A day in the life: long-haul flight

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!

Signature small icon

P.s. Follow me on Instagram & Twitter for more day-to-day updates of where I am in the world! 🙂


  1. November 19, 2016 / 12:36 pm

    Hello, Rachel!

    I am cabin crew with IndiGo, a domestic low cost carrier in India. Emirates has always been my dream and I’m just waiting to turn 21 so that I can apply for it. Almost everyday, I surf the internet for EK related stuff, and today, I happened across your blog. I am definitely following it from now on. It is so wonderful to know about your travels, and now with this post, I feel like even this would play a little part in my interview for EK, whenever I give it. I follow you on Instagram as well, and you’re an inspiration of sorts. If and when I get into EK, I’d love to meet you or fly with you some day.

    Oh, I have a question, too. Are there many Indians as cabin crew with EK? Have you flown with any?

    Lots of love from India,
    Harini 🙂

    • November 19, 2016 / 12:38 pm

      Oh also, congrats on your first flight as First Class crew! 😀 I hope you had a great one 🙂

    • thedubaidiaries
      November 25, 2016 / 1:55 pm

      Hi Harini, glad you found my blog and have been enjoying reading it! 🙂 There are lots of Indians at Emirates and I’ve flown with plenty of them! Good luck when you apply 🙂

  2. Chloe
    August 15, 2016 / 3:12 pm

    Woo! I am traning for Emirates and this was really informative. Thanks for this post.
    I am also from Engalnd

    • thedubaidiaries
      August 16, 2016 / 1:32 pm

      Ahh awesome, glad I could be of some help! Hope the training goes well 🙂 xx

  3. Janice
    August 2, 2016 / 6:23 pm

    Love your blog, it really helps me preparing for Dubai and Emirates as I will start my training in Dubai in weeks 🙂
    Just wanting to ask if it’s possible to bid for leave during the probationary period and how easy it is?(Just because I will miss boyfriend and we want to see each other as often as possible :P)
    Many regards from Germany xx

    • thedubaidiaries
      August 3, 2016 / 9:00 pm

      Hi Janice! So glad you enjoy reading my blog and that it’s helping you prepare for Dubai 🙂 I did have 10 days leave during my probationary period, with the new leave system I’m not sure exactly how it works but I’m sure you will be able to get some. It’s just a bidding system so it’s mostly luck if you get your leave or not! Good luck and let me know if you have any other queries 🙂

  4. Chloe
    July 29, 2016 / 3:30 am

    Hi Rachel,
    I just want to say that i love your blog. I have only come across it over the last two weeks, but have since read each month from the beginning. I have wanted to join Emirates for over 2 years now, but have always been too scared. I have work as International Cabin Crew in Australia for over 4 years now but i have finally taken the first leap and will be attending the interview in Melbourne next month. I am so excited and feel like i am finally ready to take this chance. Your blog has been great in helping me see that it is an amazing life but also the realities of it too. So thank you so much for being so honest. The only thing i would love to see a blog on is the make up you use for the flights, if you could do a blog on this that would be amazing.
    Thanks again and enjoy your month 🙂

    • thedubaidiaries
      July 29, 2016 / 7:37 pm

      Hi Chloe! So glad you found my blog and have been enjoying reading it! Good luck for the open day, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for you. I’ve been meaning to do a make-up post for ages, it’s definitely on my list! xx

  5. Kate
    July 24, 2016 / 7:16 pm

    Hi is it hard to get a job with emerits and do you have to be a specify body shape, and what is it like to live in Dubai with them? Also what country are you from 🙂

  6. Shumaila
    July 18, 2016 / 3:25 pm

    Hi, Rachel I recently find your blog and now just addicted to it.. I want to know that what did you do before Emirates cabin crew? And I heard that Emirates didn’t pay exactly what they mentioned they pay actually half is it true..?? Thanks ☺

    • thedubaidiaries
      July 19, 2016 / 1:23 pm

      Hi Shumaila, gad to hear you found my blog and enjoy reading it 🙂 Nope that’s not true, the first couple of months you are paid a little less as you’re not flying yet (and flying pay makes up around 1/2 of your salary) but other than that its definitely what they mention at the open day!

      • Shumaila
        July 20, 2016 / 2:14 pm

        Thanks for replay

  7. Richard Gould
    July 18, 2016 / 1:09 pm

    I still enjoy reading your posts periodically, especially the last one detailing your duties on the long haul flights. Best wishes from Austria. R.

    • thedubaidiaries
      July 19, 2016 / 1:17 pm

      Hi Richard! So glad to hear you still enjoy reading, hope you’re well! x

  8. Mason Tolentino
    July 17, 2016 / 6:24 pm

    What a GREAT job, may I ask you a personal question ?? How much do you guy’s make for you salary ??

    • thedubaidiaries
      July 19, 2016 / 1:16 pm

      Thanks Mason, glad you enjoyed it! 1 million dollars an hour 😉

  9. nehalah
    July 17, 2016 / 5:58 pm

    Wow I really like your posts and I was wondering if you can tell us how long does each flight you are on takes

    • thedubaidiaries
      July 19, 2016 / 1:14 pm

      Thanks Nehalah! Well it depends on the flight, it could be anywhere between 1 hour – 16 hours! 🙂

  10. Adam
    July 17, 2016 / 4:18 pm

    Hi I always enjoy your blog. How often have you had a go around? Did the captain say the reason for it? It must have been scary.

    • thedubaidiaries
      July 17, 2016 / 5:12 pm

      Thanks Adam, glad you enjoy reading! That was my first go around actually! It wasn’t scary as we realised what was happening, basically instead of landing we just went back up for a bit, haha! The reason was that the first officer doing the landing had slightly mis-judged the approach so they needed to go back around to land properly! x

  11. Marina
    July 17, 2016 / 3:26 pm

    Your posts are such a pleasure to read and this is personally one of my favourites! I love learning about the inflight service!

    • thedubaidiaries
      July 17, 2016 / 5:10 pm

      Thanks Marina, so glad to hear you enjoyed reading this! 🙂 x

  12. Fifitam
    July 17, 2016 / 1:37 am

    Amazing post once again Rachel 🙂 . was just a joy to read this and getting more infornation on how the job is . As a regular flyer, i can now see how much hard work is done by cabin crews. keep it up 🙂 and woukd love to read more most like this .

    • thedubaidiaries
      July 17, 2016 / 5:10 pm

      Thanks Fifitam! Glad to hear you enjoyed reading and finding out a bit more about what we actually do onboard 🙂 It’s not all just jet-setting off to exotic destinations haha! x

  13. Claudia
    July 16, 2016 / 12:04 am

    Hi 🙂 i am curently IC, had my FI on May 2nd and still waiting 🙁 i was wondering-how long yo you have to wait before applying for bussines or first class cabin crew? Or it doesnt matter? Thank you, love reading your blog btw 🙂


    • thedubaidiaries
      July 17, 2016 / 5:09 pm

      Hi Claudia! I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you that you don’t have to wait much longer and will get the golden call soon 🙂 To apply for business class it depends on how many crew they require, but could be anything from 1-3 years 🙂 I waited around 1 yr 9 months. To apply for first class is around 18 months – 2 years in business. Glad you enjoy reading my blog 🙂 x

      • Kate
        July 22, 2016 / 11:58 am

        What country did you come from

    • Kate
      July 22, 2016 / 11:56 am

      Hi is it hard to get a job with emerits and do you have to be a specify body shape, and what is it like to live in Dubai with them?

      • thedubaidiaries
        July 29, 2016 / 7:25 pm

        Hi Kate, I’m from England. You can see that in the “about” section of my blog. I don’t know how you would define “hard” – some people pass the interview first time and some people try multiple times at an open day, it depends on you. Living in Dubai is great! 🙂

Leave a Reply