As I walked down the gangplank toward my ‘home in the air’ for the next eleven hours I heard even before I could see her the head Flight Attendant on Air Canada flight 003 from Vancouver to Tokyo. She was on the PA system almost cheerleading her staff, and as I appeared she put on her game face… but not the one that I am used to.
As you know I fly a lot, and over the years have not had a lot of energetic and outwardly happy and excited flight attendants. It is not to say that any of them were bad or good, they were just for the most part very… professional is the word that comes to mind, but that would almost imply that Phaedra-Lynn Hicks is otherwise… and that would be far from the truth.
As the first passenger on board I had a lot of time to observe the crew as they welcomed the masses to the flight, and Phaedra, manning the forward hatch, was greeting everyone with a smile. I heard her joke with one young lady (who had purple hair) if her hair was natural, and how so many people asked if her blonde locks were natural or not. It set a humorous tone to the flight ahead.
“At this point you should be seated comfortably (or uncomfortably) in your seats with your tray tables stowed and your seat backs in the upright position.”
You might expect this sort of humour on some smaller airlines, but on Air Canada? It is rare, and it is no wonder that she has won almost every individual and team award that Air Canada awards, as well as a few others.
I have a confession to make. This is not the first time I have flown with Ms. Hicks, and I remembered both her smile and her attitude from my previous flight with her. As we had eleven hours together I asked her if she would mind talking to me for the blog, and she was delighted to.
As we were discussing the ‘interview’ she mentioned that I should check out the YouTube video that she made as a spoof. It is an Air Canada commercial (spoofed and unsanctioned) to the Call Me Maybe song. As I am still at 36,000 feet you can check it out for yourselves by searching YouTube for Air Canada Call Me Maybe. From what Ms. Hicks tells me if you are checking it out from a mobile device you will need to do it via Huffington Post. (Now that I am on the ground I checked it out, and while I suspect I am the last person on earth to hear that song from beginning to end, the video is great… and I recognize quite a few of the players!)
Phaedra started flying after a friend of hers – a flight attendant with an American carrier – suggested she apply. At the tender age of nineteen she says she applied, and for the interviews she bought a blue suit (a nice but very inexpensive one – budgets of nineteen years olds being what they are), put her hair up in a bun, and went into the interviews with the most positive attitude that the kid from Pierrefonds (the West Island of Montreal) could bring.
Three interviews and six weeks of training later Air Canada had their future best flight attendant on her maiden voyage.
I spent a lot of time chatting with Phaedra, and was able to interview her with the condition that her chain of command be able to vet the piece before it published. Unfortunately life (both hers and mine) got in the way, and the interview could not be vetted in time. As such I have removed my twelve questions and her answers from this piece. Hopefully one day I will be able to share them with you; I assure you they have been redacted, but not deleted entirely!
What I will say is that Phaedra was a pleasure to speak with. She gave thoughtful answers to every question I asked, and was quite clearly not just giving me the approved company answers. Of course, a couple of the questions I asked were probably not anticipated by the company. I am looking forward to flying with Phaedra again – I do not know when that will be, but hopefully soon. As she is based in Vancouver, she likely will not be on my next flight (Tokyo Narita direct to Toronto Pearson). I think, however, I have found yet another reason to stop in Vancouver when on my way to Asia.
When on the ground (wherever she is) Phaedra is an avid practitioner of Yoga. She is currently working toward the next level of certification (enlightenment?) that one can achieve as an instructor. If she is as passionate about yoga as she is about her work I have no doubt that she will pass with flying colours!
- SQ11: The Flight of a lifetime! (garvis.ca)