off the clock

Real Life Inspiration: A Day In The Life Of An Emirates Flight Attendant

Kseniia Bratchenko, originally from Ukraine, is also a yogi, vegan and world traveler.

Founder’s Note: Kseniia and I met at a raw foods culinary course in Ubud, Bali earlier this year, and quickly bonded over our shared passion for holistic health, yoga and travel. As such, I am thrilled to have her share an insider’s peek of life on the road—er, in the air—as a flight attendant.

Why I Became An Emirates Flight Attendant

Prior to working with Emirates, I lived in the United Arab Emirates (the UAE), working as a fitness and yoga teacher in the fitness center of a nearby five-star hotel. Working in the UAE made it possible for me to start traveling to India for my yoga studies.

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During these travels, I would meet foreigners from all around the world—the UK, Australia, America, Canada, Western Europe, Japan, Thailand, China. Even though the people I met were from completely different parts of the world, we were all searching for the same things. This insight was the catalyst for me to seek out a way to travel more often, to get “connected” to the world.

Upon hearing of my internal quest, one of my friends mentioned that his friend was an Emirates cabin crew member. This was when I got the idea to pursue this profession, and decided to apply. The rest is history, and here I am.

Emirates Flight Attendant

My Morning Routine

From the comfort of my home base in Dubai, Emirates’ headquarters, my morning alarm rings. As I open my eyes, I may shout “Sawadee ka!” or “Bonjour!” depending on the route I am taking today. As always, music is up first—house, hip-hop or some cheerful background music to start the day and get my body moving. (I used to teach dance and hip-hop so it’s ingrained in my nature.) Music is followed by two tall glasses of water for hydration; we all know how dehydrating flying can be.

I unroll my purple yoga mat on the floor of my living room. As an Ashtanga yoga devotee, I  start my practice at the edge of the mat with the opening mantra to connect my heart to all my teachers: present, past and future. On my days off, I practice yoga for one-and-a-half to two hours, but on a day like today, before a morning flight, I modify my routine to save time: Standing postures of the primary series followed by the finishing sequence.

Emirates Flight Attendant

After yoga, I head for the shower, then have breakfast. Today I’m having a smoothie with superfoods brought from Bali, espresso from a cup bought in Bangkok, and vitamins toted from Brisbane. It’s quite normal for a flight attendant to have each and every thing in their home brought from different parts of the world—I am no exception.

Emirates Flight Attendant

Preparing For A Flight

After breakfast, I apply my Emirates-standard make-up, including my favorite touch: The classic Emirates red lipstick. I put on my uniform and lightly spray the perfume I wear only when in uniform and always have close by in my handbag.

My suitcase is already half-ready, as it’s never truly empty. Before heading out the door, I toss in some clothes appropriate for the destination I am going to, along with running shoes and my make-up kit. I am ready to go! Some items I never remove from my luggage are a travel plug adapter, a thin yoga mat, a foam roller, and a selfie stick. Packing never takes longer than fifteen minutes this way.

I am always prepared with my own gluten-free vegan food inflight, so it’s easy to adhere to my vegan diet while flying. On board, we also have a separate storage with crew meals that Emirates catering prepares for us. There are always some fresh fruits and veggies available if I’m stuck during a long flight.

Setting A Pre-Flight Intention

I hop in my car, and, within twenty minutes, I arrive at the Emirates headquarters. Two hours prior to departure time, I check in for my flight and meet with my crew. I’ve created a personal practice to help me center before I ever step foot on the plane. I ask myself: “What is my intention for this flight? What would I like to remain focused on?” The investment of these few mindful seconds helps me to be present here and now, to appreciate what I have, and to keep calm in any uncommon situation I might encounter inflight.

Emirates Flight Attendant

My Job On Flight

One of the most incredible aspects of this job are the people I work alongside with. Every flight, I meet colleagues who are all so unique, with different backgrounds and experiences; almost all of us are from different countries. And this flight may be one of the only times we fly together, as the crew changes every time I arrive at the airport. Sometimes there is a wonderful connection, and we’ll go for coffee together after the flight just to finish an interesting conversation. We travel together on days off, go out, cook or meet to work out together. I have met some of my closest friends this way.

During the flight, my job, along with my colleagues, is to take care of each customer traveling with us. I am part of a team responsible for inflight service delivery and for the safety of the journey.

The Layover

The layover plan will depend on the length of the flight and the time of the day we land. When we arrive to any destination, a bus picks up the whole crew from the airport and brings us to a hotel. The longest flights we have are about 18 hours. Most likely after such an ultra long haul flight I would go right to bed and spend the next day with colleagues exploring the area.

In the case it is not a very long flight (anything under 9 hours), I would meet my crew shortly after landing in the hotel lobby and would go explore then. The length of layovers varies; most often it is 24 hours at an outstation, but if we operate ULR (ultra long range) flight, the layover may be somewhere in between 42-52 hours.

From previous travels to India and international yoga teaching experience, I am fortunate to have friends all around the world, so, regardless of time or day, there is someone to meet for a chat and nice vegan food in their hometown. My favorite way to explore new places is by seeking out the local vegan restaurants and yoga studios.

Emirates Flight Attendant

My Evening Routine

Before going to bed on my travel day, I’ll always do at least a little bit of stretch. And the next day if there is no Mysore or other yoga class available, I will go for a run in the hotel gym, do my ab exercises, or some Taekwondo self practice (as I practice Taekwondo in Dubai and I try to keep it up on layovers).

Emirates Flight Attendant

I operate around seven flights per month, counting a round trip to and from Dubai, where I am based, as one flight.

Each flight is an adventure, and sometimes that’s just because of the people (my crew or customers) I meet, and not necessarily because of places I’ve seen. But, of course, the opportunity to travel and see places all around the world can not be overlooked: It’s why I started this job, and it’s why I have loved it every step of the way.

Through this journey with Emirates, I have received more than I was expecting. I have come to meet my Self and know her as a world citizen, a soul of the universe, who is delighted to celebrate every day as it comes.

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