The story of Ecaterina: The girl who worked for the 3 biggest airline companies in the world: Emirates, Etihad and Qatar
After 11 years working as Cabin Crew, Ecaterina is among the lucky ones who had the chance to work for the 3 biggest airline companies in the world: Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways. At 25 years old, Ecaterina left behind her family, her career and the life she was used to and flew to the Middle East. As she confesses, she left “Not just to see the world, because I had already visited it with my parents, both aviators, but to find out what my mother felt every time she was back from a flight; I managed to understand that feeling late, because most of the times I returned to an empty apartment, but when I had my family alongside or when I went home on holidays, my heart was full of happiness and sadness that I have to leave again.” Today, after almost 11 years, Ecaterina is ready to close this chapter in her life and finally put her feet on the ground.
How did you find out about the positions of Cabin Crew in the Middle East and where did you go for the first interview?
I worked for the biggest and best Arab companies in the world. At first I started flying for Qatar Airways, I continued flying for Etihad Airways and I finished my career in aviation at Emirates. When it comes to the job application, for example at Etihad Airways I found out that they were recruiting directly from their website, on the Career section.
How many years did you spent among the clouds? What was your route in the aviation domain until now?
I flew for 11 years! I worked for Qatar Airways 7 years and I can say that it is the company from which I learned the most important things: service quality, protocal, what means “excellent customer service”. I ended my career at Qatar on the position of Cabin Manager.
I moved to Etihad, where I planned to stay only a short period of time, on my road to Emirates. Between Qatar and Emirates there was then the rule of “gentlemen’s agreement”, which allowed the crew to apply for Emirates only after one year of pause after working for Qatar. I worked for Etihad 1 year and a half, but what I liked the most was the fact that they were very interested in my previous experience. They made me feel very welcomed and appreciated. From November 2012 I worked for Emirates as Cabin Crew. From March 2015 I decided that it was time for me to change my life and move on to another career.
How was for you to have a husband working in the same company as Cabin Crew?
I met my husband in 2004, after a few months after I started flying. We got married in 2011, when we both managed to move in UAE. We both flew at the same time for Qatar Airways, approximately 3 years, during those years, when the rules permitted us, we moved in together. We managed to have some flights together as colleagues and also as passengers while the other one was on duty. Meantime, my husband resigned and he started a new career after preparing for 2 years in USA and UAE. This was the hardest period, mostly because we only saw each other 2 times in the first year. But, the moment it was decided that Dubai will be the new home for him, I started to plan my move there. After we got married, my life completely changed. It was such a struggle to leave. But, as this job has its benefits I managed to arrange my flights to his delegated destinations, and he came with me in my layovers.
What was your favorite destination?
My favorite destination was and it still is Hong Kong. I consider that it is the most diverse place that I visited so far – the culture, people, food, clubs and pubs. Every time I arrive there it’s a must travel with the ferry.
What were your daily activities in Abu Dhabi and Dubai?
When it comes to my free time activities, I will mention the aerobic classes, riding the bike, going to the cinema, water sports, cooking, golf, going out in the city, electronic games, going to shisha and the list can go on.
What made you apply for Emirates?
I always wanted to fly for Emirates (EK). But it was not meant to be, until it actually happened. I know it is a big company, with an extraordinary reputation. Eventually, who doesn’t want to be part of such a company? For any company I worked for, even if their publicity and image is spotless, you can stumble upon things that don’t work so well. But, I adapted easily to new rules and I managed to follow them properly to each of this 3 companies.
Why did you stop flying, especially after having such a fulminant career?
I stopped flying for Qatar and Etihad because my husband had a permanent work place in Dubai. From Doha I left without any regrets, because it started to become very tense, with too many hours of flying and it was too strict for a person of my age. The situation was different for Etihad, but I left because it was difficult to drive from Dubai, where I lived, to Abu Dhabi, where I worked. Practically I was in 3 places at the same time. I also had a car accident, and that was the moment I decided to remain only in Dubai.
How did you feel when you wore the Etihad Airways uniform for the last time?
The last flight was very nostalgic. I put an end and started all over again. Even if I stopped flying from March 2015, I can say, without a doubt, that no manual, no course, no human could have taught me so many things that I learned in all these years as a Flight Attendant, personally, professionally, from a cultural point of view and the list could go on. I will forever hold the spiritual joy that every Flight Attendant has when she received the gratitude of the passengers in my heart. For example, I will tell you a short story from one of my flights: At boarding time an elder lady came to me. I approached her, I welcomed her and I asked: “How are you? You seem upset”, because that was exactly how she looked. She started crying and she told me that she was separated from her daughter, she doesn’t know where she is and doesn’t think they have the seats together. I led her to the seat, I took the necessary details and I went to find out what happened to her daughter. After a little while, with all the arrangements made, I came back to her, with her daughter and I said: “I brought your daughter and I arranged everything in order for you to stay together”. I can’t describe the happiness in her eyes, even if it was a normal thing to do as a Flight Attendant. At the end of the flight, the lady came to me, she hugged and kissed me and she said: “ I will never forget what you did for me!”