At age 15 Chaiya had an ID card, and moved to Bangkok. There he initially lived with his sister. He befriended kathoeys, took an evening class and found work in a travel agency, where he worked on a tour bus.
Chaiya took courses at Chandrakasem Rajabhat University, and entered and won the Miss Le Flore ladyboy beauty contest. From university Chaiya was able to get work as a flight attendant with PB Air, even though he had never been on an airplane before. Passengers commented about a female being allowed to wear the male uniform, and one wrote to the airline complimenting them on their open-mindedness. Chaiya was then requested to wear the female uniform.
This went well, and Chaiya started to dress female in her private life as well. She consulted doctors, and, for the first time, took female hormones. She obtained approval from the executive of the airline, and the operation was performed 31 December 2005. Although there were problems with internal bleeding and closure, they were dealt with.
She asked the airline executive for permission to enter the 2006 Miss Tiffany Universe contest held in Pattaya. They not only agreed: they sponsored her. She was featured in the media as a promising candidate, and became known as Nicky. The airline was complimented for its open-mindedness. She phoned her parents, and they came around to acceptance.
Like all other sao oraphet song in Thailand, Nicky still has a male ID card. This has prevented her from obtaining jobs at other airlines after PB Air went out of business in 2009.
Despite her media celebrity, Nicky was initially stealth with her boyfriend.
Nicky has since been employed by PC Air, which has also employed three other kathoey air stewardesses including the 2007 Miss Tiffany Universe winner, Thanyarat Jiraphatpakorn.
- · “Equal opportunity employment”. Bangkok Today, 11 October 2006. Translated into English by Stephen Cleary. “World’s 1st Ladyboy Air-Hostess”. Thai Blogs, July 19, 2007. www.thai-blogs.com/2007/07/19/world-s-1st-ladyboy-air-hostess.
- · Susan Aldous & Pornchai Sereemongkonpol. Ladyboys: The Secret World of Thailand's Third Gender. Dunboyne: Maverick House, 2008: 189-223.
- · Christina Wylie. “THE THIRD SEX: The life of a ladyboy in today’s Thai society”. Samui Holiday Magazine, www.samuiholidaymagazine.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=421:the-third-sex&catid=41:may-2012&Itemid=16.
Nicky’s account in the Aldous/ Sereemongkonpol Ladyboy anthology does not name PB Air, and neither EN.Wikipedia nor TH.Wikipedia on PB.Air mention their sponsorship of Nicky.
The story of PB Air requesting that Chaiya wear the female uniform is in her own account in the Aldous/ Sereemongkonpol Ladyboy anthology, but is not repeated in the Bangkok Today or the Samui Holiday accounts.