Cabin crew jobs: Emirates Nathalie Petersson and Stefano Avellino share everyday life of flight attendant and share love story
A couple who struck up a romance after meeting on a Melbourne flight has offered a glimpse behind the scenes of what it’s really like working as Emirates cabin crew.
Nathalie Petersson, 31, from Sweden, and Stefano Avellino, 27, from Italy, have been working for the Dubai airline for more than five years.
WATCH IN THE VIDEO ABOVE: A day in the life of a couple working as flight attendants
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The flight attendants have detailed their day-to-day life at 35,000 feet, what their basic salary looks like and why they always pack their own food for work instead of eating in-flight meals.
Before a flight, the couple get up at the crack of dawn to eat breakfast, get ready and pack any last-minute necessity things like the homecooked food they prepared the day before.
“We bring our own food for different reasons, the first one is that obviously our food is healthier,” Stefano said on their YouTube channel Sense The Lens.
Nathalie added: “We’re vegan so we don’t have that many options on board… If there’s maybe one option that is vegan, we just share. We don’t eat enough so that’s why we bring our own food.”
While getting changed, Stefano revealed male flight attendants wear a clip-on tie for safety.
“You thought our ties were real? Well look at this, for safety in case [passengers] pull us from the tie or we get stuck somewhere,” he explained.
The couple are picked up by an Emirates bus outside their accommodation and driven to the airport which is 20 minutes away.
“The bus drops us off at our headquarters, which is just opposite the airport. We need to be there two hours before the flight’s departure time to do our check in,” Nathalie said.
“We need to make sure that we have our documents, print the tag for our bag and send it off to our destination.”
The pair then walk to their staff briefing which usually takes about 20 minutes.
“There are about 40 different briefing rooms where we get to meet our colleagues of the day, introduce ourselves and have our flight briefs,” Stefano said.
The crew then board a bus to the aircraft.
Upon boarding, the crew put their suitcases away in their own compartments.
“We get changed, perform security procedures and then we wait for people to board,” Stefano said.
“Once you get on board you hear a PA from the captain, first in Arabic then from the crew in the destination’s language to welcome you on board.”
After playing the safety video and ensuring all passengers are buckled up, Stefano said: “When the captain gives us the clear sign that we can move around, we begin the work in the cabin.
Once all passengers are served, the cabin crew get a little break to have something to eat.
“About 45 minutes before landing, we start preparing the cabin – clearing and securing everything,” he said.
The couple said they still get their basic pay if they don’t get any flying hours, which is about 4446 dirham ($A1,700). For each hour on a flight, they get paid 60 dirham ($A23).
“The busiest schedule we can have is 120 hours in a month. In a low season, we would get 80 hours,” Nathalie said.
Rest between flights
Stefano said the minimum rest between flights is about 11 hours but layovers can be up to 90 hours after a long-haul flight.
“So that means we can land from a flight in Dubai in the evening and the next morning we could take off for another destination around the world,” he said.
“Our minimum amount of days off in a month are eight so we need to be off at least eight days in a month.”
The pair said the airline provides accommodation wherever they go but they have to live with the same gender.
“We are allowed to visit each other. The only rule that applies is that you have to leave by 1am,” Nathalie said.
Stefano added: “We have the luxury to stay in very nice hotels.
“The feeling sometimes of entering your hotel after a long flight is indescribable.”
The couple can submit up to five flight preferences a month or swap when they want to be on the same flight.
“The company will prioritise those requests and most probably give you the flights that you wished for,” she said.
“The rest of the time it’s quite hard to get the flights you want.”
The couple do work separately a few days of every month but when they’re in the same city, they spend every minute together.
“Do we always fly together? The answer is no. We fly together just a few times a year,” Stefano said.
Nathalie explained when they’re apart: “We still talk, Skype, watch movies together but we also do our own things, like studying and training,” with Stefano adding: “The key is having a balanced life.”
Life on standby
When they’re on standby, they are required to wait by their phones in case they need to work.
“If someone calls in sick or not present at the airport, you’re gonna be ready to go to work,” Stefano said.
“So you have everything packed, you’re already in the airport, there’s an airport lounge in our headquarters where you can wait there and if someone is not reporting for the duty then you fill in.”
Nathalie said: “You don’t know if you’re going to a warm place, should you pack your swimsuit or should you pack a full-on coat if it’s winter? Like you have no idea so you really need to be prepared.
“You pack everything and you sit in the airport and you wait for four hours, if they call you out, you can literally go anywhere and if not, you go home and that’s it.”
The couple met on a Melbourne flight when they were working as colleagues.
But after going their separate ways for six months, the pair reunited after they randomly bumped into each other in an elevator.
“He asked me out to coffee. I wasn’t looking for anyone to date at that time but to be honest, it just happened randomly. We went out a few times and it just went on… until now,” she said.