Following is a transcript of the video.
Narrator: Each year, more than 180,000 flights take off for Emirates airline, carrying about 60 million passengers. And the people in charge of all those travelers onboard? The 22,000 flight attendants and pursers that make up Emirates cabin crew. It’s a pretty sweet gig. Free housing in Dubai, discounted tickets, and getting paid to travel the world. But with long hours and busy schedules, the job is not always as glamorous as you’d think. Here’s what it’s like to be a flight attendant for Emirates.
Siti Nurazlin: My name is Siti Nurazlin, and I am a first-class crew working for Emirates.
Narrator: Like the approximately 144,000 applicants a year, Siti had to meet the airline’s qualifications. A minimum age of 21 years old, a height of at least 5-foot-2, an arm reach of about 7 feet on tiptoes to reach those overhead bins, fluency in English, at least a high-school degree, and no visible tattoos when in uniform.
Just like every other new hire, Siti started her Emirates career at the bottom, in economy on short-haul flights, and, through the years, she’s worked her way up to first class. Today, she crews an average of nine long-haul flights a month. Her schedule changes every week, but always includes flights that last up to 16 hours. And for a lot of that time, Siti is on her feet. She estimates about 11 hours out of a 16-hour flight.
Siti: The job could be quite challenging physically, so we need to maintain our physique and also be quite fit.
Narrator: But, thankfully, she’s not in heels the whole time.
Siti: We do change our uniform after takeoff, so we get to put on our flats, because the high heels wouldn’t get really comfortable in 16 hours. And we change into our waistcoat.
Narrator: Siti is also required to look the part.
Siti: Usually we keep to a natural makeup. Like, eyeliner and mascara usually is a must, and, you know, the Emirates red lipstick definitely.
Narrator: And just like makeup, hairstyles, jewelry, and nails are also pretty strict. As for jewelry, they can wear diamond or pearl stud earrings, but no necklace. And their nails have to be clean, with either a nude or red polish or a French manicure. Now, these requirements are for female flight attendants. Males have to be clean-shaven and style their hair with minimal product. But there’s an added level of responsibility for first-class attendants like Siti. For starters, she knows who the regular fliers are and what they like.
Siti: We do have information on our customers. So, on every flight, we will observe the preferences and the likes and dislikes of the customers so we get to write it down for future flights. For example, like, pajama size or their preferred drinks, so the more someone flies with Emirates, the more we can cater to their personal preference.
Narrator: She’s also required to have an expert understanding of the entire first-class menu. She knows options for passengers with dietary restrictions, the perfect wine pairing for dishes, and the tasting notes of 60 cheeses. And since she’s typically serving international travelers, Siti is a master at communicating across different backgrounds, but she’s not the only one. Like most of the cabin crew, Siti knows more than one language. For her, it’s English and Malay. But there are over 60 languages spoken across Emirates cabin crew and a staff of 135 nationalities.
Now, onboard, Siti’s duties are pretty standard. Do a safety check of the plane before passengers board, provide food and drink service during the flight, and go through the cabin after everyone de-boards. But off the plane, the perks of the job are substantial. Flight attendants get a base pay depending on experience, with an hourly rate stacked on top. Starting out, that equals about $32,000 a year. Plus, they get free housing in Dubai not far from the airport. They get 30 vacation days, one free flight a year, and can nominate friends and family for discounted tickets.
Siti: The perks of this job especially would be the concessionary tickets that we get, and not just for me, but for my family and friends as well. So I don’t really have to travel on my own or travel with just my crew friends; I can travel with my friends who are not flying as well.
Narrator: They even get to staff events like the US Open or make special appearances. But the best part? Traveling to 140 destinations worldwide with accommodations and meals covered.
Siti: The best part of my job is traveling, definitely. I’ve been to over 100 destinations with Emirates. I have never, and I don’t think I would ever travel to all these exotic places that we fly.