People of SAS: A question of class
It was only a few years after Alexander Sveen joined SAS that he applied to become a cabin crew instructor. “It was in 2016, quite soon after I started,” says Sveen. “I felt inspired by the people who had trained me, and still being fairly green in the company, I could easily relate to the new.”
Although he had experience as a tutor and mentor from his previous job, being this new he wasn’t sure if he would be considered fit for the job. “But I’m grateful I got this opportunity, and I love the great dynamic that comes from having both young and more experienced instructors in the classroom.”
SAS has around 3500 crew members. Depending on the size of the airplane and the length of the flight, there will be between four and nine working onboard a plane.
Alexander Sveen trains first aid, safety and security procedures to new cabin crew members as well as colleagues, who has been away from service for some months.
While a brush up on crew skills usually takes three days, brand new crew will have about three weeks of training, including training flights, before they get “released” as a cabin crew. Throughout the weeks of training, candidates complete exams covering different areas within the job. Once they pass their written exams, they are left to the test in real life.
“On the training flights, trainees work onboard as an additional crew member, but without being part of what we call minimum crew,” Sveen explains.
“This enables them to experience the job first hand, and also familiarize further with the aircrafts. After having flown the required training flights, you are on a “release flight” – and this is the real life final exam.”
As an instructor, Sveen and his teammates strive to create a relaxed atmosphere in the classroom. “My teaching philosophy is to make people comfortable and safe in the environment of the classroom. This means they can concentrate on learning, and eventually feel confident and secure in their job,” he says.
“We’re like a family. I think that 95% of the people at SAS would say the same.”
And security is essential as cabin crew. “People may think our main job is to serve coffee and be friendly, but that really is the smallest part of it,” Sveen says. “The main purpose of the cabin crew is safety. And there is much going on behind the façade that people don’t get to see. For instance the fixing of things – be it malfunctioning seats, screens etc - as long as it does not pose any hazards, we usually manage to fix it somehow.”
Sveen’s work time is often divided 50/50 between the air and the ground, and this is a good balance for him.
“I really like the flying part of my job and wouldn’t miss it,” he says. And his colleagues is one of the things he appreciates most about his job. “My colleagues are great resources, and we’re like a small family. I believe that 95% of the people at SAS would say the same,” he says.
But it all began with his love for traveling. “Traveling to me is education. When you experience other cultures and see how people live elsewhere, it gives you a broader perspective. You realize that, at the end of the day, we’re all the same. Traveling has made me grateful for what I have. There are many things we take for granted in Scandinavia, that are not standard in other places.”
Published: November 15, 2019