I thought I would do something a bit different and write about what happens on a typical working day as Cabin Crew for Emirates airline. In between all of the glamorous layovers, we actually do a lot of turnaround flights where we don’t leave the aircraft and come straight back to Dubai. Generally, most of the turnarounds are to the countries in the Middle East, North Africa and to India and Pakistan.
Yesterday, I arrived back from a turnaround to Kochi in India. In this blog post, I am going to write about my day from start to finish.
The schedule flight time for EK0532 to Kochi is at 21:45 which means I have to report to work two hours before, so at 19:45. I began getting ready for the flight around 18:30 and then left my house around 19:30. For turnarounds, as we are not staying over, we do not have to pack our suitcase, and instead, we just bring our cabin bag with us. I took the bus to the Emirates Group Headquarters which takes me around 15 minutes.
I checked into the flight around 19:50, 5 minutes after the E-gate opened. We have 25 minutes to check in for our flight after the E-gate opens – if we are 1 second late, the gate closes and we are marked as absent so it is important that we arrive on time! We have a Crew departures area in the Headquarters where there are lots of E-gates lined up. We scan our ID and then proceed through to security, as you would in an airport. We never actually go to Dubai International Airport as we have a separate entry to the aircrafts through HQ.
After we have cleared security, we check the screen for our briefing room number and then go directly to the briefing. The room is divided into three groups, First Class, Business and Economy. I sit down with my Economy colleagues and then I show my passport and other legal flying documents to my Cabin Supervisor to check. I am then asked a ‘safe talk question’ – this is a legal requirement and can be on anything related to aircraft specifics, emergency procedures, medical training or security. If you answer this question incorrectly, you have another opportunity to answer a second question. If you get this wrong, you could get offloaded from the flight so it’s important to stay up to date with all of the relevant information.
Once everyone in the team has been checked, the Cabin Supervisor normally runs through the flight and discusses the service sequence. We will also be assigned our working positions for the flight – this is normally agreed by level of seniority, so the most senior Crew gets to choose their position first and so on.
After this, the Purser will introduce themselves and then give a little talk about the flight and what their expectations are. Sometimes, the Purser will ask everyone to introduce themselves and say where they are from just as an icebreaker.
Lastly, the Flight Crew will enter the room and introduce themselves. The Captain normally says a few words first, and then the First Officer will give us the important details such as the flight time, altitude and if there is any expected turbulence. The expected flight time to Kochi is 3 hours 30 minutes and the way back will be 3 hours 45 minutes.
Bus to the Aircraft
After the briefing, we then board a bus which takes us directly to the aircraft. This is our last chance to use our phones so it’s normally heads down and everyone tapping away sending off the last few messages! We walk onto the aircraft approximately 1 hour before the expected time of departure.
Before the customers board the aircraft, there are certain checks we have to do. The first thing we check is our door when we arrive at our position. We then check our jump seat and ensure our phone and PA system is working. After this, we check all of the equipment in our area to ensure we have everything in the correct quantity and everything is in working condition. We normally have a few minutes extra time so it is then time to make a coffee and have a quick snack from the Crew cart before boarding.
When boarding clearance has been given, we put our hats on and stand in our designated cabin ready to welcome the customers on board. We greet everyone and ask if they need any assistance with their bags. This flight to Kochi is completely full which means a lot of bags so finding space and closing all of the hat racks is quite a challenge.
Once everyone is on board and all of the overhead lockers have been closed, we can start with our pre-departure duties. Each position has a different duty, and on this flight, I am responsible for giving out the toys. I walk through the cabin and give out colouring books, activity packs and soft toys to all of the children. There are a lot of babies on this flight so I give them soft toys and I give the parents an infant changing kit which has nappies, cream, wipes etc. My other colleagues give out the menu’s whilst my Cabin Supervisor welcomes back all of the Skywards members on board.
After the last door has been closed and we have been instructed to arm our doors, we stand in our position for the safety demonstration video. Luckily, we don’t have to manually demonstrate the safety instructions as we have a video that plays on every screen, but we do have to stand and ensure that customers are paying attention! After this, we secure our area but locking our toilets and making sure everyone has their seatbelt securely fastened and all loose objects are stowed away.
On our jump seat, we adopt the semi-brace position and then take off into the skies. We are normally sat on our seat for about 30 minutes until we are released by the captain. We then unlock our toilets, instal baby bassinets and then go to the galley to begin setting up for the service.
The meal on this service is dinner and there are two different options – a prawn masala curry with rice or a vegetarian pumpkin chana dal curry. The ovens are switched on and whilst the meals are heating, we prepare the carts by putting all of the drinks on top and then brewing the tea and coffee. Once the hot meals have been loaded into the cart, we go out in the cabin and start serving the trays.
The meal service was very quick and easy on this flight and everyone was happy with their meal choice and drinks. After I have served all of the trays in my meal cart, I go back to the galley, dismantle my cart and then help some of my colleagues out. Once the customers have finished eating, I go back out with my empty cart to start clearance. I collect all of the empty trays, whilst handing out drinking water.
The last part of the service is tea and coffee. My colleague and I go out together and offer tea and coffee. Tea is very popular on this flight so we go through several flasks! Once everyone has been served, we allow them some time to enjoy their drink before going back through the cabin and clearing away all of the empty cups.
After the service
Once the service has finished, we check any call bells and deliver any drinks or other requests. We then usually have a bit of free time where we sit down and eat a meal. We have crew meals or we can eat any extra passenger meals. Once we are finished, it is normally time to start preparing the cabin for landing.
Top of descent
The captain makes a PA at the top of descent to let customers know that we are starting our descent to Kochi. At this time, the lights are switched on and then everyone makes a run for the bathroom! We tidy up the galley and seal all of the contains and bar carts.
Blanket and headset collection
We begin to collect any blankets they are no longer being used, followed by headsets. We store all of the blankets in large plastic bags and then lock them in the toilets for landing. Once everything has been collected and the seatbelt sign has been switched on, we go through our designated cabin and secure.
It is then time to land in the wonderful Kochi! We land on time at 03:00 local time and taxi off the runway to the gate. Once we are parked up at the gate and the doors have been disarmed, customers are free to collect their bags and make their way off the aircraft. I stand at my door and say goodbye to everyone. Once everyone has disembarked, I check my area for any lost property and then collect any more blankets or headsets.
On ground in Kochi
We have about an hour on ground in Kochi which is just enough time for the cleaners and catering. During this time, we normally grab a snack or a coffee and then stay by our door whilst the cleaners are busy cleaning. This normally goes so fast, and before you know it, they are finished and you have to get ready to do security searches.
Outstation, it is a requirement to conduct a full safety and security search of your area before customers board. We start our search and then once this has been completed, we pass our checks to the Purser so that he can give boarding clearance.
Round two begins – Kochi to Dubai (Boarding, Securing, Meal Service, Collection)
We then do everything we have just done again, but this time on route to Dubai. As it is 4am, everyone is very tired and sleepy, so the service is a lot quicker as not many people want to eat. We also serve breakfast instead of dinner.
We land on time in Dubai at 7am.
After everything has been collected and our Cabin Supervisors release us, we leave the aircraft and make our way onto the bus which takes us back to HQ. We clear through security and then we are free to go home! I missed my bus and didn’t fancy waiting another 20 minutes so I decided to get a taxi home.
I eventually arrive back home around 08:30, have a shower, make some breakfast and then get into bed around 09:30. As most people are starting their day at this time, I am ending mine and going to sleep!! This is where the sleepless nights begin as I sleep all day, wake up around 6pm and then of course I cannot sleep through the night. The joys!
It was a very long and exhausting day at work, but I do love the job and wouldn’t change it for the world. I definitely prefer doing layover flights as they are not so demanding, however, it’s all part of the job and I now have two days off in Dubai to recover! After this, I have another turnaround flight to Dammam in Saudi Arabia, and then New York City, so I have lots to look forward to.
I hope you enjoyed this ‘day in my life’!
Thanks for reading.
Kerry May xo