We Will Fly Again – Holding on to Hope

2020-07-09

The Whole World in Freeze-Frame

Out of nowhere our whole world was halted freeze-frame for months. Nobody expected it and no one was prepared for it. We were closed off in our homes, some of us without anybody else to interact with. And all that long while we longed for what we took most for granted. More and more we were given a new perspective, slowly we realised that we missed the most important things in life: other people, acts of kindness, the feeling of being useful, and touch, to simply be able to hug and kiss our loved ones.

One of the things we miss the most is traveling around the world and being able to fly again. Yearning for this the airline industry together with passengers have united at the beginning of the pandemic under the hashtag #wewillflygain. What do we miss the most in flying? Rushing to the gate? Waiting for the check-in? Wandering around the airport looking for gifts for family and friends? Each traveller has their own story, but probably most of us miss the most that moment after take-off where get that first aerial view of the world from our seat.

If for us passengers, lockdown meant the loss of our normal social life, for the aviation industry it meant the loss of jobs, their everyday, their normal life in general. They needed their hope even more than us. Pilots and cabin crews worked from home for months trying to stay positive. Global Training Aviation reminds us that just because planes are grounded that doesn’t mean that they were sitting by idly. Daily training, experience sharing and honing skills in preparation for a smooth return to flying post-COVID.

But how do we feel now? Are we hopeful? Are we fearful? Are we optimistic? Do we feel like explorers preparing their first steps out into this brave new world? How is the aviation industry doing?

The Emotional Stages of Overcoming Adversity

When the unthinkable happened and governments the world over implemented lockdown to help reduce the impact and spread of COVID-19, psychologists warned of the emotional impact.

Our comfortable lives were thrown into disarray by this new unprecedented threat. The trauma of our new under siege like lives would propel us through the five stages of emotions we experience as we deal with grief. All of us, in our own ways, would go through each of the stages; disbelief, anger, sadness, acceptance and finally hope as Coronavirus oozed across the world pushing country after country into lockdown.

And grieve we did, for we had lost our way of life, a way that was so sure mere weeks before. The sudden loss of the structure we all had in our lives and the loss of social contact impacted everyone in many ways.

Gone was the 9 to 5, in was working from home. Gone was the shopping centre and the weekly shopping, in was shopping online. Amazon, Allegro and eBay, these all became the new norm. No more trips to the office, no more stuck in traffic, instead 5 mins of preparation and Zoom and groceries delivered to our doorstep became our lifeline.

We adapted, we learned to cope with the new situation. And with that we suddenly had to cope with all the difficult new emotions that began to overwhelm us as we were faced with this new normality. In the course of a day old normality passed, to be replaced with a new, sinister, unknown, untested normal! We were in the dark and now compelled to learn how to embrace each new difficult emotion head on, addressing the painful sensations of disbelief, anger and sadness as we hurtled pell-mell into the unknown.

As we grieved for the passing of our safe lives, the phases of emotional grieving affected all of us in different ways. The order of we experience the emotional stages is very much dependent on the individual, but we all went through them before we began to find solace as we headed toward acceptance and thus hopeful optimism. This final stage, the most crucial and beneficial stage, was the key to overcoming the adversity of Coronavirus, bolstering each of us on our personal journeys.

Airline staff held to their hope for coming back to normality, they not only remained optimistic for the future but they actively worked on sharing their personal message of hope for us, passengers. Emirates airline staff have their own personal message for us. “We will fly again soon. But before that, let the air be clear, flight be smooth, world be safe and sky be blue.” They shared their messages of hope and positivity from their pilot and cabin crew community. We are thankful for their service, and cannot wait to meet them again, high up in the air!

Many airlines were actively engaged in helping and aid work. Helping others is proven to psychologically help overcome adversity in life. There is nothing better that they could have done. Qatar Airways and Aegean Airlines offered free cargo flights for Coronavirus medical supplies. They were delivering hope to many by bringing medical supplies directly from producing countries to those places worst hit. They are a shining example of what we can achieve when we do it together.

New understanding and hope out of the pandemic

Difficult emotions are part of everyday life, but the positive truth is that the pandemic also created an opportunity for self-reflection and reassessment about how we live our lives and what we value most. When we were forced to stop, we had time and space to take stock of our lives and appreciate the things that we normally take for granted. Family, close friends and freedom, freedom to travel, freedom to choose. Simple universal truths we can all understand.

Normally we do not get such an opportunity to reflect on our lives, our culture is so fast paced that all we can do is keep running just to stay up with the rat race. The lockdown and emotional crises that it triggered in some of us, gave us a singular opportunity to question ourselves about our core values. It raised questions about which values we wish to live by in the future and what changes were necessary to make that a reality.

In many areas of the world people experienced a new found sense of community with their neighbours emerge. They talked to each other over fences and across balconies, through words, and through music. They forged connections that were crucial in times of restricted movement and painful separation from families and friends. That was our new constricted, local world, but it was enough to keep us going. We could still dream of flying.

New optimism – hope is in the air

While it was perfectly normal for us to feel anxious about the upending of life as we knew it, it did however pass. Humans are built for survival. We are extremely adept at adaption and can learn to live in any situation. This ability to accept is a crucial element for rebuilding. To reinvent ourselves, rebuild anew, adapt to the new normal, which is what we are doing right now all around the world.

Once we reached a point of acceptance, we were then more greatly stressed and adrenaline-driven and it leant space for new optimism and hope. This opened the window of possibility again, to be creative about our future, to start picturing, planning and prepare our dream journeys.

At the acceptance stage, we could finally start to think about and even appreciate the positives that the Coronavirus crisis brought us, local connections, building closer bonds with those locked down with us, and immense clarity to see what things are actually important.

This clarity, this relief from burden showed us that the simplest things in life are the most beautiful and meaningful. The intensity of eyes with smiles hidden by masks. A nod of recognition. A kind act. A simple thank you. Coffee with friends. Family meals together. Visiting family, parents and grandparents.

As we emerged from our slumber, we could stretch our wings again, to hold, touch, hug and embrace, ready to soar.

A new beginning is also emerging for airlines. TAP Portugal airline reassures us as we work through ourselves, going through all the five stages of grief. We will call come out of it even stronger, our dreams are stronger than adversity, and they have no limits, like the blue sky above our heads. We are ready now, nothing can hold us back, we will fly again!

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