Relocating for a Cabin Crew Job

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By on Friday 4th Jul, 2014 at 09:43

By Patricia Green
One thing that many of us have to think about in our Cabin Crew job search is relocation. We may have to move nearer to the airport or even move countries.

We have to factor in things like accommodation and transport costs and whether we can earn enough to keep paying a mortgage and renting a room for example. Or is it better to take a tax free salary and send money home? Are there any cultural or religious aspects to consider in a move abroad? There is a great deal to consider when we apply for a Cabin Crew job and matching it with real life issues.

With an EU passport it allows greater freedom of movement and more work opportunities, so in theory we can live and work almost anywhere within the EU. In the UK, you can apply for a work visa if you meet the requirements and have the appropriate education and experience for the role. For the USA, you do need sponsorship from the airline or a ‘green card’. Some countries such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand work on a points system to see if you qualify to work in their country. In the Middle East, work visas are provided to most nationalities on the agreement of a job offer.

Coping with ‘Standby days’
One of the many requirements for the role (especially within the UK) is the ability to be on ‘standby’ (in case we are needed to replace another crew member at the last minute) and depending on the airline, they ask you to be able to reach the airport in 45 or 90 minutes. So, you may have to have your own transport or rent a room close to the airport base, luckily many Cabin Crew and Flight Crew rent rooms out to colleagues, which works out quite reasonably. Sometimes it is possible to commute if you are working long haul flights, but it is very tiring! On standby days, as a commuter you would have to book into a hotel or guest house near the airport if it is a ‘home standby’. Being at your home on your days off is a real bonus and you don’t feel like you live out of your suitcase so much.

Middle East countries
The idea of working in a different country may be very exciting and with paid accommodation and transport throughout the Middle East, it becomes less daunting and with all the visa processing done for you, the move is relatively easy. There are benefits such as learning about a new culture and exploring new places and receiving a tax free salary and local discounts. But will the lifestyle work for you?

You will be sharing an apartment with strangers and have certain restrictions put on you regarding who can visit accommodation and when and the lifestyle can feel very restrictive. Can you adapt to the local culture and respect their wishes by dressing modestly and refraining from behavior that are normal in western life? For many older, or experienced, Cabin Crew, the culture is no issue but the restrictions can be uncomfortable, so it is worth thinking about. For younger cabin crew home sickness can feel difficult and there are some elements of culture shock.

If you work in Saudi Arabia for some women this can be quite difficult – you will have to wear an abaya when in a public place and sometimes a head scarf, although for some this is quite liberating! You should also consider that you need permission to leave the country and cannot mix freely with males who are not family members. Compound life can be a little intense and it is quite difficult for a woman to go out alone. On the good side it is usually quite well paid and a relatively safe country to work in, if you abide by the rules.

Keeping in touch with family
If you have close friends and family at home, it may feel difficult to move away knowing you won’t be able to see them for weeks or months but at least with Skype now, it makes things easier. Also you should look closely at your contract as you may not be able to leave the airline within a set time frame if it doesn’t work out and you may be required to pay a ‘bond’ or fee if leaving within a certain time. You may also not be allowed to apply or work with another airline for a year or two, so you should read things carefully.

Considering relocation for your cabin crew role has so many factors – financial, personal and cultural – so it has to be a sensible decision with all the pros and cons weighed up. If problems arise – home feels like a great distance away and you have to think about how adaptable you are as a person and have a back up plan if possible.

For many, working abroad is an exciting new opportunity and sometimes the way to a better life. Relocation may end up being long term and creating a whole new life in another country. You will be meeting people from all over the world and experiencing new places and maybe even learn a different language. Working in another country with lots of benefits can be perfect for some people but it doesn’t suit everyone, so make sure you make the right choice for you.

About the author:
Patricia Green has been Cabin Crew for major airlines in the UK and Middle East for seven years and also an SCCM. She has also worked as a VIP Flight Attendant working for very high profile clients and world leaders on their private jets. Recently Patricia moved to flying on a freelance basis in order to concentrate on working as a freelance instructor as well as setting up as a Cabin Crew Consultant. She advises potential crew how to get their dream job and helps experienced crew move from commercial to corporate flying. In response to many requests from fellow crew and students, Patricia has written a series of E-books to help guide new crew with lots of insider advice and useful hints and tips.

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Photo: Ayudin Palabiyikaglu