Life as a Stewardess – Emirates and Private Aviation
It has been a while since my last post, because even though I sometimes forget it myself, I actually have a job. I am a stewardess on a private jet. I cannot disclose any information about who I work for and anything about our passengers or where we are going, but my thoughts about it all are mine and I can share them if I want.
Being a stewardess was a dream of mine when I was a little girl. Whenever we would fly somewhere I would always be in the galley talking to the stewardesses and just watching them do the service. At home I would often line up the dining room chairs and seat my dolls and teddy bears and play that I was a stewardess and they were my passengers, I even played that we had to evacuate and I would use my little dingy in the pool as a life raft. Whenever I am struggling at work, with difficult customers or long duties where I am just tired and over it, I recall those memories and they help me put a smile back on my face and carry on with my duties.
As I have mentioned before, I started with Emirates in August 2012 and worked for the airline, living in Dubai, for 2 years. Those 24 months or 730 days went by in a flash. I saw so many new places, I met so many people and I experienced so many things that were quite incredible and I cherish every moment of it, even the 14+hour flights with 500 passengers and after minimum rest. Every flight taught me something and made me grow as an individual.
There are a few groups and pages on Facebook and other social media for cabin crew, one funny page is called “Rants of a sassy stew” where mostly crew complain about annoying passengers, asking stupid questions like: “Can you ask the pilot to fly faster, I need to make my connection.” Like seriously?? Book flights with enough of a buffer in between or with one airline and the ground staff will sort a new ticket for you if you are delayed from the previous flight. Or when passengers just won’t listen to the instructions given, we are not asking you to put your handbag in the overhead compartment just to annoy you, it is a safety requirement. This one unhappy customer wrote on the Delta Facebook page: “For a flight with no food or beverage service, not sure why we even need them (the cabin crew)” this statement will fire up any crewmember as this is one of the biggest insults to us. Our purpose onboard an airplane is first and foremost for safety, then comes the customer service and if we are delayed because of weather conditions, well guess what? We cannot control the weather! We undergo up to 2 months of intense training with fire drills, evacuation procedures, medical training, restraining techniques and much more to keep our passengers an ourselves safe in the skies, we are not just trolley-dollies who go to work to look pretty and serve some chicken or beef. We have procedures and rules for the safety of our passengers and our selves of course, not just for the sake of having a procedure or rule. So as a passenger if the stewardess tells you something, take a minute to think about why it is instead of discussing it and wasting everyone’s time. Rant over.
Now I work on a private jet and it is a completely different story, our customers are nice and polite, they know how to behave onboard an aircraft and when we inform them about a safety procedure they do it and smile and say thank you. Another very different thing in private aviation is the schedule, in Emirates we received our rosters at the end of the month and there could occur changes, but generally it just stayed the same and leave was planned 6 months in advance. So it was easy to plan ahead, on days off I could go home on a 90% off ticket to Copenhagen and visit friends and family. I could plan to have friends visit me in Dubai, I could somehow make a kind of routine or schedule for myself but I was also flying 100+ hours. Now my schedule is 30 days on duty/standby and then 15 days off, but it can change at any given time also regarding leave. Since I started working here my average is 14 flying hours per month (including positioning flights where we do not have passengers onboard), so definitely easier than commercial, but I cannot really rely on it or plan too much on my days off as they may change.
Working as a flight attendant is not for everyone, it is a bit of a crazy job, you need a lot of patience and flexibility and to be able to keep calm and think clearly in stressful situations, the hours are extremely irregular, sometimes you go to sleep at 5 am and sometimes you need to go to bed at 3 pm to wake up for a flight at midnight, but you still need to be well rested before a flight. Now that I am working in the private sector I can’t even plan my sleeping schedule any more, when I am on duty I am on standby 24/7 and crew scheduling might call and wake me up at 4 am for me to pack my suitcase (from now on it will always be packed and ready for any occasion) and go! I must admit that most of the time that I am on standby, I am just at home, going to the gym, recently I started my riding lessons and most of the time I am reading about polo tournaments around the world and watching polo online, so I can’t complain, my work/life balance is quite favorable to the life side. But sometimes I do need to rush out of the door and be on duty for 25 hours and I don’t get to see anything else than the aircraft and the airport and maybe an airport hotel (which by the way all look the same to me at this point) and sometimes we don’t even know what is going to happen. This last flight we were waiting in the airplane for 5 hours for the passengers to let us know if we were staying or going back. So for a person who likes everything to be scheduled and organized it is difficult, but on the other hand this job can also be very rewarding in many ways, getting paid to travel the world is definitely rewarding to me and sometimes the stars align and business and pleasure are combined, like when I went to Abu Dhabi for work and it was on the day of British Polo Day.
So there are some good and some bad things about crewlife, but generally I am very happy with it and I try to see the challenges as an opportunity to grow or to learn something new, I try to make the best of any situation and always try to remember that a smile is contagious 🙂
And here are a few (and by a few i actually mean a lot of) snapshots of really good memories from my Emirates days: