You always wanted to know. I decided to ask.

A one on one candid interview with a cabin crew member from a major International Airline.  Which airline you ask??  A well-known one that’s for sure.

We always ask the questions, but never had the answers.  This is an anonymous interview as you will see from the answers that the truth has definitely been told.

I would like to thank this person for giving up their time to write this very descriptive and interesting interview.  Thank you.   I’m sure you will love it.



How old are you?



Are you single, in a relationship, married and or have kids?

Single.  No kids. Having a friendship whilst you’re cabin crew is a very tough thing to hold on to, let alone a relationship.  There’s a reason why there’s a joke that cabin crew have boyfriends/ girlfriends in every city of the world.


What made you want to work as cabin crew for a major airline?

I was bored, I wanted to travel for a bit and see the world. I started feeling very stuck in my small hometown (Cape Town, South Africa). I wanted to do something different, something unexpected.


Do you work in economy, business or first class?

Economy class.


What country are you based in?

The United Arab Emirates – Dubai.


How long having you been working in your current job?

Nearly one year.


What does your day to day job consist off?

Our main priority is your safety. Everything we do is based around safety. Just imagine in your head that we need to evacuate the plane asap, and everything will make sense.

You need to give us your blanket, it becomes a hazard should we not land properly and have to evacuate. Same goes for headphones. You have to open the window shades in the day so that you can tell us if you see anything hazardous outside that we may not see. At night time, the shade must be opened so that your eyesight can adjust to the darkness should you need to evacuate. (See what I mean?)

Don’t be a smartass and want to keep your bag by your feet if you’re sitting at the emergency exit.

But mostly, it’s asking people if they want chicken or beef (no, we do not have fish on this flight. If you wanted to make sure you got fish, you should have requested a seafood meal when you booked your flight).

Getting people water (please guys, the call bell is supposed to be for emergencies. If you want something, come to the galley).


What benefits does your job give you?

The obvious: the ability to see the world and get paid for it.  An allowance at each city we stay at (roughly €40), that we get to keep if we don’t use.

Cheap tickets for ourselves and immediate family to travel on days off.

Discounted tickets for our extended family and friends.

We don’t have to pay for accommodation- we get to stay in 4 or 5 star hotels across the world, and we have free accommodation in Dubai, which includes the cover of electricity and water.

The fact that we live in Dubai means that we get paid without any tax deductions. That’s always great.


Do you ever get free flights?

Nope, never.  On occasion if there are too many crew for the anticipated low flight load, we will fly as a passenger to the destination. This is called “deadheading”. We then work on the returning flight with the same crew that worked the flight to the city.  This has happened to me one time in nearly one year.

We have cheap tickets. But they are standby tickets, so we may not necessarily even get on the flight, which sucks because you only have a certain amount of days off before you have to be back at work, and traveling takes up a lot of time, and if you don’t make your returning flight because there are too many passengers, you can get into big trouble.

Certain destinations always have full flights, meaning you probably can’t even use a discount ticket as standby isn’t an option, so you end up paying for a full ticket anyways.


Does the airline deliberately accentuate the gap between economy and business?

Not that I’m aware of?  I guess it’s just that you get what you pay for?

Personally if I paid that much money for a ticket, I should hope I get more benefits than someone who didn’t. Having said that, I’d never fly business class even if I could afford it.

It’s a lot of money to pay just to sleep comfortably for a few hours.  Besides, economy is way more fun.


Is the lifestyle of cabin crew as glamorous as it sounds?  Free accommodation, free stopovers, wild partying, shopping etc

Haha, I always get this question.  Essentially it’s like any job.  There are days when you love it, there are days when you hate it and want to send in your resignation letter.

Every flight is different, so it depends really on the passengers and crew. Yes it’s amazing to get the chance to visit a city you’ve always wanted to, but most of the time you only have one day there, and you need to accommodate for sleeping time.  A lot of the times you’re just way too tired to do anything.

I remember the first time I went to Melbourne. After working a 14 hour flight, I checked in and slept the full 24 hours that we were there. The wake up call came, and I was heading back to Dubai without ever seeing Melbourne.

For us, we hardly ever fly with the same crew, so making new friends every 3rd day or so can be exhausting.  It can also become very repetitive, especially when you fly to the same place repeatedly.

We work 24/7 365. No such thing as a public holiday or weekend.  Our concept of time does not exist. All we know is what time we have to be up at next. It becomes impossible to know what day of the week it is, let alone remember every aunty’s birthday. Forgive us if we don’t Facebook you on your birthday, we didn’t even realise it was Friday in your part of the world.

Any flight less than 5 hours we don’t get to stop over. This is called a turnaround flight. We disembark everyone; catering and cleaning come onboard; we get new passengers, and have to do it all over again.  What a lot of people don’t realize is that we work very long hours even on a seemingly short flight.

A turnaround flight goes something like this:

Let’s say the flight departs at 10am. We’re up at 6am; by the time the flight lands it’s around 3pm Dubai time. We are on ground for about 2 hours, so we depart around 5pm. 5 hours later we are back in Dubai at 10pm. By the time we disembark everyone, do our post landing duties and get home, it’s around 12am already.  Imagine working from 6am to 12am.  That’s a LONG day.

So please don’t get upset if your crew are a little bit snappy.  They could just be very tired.  It isn’t easy and it quickly takes a toll on your body.

Every crew has some health issues.  For me, my ears are never 100%. Any change in pressure, and they start popping, even with something as small as getting into an elevator.  The bloating is also very uncomfortable. Don’t even get me started on how uncomfortable the shoes are, or how quickly you start developing varicose veins.


The Mile High Club.  Everybody talks about it, does it really exist?

Apparently but I’ve never heard of it on any flight or witnessed it. Maybe with other airlines but for ours, it’s very difficult for it to happen with crew because we are always busy and someone is always looking for us. There isn’t any place to hide on the plane except the toilet, so for passengers, it’s unlikely because everyone can see if 2 of you enter the toilet, and then if a queue starts to form, we notice it and go investigate.


Have you had any over the top requests from passengers?

One time a lady asked me when she should feed her baby.  I was very confused. I just looked at her and said “Uhm, when the baby is hungry?”.

Someone once asked my friend if she can ask the captain to hurry up.

I’ve also heard someone asked if they can “ask the captain to turn off the engine because it’s very loud and their child can’t sleep”.

I’ve had people ask me to ask the chef to “whip up another chicken meal” because we had run out.  It’s a galley, not a kitchen. We have a certain amount of meals loaded. Once they’re heated, we can’t reheat them, and once they’re all gone, we don’t have extras.


What’s the craziest thing you have experienced working as cabin crew?

Nothing specific, just the variety of people there are; their habits and mannerisms.  In one part of the world making kissing noises at someone is considered a sexual advance. In other parts, it’s a polite way to call someone over.

Also, it never ceases to amaze me how just plane rude some people can be. My job is your safety. If I tell you to do something, do not backchat me or ignore me.  I once had a guy pretend he could not hear me ask him to put his seat upright. He continued to watch his movie even with me waiving my hand in his face. I went to press the button to raise his seat, and he forced himself backwards so the seat would not move.  At that point I stood up and loudly shouted that we could not land the plane until his seat was upright.  Only then he obliged.

I once had a 12 year old girl ask for preferential treatment just because she is an Emirate citizen. Excuse me?


Have you ever met any celebrities on board?

Just one but I’m not sure it’s someone you’d know. A local band from South Africa called Goldfish. They’re really great by the way and were super friendly to chat to.

Someone once told me they flew with Victoria Beckham and she was lovely!  Just goes to show that you shouldn’t judge someone based on their facial expression.


Have you ever had a passenger ask you to carry back duty free items or smuggle in goods in for them?



Is there any other information that you would like to share with us?

How much time do you have? Haha. Here we go:

Your luggage: you packed it, you can stow it. I cannot lift 300 bags every 3 days, are you insane.  What do you REALLY need to carry with you at all times that requires such a large bag, anyways?

Your seat number does not equal your hatrack. Wherever there is space for it, we will put it. If you’re not okay with this, I’m more than happy to offload it and put it in the cargo hold with everything else.

The toilets: as far as I’m aware, airports have toilets. Please try and use them before you board. We have a lot of people coming in one direction, and we want to get everyone on as soon as possible. Please don’t be that person wanting to walk against the traffic.

Also, it’s a toilet door. Not rocket science. Just PUSH it and it will open. If it has a handle, pull the handle.

Water: don’t drink any water from taps in planes. The water is fine but the pipes are old and never cleaned.  Try and bring a bottle of water with you, even if it’s empty. Come to the galley and ask us to fill it up for you. We will be more than happy to do so.

Don’t ever press the call bell (unless it is an actual EMERGENCY). It is our biggest pet peeve.

Try not to disturb the crew during boarding. If you need something (like water/ eyeshades), rather wait until after take off once the seatbelt sign is switched off.  Not only do we have boarding duties to do, but again, the whole walking against traffic thing is really not efficient.  Plus, we are very likely to forget, which only irritates you.

Changing seats: I’m sorry ground staff did not sit you next to your wife. Trust me, we did not do this. Do us a favour, wait until everyone is onboard, and then ask someone if they would be willing to switch seats with you. There’s no rules against this (just let us know you’ve switched seats if you ordered a special meal).

The aircraft is filthy.  You know those hot towels we give out? If I were you, I’d be using them to wipe down the tray table, remote control, and your armrests. I’ve seen people put baby diapers or their feet on them, and they don’t get cleaned very well.

Don’t walk around the aircraft without shoes, ESPECIALLY in the toilets.  People have thrown up in aisles and the method of cleaning involves something along the lines of throwing a powder on it to soak up the liquid so that it forms a jelly that we can easily scoop up.

Try and use a toilet seat cover too (they’re in the toilets, just above the toilet itself).

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across a pee-stained toilet.  In some parts of the world people genuinely do not know how to use a toilet. They’re used to aiming at the ground. That floor is incredibly disgusting.

Child meals: just because you have a child does not automatically mean your child will have a child meal. You NEED to request this when you book your ticket. Same goes for vegetarian meals.

If you see us coming down the aisles with carts, please sit down. I don’t know why people do this bit they suddenly HAVE run to the toilet. We cannot constantly haul that heavy cart just so you can go use the bathroom.

Don’t expect to give out food or drinks later. Stock up whilst we are by you and everyone will be happy.

When we are serving you, give us the courtesy of pausing your movie BEFORE we get to you. Know your meal choice already; you were given a menu for a reason. Don’t sit with your headphones on, speaking too loudly, and not hearing us.

If we ask you if you’d like “tea or coffee”, the answer isn’t “yes”. Be specific the first time around. Black coffee, 2 sugars, and a glass of water please.

Patience. Depending on the aircraft type, we are 6 people serving 300+ of you. We will get to you when we get to you. Pressing the call bell whilst we are doing the service is pointless, you won’t get any answers. Everyone is busy. If you’re having an emergency, YELL.

Children: please control them. Nobody likes a screaming child, nor a kid that runs up and down. It’s very annoying to everyone.  Also, please don’t wait for us to come to you and then ask little Johnny what he would like to drink.   You’re the parent, make decisions beforehand.

We are also not your babysitter. Unless we voluntarily want to play with your child, don’t expect us to look after him or her whilst you take a nap.

We are ALWAYS busy.   You know how most jobs are required to give you an hour lunch every few hours of working? Yeah, we don’t get those.  After take off, from the time the seat belt sign comes off, it takes us roughly 4 hours to do the first service.

The galley is our only resting place. If you see us sitting, I can assure you it’s for about 15 minutes just so we can grab a bite to eat before we start our next service.  The last thing we want is for you to press the call bell for a glass of water.  If you can get up to use the toilet, you can get up and come to us.

Landing: once the captain has made the PA to say we are beginning our descent, please start prepping for landing. Get all your things sorted and don’t suddenly need water/ a toothbrush/ the toilet. You had 7 hours.

If we ask for your blanket and headset please give them. After you’ve left, we still have to go and check every seat for them. It has been known where we can be on our way home, and we are called back to the aircraft to come and remove one headset we forgot.  Nothing is more soul crushing, so you can imagine how much it irks us when you say “can I just finish the last 10 minutes?”  Maybe bring your own headsets and buy a plane adapter?  The headsets are filthy anyways.  They get reused and only the earpieces are changed.

Please don’t make us baby you. You’ve seen the safety video, you know your seat has to be upright, arm rests down, seatbelt fastened, tray tables put away, electronic devices off, window shades up.   This is a standard on EVERY SINGLE FLIGHT EVER IN THE WORLD.  Just do it.

Once the plane lands, do NOT stand up until after we have. If you try to, you will get yelled at.  Also, why the rush?  It takes about 15 minutes for the walkway to be attached and for First and Business Class to disembark.  Getting to the front of the queue isn’t going to get you off the plane any faster. Just sit down so long.  Having said that, you should probably know that whenever the aircraft door is open, we are not getting paid.  So please, don’t be that person that lingers after everyone is already off.  We have had a long day and want to get off the plane sooner than you do.

Also, please PLEASE make sure you have all of your belongings. How many announcements do we need to make!



I can assure you, we did not voluntarily cause this. Unless you’re Ryan Gosling, we are not looking for a way to keep you with us for longer than necessary.

We cannot predict the weather. We have no idea if you will make your connecting flight, nor do we care. Ask ground staff once you get off the plane, that’s their job.  Our job is to get you from point A to point B safely.  If we did this, acknowledge us with a smile, say thank you, and be off.

All in all, listen to your cabin crew, be patient, and treat us the way you would like to be treated if you were in our shoes.  Mainly just sit back, relax, and enjoy your flight.


PS, I swear I do enjoy my job.






If you loved my post, leave me a reply :)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.