We’re really eager to feature another cabin crew who has a great story share. Meet Catrina, the blogger behind 24hourslayover, who currently works for a leading airline in the Middle East.
Catrina has been working as a crew for 3 years now. She shares plenty of honest and practical lessons when working as a cabin crew and adjusting to the lifestyle of flying and working away from her country.
She talks about the positive AND the negative parts of the job, and provides effective tips for people considering a flying career.
Cabin Crew Profile: Interview with Catrina of 24HoursLayover.com
Please check out our feature below so you can learn some key points about this job through her story.
1. Can you tell us more about yourself?
Hey, I’m Catrina, also known as 24hourslayover for those who follow my adventures on my website and Instagram! I have been working as a Flight Attendant for almost 3 years now and recently set up my website which features travel guides and my top travel tips!
Prior to this job I had a successful career as a Senior Radiographer (X-ray and CT scanning) in the Accident & Emergency Department and surgical and vascular theatres in London for 6 years.
I also lived in Sicily for a year teaching English and working as a nanny. My family are mostly split between England and Ireland and I was fortunate enough to be able to travel a lot from a young age, so I guess I got the travel bug from my parents!
2. Where is your airlines based?
I currently work for an international airline based in The Middle East. Whilst I had never imagined I would ever live in The Middle East, I’m certainly glad for the experience. It’s opened my eyes up a lot to other cultures and their views and morals. It’s not somewhere I would want to stay long term, but I’m enjoying making the most of this opportunity, and I love living with one of my best friends in our lovely new apartment provided by our airline.
3. How did you become a cabin crew? How many times did you apply?
I actually applied first time and got it! I was living in Italy at the time and so went to the assessment day in Rome. I guess being the only native English speaker there and also having a medical background, I stood out to the recruiters.
Honestly, being a Flight Attendant was never something I had dreamed of doing – some girls fantasize to be a Flight Attendant when they grow up, but I had never even considered it! I came from a background where getting a traditional academic job was the norm and so in my head it was never really an option. That was until I left London to live in Italy – I got a taste of full time travel and living abroad and well, I loved it! From then on I knew I had to pursue that kind of lifestyle, however my salary in Italy was unfortunately a lot lower than what I was used to in London, so I wanted to find another job abroad where I could still travel a lot, and with a good salary. So I literally typed into Google “jobs where you can travel” and it hit me: cabin crew!
4. Why did you apply for this job? Based on your answer, were those goals justified?
I had actually wanted to work for an Italian airline as I had become fluent in Italian and fell in love with Italy, but they weren’t hiring. So I applied to work for a Middle Eastern airline as English was the only compulsory language required, the pay was better than flying jobs back home, and there were benefits such as company-provided accommodation and a tax free salary.
I loved the uniform of the company, it had a good reputation and it flew to a lot of amazing destinations! I wanted to see more of the world and learn more about different cultures, and I have done absolutely that!
These 3 years have opened my eyes up to the world more than I could ever imagine or even describe to anyone back home. They say travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer, and well this is absolutely true! I’m so thankful for all the experiences I have had here!
5. What’s the best thing about this job?
There are so many great parts to this job, one being that feeling you get when you step into a new city or country for the first time, the excitement you get: you feel like a child again – it never gets old! Or when you get a long 2 or 3 day layover somewhere, it really feels like you’re on a little holiday!
But honestly, my absolute favourite part of this job is when you have the most incredible crew on flights and everyone has this amazing positive energy! The crew really does make or break the flight, and when you have a great team you really feel like you can get through anything those passengers throw your way! You all support and help each other, and sometimes after such a great trip, you really don’t want to say bye to them at the end! I’ve met so many interesting, inspiring, fun people in this job from all over the world and I know I’ll be friends with some of them forever!
6. What’s the worst/hardest thing about this job?
Of course, being away from friends and family. Missing important events back home like birthdays and Christmas. Missing out on watching my niece and nephew growing up. Constantly feeling like you’re letting people down when you can’t make events. Not knowing your schedule from one week to the next sometimes, making it hard to commit to things or plan anything. Not only do you work erratic hours but you do live a 7 hour flight away from home, and when we fly as a passenger we do still have to pay for flights, we don’t get them all free despite what people may think!!
It doesn’t help that Skype, Facetime and Whatsapp calls are blocked in this country, so it makes it even harder to stay in touch! Sadly since being out here I lost a couple of my childhood friends from back home: they didn’t understand my lifestyle or take an interest in it (maybe it was jealousy, who knows), nor did we try to make extra effort to keep the friendship going. I guess we just grew apart with the distance, I got tired of reaching out to them and it feeling one sided, and to be honest, other people were starting to take their place. Due to my schedule, I wasn’t able to come home for their weddings, despite me bidding for the flights and days off and explaining to them, and this certainly didn’t help the situation. I guess for some people it’s out of sight, out of mind and they don’t actually look at the bigger picture. But I’m ok with that. I understand life goes on back home and some people won’t wait for you.
In this job, you really need people who support you 100% and understand your lifestyle, and I’ve found my tribe now and wouldn’t exchange them for the world!
7. What were common misconceptions that you found out about cabin crews? Were those misconceptions proven right or wrong?
Especially back home in the UK, many people think our job is unskilled and we are just trolley dollies with no direction in life who focus too much on appearances and partying. OF COURSE there are crew like this, but on the other hand, many of my colleagues are also studying for Degrees, Masters, opening up businesses on the side or working on projects (vlogs, blogs etc like myself). Several friends are even training to become pilots! All of this whilst still working full-time as cabin crew, it is very challenging.
I think this is so commendable when crew are pursuing their hobbies and dreams and other ventures on the side as our job is very demanding and tiring on the body, so it takes a lot of motivation to do these kinds things as well.
8. Any favorite place/s that you always visit in your flights?
I love Australia, it just feels like home. The people, the weather, the food, nature, beaches, everything about that country is perfect. I travelled round Australia a lot on my leave and never tire of the incredible scenery.
I also love South East Asian countries: hiring a vespa and exploring around and really immersing myself in their cultures. It is also pretty cheap there and I like that there are always lots of backpackers in these countries and you can walk around as a single female and you don’t get hassled by people. Also Japan is somewhere that everyone should visit, it is such a fascinating country!
I don’t tend to get Europe flights much, but that’s ok because I travelled a lot of Europe when I was younger, and so when I do get European flights it’s a nice treat. I’ll always bring a suitcase full of food back from European layovers as that’s something I really miss: you just don’t get that selection here in the supermarkets in The Middle East (plus all the imported food is at least double the price you pay back in Europe)! I love how we fly to such a variety of continents and destinations – one month I flew to every single continent it was just incredible!
I don’t tend to request the same destinations a lot as I like variety and I always try and do something new and different on layovers, so every month my requests are different.
9. What are your tips to cabin crew applicants?
First, think about which airline you would like to work for: would you like to work in your home country, relocate, fly mostly short haul/ long haul. There is no perfect airline for everybody, you just have to find the one most suited to your needs. Once you have decided this, you need to make sure you have a killer CV otherwise they won’t even invite you to an assessment day.
Be honest in your CV as they will do background checks, but sell yourself! Once you have an assessment date, do as much research as you can about the prospective airline.
You absolutely don’t need to go to any kind of aviation school before, but you do need to be able to have reasons for why you want to work for that particular airline and know some of the destinations they fly to. Think about potential questions they could ask you and how you could best answer them.
Make sure to dress appropriately and with neat hair and makeup girls, and be confident in yourself (confidence and arrogance are two separate things!). If you don’t get accepted first time, don’t take it personally, sometimes they have certain criteria they need to fill and only a limited amount of spots. Just learn from the experience and try again next time!
10. How long are you planning to stay in this job? What motivates you to keep working?
I don’t like to make too many plans in life, but I have always lived by the rule that the minute you start putting less than 100% in your job, that’s when you need to leave. There is nothing worse than a Flight Attendant who hates their job, trust me, I’ve seen them over the years! They literally ruin the passengers’ day and their expectations they had of the company, and it is miserable to try and work with those kinds of people.
I know I’m good at my job and I love it more than I ever imagined I would! Passengers can spot a flight attendant who loves their job a mile off, and that feeling when so many of them compliment me for my kind nature and infectious energy means so much and motivates me to always give my best! I know one day the day will come when I have to walk away from this job and it will be very hard – I know I’ll miss it, but hopefully that won’t be for a while yet!
Images provided by Catrina