Photo Credit: Krew Konnect
How Haitian-Owned Krew Konnect Is Helping Black And Brown People Get Into Aviation
Looking for a career as a flight cabin crew member? Brenda Orelus AKA Flight Bae B, the Aviation Maven, can help you get hired as a flight attendant. She earned these nicknames through the innovative work she’s done within the aviation and travel industries.
A first-generation Haitian American, Brenda grew up in South Florida in a city called Weston. Although she has fond memories of growing up there, at times it was very difficult being one of the few Black families in the community.
“Weston was the kind of place where the country club you belonged to was the go-to talking point,” she told Travel Noire. “It just so happened my family belonged to the most prominent club, Weston Hills Country Club, making us an anomaly, to say the least. Not only were we Black, but we were Haitian, adding another level to cultural and racial relations. However, all the lessons Weston taught me prepared me for what I would face in my journey as a Black aviation geek, traveler, and entrepreneur.”
Brenda decided to become a flight attendant in 2013, after she had recently made the difficult decision not to pursue a legal career. She had just spent the past five years advocating for civil rights under the tutelage of prominent attorney Benjamin Crump, who is known for representing the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, among others. It was a truly pivotal time in her life.
“I became a flight attendant because I knew I wanted to go into business for myself, but did not want to take on the financial risk or have a job that would require work once I clocked out. My best friend Nelly knew two people who, at the time, worked in aviation. One was a flight attendant and one was a gate agent. Both lifestyles reflected what I wanted for myself and came with the added bonus of seeing the world on or off duty.”
The stars began to align in Brenda’s favor. She saw that Spirit Airlines was hiring flight attendants in Ft. Lauderdale, and she jumped at the opportunity. After an intense hiring process that included multiple rounds of in-person interviews, she got the job. And so began her career in aviation.
Throughout her years working as a flight attendant, Brenda learned the ins and outs of the aviation industry. Her experiences along with the knowledge she gained on the job would go on to serve as the inspiration leading her to start her businesses.
With a litany of things that cause stress for cabin crew, Brenda says the most common source of stress is negative passenger interactions. As travel becomes more and more accessible, cabin crews around the world are seeing less respect and more difficulties with unruly passengers.
“During this pandemic we have seen several instances of passengers assaulting flight attendants simply for performing their duties. I myself was almost physically assaulted by a passenger for a mask issue. So please, the next time you fly, be sure to be kind to your flight attendants. We deal with a lot behind our smiles.”
Krew Konnect was born out of the depression Brenda was experiencing as a flight attendant. Created as a safe place where aviation professionals can get the resources they need and socialize with other professionals, its members represent all the different workgroups within aviation working to improve their daily lives.
“One of the ways we help improve the mental health and wellness of aviation professionals is by creating social events to allow aviators to connect, socialize, and just blow off steam. We also encourage members to take time for themselves via one of our KrewTrips. And, we are currently building the first of a series of signature housing properties that will act as airline crashpads and resource centers for aviators to rest and recharge while on the go, in a luxury setting.”
In 2018, Krew Konnect became the first company incubated out of Vector 90, a co-working space and incubator located in South Central LA owned by real estate developer David Gross and Nipsey Hussle.
There Brenda was able to conduct research and develop an innovative housing solution for the aviation community. Brenda says Krew Konnect’s signature Klub House was inspired by small living models in Asia, communal living models in Africa, and the input of countless aviators who participated in the company’s many focus groups.
Out of her experience, Brenda also created The Flight Attendant Course, where she teaches people how to get hired as a flight attendant for a corporate or commercial company, as well as how to successfully complete the flight attendant training and probationary period.
As a highly desirable position in an extremely competitive field, it can be difficult to navigate and get hired as a flight attendant. There is far more demand for these positions than there are jobs. In fact, Brenda says it is not unusual for there to be upwards of 20,000 applicants for every one flight attendant position offered. This allows employers to be incredibly selective in their hiring processes.
“The basic requirement to be qualified is a high school diploma, but in actuality over 78% of flight attendants today have degrees,” she explained. “Most applicants are overqualified for the job but still covet it due to the amazing lifestyle. All of these factors make getting hired very difficult.”
Brenda says Black people face even more difficulties in aviation, especially when it comes to obtaining employment in the field.
“Attaining a career in aviation is an incredibly costly journey, then when you account for centuries of systemic racism, you will have a lot of the reason why aviation has historically been inaccessible for Black communities around the world. Even when hired, Black aviators are often deemed ‘less qualified’ due to worldwide racial bias against Black skin.”
“I’ve realized the biggest barrier to a career in aviation is accessibility. The two primary forms of accessibility I see hindering the Black community within aviation are entry accessibility and financial accessibility. It is my hope that individuals in the Black community will take advantage of my free course to gain a competitive edge when becoming a flight attendant.”
Brenda offers several helpful tips for people looking to get hired as a flight attendant: she suggests using the Star method to answer your questions, having your resume reviewed by an airline employee, and learning the basics of the flight attendant hiring process and lifestyle in her free mini course.
“Many utilize becoming a flight attendant as a springboard into different fields within aviation. I can attest that becoming a flight attendant completely changed my life. It allowed me to build businesses that I am proud of, champion causes I am passionate about, use my platform to encourage tourism to Africa, and so much more. I want to share that same opportunity with Black communities around the world. I want to see more Black people in aviation, in roles that affect change in big and small ways.”
This spring, Brenda will be releasing The Flight Attendant Course Portugues and, in the fall, The Flight Attendant Course Español. By making the course available in these two languages, she hopes to create more accessibility to communities with large populations within the African Diaspora. For more information, visit www.FlightBaeB.com and follow @TheFlightAttendantCourse.