Liisa Lindgren started at Finnair in 1962 - and she still feels like a flight attendant at heart
Liisa Lindgren has worked both as cabin crew and in Finnair marketing. According to her the 1960's was a lovely, optimistic time to start work at the airline. Meeting customers and close relations with colleagues made workdays rewarding.
Liisa Lindgren was a part of the cabin crew training course of 1962. Before starting the course, she had been studying languages in Finland and studied abroad in Münich, which had made her curious to see more of the world. She concluded that a career teaching language in Finland would probably not be the best option for her.
- You could feel the world opening and working as a flight attendant in the 1960's was just wonderful. We had plenty of time for the customers, travel was still a little bit special, and with our colleagues we were one big family, she says.
Working for the airline gave Lindgren the opportunity to get to know new cities, such as Amsterdam, Paris, and Zürich, well.
- Shopping was one of the highlights of the job. We shopped for Gevalia coffee in Stockholm, prawns in Gothenburg, and in Zürich many vegetables you could not get in Finland at the time.
One of the most memorable work experiences include Lindgren's first-ever football match in Lisbon.
- We were flying Ajax fans from Amsterdam to Lisbon, and they kindly invited our entire crew to join them at the match. I never previously liked football, but the atmosphere there was fantastic. The night was dark, people were so excited and even throwing tomatoes at the players.
Little by little changes were happening
Despite the swift progress of the 1960's some traditions were not quick to disappear. Flight attendants would for example address more senior attendants formally, and first names were only used if both sides agreed on it.
- In the first few years we also carried each meal or coffee tray. We had heard that SAS had serving trolleys and we were dreaming about those, Lindgren remembers.
When service trolleys were introduced, drink sales became a bigger part of the job too. For each flight the attendants had to go personally and count the bottles to be taken onboard with a customs officer. Otherwise, the sales processes were not yet particularly organized.
- Many customers would just hand over a fistful of different currencies saying that it was probably about right. And one of the flight attendant's duties was to take the money home and try to make the sales accounts match somehow. If you were short, you had to pay out of pocket, but if there was extra money, you could just keep it, Lindgren laughs.
New challenges in marketing
Lindgren left her job in cabin crew in 1970 and had two children. She did however return to Finnair to work in marketing, first as a product manager in 1986. Later, she worked as a customer relations manager where her job included organizing many memorable Finnair events such as the company's 75th anniversary and the pre-opening events for the Helsinki Opera House and the museum of contemporary art Kiasma.
- At some point arranging golf tournaments was also a part of my work. At the first one the guests were asking me all sorts of golf questions that I had no idea of. I did end up taking some golf lessons to better my understanding.
Lindgren left Finnair permanently in 2001, with a wistful feeling. After her career the connection to Finnair has however stayed strong through her active participation in the Evergreens foundation for ex flight attendants. She has even been the chairman for the foundation.
Members of the foundation catch up frequently, in addition to the official yearly meeting they celebrate special occasions, have Christmas lunch together, and meet up to see art exhibitions or go to the theatre.
- Flight attendants are a tight bunch. If we bump into each other anywhere in the world, we will stop for a chat and to remind each other of the routes we have worked on. I feel like I am still a lively flight attendant at heart.