Today we introduce Maura Coppino, Albastar flight attendant
“Dream with ambition, lead with conviction and see yourselves in a way that others may not simply because they’ve never seen it before, but know that we will applaud you every step of the way.”
Kamala Harris, the vice-president-elect of the United States of America, is encouraging so many women who look at their personal and professional fulfilment as a start to create a new path in their lives. Besides, we in Albastar have so many wonderful women, who take on new challenges, following their professional passions and inclinations, reconciling the demands of the job and being a mother, in a multitasking organisation of their daily life.
In Albastar, we have many beautiful stories from our colleagues, and today we introduce you to Maura, our flight attendant. She is brilliantly able to combine the flight activity with a family of three daughters!
Hi, Maura, first, congratulations! You have much experience. It has been more than twenty years since you have become a flight attendant. Can you tell us briefly how you took flight?
We have to go back to April 1998, as my daughters point out to the last century. It has been many years, it is true, but I still remember that day. I was a young, very excited girl, proud to wear my uniform, making my dreams come true. I was ready to start my flight training phase in preparation for the exam in Rome to get the flight attendant’s patent. At that time, trainees had to fly 100 hours as a training period, to accomplish the requirements before taking the exam. I went through extensive, detail-oriented training.
That day, my first flight was a TRS-MUC (Trieste-Munich). It was a 50 minutes flight, fully booked and the two training managers on-board, but I was eager to start my career in the sky. I have always pursued the goal of becoming a flight attendant and chosen my studies according to my great passion, from the Technical Institute for Tourism, to the year abroad, to the University of Languages and Foreign Literatures.
At the age of 20, I moved from Udine to Verona to start my career. Less than a year later, the company offered me the role of line instructor to complete the flight training of my new colleagues. A great satisfaction, to be able to transmit with my great enthusiasm the precious advice I had received. All this still accompanies me today, because when I get on board, I know that each of us, members of the crew, can make the difference. Being a cabin attendant is not just a job; it is a way of being, a lifestyle. The great passion for flying, the desire to get in touch with people from different cultures, the curiosity about the world and its expressions, the awareness of being on board to make the flight experience something unique for the passenger, they all sum up what this job means to me.
Although the life of a flight attendant is professionally demanding, you have a large family, with three daughters. What are your secrets for reconciling your flight attendant shifts with your role as a mom?
I agree that the life of a flight attendant is very demanding, both physically and psychologically. This intensity varies from person to person, type of flights, day or night shift and type of passengers on board. Flight preparation starts at home; you keep yourself prepared on emergency procedures and first aid.
Our suitcase contains our little big world.
As you have said, we have three daughters, our greatest treasure. I don’t know if there are secrets or magic formulas. What I know is that my husband and I try to do our best. I don’t deny that everything must be very well planned. In times of an extraordinary daily routine here in Bergamo, where we live, the schedules of three schools, three sports and meetings with friends must be set. Now, paradoxically, with two daughters in distance learning, it’s even more complicated. Girls spend many hours in front of their computers, both for school and dance; it is necessary to make sure that they could manage to solve any technical problems even without their parents. Two girls are teenagers, and one is still at the primary school, but together they are a great team. Before leaving for work, I try to give some indications that can simplify the daily activities. My husband is supportive, and Chiara, Sofia and Maya know that they have to give their help when Mom is not there. Sometimes I realise that I have to overlook some aspects, which I can take for granted when I am at home. Still, priorities change and the importance for my husband and me is that our daughters are aware that being responsible not only helps us but also prepares them for their future.
How did you explain to your girls the value of your job and then make them understand the reason for your absences when the shifts have required you to do a layover somewhere? Moreover, how did you manage your feelings when you had to leave for several days?
Our daughters have experienced the separation from the parents who went to work since they were babies and attended the nursery. Explaining to a child why a parent goes to work is not always easy. It is not just an economic issue; we often highlight that what we do is the job we have always wished. I like to make them understand how important it is to believe in their passions, to make their dreams come true, even if nothing is achieved without effort. Sometimes I have to sleep away from home for several nights. Although it is objectively difficult for those who stay at home to live their daily life without the presence of the parent, today, compared to twenty years ago, mobile phones and internet connections allow us to keep in touch easily. Sometimes closing the door behind me, I leave sad faces, tears or little smiles. For every mother, every departure is a small wound. Still, I must be honest, my husband, seeing me wearing the uniform, packing my suitcase and arranging the organisational details, looks at me and repeats how the happiness that shines through my eyes is more significant than any other emotion. I think our daughters understand how important being a flight attendant is to me. I am proud of it; I live it as a strong personal achievement.
Maura you have a great experience, and you are an example for younger colleagues. Do you have any advice to give them?
This sector is going through a tough time today. During my career, great experience has not always been recognised and being a mother has been a problem. Here in Albastar has been different from the beginning. My experience has been recognised and appreciated. The beauty of this job is that it makes you work every time with another crew. In a short time, we can create connections with our colleagues regardless of our age and experience. Sometimes I would call it a generational comparison. I respect the styles of learning of younger colleagues. When some of them ask me for advice, I try to show them the hows and whys, because I believe in learning by doing. Today, those approaching this beautiful profession must be prepared to face a very different customer than in the past. I like to walk through the cabin and listen to passengers. There are some flights, whereby looking at people you can feel their desire to talk to you. Each of them has a story to tell. I would suggest colleagues not to underestimate the inherent difficulties to the job, but to believe that each of them can make the difference. Each one of us has something valuable, and we can learn from each other. Good knowledge of the foreign languages has turned out being useful, and this is another essential aspect of this job. I would suggest everyone take full advantage of the opportunities that aviation offers us.
It can become a job for life or just an experience, but being a flight attendant prepares you to face the facets of our society.
Flying during the pandemic. We would never have imagined it. How has the flight attendant’s job changed over the last few months?
It has been a unique experience, a roller coaster of emotions. In March, from one day to the next, we were forced to lock ourselves in our houses until May. In the beginning, the use of protective equipment on board during all working hours was tiring, we had to adapt daily to new procedures, and we have drastically changed the way we operate. We had to deal carefully with the emotions experienced by our passengers.
In our job, communication in all its forms is fundamental; the mask has created an additional barrier to the many we already face daily. Our face is covered, our voice cannot be adequately heard, and our smile cannot be seen. They seem insignificant details, but we had to learn how to manage even better non-verbal communication, a gesture, a look, a posture, that can transmit calm, competence and a warm welcome. Personal concerns must remain on the ground, we are people, of course, but our professional role requires us to know how to deal with any difficulties that arise. Our behaviour can determine different reactions.
I still remember the first advice our instructor at the theoretical course gave us: “Remember, you have to be able to smile no matter what happens.” Smiling does not mean not being worried, or not having feelings; it means telling our passengers, don’t worry, we are here for you.
Thank you, Maura, for your time and for introducing our readers to the personal nuances of a job, that of a flight attendant, which has always fascinated and represented the dream job for many girls and boys.
We conclude thanking all our working mothers and their courageous children, whose smile can transmit superpowers to their mothers!