Who: Yanitsa Valeva
Occupation: flight attendant (Purser)
Location: Burgas, Bulgaria
How did your passion for flying develop and how did you get involved in the field of aviation?: As a little girl it has never been a dream of mine to work in field of aviation. It was a conscious decision which I made at the age of 22. My first flight as a passenger was from Burgas to Brussels and when I got home I just told my parents that one day I will become a flight attendant.
How long have you been working as a flight attendant?: From 10 years.
As a purser, which are your responsibilities?: My responsibilities as a purser are to organise, control and participate in the working process, to take care for the safety of all passengers and capably to interact with my cabin crew and the cockpit crew members. The purser is also responsible for the flight documents.
What are the biggest challenges of a purser?: They are too many challenges, actually. On first place a purser has to be very observant, to be able to watch over all passengers, other cabin crew members and each phase of the flight. Another challenge is to know how to communicate with all your colleagues and make sure they will be able to react adequately in case of an emergency situation.
Have you ever had to deal with any emergency situations?: No, but I’ve been through a lot of different situations which have required quick reactions, fast communication with my colleagues and adequate resolution of the problem.
What is your biggest fear when you get on the airplane?: My biggest fear is not to be able to render first aid on board. Our cabin crews are not authorized medicals and can’t always render first aid the way a true professional can.
Tell us what happened a few days ago on flight 651 from Burgas to Moscow?: The flight seemed to be nice and peaceful, most passengers were happy and polite, but one passenger call changed everything. One of my colleagues came to me and said that a young boy had fainted.
What were your first reactions?: I ran quickly to the passenger’s seat to see what was going on. I saw many people who had gathered around him and my other colleague who was trying to pull the passenger up, thinking he was just fainted.
What were cabin crews actions?: We made an announcement to all passengers to ask if there was a doctor on board. Thank God there was a medical person on board who helped us and we found out that the boy had swallowed his tongue. I immediately informed the cockpit and my colleague and I started searching for something made of steel to pull out the boy’s tongue.
What were you thinking about as you were watching the young boy?: Sadly, the scene wasn’t very nice and watching his blue lips and pale face I thought he will die.
Do you think you and your crew did everything possible to save the boy’s life?: Yes. Thanks to the fast and adequate decisions of my crew, we managed to save the passenger’s life. The cockpit was also well informed about the situation during the whole time.
What will you advise other cabin crew members if they face the same problem on board?: To keep calm and cool. They should always keep an eye on the passengers during the whole flight.
What are the consequences if a passenger dies on board?: It has never happened to me…yet, but the procedure is very long. Each cabin crew member must write an explanation about what exactly has happened on the flight. After that researchers must do an investigation to find out how the passenger died.
How can you avoid such situations? What will you advise passengers with medical problems and even those who don’t have any?: I think each person is responsible for his own health, so everyone must make sure they’ve had enough rest, sleep and should avoid drinking alcohol before flying. It is good to inform the cabin crew for your medical problems, if you have any when getting on board. This will help flight attendants to react more quickly if something goes wrong, instead of wondering what you’re suffering from.
To see the full story, check out here: IS THERE A DOCTOR ON BOARD?