Photo Credit: Iman Sayed
Meet WestJet Airlines' First Hijab-Wearing Flight Attendant
Meet Iman Sayed, the 28-year-old woman who just became WestJet’s first hijab-wearing flight attendant. Originally from Egypt, Iman is currently based out of Toronto, Ontario. She fell in love with travel at the age of 19 while on a trip to Cuba.
“I instantly fell in love with discovering new cultures,” said Iman. “I enjoyed myself so much that I booked another vacation while I was still in Cuba. Belize would be my top Caribbean destination, though. I appreciate the small island vibe and the food is absolutely amazing!”
“I also really like London, I would definitely live there if I could. The city has amazing sights and an endless amount of events to visit. And of course, Egypt! There is so much history behind our culture, and not to mention the year-round sunny beaches. I think it’s worth being on every single human’s bucket list.”
The desire to have a career in a field that would allow her to work while pursuing her passion for travel is what led her to seek employment as a flight attendant. Prior to the pandemic, she had worked for WestJet as a flight attendant for five years. However, when COVID-19 hit, Iman, like so many other airline employees, found herself out of a job. Initially devastated over losing her dream job, Iman soon found the silver lining in the situation.
“During this time off, I was able to showcase my skills beyond my comfort zone and also build a stronger relationship with my faith, which is something I’ve always wanted to do. I am so grateful for my time away from the industry because it allowed me to grow in so many ways.”
Iman experienced a great deal of spiritual and mental growth during this time. She began wearing hijab, the Islamic headscarf. She found time to expand her lash business, @cairominx. And she was also fortunate enough to find a new career path in mechanical engineering as a power transmission rep.
After her 18-month break, Iman was able to return to the airline industry refreshed, renewed, and happy to be back in the sky. She says working as the airline’s first hijabi flight attendant gives her an amazing feeling, especially after having experienced discrimination due to her hijab.
“It happens all of the time, but I find that killing people with kindness works best. Sometimes I forget that I am wearing the hijab until it’s pointed out to me by people’s behavior and body language! However, I am always open to educate those that need clarification.”
“It actually didn’t hit me that I’d be the airline’s first flight attendant to wear one until I started inquiring about how to wear my hijab with uniform compliance. That’s when my instructors realized that it hasn’t been done before at WestJet Mainline. I’m hoping that this will encourage other hijabis to apply and work with us, or for my Muslim coworkers to feel comfortable wearing the hijab if desired!”
Now that travel has resumed, Iman is looking forward to getting back to seeing the world. She had traveled back home to Egypt a month before the pandemic began, visiting family in Cairo, Alexandria, and Aswan.
“It was a short seven-day trip, but it was amazing. Had I known COVID-19 was going to hit, I would’ve stayed longer. God willing, Turkey has to be next on my list! I already have a full itinerary planned. I would also love to visit Japan. I am so intrigued by the Japanese culture and its traditional arts.”
You can follow Iman’s travels at @imann.sayed on Instagram.