Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Q & A

Since I received a lot of questions regarding my life, Etihad, Abu Dhabi, my apartment, my roster etc. I'll take some time to answer all of them in one post.

I'll start with the most recent email I received from Roberto from Italy :
"So I am here to ask you the most tedious question of all: what is it like to work there ?
I am sure you understood I don't mean to know what it's like to be a cabin crew, instead I'd like to get to know what are schedules like, how many crew work on the different aircreafts, how many flying hours per month roughly, and how many days off, also between flights, if there is a "long haul only" sector or everybody flies everywhere, and last but not least wages and cost of life in Abu Dhabi, and whatever info you feel like telling me."

Ok... my schedule differs from month to month. I can have as low as 6 flights per month up to 15-20 if they are all turnarounds. On average we do 80 -140 duty hours per moth. Now in March I have a great roster of 5 turnarounds and 5 layovers. So it really depends. When it comes to amount of crew on each flight it also is different. On our smallest aircrafts Airbus 320 we have a compliment of 6 crew , where on a big one like Airbus 340-500 we can have as many as 15 crew on board. We can have minimum of 8 days off per month .. but this number can increase, me for example I had 11 days off in February. If we have a ultra long haul flights like Sydney, Toronto or New York we have 2 days off before this flight and 2 days off after. The minimum rest between any other flights is 11 hours... and so is the minimum layover time.
Here at Etihad everyone flies everywhere ( exception are only for countries we require visa for, but most of the crew gets them without a problem ).
When it comes to our pay, we make anywhere between 8,000- 12,000 dirhams a month ( $1 = 3.6 dirhams ). This pay is tax free and we have no bills to pay :) . Our apartments are payed for as well as all the utility bills. We have free transport to and from work, uniforms are provided for free and we have free next-day dry cleaning in our apartment buildings for the uniforms. I feel really blessed to have such a stress free life. When it comes to cost of living in Abu Dhabi... I think that what we make makes us well into middle class. Imagine that the taxi drivers and construction workers make here only about 700-1000 a month. The other bonus is that we have a lot of discounts all over the place. Starting from restaurants and finishing on car rental. Some places give us as much as 50% off :)
If anyone asks me about my job I'll give them only one answer : I can't imagine better job than this one !!!

Next on is a question from Julia :
"Let us know more details, descriptions of your flats,your colleques and what you do in your free time etc... We're all courious of that:)"

Well Julia.. I just moved to a new flat about 2 weeks ago. When I first arrived in Abu Dhabi I was placed right away in accommodation in middle of the city, which was great . I had all the shopping, all the restaurants and the beach within 10 minutes of my apartment. The buliding was one of the oldest that Etihad owns, so the flats were a little outdated, but I had a really great roommate from Russia and that made the whole difference in the world. The only downside to living there was the amount of time it took us to get to the airport. If there was traffic and we still had to pick up crew from other buildings it could take up to 1:45 to get to reach the airport. trust me.. a real pain in the ass. Our pick up was always 2 hours before reporting time.. and sometimes we made it only on the last minute. But on the other hand.. if it was night flight and no traffic it took us only 45 minutes to reach the airport.... so we could never tell. Coming back form the flight was even more annoying... because let say there is 15 crew in the bus from 5 different buildings.. and you are going to be dropped off last one.... good 2 hours on the bus !!! And that pushed me to making a decision to move to a new accommodation that is only 10 minutes drive from the airport. I went to the housing department and ask them for a flat swap.. and 2 weeks later, they found a girl that wanted to move out from that building and move to the city. As of now I absolutely love living in Mohamed Bin Zayed City... also called Mussafah. It's a brand new closed complex that opened just few months ago. It's 8 tall buildings which is housing flats for crew, pilots and some ground staff. Like I said.. it's only 10 minutes drive to the airport. But there is not much around us... mostly desert. The only good news is that just we have a mall attached to it :) ( but it's going to be opened in 2 month ) but even better we have a huge Lulu supermarket as well, that opened just yesterday. We have tennis court, basketball court, gym , pool , sauna, jacuzzi, steam room, fitness classes, underground parking, internet room... and beautiful brand new apartments :).. I guess if we had to pay for the flats.. it will cost anywhere between 8,000 - 10,000 a month. On top of that our pick up is only 45 minutes before the reporting time.. and drop off takes only 10 minutes :)... and no more traffic !!! I LOVE IT !!!
Now we have a very different social life. Before while living in town , we'll mostly go out for dinners to the restaurants, meet at the mall or caffee... but now we just hang out at each others apartments.. cook dinners together, watch movies and spend a very relaxed time at home.... which is what I like the most.. I'm a very homey and laid back person... and this lifestyle is just perfect for me. But don't worry... we are not totally cut off from town. We have a special transport bus that pick people up from my complex every 2 hours and takes them to town... and then back.. and all for free as well :). This way we can still go shopping, go to the beach, meet our friends and live our life to the fullest.

Next question is from Traytable:
I suppose what I would like to know is, if you did not get to travel all over, and just did turnarounds, do you think you would like EY as much? And do only a few still get trained for A320 or does everyone train on it now?

Good question, and made me think about it a lot... and I have to be honest that if Etihad had only turnaround flights.. I'd probably get bored with the job in 6 months.
It would still be a great experience to visit some of those destinations on my days off..... but how many times can you see Kuwait or Beirut ?
Right now all new joiners are trained on A320, but we don't get training for B777.
And vice versa : some of the older crew that received training for B777, are not yet trained for A320. I guess with time we all will finally have both trainings done.


Traytable said...

Thanks for that, just the kind of info I'm trying to find out. I've been shortlisted for an assessment day here in Australia, but not sure yet if I want to make the move away from my current job.

I suppose what I would like to know is, if you did not get to travel all over, and just did turnarounds, do you think you would like EY as much? And do only a few still get trained for A320 or does everyone train on it now?

Roberto said...

Thank you Nikita, indeed all interesting things to know. Working for another airline, we have similarities and also few differences that could "make the difference" in choosing a new course.
See you on board.. hopefully ;)
Ciao !