Interview with former Qatar Cabin Crew, Zaheer Alvi

When did you first know that you want to be a cabin crew?

Since I was born, I was interested in aviation. My mother told me that whenever I use to see an aircraft, I use to call it ‘My Plane’. However, during my high-school, I always wanted to do something to get into the aircraft business and honestly, to see the world. I think the best idea was either as a pilot or being a cabin crew . When I started looking up aviation jobs, some of my friends and family discouraged me into becoming a pilot. They thought so many people have this job and they can not find a job for themselves. So, I started thinking about other ways of travelling around the world and that was the time I thought of becoming cabin crew.

 

How would you describe yourself before getting into aviation?

It might shock you that I was a very shy person before getting into the airline business. I didn’t talked to strangers and it was very difficult for me to trust other persons. I was mostly quiet and mostly misunderstood due to my quiet behavior in new places. I was so quiet that when I joined the airline business, many people use to think that I don’t like to work with them due to my behavior. But in time I managed to overcome my emotions, and to be more openly and friendly.

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For how many airlines did you work and for how long?

I have worked only for Qatar Airways for 14 years, because I was born in Doha and I never wanted to leave the place.

 

Which was the highest position that you had in the airline?

I had reached the position of CSD and the reason I never applied for a higher one (for an office job) was because I didn’t wanted to quit flying.

 

Did your private life have to suffer because of traveling so much?

Not really. The reason is that when you enjoy doing something, it will not affect your life or in other word you don’t have to suffer due to the things you are enjoying. No matter what kind of job you have, there are always cons and pros to it. We should remember that a good life is not about WHAT you are doing, it is always about HOW you are doing it. No matter which profession you are working in, if you are not satisfied or you do not enjoy doing it, you are going to suffer not only professionally, but also personally. As I was enjoying flying and always having new people around me, my private life was never affected by my work.

 

Were you sad when you had to stop flying?

Yes, it was a big change. For me, I think flying gets in your blood; once you get used to it, you have to really prepare yourself psychologically to quit.

 

Do you still keep in touch with your friends that you made around the world?

Always! The best thing that happened to me while flying was meeting new people around the world, working with them, travelling with them, getting to know about their cultures, religions etc. It gives you the feeling that you can just meet anyone and you know what they are expecting from you.

 

What are you doing at the moment?

After quitting I finished my studies and right now I have my own business.

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Can you describe in details a happy/unhappy situation that took place in your flight?

As I spend 11 years of flying in supervisor position, most of the times I have tried my best to make every flight a ‘Happy flight’ and I hope I succeeded. I think the most uncomfortable situations for me where when I had to report someone for not being up to the standards of the company. Luckily for me, I never experienced a fight with passengers or had to intervene in disagreement between cabin crew and passengers. The reason is that our crew was trained to follow the standards of the company strictly, and they always tried to make the flight as pleasant as possible.

Prepare yourself for the upcoming interviews with the big airline companies. Come at our How to be Cabin Crew courses and make a step forward towards your dream. Details and registration here.

Three major airlines, one single flight attendant: Antonia’s story

Antonia Talianu is one of the flight attendants who amazed us with their life stories. Now 32, she is a graduate of the Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication, at University of Bucharest. Seven years have passed since Antonia went to Middle East to make a dream come true. Although it sounds like a cliché, she always wished to fly. At the early age of 15, she got a job that could allow her to travel, doing it whenever possible. Antonia told us how life as a flight attendant gave her freedom in many ways, from the way of thinking to the financial leeway. In a few months, she will become a mother, accomplishing her dream of having her own family too.

Oman Air, Etihad Airways, and Emirates Airline – an impressive chain of Gulf carriers for which you have worked. How did you find out about the interviews and how were they conducted?

To be sincere, at that time, you could gain access to more information only after getting hired by a Gulf airline. Unlike now, when there are so many forums, Facebook pages, or even personal development and professional counseling programs. I have found out about Oman Air from a job offers website. After applying, I was invited to a hotel, together with other 500 girls. It was the first time Oman Air was coming to Romania. The interview process took three days, and with each day passing, we were fewer and fewer. Eventually, 20 girls were chosen, but it was only me and a girl from Piteşti who had the courage to embark to Oman.

For Etihad Airways I’ve applied while I was already flying for Oman Air. I wanted a change, to really see the world, as Etihad Airways had many more destinations. The interview was quite difficult. I flew 45 minutes from Oman to Abu Dhabi. When I arrived at the Etihad head office, I noticed there were not more than 1000 girls who had come for the Assessment Day from all over the world. We started talking and I had around me there girls coming from America, Australia and even Venezuela. Some of them looked like real supermodels. The interview wasn’t different from that of Oman Air. It was a tough selection, lasting one day. We had no time to waste, but only to stay focused. At six o’clock that evening, we were 20 girls and boys waiting for the face-to-face interview. After that, I returned to Muscat, back to my work. In two weeks, I received my visa through an email, together with my air ticket.

Emirates, I have to admit, was my last attempt to live in the Middle East. As a First and Business Class Lounge Supervisor, I wasn’t flying anymore. They contacted me after finding my profile on a website, so that it wasn’t necessary for me to apply. At first I thought it was a joke made by my friends from Abu Dhabi, Etihad Airways being the only airline offering low-fare tickets not only for family, but also for friends. What followed was a Skype interview. After two days, they invited me to a face-to-face interview, sending me an air ticket, the visa and the hotel reservation. Out of the ten Romanian women coming in Dubai for the interview, I was the only one successful. After two weeks, I moved into a studio and started the training.

How long did you work for each airline and how were you promoted?

Oman Air is the airline of my soul. It was there where I have learned everything about culture, religion, mentality and behaviour. I have lived there for three and a half years. But I can honestly say it was thanks to Etihad that I become more mature. They are stricter, but also more respectful. I have been working there for one year and a half. Lastly, Emirates seemed incredibly relaxing to me; I was a different person then, more mature and with some experience behind. Besides, I used to work four days and have the next four days for rest.

At that time, Oman Air didn’t have its own system of promotion. After three tiring months of turnaround flights on a Boeing 737, I have shifted to Airbus 330, which meant flights to Europe and layovers, finally. It was the period when Oman Air was purchasing bigger airplanes, starting its flights to Europe.

Etihad Airways is an airline that cares for your personal development. So after six months, I applied and received the Cabin Senior role, being in charge of the whole Economy Class. My wide experience with Oman surely had a say on it.

In case of Emirates, it is not easy to get promoted, being a ground employee, even already a supervisor. In order to reach the next level, you must speak Arabic. Although I speak, write and read in five different languages, it did not make any difference.

For which one of the airlines did you most enjoy working and why?

I have most enjoyed working for Oman Air, as I had the chance to acquire everything step-by-step. The Omani people are extraordinarily friendly. That is why I have stayed there for three and a half years, starting from the Economy Class and after three months progressing to the premium classes. Wage differences weren’t too big between classes, but this was my opportunity to deal and interact with high society and royalty.

What was your favourite destination and why?

My favourite destination will always be London. I like to call this city “the country with all countries”. In my opinion, like any other big city, London makes it possible for you to experience different cultures, nationalities and various foods. I have long been fascinated by London. From Etihad I received the chance to visit it very often, through the monthly flight schedule which is built on your level of speaking a certain language.

What were your day off activities while living in Muscat, Abu Dhabi and Dubai?

In Muscat you don’t have many possibilities, except clubbing and exploring Oman. I have been hiking, visited oases, slept in a Bedouin tent in the peaceful desert and also found a family, with whom I still keep in touch, even now, after seven years. As for Abu Dhabi, there is a beach and entertainment everywhere; moreover, your cabin crew ID card lets you join all of the clubs and exclusive parties in town. About Dubai, I could say it was made for partying; but, as I had already experienced it, I preferred instead going to the beach or escaping everywhere around the globe for four days.

How would you describe your flight attendant experience at Oman Air?

My experience at Oman Air gave me the confidence I needed to get through all the interviews. I have always felt confident in my knowledge gained there, as well as in my life experience. My advice to both my friends and others who just look at my photos will always be to leave for the Middle East. What you learn there compares to nothing. Some of my happiest moments were those when I was taking by the hand a passenger afraid of flying, saved a life on board, and made someone smile through a small gesture. I could also improvise a vegan menu for someone who couldn’t have meal. I consider it the only possible way to resist tiredness and time zone changes.

Why did you give up flying?

There comes a time in life when you realize you want something else. Personally, I gave up flying because I was dreaming to have my own family and I didn’t want to lose any time. I have seen the world and spent all of my holidays in America, exploring each state one by one. My passport is out of blank pages for visa stamps. I had the opportunity to live an extraordinary life, filled with experiences and lots of things to learn.

How did you feel during your last flight?

This question makes me smile. My first and last flight had been both to Beirut. My colleagues used to nickname me “Dubai – Beirut”, which represented Oman Air’s longest flight; I was flying there at least four or five times a month. So I ended my flight attendant career with a last flight from Abu Dhabi to Beirut. They called me while I was at my base, in home standby, packing to come back home to Romania. I was on call until the very last moment.

How’s life in London, now that you are done with aviation?

Life is what you make it. In London, you have freedom and opportunities to do whatever you want. I don’t work in the aviation field anymore, but as an assistant building manager in an office building, I still get to meet pleasant people of many nationalities. The difference is not so significant, except now I am always on the ground, working from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and having my weekend free.

You can prepare for the upcoming interviews by attending our two day intensive training in Rome. Find more information about the course here. 

10 things I learned while being a flight attendant for 10 years.

I spent 10 years and a half of my life among the clouds. Being a cabin crew for Qatar Airways, I spent 12.000 hours in the company’s uniform and I visited 209 cities. Those were the most beautiful years in my life, the years in which I learned so much and made me the person I am today.

These are 10 life lessons that I learned during my carrier:

  1. The flight was my confident

My destiny was to do what I wanted, meaning to travel the world back and forth. Firstly, I learned to find my inner peace and to fulfill my adventurous thoughts. For me, flying transformed into my confident, becoming an inseparable asset in my daily life.

  1. I surpassed myself

I searched to reach a certain ideal model, although I have been told that the ideal model exists only in our imagination. I tried to reach the 5* standard that was imposed by the airline company, learning to surpass myself every time. From being a simple flight attendant, after 5 years I became Cabin Manager and after only 1 year I reached the highest step, being Cabin Service Director on board at Airbus and Boeing airplane, finishing by becoming the one thing that I wished, being a trainer.

  1. I learned to be strong and independent

As a flight attendant I learned to be a very strong person and also independent, easily adaptable and holding my destiny in my hands. Many times people told me, till the moment they actually spoken to me, that I seemed unapproachable, full of mystery, but they changed their thoughts after they saw that I am actually an open-minded person with a complex personality. In fact that’s how I liked to be in an airplane: humorous actress, confident, who played the role of a doctor, chef, bartender or firefighter, with grace, delicacy and naturalness.

  1. I learned to always smile

The most important advantage of a cabin crew is the smile! I figured out that everything I do on board, by putting a big smile I increase its value. My attitude has changed completely when I was smiling and it was easy to work in team.

  1. I learned to take care of myself

As a flight attendant, image means everything. All eyes are always looking at you, even if you are on board or in the airport. I learned to always take care of myself, to pay attention to my image, for my respect and also for the company that I was representing. I wore with dignity my uniform, and because of it, my confidence increased considerably as the years passed by.

  1. I learned to anticipate

During my career I observed how passengers always appreciated when I anticipated their wishes, investigating us, with curiosity, with which magic we read their minds. Therefore, studying each character on the flight to different places of the world, I learned to read minds even before boarding and anticipate some of their needs.

  1. Safety is the most important thing

From my trainers I learned that safety is the most important thing: my safety, the cabin crew’s and then the passenger’s one (especially in this order). I always followed safety procedures exactly as we were instructed, preferring to make a short service on board, instead of putting my colleagues or passengers in danger.

  1. Discipline, order, punctuality

As a cabin crew member I learned that discipline, punctuality and order are the qualities you need to have from the start, otherwise you will not resist in this world.

  1. There is no room for NO in a flight attendant vocabulary

I learned from my Service on board instructors that working in team it’s in fact an activity to get to know your colleagues in order to make your guests on board pleased when they arrive at the final destination. A service is considered excellent when we succeed to not use negative expressions and the word NO is missing from our vocabulary.

  1. Homesickness will never disappear

As cabin crew, I learned that flying can’t cure only one thing: missing your family, your home and Romania (in what concerns me!). At one moment, somebody said to me that the cities from the Middle East are like train stations in transit, in which different persons are going up and down, but in which the majority comes back to the origin station. The life that I build for myself for over a decay in my black Delsey suitcase of the company was a happy one, but which kept me away from my family. In 10 years as cabin crew I always had close to me old and new friends, lovers, but nothing could replace my family and our own traditional holidays spent home.

You can prepare for the upcoming interviews by attending our two day intensive training in Rome on 9-10 July. Find more information about the course here. 

Flight attendants dealing with difficult passengers

When you become flight attendant, you’ll have to write a lot of flight reports; it is important to know that every unexpected event on board must be reported. Events may happen during flight, or while the airplane is still on ground. For example, when providing first aid, a complete flight report will help the doctors know more about the case afterwards. You must be aware that every single detail is of great importance. Many times reports are written, even if it is only about an insignificant headache.

Egyptian passengers

When flying to Egypt, there are some painkilling medicines, such as Panadol, that should be available on board for these kinds of passengers, who generally suffer headaches ever since embarking. The Egyptians smoke very strong cigarettes; whenever cigarettes are missing, severe headaches lasting one to two hours appear. A good example would be one passenger’s complaint about his carry-on baggage not fitting in the overhead bin. This passenger was constantly yelling, complaining of his headache, insisting on his baggage issue, and appearing considerably irritated by the presence of the flight attendants. His behaviour indicated he had been on drugs.

Hysterical passenger

One day, during boarding, one passenger who was afraid of flying, soon after asking for a medicine to stop her headache pain, fell into a hysterical crisis and started to slap the flight attendant who was trying to calm her down.

Pregnant passenger

Another day, right before landing, a business-class passenger who was seven months pregnant, announced the crew about her headache accompanied by strong abdominal pain. Everyone thought the labour was about to start. After discussing with her, the flight attendants found out she was only experiencing gas pains. She said her doctor gave her medicines, which were left in the hold baggage.

The Chinese passenger – or how to put in danger a whole plane

Another female colleague of mine also went through an extremely dangerous and unhappy experience, during one of her flights:

“I am one of those people who had dealt with many medical incidents throughout their flight attendant careers. Once I had a flight from Doha to Pekin; many of our Chinese passengers were coming from Algeria via Doha. There was one odd passenger who appeared to have his head in the clouds. Although he looked dizzy, he didn’t smell of alcohol. However, I decided to inform the Senior Cabin Crew about it. That passenger hadn’t been eating anything during the flight. But as long as he didn’t disturb anyone, we didn’t give him too much attention.

But just before landing, while all of the passengers were sitting in their seats with the seatbelts fastened, the Chinese passenger suddenly got up, went towards the airplane’s door and tried to open it! I was standing right there, but he didn’t seem to care about my presence. I reacted immediately, asking him to leave and telling him how dangerous this whole thing was. After taking three steps back, he turned again to the door. At that moment, I realized it was no joke. While asking for my colleagues’ help, I found the physical force to grab him by the collar and push him back into his seat. Instantly, I asked him loudly to sit and fasten his seatbelt. We were about to land, so I had just a few seconds to get to my jump seat.

After landing, the passenger had to meet the airport security. Soon afterwards, we understood the reason for his strange behaviour: he had been physically abused in Algeria, and maybe even drugged.”

Lesson learned: flight attendants are captain’s eyes. They must be always attentive, since any insignificant event could be of great importance at an altitude of 10,000 metres.

Good luck to all future flight attendants!

Join us on an exclusive 4 days training course. We’ll share everything you need to know to pass the cabin crew interview stages, we will edit your perfect CV and take professional pictures for your online application. At the end of the course, you will be fully prepared for the interview. Book your seat now! 

Qatar Cabin crew

The Qatar Airways rules

 There is a specific list of rules you need to follow while working as cabin crew for Qatar Airways. Here are some of the most important ones:

  • You must get home before 4 am, even if you’re free the day after.

While I worked at Qatar Airways the time you could leave home wasn’t mentioned. I sometimes would arrive from a desert picnic at 3 am and go back to the camping two hours later; I would normally make pancakes for my friends during the two hours spent inside. It was thought that, after dawn,you could go out, especially since most of the crew thought that was the coolest period of the day and most suitable for running. And that was the time for the first prayer of the day (for our fellow Muslims) also.

  • During the 12 hours of rest before being transported by bus to the airport for duty (duty = flight or airport standby), you are allowed to leave the house for 90 minutes.

As I owned a car, I used to go and watch even only 2 basketball quarters, because it helped me disconnect, walk around the mall or visit acquaintances.

  • You are not allowed to wear jeans (the black, decent ones are accepted though) inside the office, technical building, aviation clinic or while travelling with Qatar Airways.

You must always dress business attire, and the girls’ skirt shouldn’t let their knees in sight. To these places you travel either by company taxi or by car that may be driven by your father, husband or brother.

  • Your father or brother cannot live in the same building with female flight attendants while on holiday.

I made a special request in the office so as, during my 4 consecutive days off, I could stay at the hotel with my family, and some other time I could go for a few days and live with my parents at some friends’ house. Of course I filled in all the details about the place I was staying in.

  • You cannot use the phone or use any electronic device when you’re on the bus to and from work.

The explanation is, while in uniform, you must maintain a professional image of the entire crew. Of course if you were last or first on the bus, you could send a message or make a call, provided you were not seen / heard by colleagues. The bus drivers were always very understanding.

  • You are not allowed to have alcohol, tobacco or pork products inside your home, and lately, candles have also been prohibited.

The explanation for alcohol, tobacco and pork products is obvious, and candles were banned because of a number of fire inside the houses.

  • You cannot distribute pictures of yourself in uniform on the internet.

  • You cannot distribute pictures of yourself in company of other crew members or friends where cigarettes or alcohol appear.

  • You cannot distribute pictures of yourself in a bathing suit.

It is believed that people know you’re a Qatar Airways flight attendant and the company’s image can be affected by how you display yourself on various social sites.

  • During flights you are not allowed to have religious or political debates with passengers or colleagues or gossip about your management team.

“I found out from another flight attendant that on flight XYZ, the Chief Cabin Crew reported a flight attendant for chewing gum.” – NO! There have been cases of the Chief Cabin Crew or even flight attendants who have reported episodes of “gossiping”.

  • A flight attendant is not allowed to chew gum!

  • When a flight attendant finds out she is pregnant, she must resign immediately.

  • To get married you need approval from the top management (the CEO) and you are given consent only if you have been with the company for at least five years.

  • You may receive visitors of the opposite sex in your apartment only between 7:00-22:00, and on entering the building they must identify by a residential certificate or passport with the security staff at the entrance.

The ID number is written in a register and the person must sign both for the entry and the exit of the building. At the same time, you, as the host, must open the door using your flight attendant identification (ID), so that the system knows if you receive visitors while at home. By having to do so, the office may spot if you break another rule that says you are not allowed to receive visitors during the 12-hour minimum rest before duty or home standby ( duty is considered not only flying, but also a course or standby duty at home or at the airport.)

Concerning the grooming (uniform + appearance) we had strict rules on colour shades that may be used for the make-up of the eyes and lips, varying on the colour of the uniform. Four products were a must for each flight: mascara, foundation, lipstick and nail polish coordinated to the colour of the lipstick. Before every flight, a grooming officer checks every flight attendant’s appearance.

You might think there are too many rules, but with time they become part of you. When I returned home, the first time I went out with my friends, at 2:30 in the morning I was checking my clock as I was used to being at home at 3:30. Arriving home at 5 am was a real event for me, I even posted that on Facebook.

Although having all these rules, I must say that cabin crew members find all sorts of ingenious methods to avoid them once in a while.

Join us on an exclusive 4 day training course. We’ll share everything you need to know to pass the cabin crew interview stages, we will edit your perfect CV and take professional pictures for your online application. At the end of the course, you will be fully prepared for the interview. Book your seat now!

From cabin crew to air traffic controller

Alexandra Tomescu worked for two years as a cabin crew at Qatar Airways. She returned to Romania exactly 2 years and 3 months later, as her homesickness was continuously growing. The aviation “bug” was still there though, so, shortly after her cabin crew career ended, Alexandra gives the Air Traffic Controller test and goes to Miami for a 5 month training program at PanAm International Flight Academy. Today, Alexandra Tomescu is an Air Traffic Controller at the Sibiu International Airport.

I had the pleasure to meet Alexandra Tomescu many years ago, on a flight to KUL (Kuala Lumpur). I found, during that flight and layover site (staying at the hotel overnight) Alexandra to be not only a trustworthy colleague but a friend also. Although a petite cabin crew, she proved to have a big heart and a strong, but pleasant, personality. Years after, I was delighted to find out that, although she left behind this profession, she built her career up inside the aviation, as an air traffic controller.

How did you become a cabin crew? Where do the beginnings of your itinerary in aviation lay?

After I have graduated International Economic Relations at the ASE, I wished for a job in “International Logistics”. Twice a week I used to buy a newspaper where there were job advertisements and at some point, I saw the recruitment advertisement – Open Day – for Qatar Airways. I clipped the newspaper ad and thought it was worth a try, even if it wasn’t exactly what I wished for, although I, later on, joked that it was in fact the same field, only it was international logistics of the passengers.

I always liked travelling and so I thought it was a great opportunity to see the world, to get to know so many people, to discover their history, religion and customs and even get paid for it. What could be better than that? After the interview, where about 300 candidates summoned initially (if not more, because the hotel’s auditorium was full) I found myself to be one of the 23 fortunates, later on I was contacted for the confirmation and finally for signing the contract. I proceeded in this profession for two years, to be more accurate, 2 years and 3 months, 2 months being the training period at that time (December 2005 – March 2008).

What were you thinking of when taking off?

Take-off is my favourite of all of flight’s phases: a little adrenaline and the ferment of arriving at the destination, the adventure of discovering, each time, brand-new things.

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Which was your favourite destination?

Out of the ones I saw when working for Qatar, there were two: in Europe – Switzerland and in Asia – Kuala Lumpur. Without exaggerating, besides culture and scenery in Kuala Lumpur, I think I particularly fell in love with it mostly because of the crew members I was flying with then, that particular flight you mentioned when you talked about how we met ! I really had a great time there, especially since it’s been an almost 5 days stay, if I remember correctly. Today, things have changed. I revisited some of my destinations in Asia, and recently got to see Kuala Lumpur and Singapore and been deeply impressed by Singapore. It truly is the pearl of Asia!

What are your best flying memories ?

There are many beautiful memories. It would take too long to talk about each of them. But as a rule, the most beautiful flight experiences were those where your crew was homogeneous, where you got on well with everyone, teamwork was natural, and communication was as natural as if you knew each other for a lifetime. With such a crew, a demanding flight was becoming pleasant and passed swiftly, and once arrived at the destination, if there was a layover, you would walk and have fun like old friends do.

cabin crew

Why did you swap profession?

The cabin crew profession is very beautiful and as Sasha, my Safety & Security instructor said, if flying gets in your blood, it’s difficult to get rid of it. Those who think being a cabin crew is easy, are very wrong. It is a very demanding job, both physically and mentally. You have a very chaotic schedule, flying at all hours, varying in duration, you travel the world back and forth, cutting across several time zones, you have to know very well everything you have learned during training, but, the most demanding of all, to satisfy all passengers requests with a smile on your face and according to a certain standard. Passengers do not care that you are there first of all for their safety and that serving them only comes after, on the contrary, they are mostly interested in service.

There have been flights where the area designated to me consisted of 75 passengers, each having their own needs and demands. In addition to this, the biggest sacrifice you make is your personal life. It’s hard to be so far away from home (home being your base, for that is your new home), to live your life on the plane and inside hotels and have a normal personal life. This job asks for sacrifices, and starting a family is the first. I considered this job couldn’t take me very far on a professional or personal level and felt that, that kind of future wasn’t what I wished for.

I encourage all those who wish to travel the world to embrace this profession for a few years, but they should also know when to stop. It is difficult to return back home and start your life from scratch, professionally speaking, because most companies ask for experience in a particular area and, even though thrilled that you have worked abroad, in a big company with many nationalities, they will inevitably prefer whoever has experience in their field.

I decided to change something in my life with my head, not with my heart … And to reinforce what I said above, after returning back home, only after 3 months of interviews at various companies, I managed to get a job as assistant manager. It was not what I dreamt of, but I had to start somewhere. Knowing that I could do more, and wishing to do it, I did my best to find something more competitive and challenging. And at some point, I found out about the air traffic controller job exam (FEAST test developed by Eurocontrol in Brussels – for those who wish to know more) which I can proudly say I passed, being the 3rd out of 400 candidates.cabin crew

Congratulations! What does your current job involve?

I love my current job and barely see myself doing anything else. It is obvious that aviation got into my blood and even if I’m not travelling as often as I did while being a cabin crew, I get to see planes almost every day. I say almost every day because I work shifts 12/24/12/48, so, one every four days I don’t work. The air traffic controller profession is very beautiful, but also very demanding, not in vain they consider it to be the most stressful job in the world. As the name suggests, it mainly involves tracking and routing airplanes, preventing collision between airplanes both in air and on the ground, between airplanes and other machineries and to maintain the safe flow of air traffic in the space assigned. It involves both landings and take-offs, plus directing other aircraft in my area of responsibility. To have an idea, my area of responsibility is represented by a cylinder, 60 km in diameter, and 11000 feet (about 3500 meters) in height.

It is a very complex job, it demands excellent distributive attention, immediate responsiveness and making the right decisions in a very short period of time, responsibility being huge. We carry the responsibility for the entire journey of an airplane, from the moment the engines starts for the take-off, to the moment you arrive safely at your destination and engines stop. Pilots take care of the proper operation of an airplane, we handle safety, giving instructions for the routes to be followed, altitudes and procedures. This is the responsibility an air traffic controller has. As I already said, it is a complex job and there would be a lot to explain but hope to have made myself clear with the brief description above.

What can you tell us about the training stage in Miami?

If at Qatar Airways in 2 months I “graduated” 7 training courses: waiter, bartender, chef, policeman, fireman, nurse and human resources, the initial air traffic controller training lasted five months at the PanAm International Flight Academy. It definitely cannot be compared to the cabin crew training course in terms of complexity. For 2 months, we studied theory: aviation law, meteorology, navigation, navigation equipments, aircraft characteristics, phraseology, Air Traffic Management, human factors and briefing.

After the first month of theory, we began with the simulator also, direction giving exercises, similar to real life. In the beginning, exercises were simple, with 3-4 airplanes and in time, difficulty increased, reaching 20 aircraft with both departures and arrivals within 30 minutes, without any mistakes. In fact, this is the most important part: the simulator, because it teaches you how to deal with real traffic, both in normal and extraordinary situations and / or emergencies. Obviously, when one theory module ended, we would have a written examination and in the end we had a practical exam on the simulator, consisting of a normal directing exercise combined with extraordinary and / or emergency.

Divided between learning and having fun, during the 5 months in Miami I have also built beautiful friendships, for a lifetime, I hope. After returning in the country, a week’s course of Flight Dispatcher followed, concluded with a written test examination. A month later, I had to once again give all theoretical examinations at the Romanian Civil Aviation Authority, and only after that acquired the license of apprentice air traffic controller. An extra two months period of simulators followed and after that, I started this internship period in real traffic directing. 6 months of internship later, I had the AACR exam again, this time, the Examination commission arriving at the location. The examination consisted of a written test comprising all subjects, but made specifically for that particular area and after that, they observed the real traffic routing of aircraft. Only afterwards did I receive the air traffic controller authorization , with full one year rights. Every year we must deal with extraordinary situations and / or emergency on the simulator and have to undertake a written and practical re-examination.

The Flight Dispatcher ,at least level 4 ICAO English Language certificate and medically fit class III certificate are also repetitive check-ups. In conclusion: a complex process and an ongoing training, as the profession itself.

Was the information acquired during the cabin crew training course helpful for your training in Miami?

They are completely different professions, even though they both belong to the aviation field, consequently, information acquired during the flight attendant training course didn’t help much, during my training in Miami.

 

What’s atmosphere like in a control tower, compared to a plane?

If I have to refer to the people you work with, it is totally different. Inside the tower, there’s a handful of people, usually the same during each shift, consequently, friendships are closer and you get to know others very well, while on the plane you barely fly 2 or 3 times with the same people. During breaks, the atmosphere is relaxed but otherwise everyone is very focused on what is to be done and you must be authoritative and in control. There’s no room for hesitation or babble, and pilots must follow the instructions you give. And there’s also no room for “Sorry”, as opposed to a flight attendant’s approach.

Which of the two professions would you recommend to your child?

First of all, it depends on the child’s personality and what they like. Based on this, I would recommend one of these jobs or none. They both shaped me and helped me become who I am today, I think they both offer very much, but it depends on what one really expects from life and the limits they set for themselves. Aviation truly gives you wings …

flydubai cabin crew

Paul Tufescu – from church painter to cabin crew

Paul Tufescu, apparently a shy young man, amazed me during a flight with his wide smile and availability to help everybody on board, colleagues included. While working as a church painter in Moldavia, for the love of flying, Paul gave up his job, to join a so-called women’s world, as a cabin crew.

Paul, please tell us about the period when you were a cabin crew at Qatar Airways and also about how the recruitment interview was conducted?

The period in which the first 8 Romanians came to Qatar Airways, in 2003, was a memorable one, considering that I had the chance to be a part of one of the most beautiful stages of this company’s evolution. Why do I say memorable? Because I had the most beautiful flight schedule anyone would have dreamt of during his cabin crew career, with 11 days of layover in Shanghai, 7 days in Singapore, 9 in Bangkok, 5 in Casablanca, 4 in Paris and so on.

During the 7 years spent there, I used to work about 22, 23 days a month with 7 or 8 days off and 30 days of annual leave, which could be used all at once or whenever needed. There have been ups and downs, but what matters most is the personality of the one that interprets the experience. I’ll say that I have always been guided by my flying passion and the desire to do everything as it should be done.

I had my recruitment interview in Dubai. There were about 250 candidates and recruiting officer was the current Manager of the Cabin Crew Department, Saliy Karunanayke, at that time, Deputy Manager of the Cabin Crew Department. The first phase of the interview was the candidates’ introduction. Each had to come forward and present themselves (name, age, occupation, hobbies and why they would like to be a cabin crew). After eliminations, the written English test followed, a very easy one, considering that it consisted of filling in verbs or given words in a text, and finally writing an essay. Then there was a 15 minutes break… “in case anyone wants to smoke”, a recruiter was observing those who were smoking … and after the break another round of eliminations followed, those who smoked being on the list!After that we have been divided into groups and have been given a hypothetical situation, a shipwreck on an island for my group: what would we do first, once arrived on that island. After the elimination of some other participants, the face-to-face interview with Mr. Saliy followed, who, after convincing himself that my English was good, started looking out of the window, asking me what each building was, who occupied it, and concluded with asking me when would I be able to join their team. Since I had to give the company I was working fort a minimum of 30 days resignation warning, Qatar Airways informed me that I will be given an answer within 2 weeks. And it was a favourable one.

What were you thinking of when landing?

When landing … I may say there are 2 answers: when landing in other countries, most of the time I was thinking about what I should do during my stay in that country: where to go, what to visit, if I had any friends there, and so on. When landing in Doha, most of the time my first thought was to take a good nap, message my parents to let them know everything was fine, then check my roster for the things to be done during the following days, meet some friends, arrange some permit if I was planning to travel on my own and so on.

Have you ever faced any alarming situations in Doha or during your flights?

Alarming situations, allow me to tell you, I had plenty !!!
On a flight Doha-Milan-Rome, we had a snake on board of the plane, which gave me a little headache because, as I was speaking Italian, being forced to make the emergency announcements, I had one of the leading roles, next to the snake :). “Snakes on a Plane” is still a catchy story inside the company.
During two other flights, this time to the DAC (Dakha, Bangladesh) and to LHR (London) I had to handcuff passengers … I would need an entire day to tell you these stories and I would drain my laptop’s battery to tell them in detail. To cut it short, for the London flight, my action was justified by the fact that a Pakistani passenger tried to touch one of my colleague’s private parts. On another flight, this time to MUC (Munich) we had to give first aid to an elder woman who was in an acute alcohol poisoning state.

After all these stories you have told me, it seems futile to ask you if you consider yourself to be a brave person …
No, it’s not futile. As a cabin crew, of course you have to be brave. I think anyone who dares to fly should know that it is a nice, special job, but that it also has risks. Acknowledged risks have advantages and disadvantages; travel isn’t everything, to know for sure everything you need to do, at any given moment, and put these things into practice, makes the difference between someone who is touring the world on a plane and someone who came to do their job. I met a lot of cabin crew members who chose this job to travel the world, without concern for their work but I also met people who understand that this is still a job to be done well, not only to be used as a travel agency.

After the experience with Qatar Airways you preferred working for the Emirates Airline, on a ground staff position, and then again as a cabin crew  for Flydubai. What did the ground staff job imply?

Indeed, at the Emirates I have worked for 2 years at the Ground Staff Department. And it was something special. I have to confess that, at the Emirates, there was the best management team I have ever had! It had nothing to do with the Qatar Airways period, and all the rules they had there. Everything is exquisite compared to Qatar Airways. While I worked for them, I held 2 positions. Six months a year working at the contact centre (Call Centre) and another 6 months as a tour guide, both positions at the Emirates because it is a big company and has many departments, a Tourism Department included. My experience as a tour guide was nice, I had about 50 tourists daily, taking them to visit all of the 7 emirates here and after that I had to perform another type of customer service, this time on the telephone, for the other remaining 6 months.
For my work I was given an Excellence in Customer Service Award.

Did you miss the flying days at Emirates Airlines as ground staff?

Of course I missed flying and so I found a second home with the people from Flydubai, a fast-growing company, a company that finally gives me the opportunity to have my dream job, the cabin crew one, back, with turnaround flights (back and forth at the base on the same day) and a very simple role, but giving me the chance to be at home every day (Dubai), the kind of company that is suitable for families, although I’m still not married.

The flight virus, luckily, brought me back on board! Once you fly for so many years it’s not easy to quit flying, obviously I started applying for other companies for the flight attendant position and was back on board as soon as opportunity arose … Flight is an incurable “disease”!

Join us on an exclusive 4 day training course. We’ll share everything you need to know to pass the cabin crew interview stages, we will edit your perfect CV and take professional pictures for your online application. At the end of the course, you will be fully prepared for the interview. Book your seat now! 

Qatar Cabin crew

My experience as Qatar Airways cabin crew

Interview with Niamh Byrne from Irland – former flight attendant

First of all, how did you hear about the cabin crew recruitment and which airlines did you work for?

It was actually a friend’s suggestion, and because I’ve always wanted to travel, I thought why not? I started as cabin crew for Qatar Airways. After 4 years I decide to return home, to Ireland, where I worked as cabin crew for Air Lingus for another 2 years.

How was your life in Qatar as an expat?

Life was very different. I was lucky to be part of a great expat community, which helped. But you need to be very adaptable; to change and understand that you can’t do everything you normally would do at home, in Europe.

How did you feel when you had to stop flying?

I decided to stop flying, because I wanted to get married and be closer to what I called home. At that time I was excited to live a “normal life”, but I really miss flying and all the amazing places I got to see, and I guess regret that decision a bit.

Which was the best part of the cabin crew job?

Flying to all those amazing places that totally surprise you with their beauty! I always thought the best destinations were cities or remote islands, but one of my favorite places to go was Trivandrum (in India). I loved their traditional food and the hotel. It was one of those layovers where I could totally relax.

Was your health affected by all the traveling?

No not so much, you have to get used to working on little sleep, as the hours are a bit hectic. However, I found it easy to adapt and once I did, there were no problems.

Do you still keep in touch with your friends that you made around the world?

Yes! I keep in touch with a lot of friends from when I work “in the skies” and it’s amazing to see where we have all ended up. Living away from home, your friends become your family and only those flying really understand the lifestyle and experiences. So, it’s great to still have them in my life. I’m very grateful!

What are you doing at the moment, are you still in the Customer Service field?

I work as the merchandising manager at a John Deere dealership in Canada at the moment. All my experience in Customer service and sales from flying have opened many doors for me and given me great experience.

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Qatar Airways cabin crew

The Qatar Airways Cabin Crew Interview. Process and Stages

Today, we will present you the stages of the interview, for you know what to expect that day.
Being an Open Day session, anyone that corresponds the requirements may attend the interview, without prior registration on the site.
Usually, the Qatar Airways Cabin Crew Interview lasts two days:

Day One – Open Day

Each candidate comes forth to the recruiter where he leaves the resume and photos and responds to 1 or 2 questions such as “Why do you want to be a flight attendant?” or “Why did you choose Qatar Airways?”. After this conversation with the recruiter, they will let you know if you are invited for the interview the next day, or not.

Day Two – Assessment Day

Starts very early in the morning (at about 7 or 7.30 am.). First, the candidates will be presented the company and life in Doha. Next, the written English test which lasts 45 minutes and consists of 5 types of exercises: text dependent questions (answer questions related to a given text), multiple choice (choose the correct answer from the ones given), fill in the blanks with the appropriate word, 5 mathematical lateral logic questions and an essay on a given subject. The difficulty level is medium (B1 or B2) and aims to measure your ability to understand English language, grammar and fluency level and so on.

After the written English test, there is an oral test: each candidate enters a room, extracts a word from a bowl and has to speak about it for as much as possible. During this speaking exercise, the reach test is performed (one of the compulsory requirements of Qatar Airways is to be able to reach 2,12meters, while on your tiptoes and with your hand raised, without wearing any shoes) and recruiters also ask each candidate about any distinctive marks or tattoos (tattoos are prohibited at Qatar Airways).

A round of eliminations follows next. Those who qualify, enter the group games. Candidates are divided into teams and are given a task to be solved in about 15 minutes.

After the group games, a new round of eliminations takes place. The lucky ones get to the “grand finale”, which is the final interview. Before the interview, they are told about the payroll and benefit package the Qatar Airways flight attendants receive .

The final interview takes about 5 to 10 minutes for each candidate and focuses on a series of questions based on your CV, previous experience, readiness to relocate and so on.

Qatar Airways Rules

1. You must get home before 4 am, even if you’re free the day after.

2. Your father or brother cannot live in the same building with female flight attendants while on holiday.

3. You cannot use the phone or use any electronic device when you’re on the bus to and from work.

Read all about Qatar Airways rules

The final answer will be sent to each candidate via email, about 2 weeks after the final interview or sometimes later (time varies from one candidate to another).

Good luck! Wishing you to take off!

qatar airways

"I wanted to be a cabin crew, but never thought I was good enough"

Interview with Beata Clark , former Qatar Airways cabin crew 

Beata used to be my flatmate when I was working for Qatar Airways. Find out her amazing story and and what she did in order to become a cabin crew.

Tell us about yourself before becoming a flight attendant.

Before I began my adventure as cabin crew I worked as a manager at a very popular club and restaurant in Warsaw. I remember how great it was! Events, celebrities, night life… I met so many people! This was a great job for me, nothing boring about it. However, at the same time I was trying to finish my degree and it wasn’t easy to manage night shifts at the club, and university on weekends. I had to resign, find some stability and focus on my studies. I tried working for a real estate agency but this only lasted for a month, followed by another try in the city’s waterworks. The computer-desk combination didn’t work for me. Too dull! I was jobless for a while, finished my uni in the mean time and started to think what I really wanted to do with my life. I remembered that in high school I wanted to be a cabin crew, but never thought I was good enough. Travelling, meeting people, wearing a chic uniform..I wanted all this glamorous life style to be mine! I didn’t know that time how much of hard work is behind all of this. I started applying for flying jobs.

How did you find out about Qatar Airways recruiting in Poland?

From the newspaper. I found a job ad for Qatar Airways somewhere at the end of 2005. I didn’t know much about them, but I went for the interview. To my surprise I passed all stages of interview because there were many other people who I thought were more prepared than I was and had better English skills. But fortunately I got the job, not them, and the new chapter in my life began.

How did you feel leaving Europe for a Middle Eastern country?

I had doubts especially about living in an Islamic country, but at the same time all this felt so tempting and exotic. I was almost 26 at that time but some of my colleagues were 30. All training was in English, so I had to study extra hard. It wasn’t the easiest thing ever, but they want you to do good, they want you to pass the exams. The company paid for your ticket to come to Qatar and invested money in your training. You are an important asset for them you usually get all the support you need.

How was cabin crew life for you?

While I was a flight attendant, I had no worries! Every roster was different, every flight was different. Besides, the crew you worked with were also different almost every time. You had to be ready to face unexpected situations, be professional and positive. Turbulence? Keep smiling! Annoying passenger? Keep smiling!

Some of the people looked at you like you were some sort of trolley-dolly waitress always ready to serve them food and drinks. They don’t realise that in case of any emergency or life treating situation, you are the one who knows the airplane cabin like your own home and you’ve been trained almost like a CIA agent. You actually feel almost like a secret agent, under cover: behind the “smiling waitress” there is this skilful person who knows the location of every piece of safety equipment, who knows how to help someone in the case of a heart attack, how to fight a fire on board or what to do in case of ditching emergency. And that’s only the beginning. Sounds scary? Also, on behalf of the company, I experienced 3 royal weddings, as a hostess. First one was in January 2007 and it really impressed me. I’ve also done a few brand new aircraft deliveries from Hamburg and Toulouse and promotions of Qatar Airways in the Paris Air Show.

Now let’s talk about the other face of this exciting profession: Snorkelling and sunbathing in Maldives today, safari in South Africa 3 days after and shopping in New York next week. How does it sound? Oh, yeah baby! It’s an addictive life style, I’m telling you! Good salary too! Many of the people I use to work with saved enough to buy a house or apartment. Oh, let’s not forget about the major benefits you get from working for an airline: discounted airfares to wherever you want! When I’ve decided that it was time for a change, after 4 years as a flight attendant, I was already part of the first class crew.

And one day you have just decided that it is time to leave all these behind?

Yes, I got engaged and decided to get married and move to Australia.

Did you enjoy your life in Qatar?

Qatar is not an easy country for relationships, especially if you are not married. You have to respect the Islamic law if you want to stay out of trouble. On top of this, you work for a company who is very conscious about their reputation so you have to play by their rules, which sometimes are not very easy to understand for Europeans.

What’s next, after you stopped flying? Any plans to come back in the aviation field?

I live in Australia now, I’m a wife and a mother of a little boy. I’ve recently applied for a few flying jobs. I had a phone interview today. Fingers crossed! As I’ve mentioned before, it’s a very addictive lifestyle and I want to get back out there!

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Qatar Airways cabin crew