Anca Sidlanik was a flight attendant who had dreamed of traveling the world ever since she was a young child. Simone Bonafede was an ambitious cabin crew member who worked hard, tirelessly pursuing his ambition to one day take control of a commercial aircraft.
While Simone and Anca continued to build careers at the same airline, they were also based in different locations in Italy, so the two aviation professionals did not have the chance to work together.
However, neither Simone nor Anca could imagine that an ordinary flight would become the catalyst for their love story. But Anca and Simone met by chance, 30,000 feet in the sky.
From an early age, Anca, who currently works as a senior cabin crew member at Spanish low-cost airline, Volotea, spent many hours in flight as both a frequent flyer and an aviation professional.
Anca is part of a Romanian family, but grew up in Italy, so she was used to boarding flights to visit her relatives in Romania. Fascinated by how it feels to soar through the clouds, Anca was confident that her future would be in the aviation industry.
She says: “I was always rapturous about the job flight attendants do and I loved air traveling so much that I told myself that I decided that such a cabin crew job would be perfect for me after I graduated [from] a high school where I used to study foreign languages.
“In 2019, when I was in my last year, I applied for a cabin crew position [at] Volotea and began my career immediately once I received my degree.”
Initially, Anca was offered a base in Cagliari, Sardinia, where she began working on various European routes.
Meanwhile, Simone, Anca’s future partner, was also flying for the same airline from another base in Palermo, around 240 miles away from Cagliari. Simone has always had a burning desire to become an airline pilot and was focused on saving money to achieve the goal.
But in an interesting twist of fate, Anca and Simone may have never met if it had not been for an in-flight coincidence.
Anca recalls: “We never met as colleagues. But we accidentally met on a flight where I was on duty, and he was a passenger flying from Venice to Cagliari where he planned to meet friends. I did not focus that much on him on that flight but apparently he was focused on me.”
Two strangers meet on a plane and never speak again. The story could quite easily end there.
After flying from the Cagliari base for a while, the airline relocated Anca to Toulouse in France. Simone joined easyJet and moved to Faro in Portugal.
But unknown to Anca and Simone, they not only used to work for the same carrier but also have several mutual friends. So, their one-off meeting eventually turned into a relationship.
Anca says: “Since we have common friends, he recognized me as the girl from that flight and simply texted me [during] the first wave of the pandemic and lockdown, a year after the day we first met. I was surprised that he clearly memorized every small detail about that day.
“Initially, I was not sure that we both flew on the same route but later I realized that I spoke to him and even remembered a seat he took. Meanwhile, he was more attentive to details and noticed that I had my hair in a ponytail instead of a hair bun and that I was wearing pants instead of a skirt. It was cute from his side.”
But starting a relationship at the beginning of a global health crisis comes with obstacles. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdown restrictions meant that Anca became stuck in Romania where she had traveled to renew some documents. Simone was temporarily grounded in Italy when his employer was forced to halt passenger flights. However, after three months of remote communication, Anca returned to her base in Toulouse, and the couple were finally able to meet in person.
“It was a challenging time to meet because of COVID-19. After all, no one expected air travel to be disrupted so much. On the other hand, the pandemic has helped [us] to develop a strong connection because we were communicating a lot and we found a lot of common interests,” Anca admits.
Anca and Simone’s chosen profession sees them working for different airlines and living apart. So, what does life now look like for the couple?
“We try to ask for vacations [during] the same period to have [the] possibility to travel and spend more time together,” reveals Anca. “We also try to catch every possible flight to France or Italy.
“However, the summer season is more challenging for both of us than the wintertime because all low-cost carriers are busy due to high demand. The biggest challenge is the schedules and destinations we are scheduled to fly to. Sometimes, due to different times zones, it is impossible to even call each other. At least we do not live in different parts of the world.”
While it can sometimes be difficult for Anca and Simone to keep in touch, Anca believes that distance helps to keep the couple’s relationship alive.
The ability to understand the specifics of the cabin crew role is a key factor for both aviation professionals and helps the couple to strengthen their connection.
“Sometimes you have days when you are very stressed and tired because of duties in general, passenger behavior or delays, but the fact that we do the same job helps us to better understand and support each other,” says Anca.
“I think that the secret to nurturing a relationship between actively flying cabin crew members is mutual effort to build and maintain honest communication and [to] keep in mind that the distance is not perpetual,” Anca adds, with a smile.