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EXCLUSIVE: Meet Vivi, An Experienced American Flight Attendant Who Chose to Work for Norwegian

EXCLUSIVE: Meet Vivi, An Experienced American Flight Attendant Who Chose to Work for Norwegian

EXCLUSIVE: Meet Vivi, An Experienced American Flight Attendant Who Chose to Work for Norwegian

Back in 1993, Norwegian Air Shuttle started life as a small regional wet lease airline using ageing Fokker F-50s aircraft and connecting tiny airports along the west coast of Norway.  How times have changed – since then, Norwegian has become the third largest low-cost airline in the world, disrupting traditional markets and challenging legacy airlines, as well as becoming the most awarded low-cost airline in the world in the past two years.

Its upstart, maverick attitude has gained it a loyal fanbase – passengers love the low-fares, brand new airplanes and friendly service from its 6000+ serving flight attendants.  But Norwegian hasn’t been welcomed by everyone.

In 2013, Norwegian started its first transatlantic services, connecting North America and Europe.  Legacy U.S. carriers and the unions who represent their workers cried foul.  They claimed Norwegian was operating a “flag of convenience” model.

Bob Ross, the President of APFA, the biggest flight attendant union in the U.S. said the practices of airlines like Norwegian would “undercut safety and fair labor standards for US workers.”  A decision by the U.S. Department of Transport to award Norwegian’s Irish subsidiary a foreign air carrier permit would lead to the “destruction of the US aviation industry” he claimed.

Ross and other powerful figures in the U.S. aviation industry say Norwegian is hiring foreign flight attendants who earn less and have fewer rights than American workers.  How can legacy U.S. airlines possibly compete without a level playing field they ask?

Here’s the truth about working for Norwegian in the U.S.

But what Ross and others won’t tell you, is that Norwegian already employs 600 U.S.-based flight attendants and pilots.  In fact, Norwegian actually has more U.S.-based cabin crew than any other foreign airline and is the only foreign airline hiring American pilots to be based in the U.S. And they have just as many rights as other U.S. workers – earlier this year, Norwegian flight attendants won the right to be represented by the Association of Flight Attendants (by the way, Delta’s flight attendants are still fighting for that right).

Vivi models the stylish uniform worn by Norwegian's long-haul cabin crew. An 18-year veteran of the industry, Vivi left a legacy airline to pursue a career at Norwegian. Photo Credit: Norwegian / Vivi Cheri
Vivi models the stylish uniform worn by Norwegian’s long-haul cabin crew. An 18-year veteran of the industry, Vivi left a legacy airline to pursue a career at Norwegian. Photo Credit: Norwegian / Vivi Cheri

Norwegian is even planning to hire many more American flight attendant’s in the future.  In fact, at the time of publication, Norwegian is recruiting flight attendants to join its bases in Los Angeles and Providence, R.I..  Those lucky enough to pass the recruitment process will benefit from a better than average salary and a lot of opportunities for progression.

Still not convinced?  We had the opportunity to speak with a member of Norwegian’s U.S.-based cabin crew.  Vivi Cheri started her flying career with legacy carrier, Continental before going on to work for United following the merger of the two airlines.

But the 18-year veteran of the industry decided to make the leap to Norwegian just over a year ago.  Vivi originally joined Norwegian’s team in New York JFK before transferring to Fort Lauderdale.

Here’s what Vivi has to say about working for Norwegian.

PYOK: What do you most enjoy about working for Norwegian?

Vivi: It’s very exciting to work for an airline that is growing at record-speed with the most modern fleet of Boeing aircraft including the Boeing 737 MAX and Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

PYOK: So what are the benefits of working for Norwegian?  What’s the company culture like?

At Norwegian, even though I am based in Fort Lauderdale, I have the opportunity to fly with our crew worldwide. One day I may fly with our London base and the next with our Thai base. This is the ‘One Norwegian’ culture. We are one big happy Flying family.

PYOK:  Sounds Good! What’s the flipside like?  What’s the hardest part of your job?

The hardest part of my job is maintaining a healthy diet with all of these delicious new cultural food options I get to experience!

PYOK: Haha!  We can relate to that.  Norwegian seem to be launching new routes all the time.  Which one is your favourite?

My favourite destination is Rome, Italy because I am obsessed with the FOOD, wine, and history! This city never gets old!

PYOK: What was the recruitment process like?  We hear it’s a really intensive process?

There is never a dull moment when it comes to the recruitment process & training at Norwegian. We’ve got it all, group activities, one-on-one interviews with several different work groups, and the best part, the swimming!

PYOK:  Sounds like a challenge!  What advice would you give candidates who want to become a flight attendant with Norwegian?

– be yourself and let your unique personality shine through

– practice those pool laps

PYOK: So you really do need to be a good swimmer!  Some people claim Norwegian will undercut existing safety standards.  How important is the safety element of your job?

Safety is the number one priority or should be with any airline. I find at Norwegian we go beyond safety equipment checks with our pre-flight briefings. Procedures are constantly being reviewed and kept fresh with our monthly briefing topics that are discussed.

To find out more about career opportunities at Norwegian, including U.S.-based cabin crew and pilots, visit the official Norwegian careers website here.

View Comments (7)
  • Ok, I see that this lady is based in FLL (which by the way is where my trainer came from) and I can only speak on behalf of the UK based, but Norwegian is possibly the worse airline to work for in UK.. well when I say work for, what many people don’t know is you will never be employed by Norwegian, you are employed by an agency which in UK is OSM Aviation who happen to be part owned by Yep, Norwegian.
    To say OSM are a little disorganised is an understatement, and there is not enough time or space on here to explain everything but if you expect to have any life or control on your home time … forget it. Most of LGW LH spend there days on Standby, no knowing anything as to when or where you will fly, there is no scheduling agreement so Norwegian and OSM make it up as they go along.
    Now I know most of issues are OSM but Norwegian are not saints… their training is disgusting … my baby sister could run a training program for her teddy bears better than they do. Safety should as mentioned be No 1… but as ex employee with 1/4 of a century prior experience in the industry, it is not at this airline… so guys think long and hard before your commit your life to “ The Norwegian Way”

    • Yes you have nailed it. I was very thankful for the opportunity. Upon graduation, the other shoe dropped. No seniority, no bidding system, no pension, no 401k match, no jumpseat agreements, and then add up the fact they tie up your entire month because those endless “standby days”……this all leads to no control over your life. You can not work a part time job to cover your living cost because your schedule isn’t conducive. If you don’t care about “quality of life” it’s great. When this airline finally negotiates an appropriate contract maybe it will be a great place to work. Until then, fancy indentured servant is more the title. It’s far below industry standards.

    • Jake Wilson… thank you for your honesty. Pretty uniforms & new but messy broken aircraft is hardly a proper work environment. Hostile to say the least. I’m a 20 yr veteran and know the person in this article. Every base is paid differently. All below standard. The union can’t get there fast enough. Sad……

      • Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. Your insight is really useful and I’m sure our readers will appreciate your opinion.

    • Many thanks for sharing your experiences at Norwegian’s LGW base – I’m sure our readers will find this insight very useful!
      We wonder whether Norwegian’s rapid expansion has caused some of the confusion you talk about – perhaps as things calm down, the organisation will significantly improve?

  • The Real Norwegian

    Ok guys, I have watched both this forum, FB and of course our own pages on FB

    And I can no longer sit back and let people apply for this airline without at least passing on some of the truths we were not told back in 2016 when we started LH Norwegian. so you can at least make a proper decision on your employment.

    1. Employment: You are not employed by the airline itself, but by an agency called OSM. Now they are a recruitment/HR company that only have figures, KPI’s and profit in mind, not the wellbeing of the people they employ. None of the staff have ever been crew, (which as ex flyers will know is very important, as its not a regular job, hours and needs different types of regulations etc plus its hard job, working in jet lag, lower oxygen levels etc.. ) They run the airline as an office, for example, office staff are only there 9-5 Mon-Fri, so if you need anyone for information/leave/days off etc, and its a weekend or after 5pm forget it. Crew are 365 days a yr, but they are not. The staff are completely useless, not really knowing airline regulations or anything of that importances. Their procedures are so vague, nothing is explained, and when it is, it is explained in so many different ways that no one is actually sure of the correct way. They also implement quite a few procedures but do not make them correctly, and again very vague, so no one knows who has to follow them etc, like for example a search policy was brought in, but no one was told when or who would do the searches meaning you could return from a long haul flight and then have ANY manager feeling you up, Drug tests had to be done at Redhill and you had to go after a 13 hr duty, in your own time, own expense.

    2. Training: This is one of my top issues. Ok so if a person has a CCA then they only have to do a 10 day conversion, even if they have only done 6 months flying before. So they do 6 months say on a A320 and then get 10 days on the B787 with Norwegian. You get no instruction on the First aid equipment, Defib, or in fact any important issue like Diabetes etc. You get no information on things like the isolation switches for IFE. Now it might sound awesome as then your course is short but no good if you are on board, heading towards the ground or have on board fire, and no one can sort the issue out. Crew don’t check cabin correctly .. the list goes on. Now although they tell you that you are LGW based, yes you might be in fact you are employed by a company at LGW but you will work on Norway registered aircraft, and many of their regulations are way different to what you would expect from a British carrier, some are way to weird to even explain.

    3. Pay: Ok, so your basic salary before tax will be £1050, plus allowances for away from home. NAS crew who do all the America routes only get that. Now if you are taken on as NUK AOC, which is only doing LGW-SIN-LGW at mo, on UK registered aircraft you will get £1050 before tax, plus allowences. Now on top of that crew on NUK get a £600 allowance (taxed) as many crew who moved from NAS-NUK were getting much lower pay due to one only route. (JFK and Argentina are soon to come) So NUK basic is £1650 plus allowances, until as the company put it “ NUK “ are up to full capacity. *** Crew have just been told this will end at end of JAN***

    4. Allowances: Ok many people feel that pay at Norwegian is better or equal to Virgin or BA, but if you do a few sums it is way below. Now I am on NAS and my partner is NUK. So lets take his last two trips. We can only compare it to Mixed fleet BA as I do not know exactly how Virgin pay allowances. SO: LGW-SIN-LGW on a one night in Singapore would pay you £105 (2x£30 1x£45 as its Singapore) but at BA MF it would be £204 (68 hours @ £3) I know Virgin is very similar. £420 for LGW-JFK-OSL-LAX-LGW but that trip if you were on hourly would be £504 (5 day trip)

    5. Other Pay: You don’t get any pay for standby, but short-haul do, BCN base do. BCN get paid so much more than LGW. You do not get commission on sales on board. No discount on buying onboard products.

    6. Standbys. Crew on both NUK and NAS get loads of standbys.. my partner has just finished a 10 day block of standby with no call. A friend of mine I trained with recently had 2 trips in 3 months, and spent more on hotels for standby than he was paid, as call out is 1.5 hour and even where I live its hard to get in with traffic in 1.5. So even as long haul commuting is either expensive, or not possible. There is a very unfair system for commuting. So crew who fly on Norwegian between home and base, get the tickets free despite your contract saying that you have to be 90 mins away from base. So crew who then decide to abide by the contract and live local don’t get travel to work paid for.

    7. Working agreements: No scheduling agreement or anything similar exists so the company can remove you from a trip at any time, for any reason. You can check in for a 0600 JFK after a day off, so not really a decent day off really. You can get standby, and you get called, and there is no rule as to how many or how much of your trips will be deleted or changed, not great for mums with kids, childminders, dog sitters, or anything else that needs forward planning. Days off rostering is extremely vague and you only know if you have been successful in getting the days ONCE the roster is published. So if you need to book tickets or go to a special event, and you will not know you have that day off til very near the time. Now yes this is same with most airlines, but what is not is holiday (see below) As holiday is in blocks of 7 days you can not take a day for some special occasion, unless you take a 7 day block.

    8. Holidays: As mentioned above, you have to take vacation as they call it in 7 day blocks, so if you want to go on a package holiday which is 7 NIGHTS you have to either book days off to go around the vacation you book or book 2 weeks (14 days) vacation to get one whole package holiday WEEK.(8 days/7 nights) Also, even if you are there 10 yrs or 10 mins you get the same amount of vacation, they do no increase with service.

    Now I know a lot of people who work at Norwegian might fit in with what and how it is operated but if you want to have any control over your private/social life, forget it. Pay is not really liveable, unless its a second job or you have a partner earning to. The company does now have a union, although the reps at the present are not very well informed or trained in the issues that NUK/NAS are having, and despite many crew saying that T and C’s are the most important to get sorted, they still seem to be going down the pay talks road.

    ANYWAY, I want to say, this post is my view, my opinion, and may not be the view of everyone. I wanted to put some facts on the table so people applying can go in with at least one eye open if not both.

    • Hello,
      Thank you so much for taking the time to post your comment and the insight you’ve provided. We’d really like to share your experiences with a wider audience by writing a full-length article. Would you be happy to send us a quick email?

      As always, we’ll treat everything you have to say confidentially and you don’t have to reveal your identity. We feel our readers would find the information you have to share very useful. We look forward to hearing from you!

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