This is your captain speaking..

Up in the air..

Up in the air..

For a moment I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard that announcement sitting in an air bus and about to get on a six-hour long journey. It was not the content but the voice that stayed with me. At the next opportunity to grab a quick minute with the air hostess, I reconfirmed who the captain was and her answer made me super proud.

Last night, I took an international flight from Hong Kong which was led by Captain Hazel Zakaria of Jet Airways. This was my first time flying on an air craft where a woman pilot had the controls in her hand and throughout the journey all I kept thinking was how amazing that is. Yes, you may think I was caught unaware and it is partially right. Having taken many flights over the years – this was my first time and resonated with the recent “IAF women pilots can fly fighters” news that was making waves.

I researched a few facts for you to note:

  • As compared to 2013, there was a 5% increase in the number of pilot licences issued to women in 2014.
  • Like Jet Airways, other Indian carriers like Indigo, Spicejet and Vistara are also welcoming women pilots in their team.

It feels good about the fact that gender biases on who plays what role in the airline sector is visibly fading. When I see a male cabin crew member demonstrating flight safety instructions with a smile and a woman pilot taking the lead, it reaffirm a very basic fact – work is beyond any gender.

Bridging the gender gap in India also makes economic sense. According to a report by McKinsey Global Institute, this could add Rs 46 lakh crore (or about USD 0.7 trillion) to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2025. Isn’t that such a positive estimate for the country?

Just before alighting, when rest of the passengers were headed towards arrivals, I made a request to the crew and mentioned my desire to meet the Captain. I was welcomed and yet again, for the very first time, I stepped into the cockpit to meet the pilot and told her how inspired and happy I was! She mentioned that even in nations like Hong Kong, the ground staff finds it hard to believe that Indian women in white uniform are the ones flying the craft.

Captain Zakaria is an experienced commercial pilot with many hours of flying under her wings. Her crew spoke really high of her which was good to hear. In those quick 5 minutes that I had with her, I found her to be a kind and warm woman.

Captain – if you ever get to read this post, Thank you again!

So, the next time your flight’s captain makes an announcement, listen to her/him carefully. You never know you too could be on your destination led by a woman pilot.


Today is Day 2 of NaBloPoMo and NoMo

25 Responses

  1. I just saw a tweet on your timeline from Jet Airways acknowledging this post of yours! I’m sure the pilot must feel so proud to have you notice and appreciate her.
    Corinne Rodrigues recently posted…Practise What Heals #MondayMusingsMy Profile

  2. This made me so proud. The change is there, slowly and gradually but its there. So wonderful that you could meet her. Maybe a pic with her?
    Sfurti Juztamom recently posted…The WaitMy Profile

  3. Anonymous says:

    Bangalore to Mumbai was one of the only trips where I once had an experience of a woman pilot along with male Co-pilot. The same thought struck me at that point of time. However describing and putting it beautifully in words is a commendable job done by as always… 😊

  4. Eli says:

    Oh, what a fun theme to read about. Great. I guess the good thing is that at least they can become what they want – and get education to a pilot if they like! Thats not the case in all countries in the world. I found it so interesting I googled …. not a lot of female pilotes anywhere in the world though…
    Eli recently posted…FreeMy Profile

  5. Laurel Regan says:

    What a wonderful experience! Those are rather sad statistics, but I’m glad things are heading in a more balanced direction (at least I hope they are!).
    Laurel Regan recently posted…#MicroblogMondays 62 – If we met for coffeeMy Profile

  6. Wow… those stats are sad… just 3 %. I’m glad they are rising and I certainly look forward to being on my first flight with a woman pilot (yes, I thought about it and realized that I too had never been on one yet)
    Roshan Radhakrishnan recently posted…Recipe: Ennai kathrikkai / Masala Stuffed BrinjalMy Profile

  7. Geets says:

    And I am yet to experience a flight with a woman pilot.. Lucky you are woman!
    Loved reading it.. and I missed so many of your posts Parul.. Hopping to all of them!

    Cheers
    Geets recently posted…Reflections- October #Monday MusingsMy Profile

  8. Vinitha says:

    That’s awesome that you met with the captain. I have flown a lot but never had a woman captain yet. 🙂
    Vinitha recently posted…AbuseMy Profile

  9. Alana says:

    I haven’t flown in years but it would make me feel proud – and safe, to be flown by a woman.
    Alana recently posted…Music Monday – On the Streets of the BronxMy Profile

  10. Aditi says:

    Wow! Feels really good knowing this! More power to women!
    Aditi recently posted…A Date with Gin, Scotch and Vodka @LiquortoLips @LDNCocktailWeekMy Profile

  11. Sreesha says:

    Yes! Let the gap be bridged further! 🙂 🙂 🙂
    Sreesha recently posted…A Conversation With Joy Jennings, Author of “I am Not Your Baby”My Profile

  12. This was an empowering post. It feels nice to know women are pushing the envelope to enter newer professions. I got this feeling earlier when I was returning from Delhi to Bangalore recently when the captain made the announcement of his and his co-pilot’s name. The co-pilot was a woman.

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