INTERVIEW AT CNN INTERNATIONAL - by Bianca Britton
For many, the thought of catching a plane is far from luxurious: from spending countless hours lining up at security, to wrestling arm rests with other passengers as you face a crammed long-haul flight in economy.
It's a travel privilege enjoyed by a lucky few -from celebrities, royals, self-made entrepreneurs and oligarchs. But the smooth running of private jets depends, usually, on a select few. Among the most attentive are flight attendants who spend hours, often alone, tirelessly ensuring their passengers receive a premium, 5-star service.
They may serve their passengers every need, but the skills required by flight attendants are much more than that of a waitress -they're cocktail mixologists, cleaners, personal assistants, caterers and even dog sitters.
Εxotic parrots, guns and dead bodies
Mary Kalymnou has also worked as a flight attendant for 13 years, working for high-ranking international clientele such as royal families, heads of states, CEOs and celebrities.
She says she's worked on a variety of jets, including the long-range Gulfstream G550 and the Embraer Legacy which allows up to 14 passengers on board.
On board she's had guests bring exotic parrots, jewels, more than 20 bags of shopping and even guns. She says she's also had dead bodies.
"Three times in my career I had a deceased person on board -- a coffin in the cargo, made out of gold and expensive wood," she recalls.
"They were three very well-known men, [who] obviously traveled in luxury for the last time in their lives."
She says the job of a VIP flight attendant is demanding and one that "requires a lot of sacrifices."
"It requires a lot of patience, flexibility, and for sure -- high levels of self-esteem," Kalymnou explains. "The clients expect the best, the operators demand the highest so you must be willing and of course be able to offer the best of yourself."
Otherwise, she says, you could be easily replaced.
"Every girl could learn this job ... but only a few will eventually stand out. Being professional is not enough -- you must be unique," she says.
"You can easily be replaced by someone new, someone younger, someone prettier, someone smarter, someone more flexible. So since day one, I knew I had to be like a sponge in order to survive in the industry."
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