Ups And Downs Of Being A Flight Attendant

I remember those days when my biggest problem was to make the decision of which pair of shoes I ought to wear to our regular Sunday night party.

The black sandals with the stones or the platform golden color ones?

Life used to be so easy.

We only cared about parties and the freedom of doing whatever we wanted to. We didn’t have to take responsibility for anybody except for ourselves. We didn’t have to care about paying the rent or the bill itself. We didn’t have bills!

This all sounds like a very easy and comfortable life but at the same time it was also very empty and humdrum.

Ups And Downs Of Being A Flight Attendant

I can recall many lonely nights when my best friend was a bottle of red wine.

I remember those days when all my friends were either flying or on vacation. When I had nothing to do but think about the meaning of life and my role in it and that made my mood sink even deeper and lead me to the arms of my previously introduced good friend, Cabernet Sauvignon.

I remember those birthdays, Christmas eves, family celebrations where all my family members were feasting together and I couldn’t be there.


Oh Sleep. Where Art Thou?

I remember I was always so behind with sleeping. I was always so tired and sleepy. I could never sleep enough. I remember all those endless night flights too which could have been a good night sleep.

I remember I basically ‘walked’ to London from Dubai that’s how busy and tiring the flights were. Then I have 24 hours layover in London, I am dead tired when I arrive but I want to get out from the hotel immediately to visit the Big Ben, the Tower Bridge and the London Eye.

Then came those notorious US flights. How can they be so exhausting?

How is it possible that on a 15-hour Los Angeles flight where we are delivering non-stop service and working continuously, we get less than 3 hours break?


I Will Never Fly Again!

After landing I’m telling myself that this was the last time I ever flew, never again, I quit my job.

Then I spend 2 days in Los Angeles. I visit Disney Land, I am resting on Santa Monica beach and by the time I have to fly back to Dubai I get over my angry thoughts from before and I forget about my oath about not flying ever again.

I remember those galley talks on those quiet night flights when we were just sitting on top of the metal containers holding a cup of coffee or tea and were just gossiping about everything.

There was always someone with relationship drama.

I remember those funny colleagues who could always make the most terrible flights memorable and enjoyable.

I remember how we were staring at the interphone with the sweet hope to get the magical call which finally had arrived: “20 to top”. Such a relief, it’s almost over.

I remember those Friday brunches where all my friends participated but I couldn’t show up because it was impossible to swap a night Bombay turnaround.

I had to remind myself that flight attendants don’t have weekends.


The Perks

However, I will not complain. There were Dubai birthday parties where I could attend and those were epic ones.

I also remember the 5 star hotels (unfortunately I cannot erase the 3 star airport hotels from my memory, I remember those ones as well) where we stayed on layovers.

I remember those amazing buffet breakfast which I never skipped.

I remember that I loved flying with friends. Even though those rare occasions happened once in a blue moon but they were always so much fun.

I still miss my lovely Facecard which helped me get into fancy gyms and beach clubs for free, got me huge discounts in elegant restaurants and bars.

I remember enjoying living in Dubai.

I miss the weather, the beach, the restaurants, the bars, and the endless activities.

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I miss having a cocktail in Atmosphere bar at the top of Burj Khalifa.

I made friends from all over the world, from different nationalities, different races, tearing down all stereotypes and prejudices.

I learned and understood different cultures and traditions. I became more tolerant and accepting towards others.

I visited my friends everywhere in the world. I was the only one who was able to travel to my friend’s wedding apart form her parents from our home country to the US and could support her on those stressful days before the wedding.

I experienced the downside of staff travel too. I was left behind a few times at certain countries as a result of a full or overbooked flight.

I tried all types of traditional meals and dishes.

I participated in a cooking class in Bangkok. I had Nasi Goreng in Indonesia, Chilli Crab in Singapore, and Hot Pot in China.

I ate Ramen and Sushi in Japan, Pho in Vietnam, Korean BBQ in Seoul, Paella in Madrid, and Mussels in Belgium.

I tasted steak in South-Africa, Hamburger in the USA, Snails in France, Duck in Czech Republic and the list is endless.

I miss travel the most.

I daresay I travelled around the world.

I ate croissant at the bottom of the Eiffel Tower. I was munching Every Flavor Beans in the Harry Potter Park in Orlando.

I had tapas next to the Sagrada Familia. I savored a big pint of Sapporo wearing a Geisha costume on the streets of Kyoto.

I enjoyed a boat ride on the Floating Market of Bangkok. I was rushing with the crowd in Times Square. I got lost in Shanghai.

I tasted the best pasta with a view of the Colosseum. I had crazy parties at Lan Kwai Fong in Hong Kong. I climbed the Table Mountain in Cape Town.

I admired the Buckingham Palace. I took selfie with Mini Mouse in the Californian Disneyland. I walked on the Great Wall of China.

I witnessed Sakura in Japan many times. I applauded Aladdin on Broadway. I had ice cream in front of the Sydney Opera House.

I paid my respect to history at the Red Square in Moscow. I got amazed in front of the magnificence of the Terra Cotta Army. I bowed my head in front of the superbness of Christ the Redeemer in Rio.

I enjoyed the Argentinean steak in Buenos Aires. I became soaking wet at the Niagara Falls. I got astonished at the ruins of Angkor in Cambodia.

I traveled back time at the Acropolis in Athens. I was chilling in Phuket and Bali and again the list is endless.


Becoming a flight attendant wasn’t my childhood dream. But I’m so thankful that it happened. I enjoyed almost every moment of it.

Most importantly I am grateful to meet so many amazing people and friends due to my job.

Yes, I still miss being one.


This article was submitted by Tamara Bolváry, a former Emirates flight attendant, and was posted on her LinkedIn.

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Photo credit: Tami