An Interview with Shayan, the First and only Maldivian Flight Attendant working at Emirates
Ms. Shaayan Hussain Saeed from Addu City is the first and only Maldivian Flight Attendant working at Emirates. The 28-year-old Shayan worked at the airline for over 6 years.
Emirates is a world renowned airline flying to 159 destinations across six continents with a fleet of 271 all wide-body aircraft.
There are 20,000 Flight Attendants are working at Emirates and the airlines receive an average of 15,000 applications for the job each month.
Ms. Shayan shares her experiences as a Flight Attendant:
What made you decide to become a flight attendant?
I always wanted to be one since I was little a kid, but the actual decision to join Emirates was a very impulsive one.
I was going through a tough time when I saw the ad and just decided to go for it.
What were the major challenges in becoming a Flight Attendant?
The first challenge was being told by the recruitment agency that “Emirates doesn’t hire Maldivians”. I had to really push for just a slot at the open day.
I also remember being so broke that I couldn’t afford a suit, so I actually borrowed one from a friend which was huge on me.
So money for the interview process was definitely a challenge because I was a struggling college student, but I made it work.
What are the biggest perks of your job?
There were a lot of perks, the biggest one definitely would’ve been the free travel. I had the freedom to visit wherever I wanted, it felt like I had access to the whole world.
I also really enjoyed the shopping. We got huge discounts we got in most Dutyfrees and other retailers over the world.
Do you like shorter flights or long-haul flights? and why?
I preferred 5-7 hours flights because if they were shorter then they were mostly turnarounds, and if they were longer than that, they were very tiring.
Does jet lag affect you? How do you deal with it?
Yes, it did, a lot. I remember once I did a US layover that was a 16-hour flight, we got 2 days there and then did 16 hours back. Those long-haul flights took me the most time to recover from. I remember sometimes I’d be too exhausted to even get out of bed, for days at a stretch.
After a couple of years, I found the best way for me at least, to deal with it was to listen to my body.
For example, If I landed in Australia and it was midnight, but I was craving for breakfast, I remember I’d just go for it. If I landed in the afternoon and wanted to sleep the whole day, I’d do that. It perhaps wasn’t the ideal way but it definitely worked best for me.
What is the hardest part about your job?
How tiring it was. I remember being tired or sleep-deprived always. For 6 years, I hadn’t been in one country for more than 10 days, even on leave. That really gets to you after a while, both physically and mentally.
Also, I’d say the loneliness. We didn’t get a lot of time to make friends, never flew with the same people almost ever, and I was the only crew from the Maldives. It was really lonely, and I was always homesick.
I was also stuck alone in Dubai during the pandemic, the 2020 lockdown was one of the hardest things I’ve gone through.
What are the disadvantages of being a flight attendant?
It does take a toll on your body. The constant jet lag, always being sleep deprived, being exposed to all the radiation, not to mention all the diseases you’re at risk of getting, from everywhere.
Can you describe in short how a typical day at the office would be like for you?
I’d wake up (roughly 4 hours before departure), to get ready. Crew transport would get me from my accommodation to Emirates headquarters, I had to check-in 2 hours before departure. There was a 15-minute window, and if you miss that, you’re considered absent from the flight.
After check-in, I’d get a coffee if there’s time, go to the briefing room where I’d meet my colleagues for the day. It was roughly a team of 16-20 or 26-30 (depending on the aircraft), and on most days, all new faces. We’d all introduce ourselves to the team before getting on with the flight details.
We’d then take the crew bus straight to the aircraft. Once in the aircraft, we usually did our safety and security search, and got ready to board passengers. From then on, how busy my day got usually depended on the flight and the number of passengers. It could be just a snack service or 3 full-on meals.
Once we landed at our destination, we’d say goodbye to passengers, do another safety check, then leave the aircraft, to go to the crew hotel for the layover.
What is your advice to aspiring youngsters that want to become flight attendant?
If I could do it, so can you. For recruitment day, just be yourself when you answer questions. I think if you’re genuinely yourself, it makes a huge difference.
Your personality is your best asset, it doesn’t matter if you’ve got designer clothes or mastered your make-up skills. Case in point, I went in with zero experience and a suit that didn’t fit me.
Also once you do get the job, have a lot of fun. The years just fly by without you knowing it, so really try to make the most of it!