The last thing you want is your phone battery going flat just as you’re about to take that memorable pic.
Emergency credit card Just in case!