Most of my posts here on The Dubai Diaries are all about my layovers – what I get up to, if I go out sightseeing, where to eat and the likes. So I thought it was about time I did another post (click here to see the last one I wrote) detailing a bit more of my actual job, since that’s the reason I get to travel so much! It may seem like I spend all my time exploring new places and trying new food, but I work hard to get to the destination!
In fact, Emirates was just announced as the World’s Best Airline 2016 by Skytrax! That certainly makes me very proud and happy to be part of such a global brand.
I recently came back from Boston, and since long haul flights are a bit different to normal for us cabin crew, keep reading to find out why.
The planning starts the night before the flight, when I check what time departure is so I can plan a good night’s sleep. My flight to Boston was departing at 08:40, which meant I needed to be at our headquarters by the airport at 06:40. I usually give my self one hour to get ready before a flight, so it was an early start that morning!
Once I’d arrived at headquarters, I passed through immigration, checked in for the flight, dropped off my suitcase and made my way to the briefing room. We have about half an hour to discuss any new updates or changes that are happening onboard, and special instructions for the specific flight, as well as check to make sure we have all of our uniform up to standard and answer a “safe talk” question (related to safety and emergency procedures onboard) to ensure we are legal to fly. Our pilots come in and introduce themselves and let us know the flight time, which is around 13 hours.
The entire crew, 15 cabin crew members and 4 pilots (usually there are only 2, but since it’s a long flight they swap over halfway through) make our way down to the buses which will take us straight to the aircraft. There are 3 of us working in business class, as well as one Cabin Supervisor who is in charge of the cabin. I was assigned to work on the right hand side of the aircraft, which means I am in charge of door R2, as well as all of the passengers sitting in that area.
Luckily for us the fight wasn’t full, which made for a nice and easy day of work! Once all of the passengers have boarded, we start by offering welcome drinks in business class, as well as hot towels, and amenity bags for the long flight which contain things such as a toothbrush, hand cream, socks, etc.
After an on-time take-off, we start with the first service (there are 3 services on a long flight) which was breakfast. Most of the passengers eat, and once we’ve finished I manage to sit down for 5 minutes to grab a quick bite before it’s time for my break. We have a special area on the aircraft called the CRC (Crew Rest Compartment) which is located in the ceiling on the 777, and has a load of bunk beds for us to rest in. We’re split up into two groups and I was assigned first break, so even though it was still pretty early Dubai time, around 11am, I went up to try and nap. We’re even given crew pyjamas which we have to wear during our break, and I try not to wear to much make-up on long-haul flights as I don’t like to sleep with make up on, but don’t have time to do it all again after the break. I always make sure to remove the red lipstick before I go in though!
Three hours later one of the crew comes up to wake us up, and after changing back into my uniform and making sure my hair and make-up is looking good I head back to business class. Even though it was a daytime flight most of the passengers had lowered their window blinds and were either fast asleep or watching movies. This meant plenty of time for us to get to know each other over cups of tea and coffee! Every flight you fly with different people, and with 24,000 cabin crew in the company there aren’t too many flights where you meet the same crew.
Our next service was lunch, which is the biggest meal of the flight. We woke everyone up as they had all requested to eat lunch, and with the cabin not being full it took us under 2 hours to complete the service. This includes a drink with warm nuts before the meal, then a 3-course meal which includes a starter, main course, dessert or cheese, as well as a salad and warm bread. We also get through plenty of bottles of wine and champagne! After the lunch service the other two crew head off to the CRC for their break. Most of us prefer second break as it leaves you well rested once you land into the destination, ready for whatever you have planned there!
There are still quite a few hours left to go, so I generally pop up to the cockpit to have a chat with the pilots, and since I’m currently revising for my first class interview, I also chat to the girls in first class for some tips. A few cups of tea later, the other business class girls return from their break. In the mean time, I’ve loaded the ovens with the meals for our last service, as well as doing a few rounds of the cabin making sure all of the passengers are happy and the toilets are neat and tidy.
Since we’d already offered two large meals, by the time the “light bite” service came around, where we offer some hot snacks and light meals, most of our passengers didn’t want anything else to eat. Before we knew it, the countdown was on for landing. Around 20 minutes before we start our descent we get a call from the captain letting us know that it’s “20 to top” – aka 20 minutes til top of descent. This means it’s time to prepare more hot towels, start turning the lights on in the cabin and preparing the galley to make sure everything is stowed in the correct place. Once the captain makes his P.A. that we are starting the descent, we collect all of the blankets and mattresses from the passengers, and as soon as the seatbelt sign comes on make sure everyone has their seat upright, window blind open, and floor cleared of any bags or rubbish. Finally, after almost 13 hours, it’s time to take our seats for landing!
I’m sat at the door chatting with the cabin supervisor who is sat opposite me, and we’re watching the approach into Boston. It looks like a gorgeous sunny day and we come in close to the water. It feels like we’re just about to touchdown, when suddenly we notice that instead of landing, we’re ascending again! Shortly after the purser makes a call to all of the crew to let us know that it was a “go-around”, and then the captain makes a P.A. to inform all of the passengers that we had a missed approach and will be trying for round two shortly! Luckily the second time everything went smoothly and we touched down in Boston safely.
After we taxi in to our gate, our passengers disembark, and we check the cabin to clear any last blankets and collect the headsets, as well as making sure nobody left any bags or personal items. Finally we make our way to immigration, and almost an hour later (why does immigration take SO long in America?!) we’re on the bus ready to leave for the hotel. Technically since we’re still in uniform we’re still on duty until we get to the room in the hotel, but we stop getting paid after the aircraft reaches the gate at the airport. Once we reach the hotel, we check in and I can finally take off that red lipstick and my uniform!
What a long day – I’ve been awake (apart from my little nap in the CRC) for almost 24 hours. Stay tuned for my next post to see how I spent my layover in beautiful Boston 🙂
I hope you enjoyed reading about what my typical day at work consists of, and of course feel free to leave any questions or comments down below!