What is it like to work for Emirates airline? A flight attendant tells her story

What is it like to work for Emirates airline? A flight attendant tells her story

Working for the famous carrier Emirates is a dream for a lot of people all over the world. Last year more than 200.000 people applied for a job as cabin crew with Emirates, but only 3 per cent where successful and received there golden call. I sat down in Dubai with Nina, who was working for Emirates for over 2 years and spoke with her about the job.



Tell me a bit about yourself

Hey there! My name is Nina and I’m 29 from Slovenia, Ljubljana. I was working with Emirates for 2 years and 3 months and I must say that those were the best two years of my life.
 How did you get into this job?
I was really unahappy with my last job and I couldn’t fit in, so I was still checking for other opportunities and I found out that Emirates will be recruiting soon in my home town. So I applied and went for the 3-day interview and got the job. I couldn’t believe it because everything was turning so fast and moving to Dubai was just around the corner.

Was there any one or any thing who inspired you to become a flight attendant?

There is my granma’s neighbour who used to fly for our national airline Adria Airways and I saw her a lot in her uniform and she always brought me little gifts that got me into it I guess. And I love love love go travel, that is my parents “fault” because we were away every weekend, and for the summertime at the seaside, wintertime at the ski slopes and lots of trips in the meanwhile that I always wanted more and more.

What was the application process like?

First day there is a video about Emirates and the recruiters present the job itself. Then we submited our CV’s with one passport and one full bodied photo. We had a short conversation with one of the recruiter and we had to reach for 212cm. The one they chosed were called in an hour for the next interviews. There was a lot of teamwork and fun. The whole interview was in English. Then they decided who to call further on and we continued with an English exam and essay. After that there was again another selection. And again some more challenging teamwork where everyone was confronted with some difficult sittuation that you had to resolve with recruiter. After that they called us later on for the final interview and afterwards we had to fill out the pshycological test of our personality. The so called “Golden call” followed earlier than in a week and in two months time I was already on a flight to Dubai.

How long does the cabin crew training take and what does it consist of?

Training lasts for almost 2 months and consist of First aid-from fainting to child birth on board, Safety and security on the aircraft, Aircraft type and equiptmement and procedures and Service. Everyone starts to work in Economy class and later on if you show yoru progress you get the promotion to Business class, First Class or to Management positions.

What’s your favorite stopover destination?

Oh it’s so hard to pick only one. But I think I would pick Rio de Janeiro because its diversity and amazing landscape and vibe. Of course New York has always won my heart and there is awesome Cape Town, Singapore and Mauritius, San Francisco, Sant Petersburg ext.. 

What does the Cabin Crew get up to on a stopover and how long are your layovers?

A lot of things or nothing. It depends from one person to another. We got to stay in one of the best hotels all over the world and most of the time right in the city centre. My goal was to have the whole experience and explore the places at the most even if I was awake for far to long. The will was just bigger than everything. The layovers were from 24 hours till 72 hours and pretty much we could do everything whitin that time as long as we were back and ready for the flight. So basicaly we did everything from Safari, mountain climbing, sightseeing, boat tours, shopping, cooking classes, meeting friends and family… amazing!

What’s the biggest misconception about the job?

I would say that maybe people think that we are only waitresses in the sky and we don’t have any education. And that is totally wrong. Most of stewards and stewardesses I’ve met have very high education, a lot of lawyers, mechanical engineers, doctors, economist ext.. but everyone has its own story why he joined. Maybe the economical crisis is really bad in their country, maybe because or salary or they were fed up with the routine life they had before, or some boyfriends/girlfriends issue. But most of us came because of travelling and the whole experience. 
The next misconception is that people think that when we are not around in the cabin that we are just sitting around, reading magazines ext. That is so not true-we had to prepare trolleys and meals needed to be heated, drink trolleys to be filled up and there were 8 stewards in economy class for 427 people so we couldn’t be everywhere at the same time.

How do you deal with jet-lag?

I tried to stay up with the local time, even if that meant to stay up far too long. That kept me away from waking up at Dubai time in the middle of the night… most of the time. There’ s no perfect solution, I just always ate right and tried to have at least 8 hours of sleep and a lot of working out ext.

What is it like living in Dubai? Do you have any favorite places you want to share with us?

It’s a mind blowing city and it has everything from amazingly long beaches to all culinary choices and the biggest shopping malls, indoor skiing, the biggest aquarium in the world, morst amazing hotels and resorts… It’s summer whole year long and I could say that is the cleanest and one of the safest place in the world. I loved the JBR area in Dubai Marina where there are amazing reastaurants and walking area with breathtaking view. My favourite part is the Old Duba so calledi Bastakiya and the Creek with the Souk. Also the fountains by the Dubai mall always left me with goose bumps and the view from Butj Khalifa is just wow.

What is the crew accommodation like?

They are all over Dubai and you get one or two flatmates. Unfortunatelly you can’t choose when you join, but afterwards you can move somewhere else. If you get your promotion you can move into single apartment or you can ask Emirates for allowance and live outside Emirates accommodation. The apartments are new, big and cosy, fully furnished and you get your own bedroom and bathroom, you only share living room and kitchen with others. They are clean and well maintained and secured, but after you move in you have to clean after yourself (there is no maids like in the hotels) and there is no bills to pay. Even the transportation in arranged to the airport every 10-30 minutes (depends on location).

How long is a contract? Can you extent it or leave early?

You get the contract for 3 years, but you can leave everytime with 30 days leave notice period or you can extend you contact and make it a career.

What’s the weirdest request you had from a passenger?

Haha, I remember one guy coming to our galley (this is how we called the kitchen) and asking us if he could get everything that is for free. We just smiled and told him that there is 500 other passengers on board and that unfortunatelly he can’t get everything but we still gave him some nice treats.

Are there any things you did not like about the job?

As with any job there are ups and downs. I couldn’t spend every Christmas, birthdays, child births with my loved ones and of course I couldn’t manage to sleep every time before or after the flight but the job still had to be done so I did it. But there were so many positive things that you forget about not so good ones-that is just amazing how our mind works.

What is your advice to someone looking for a career as cabin crew?

Go for it! The whole experience is ming blowing and I believe that you can’t get this much of experience with any other job. Be positive, stay pepared for a lot of challenges along the way, but it’s so much fun. The people you’ll meet, the places you’ll visit… everything is so worth it! Just be yourself and want this job badly and it will be yours!
I hope you have found this article useful, if so or if you have any further questions please leave me a comment below.
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There are 29 comments for this article
  1. Anna at 3:32 pm

    Yeah, I totally agree with Nina. I used to be a flight attendant for EK. It was for sure fun, but also so exhausting! I do miss it sometimes though.

    • Katrin Tochtermann Author at 7:59 pm

      Hey i am not Nina, she was just interviewed for my blog. but you can find her under the name fluffyprincess on instagram x Kat

  2. Arthur Borges at 8:46 pm

    This is so exciting! I am planning to apply for Emirates here in Brazil. And her story just made more excited about it, but a bit nervous as well. I think this is the dream job of all travelers!

    Thank you very much Kathrin for such a nice interview!

    All the best.

  3. Ann at 10:42 pm

    Amazing ! I’m planning to apply for the second time coz i failed once. And I was searching for some motivating articles to gather up some courage and this helped a lot! I hope I’ll go through this time.

  4. Crystak at 9:38 am

    Thank you for this amazing post. It is very detailed and presented amazingly.
    In regards to the contract it says 3 years but u mentioned u can leave by giving 30 days notice. Will there be disciplinary action for this as the contract is for 3 years.

  5. Cassie at 2:32 pm

    Hi, May I know in average how many cabin crew per flight? As I am doing some research about span of control for Emirates Airline. Would be really helpful 🙂

  6. Hannah at 11:16 am

    Can you please tell me how many leave days you get per year? And can you take that as one period or not?
    How does a week look… how many flights per week?
    And do you get a discount for flight tickets for family etc?
    Many thanks

    • Katrin Tochtermann Author at 8:56 am

      Hey Atta, best think is to check at the emirates website when they have an open day near you 🙂 good luck

    • Katrin Tochtermann Author at 2:09 pm

      Yes they do. As far as I know you get a flight ticket to Dubai and they start paying your accommodation from the start and you already get some money for the training. However I would suggest to have a look on their website for some further information.

    • Katrin Tochtermann Author at 1:35 pm

      I think you need to be 21, but I would check their website for all the information about the application process

  7. Aa at 1:47 pm

    To all aspiring air hostesses/stewards:
    There are many great stories like this. Sure it has plenty of perks. The biggest issue that I would very strongly watch out for is the future projections and opportunity cost with being an air hostess.
    That is….what’s going to happen years down the line ? Same job? maybe a different industry but it would be similar role e.g. restaurant front of house etc..and that to how long can you do these types of jobs for? When your looks and bubbliness fade (both will with age), then what? Millions of younger hotter cheery/flirty girls are lined up to take these jobs – and that too these type of jobs have such low barrirs to entry , it will be fairly easy to get a replacement.
    The other concern i have is the opportunity cost you would be incurring working as an air hostess for say 3 years or so would be very substantial. Its not like you can do this for 3 years and then easilly quit and study law, medicine, engineering etc . You could yes, but you would likely be at a disadvantage to your other classmates who would have used those 3 years to further their credentials /experience directly related to the profession. This would also put you at a disadvantage in gaining admission in the best programs.
    Not trying to dissuade anyone from being an air hostess. ..just to be aware of what you are giving up on order to be one. i.e. the opportunity cost and also future career projections.
    Many of these stories talk about other disadvantages as well such as low pay etc…but few would talk about the real issues of lost opportujity (of pursuing this vs something else) and the opportunity to do something substantially different in the future. It’s perfectly fine is you want to be a lifelong air hostess or some other airline operational task e.g front desk check in or even some kind of sales role after a while…but if you want a very different role in the future, it’s going to be tough to make that transition. Just something to think about.

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