AirAsia QZ8501: Flight attendant's young life cut short

AirAsia QZ8501: Flight attendant's young life cut short

On New Year's day, the two hottest stories in The Star Online were on Khai­runnisa Haidar (pic), the stewardess on Indonesia AirAsia Flight QZ8501 that crashed into the Java Sea on its way from Surabaya to Singapore on Sunday.

According to Outbrain (a company that tracks website traffic), among the top three stories in The Star's news website on that day were: "I will accompany Khairunnisa's family home, says (AirAsia Group CEO Tan Sri Tony) Fernandes" and "She (Khairunnisa) died doing what she loved".

From the Facebook comments on the two news articles, you'll get an insight on why both stories were hot.

For example, on the report that Fernandes will accompany Khairunnisa's family to her Palembang hometown once her body has been positively identified, Facebook user Reetha Rae Deepest commented: "Condolences to Nisa family... salute to the kind-hearted CEO of AirAsia... very rare but you are one...".

On the report that Nisa (Khairunnisa's nickname) dreamed of becoming a flight attendant, Facebook user Sheela Selvajothy commented: "What a beauty! May her soul rest in peace", and Keral Badesha commented: "Flight attendants don't die, they only fly higher. Rest in peace."

The story about a stewardess dying doing what she loved caught my interest. Khairunnisa was 22-year-old and her life had ended.

"So young to be dead. Life is so fragile," I thought as I reflected on my mortality.

A day after the plane went missing, I flew from Kota Kinabalu to Kuala Lumpur with my family.

"If anything (bad) happened to this plane, it would be good that it happened as at least we are together (as a family) in this flight," I told Vera, my wife, before take-off in Kota Kinabalu International Airport.

Feeling that my statement was a bit inappropriate, I told her, "Anyway, the chances of getting killed in a road accident are higher than that in a plane crash."

(According to International Business Times, the odds of dying in a plane crash are one in 11 million, car crash one in 5,000 and in a shark attack one in 3.1 million.)

Khairunnisa, according to The Jakarta Post, was born in Palembang on May 11, 1992.

She was a final-year law degree student at University of Sriwijaya. She had been an AirAsia flight attendant for two years.

I clicked on her Instagram account to get a snapshot of her life. My first impression was Khairunnisa was a gorgeous, "happening" woman living life to the fullest, just like the description in her Twitter profile, "I'm not a little girl anymore, I'm progressing into a young woman".

She was very much in love.

There's an Instagram photo - which many news media reported - of a napkin with the words, "I love you from 38000 ft" placed on a, aircraft window.

There's a photo of the names "Divo" and "Nisa" engraved in sand on a beach.

There's a photo showing "Love Divo" spelled out by Khairunnisa's silhouetted fingers against aircraft windows.

It is believed that Divo is her boyfriend. There are several Instagram photographs of her with an equally gorgeous man who might be Divo.

Khairunnisa also posted photographs of her with her boyfriend and friends on holiday. There are beautiful photographs of her cave tubing in Goa Pindul in Gunung Kidul and her with girlfriends on a jeep near Mount Bromo in Probolinggo.

Khairunnisa also had a sense of humour, judging from a car sticker with the words "not tonight dear, I have to fly" that she posted on Instagram.

Many friends and strangers expressed their condolences on her Instagram account. "Safe flight up to heaven Nisa. Al-Fatihah #togetherwestand #allstars," wrote Alvirakhairiasy.

"God bless you beautiful!!," wrote joemodu. "May you rest in peace. May God give your family the strength they need in this difficult time. #airasia #flightattendant."

It was heart wrenching to read the messages. I felt as if I knew Khairunnisa.

"Nisa was a good girl. She had always showed compassion to the family. She often sent money she got from working as a flight attendant to her mom," Haidar Fauzi, Khai­­runnisa's 60-year-old father, told The Jakarta Post at the Juanda International Airport in Surabaya on Wednesday.

Haidar, according to The Star, had visited his daughter's apartment in Surabaya and found that she had packed in anticipation of her holiday back in Palembang, and also had booked her ticket home.

"As usual, before she flew, Nisa called her mom and at that time she said that she would return home to Palembang on Jan 6, to celebrate the birthday of her oldest brother, Rahmad Hidayat (30)."

Haidar added: "She had asked my wife to make her favourite fruit pudding and a local vegetable samosa filled with carrots, potatoes and eggs".

The grieving father said his family couldn't stop Khairunnisa from pursuing her dream job. "From the start, we already knew the risks associated with flying," he said.

"It is a natural disaster. Nobody is to be blamed. AirAsia is still the best."

Yesterday, the remains of Khairunnisa were among the 10 bodies which had been recovered until then and brought ashore.

The Star Online reported that she was identified by the nametag on her red outfit that read "Khairunnisa". She was also wearing a silver analog watch on her left arm. Her remains were kept in a coffin marked number 004.

"It is a painful loss," said Haidar, with a sad smile on Wednesday. "We accept God's will. She belongs to the Almighty. We will see her again one day."

The views expressed are entirely the writer's own.


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