Political science student considered a law enforcement career before choosing to become a flight attendant Few would be surprised that Anthony Fung Tien-wai once considered joining the police force. But trading this macho option for a career as a flight attendant did raise a few eyebrows.'I was never conscious of the fact that this was a female profession, although this fact hit me when it turned out that more than 80 per cent of my colleagues were women,' Mr Fung said. 'Some of my friends were surprised by my career change, but they were all supportive. 'I'm not the first batch of male flight attendants recruited by Dragonair. In fact, it started hiring male cabin crew in 1999, and I had a male trainer when I first joined the team in 2005.' Graduating from the United States as a political science student, Mr Fung worked as a training consultant for several years before joining Dragonair as a flight attendant. Fun, glamorous, carefree and mobile, the profession looked promising to someone who was used to working in an office and being tied down with endless projects, he said. All these expectations were met, but only after he discovered that there was a meticulous side to the profession. He spent weeks learning first-aid and flight safety, in addition to training in hospitality and etiquette in serving different passengers, including those in first class and business class. 'The level of professionalism and logistics complexity behind a clean and well-organised cabin is amazing,' said Mr Fung, who is in his 30s. 'The training is tough, but also inspiring.' As a flight purser, he is now also responsible for managing the cabin crew and training flight attendants in all of these skills. Hours before take-off, he meets with the chief purser, senior pursers and other senior staff to discuss the weather conditions, and the type of passengers who are going to be on board. Issues such as seating arrangements for those with infants and the kind of special attention for passengers who have a history of heart disease are discussed. Throughout the meeting, he asks questions related to safety to test if the team is ready to serve. Anyone who is not fit for service will be replaced. Mr Fung then meets the rest of the cabin crew, briefs them on the flight information, and introduces them to each other. 'Once we are on board, I have to keep an eye on every detail while serving alongside the team,' Mr Fung said. 'It is then a matter of logistics, [such as] making sure that safety procedures are demonstrated, meals are served, meal carts are wheeled in and out smoothly and landing cards are issued.' But the most important part is conflict and risk management, which Mr Fung compared to the role of a police officer. 'Being a flight attendant means offering protection to passengers rather than just running errands in the cabin,' he said. 'You must be able to read the emotions and thoughts of the cabin crew and the passengers, and be alert to the happenings within a [confined] setting.' He recalled how he recently managed to help someone suffering from air sickness, who appeared to have lost consciousness as the plane was coming in to land. 'I had to stay cool and concentrate on thinking about his needs, including offering first-aid help,' he said. 'So, I immediately checked if he had choked on the vomit, pulled him up, and seated him properly. Luckily, after a while he regained consciousness and we later escorted him off the plane.' Mr Fung said another big challenge on an aircraft was managing conflict.'Sometimes small disputes among passengers may lead to harm. You have to have a sense of the atmosphere in the cabin and make use of the available resources so that you can reduce the impact of these disputes. This is not unlike the job of a police officer.' Throughout the year he must attend lessons on flight safety and management in order to renew his licence each year to train and lead the cabin crew. 'I was never aware of the level of professionalism in catering, flight safety and staff management behind the scenes. It is really impressive. 'This job offers me the fun, freedom and exposure which I have been looking for, but it is also technical and sophisticated with a clear career path.' While reading up about aviation history, Mr Fung discovered that the first generation of flight attendants in aviation history were in fact men. 'Men were the first to serve on [airships] and aircraft,' he said. '[It was only when] they brought nurses on board that female staff began to appear in the cabin. Nevertheless, it has always been a serious and professional job to be part of the crew.' This is the 13th in our 16-part series on women and men who have entered career paths traditionally dominated by the opposite sex No use crying over ... Whenever newcomers join his cabin crew, Anthony Fung Tien-wai gives them extra tips on baby bottles and milk. 'Most guys have never taken care of a baby in their lives,' Mr Fung said. He learned the hard way during a flight. He was once asked by a mother to make hot milk for her baby. He tried his best and shook the bottle, thinking this was the right thing to do. 'I was shaking the bottle really hard so that the milk would blend beautifully. But it ended up splashing over my face and everywhere,' Mr Fung said. 'Afterwards, I learned that you have to fix the bottle cap. And never shake the bottle, or else the air will go into the milk and give the baby gas ... these are important tips, especially for guys.'