By now, much of the world has heard about the remarkable and almost miraculous rescue of Kay Longstaff – a cruise line passenger who fell into the Adriatic Sea on Saturday night and somehow managed to survive treading water for 10-hours before the Croatian coastguard found and plucked her from the sea.
And while the circumstances of how Longstaff came to fall overboard remains unclear, it now turns out the 46-year old Brit had vital training as a flight attendant that may well have saved her life. An ex-member of cabin crew for Virgin Atlantic Airways, her father says she had dealt with “quite a lot of emergencies during her career” and now works as a flight attendant for a private jet company.
Longstaff had been a passenger on the Norwegian Star cruise ship as it headed towards Venice on Saturday night. Approximately 60-miles from the coast of Croatia, the flight attendant came to fall overboard – she claims she accidentally fell but some witnesses claim she jumped after an argument with her boyfriend.
Whatever the circumstances, it’s hard to argue with her father, Ron Longstaff – an ex-police Superintendent – who described her survival as “an amazing feat”. As any flight attendant knows, water survival is a key element of cabin crew training and learning to tread water is a pass or fail test.
It’s sometimes easy to dismiss flight attendant water survival as unnecessary an irrelevant – after all, how often have cabin crew ever had to use these types of skills in the course of their day job? Nonetheless, major airlines around the world require their flight attendants to be strong swimmers and some require their crew to demonstrate their ability every year.
Longstaff claims her love of yoga also aided her survival, while the warm waters of the Adriatic would no doubt have been crucial in helping her survive for so long. Doctors have said they are astounded at how well Longstaff coped with what must have been a terrifying incident.
Leaving speculation to one side, we wish Longstaff a speedy recovery and the very best for the future.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.