APEX in Profile: Yelena Obukhova

APEX in Profile

Image: Marcelo Cáceres

Yelena Obukhova 

Deputy Director, Inflight Services
Air Astana

Yelena has been deputy director of Inflight Services for five years and focuses on onboard product and in-flight entertainment. She has a dedicated team that she looks forward to working with every day. Prior to this role, Yelena spent roughly 10 years holding different positions in ground services, starting as a checking agent.

apex-experience-6-5-qa-obukovaFAST FACTS
Location: ALA
Frequent Flight: ALA–TSE
Now Reading: Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami
IFE Standby: Classic movies
Years in Industry: 15
Favorite Airport: SIN
Brand of Suitcase: Atlantic
Paper or electronic boarding pass? Electronic
Passport stamp you wish you had: Madagascar

Did you choose the airline industry or did it choose you?
I chose it. But when I came to the airline, in the very early days of Air Astana, I really didn’t expect it would absorb me so completely and become the life for me. The aviation world is amazing, never boring, with lots of different people and places. It is a very dynamic industry, and especially if you enjoy flying, this is the place for you.

What would you focus on to make the biggest difference in the passenger experience right now?
Treating passengers as guests is the key element that really makes the difference. People are important and we need to hear what our passengers really want and provide the right service at the right time with the right attitude. Cabin environment also makes a huge difference. It’s where you can create greater levels of comfort using a creative approach to the interior and lighting, which would help passengers feel more refreshed and rejuvenated after the flight.

If you weren’t doing your current job, what would you love to be doing?
Work in the hospitality industry. It is all about people and I really enjoy this sphere. It is always challenging working with people, but at the same time, it gives the greatest job satisfaction – or I would travel around the world exploring different cuisines and making culinary TV programs.

“We need to hear what our passengers really want and provide the right service at the right time with the right attitude.”

Something that never ceases to amaze you in your industry?
The aircraft. They are works of art and they amaze me every time I travel.

What’s the one item you can’t travel without?
Face mist and a scarf.

Cliché that you use too often?
There is no time like the present.

One thing you wished people cared more about?
Safe and polite driving.

How have passengers reacted to your Economy Sleeper Class?
Very positively. It is quite popular on some routes, especially combined with the lovely sleeping kit that we provide to our passengers, and iPad, so they can enjoy our in-flight entertainment programs while stretching comfortably on the seats.

What services or products can be added to make flying more comfortable for the female business traveler?
Being a frequent traveler myself, I know that everyone is trying to reduce the weight of baggage (which is always a very difficult task for women). High-quality travel essentials, such as face and hand creams, nail file and lip balm, are always necessary. I love face mist, which helps the face stay refreshed, so I think it could be a really nice addition for female comfort.

Biggest challenge you’ve ever overcome at work?
The biggest challenge for me was public speaking. However, when you learn how to do it, it becomes even enjoyable.

Most memorable flight?
My best flights are with Air Astana always!

This article was originally published in the 6.5 December/January issue of APEX Experience magazine.