Most people want to travel at some stage in their lives. Some yearn to journey far and wide, into the middle of the jungle and live out of a backpack whilst recycling their knickers. Others dream of visiting sprawling metropolises to order exorbitant room service. My job as a flight attendant landed me somewhere in between!
More often than not, our hotels are the best in the city, filled with artwork, canapes and celebrities. Other times, we are in lockdown, and not permitted to exit the hotel for our own safety due to the surrounding slums and political unrest. Just another regular roster for an international flight attendant!
My name is Taylor, and I worked as cabin crew for the coveted Emirates Airline. The role is equal parts challenging and rewarding. Flying will fill your heart with adventure, your mind with memories and your purse (enough to get by) if you are smart about it. Here are some of my top tips!
Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail
Attaining and maintaining a role as Cabin Crew is not as easy it may seem – even if we do make it look effortless! Preparation is key, from the application process to interviews to actually doing the job.
If you would like to secure a Cabin Crew role, it is advisable to prepare yourself for the best possible chance! Research the airline that you are applying for and once you have to fill out application forms, have everything on hand that you might need. ID details, past resumes, any awards or recognition certificates that clever little you may possess and of course, include any formal tertiary qualifications as well.
It is also a good idea to only apply for roles that you meet the minimum criteria for. Airlines are bound by certain rules from Aviation Authorities that dictate the staff that they can employ. If you do not meet the age, height or citizenship requirements, then it is best not to apply and save your energy looking for an opportunity that suits your needs. It can be disheartening, and a waste of your oh-so-precious time. Focus your resources on a role that will make the best of you!
Once through to the interview process, you should be avidly researching and possibly memorising a few quirky key facts. This is so you may be able to answer questions in the group interviews and possibly wow the recruiter if you get to the one-on-one stage. Airlines typically have bulk interviews conducted at once and this is generally done in a group situation. Depending on numbers, people may be eliminated “ Hunger Games” style as the day progresses.
It sounds scary and confronting (it is!) but it is also a fun way to remove yourself from your comfort zone, meet likeminded people and also challenge yourself!
Look The Part
People generally assume that being a flight attendant is all about looks. And, yes, generally you can pick cabin crew from a mile away, but that is not the point! Passengers look to crew for comfort and advice, but most of all, safety is paramount. You need to look the part for people to respect and listen to you.
It seems harsh, but it is undoubtably true. There is little point in giving passengers important instructions if you have lipstick smeared on your face, fly away hair and a messy uniform. You won’t look, or feel, in control, confident and ready to tackle any possible in-flight situation.
I think impeccable grooming starts from the inside. Take care of your body and it will take you to some very interesting places. I’m not saying to become a kale worshipping vegan if you are usually a devout carnivore, but you should try to have everything in moderation, and move around as much as you can!
With that said, grooming standards are endorsed at the very beginning, i.e. the interview process. Actually, when I started flying, on the first day of training, we were already told what to pay attention to before we graduated to the grooming aka “uniform phase”.
We all had to wear matching black slacks, a red polo shirt and approved footwear and stocking socks. Not too much makeup, perfectly coiffed bun (wth a hairnet) and a matching red 90s style scrunchie. I will never forget the swell of pride in my chest when I was handed that probably very cheap and definitely replaceable scrunchie. It symbolised my uniformity, my future and my belonging to a part of something big, new and special.
Uniforms are how companies convert their brand, their message and their values. My red hat is an icon in the aviation industry, and instantly recognised globally! I am proud to have been able to wear it. If you are a bit “relaxed” in your appearance and grooming standards, you might want to consider giving yourself a mental (and physical) overhaul.
It can be hard to keep your grooming standards second-to-none in the middle of a night flight, but if you know in your heart that you want to fly, you might want to give it a try! As I said, grooming expectations are high from the beginning.
For the interview, business attire is the way to go, with stockings, heels and a pencil skirt or conservative “work” dress. Nothing too revealing, short or too tight. You should feel comfortable, and look polished, clean and fresh. Avoid heavy eye makeup, dark lip colours and too much blush. Allow your natural beauty to shine through! Do you have freckles?! Great! Curly hair? Glasses? Embrace it and just be yourself!
If you’re lucky enough to secure a role (yay – go you!) you should try not to let these standards slip. Your grooming is expected to be top notch at all times, whether you have been awake for 16 minutes or 16 hours. My tips are to drink lots of water, wear a face mask during rest times and always, always wipe your lipstick off before eating or drinking and reapply after.
Let Go of Routine
If you are a routine-relishing comfort-loving home-body, then flying (and living in Dubai) may not be for you! On a typical roster, you could have up to 120 flying hours. This is roughly 1-2 Ultra Long Range flights (Dubai to San Francisco, Dubai to New York), 2 “medium length” flights (Dubai to Manchester, Dubai to Barcelona) and 2-3 Turnaround flights (Dubai to Cairo, Dubai to Athens, Dubai to just about any destination in India/Pakistan/The Middle East).
There is no rhyme or reason when it comes to rostering. Especially during reserve month. This means you are essentially on standby at home or at the airport, waiting to go literally anywhere in the world! If you have had enough legal rest time (time between flights to acclimatise) and have the correct visas, you could be pulled out for any flight at any time! So, let go of that routine life (within reason) and set yourself up with a method of relaxing when it is time to rest before a flight, or go to sleep.
Sometimes, it is just as good to rest and lie down as it is to have short, fitful bursts of sleep. I like to have a hot bath or shower, light some candles, close the drapes and spray some lavender sleep mist onto my pillow. Calming herbal teas (that do not contain caffeine) are great for calming the stomach and the mind. I really like a soothing chamomile, lavender and peppermint blend. I realise that this makes me sound like an 89 year old, but when I am in a state of utter exhaustion and overtiredness – it works! Our minds become accustomed to these cues, and sure enough, even just me writing about lavender is making me somewhat sleepy!
Chances are, this whole experience will be a once in a lifetime for you!
How many other jobs will let you sit in the cockpit for take off and landing? In how many other roles will you work with a diverse team every time you leave the house? Who goes to work in one country and finishes work in another?!
It is an amazing, life changing, mind-opening phenomenon that I honestly struggled to call a job. I was getting paid essentially to talk to people, to learn their stories, to make them feel comfortable and safe. I was able to travel the word, to see more than 50 cities and 20 countries in the span of a couple of years. I have made friends to last a lifetime, a passport that is overflowing with stamps and a heart full of fond memories and appreciation for all of the hard work that allowed me to get to where I am today.
Working (essentially living) in the sky is no easy feat, but you will be rewarded tenfold!
Also something to think about; aviation staff (of both ground and sky) also receive some second to none discounts on flights and other travel related items – so the adventure doesn’t stop when you’ve clocked out!
Do you think you’re cut out to be a flight attendant?
This is a guest post by Taylor Katselas.