In this interview, Magdalene Odigie, a Nigerian Economy class cabin crew, talks her experience flying with Emirates.
Routes I fly To
I fly everywhere with the exception of United States. My journey so far with Emirates has been an exciting one and one filled with amazing opportunities that I could never have imagined especially coming from Nigeria and moving to the UK and then ending up in Dubai that is such an exciting city. For me, it has been an incredible journey, filled with opportunities.
I studied fashion journalism in the UK. I left Nigeria when I was 15 years old. I got the Emirates job while I was in the UK. I often come back to visit my family in Nigeria. I have two sisters in Nigeria. One lives in Lagos and the other in Abuja.
Becoming a cabin crew
Being a cabin crew is something I have always dreamt of, especially when I first moved to the UK and I travelled on an airplane for the first time and I just looked at these people and I was wowed by just imagining what they did for a living. I also thought of the places they will have visited. So, when that opportunity came and I applied, I had to be patient and I am glad it was the best decision I ever made.
I, personally haven’t encountered anything to do with harassment or discrimination but Emirates offers an incredible amount of support 24 hours. They have a peer support group, which anyone within the company can seek. It is a company that always support their staff.
Choice of destination
With any destination, I make plans. Emirates respects cultures and keeps their crew informed so that we are not offending anybody else’s culture, but I have never been put in a position where I have to be worried about a country I be visiting, because there is always that safety guaranteed by Emirates.
Marrying on the job
We still have a lot of crew who are married and they still fly. There is no interference in their personal life, in terms of difficulty keeping a balance in the home. I have a lot of friends who are married to crew and some who are not married to crew members and they have a lot of opportunities because your spouse can get the chance to travel all around the world with you and if you work together, it is even better because both of you can get to travel together most of the time. It is so exciting.
Emirates’ unique selling point
I think the unique selling point is that it is such a cosmopolitan airline. Every day I work with someone from a different culture and it gives me the opportunity to learn about where they are from. For instance, today I might work with someone from Brazil and whenever I go to Brazil, I don’t feel strange because I have met someone from that culture. It is such a multi-national company.
Getting the job
I didn’t feel that I won’t be selected for the job because I knew what I had to offer with the company being a Nigerian as well as having that awareness because I felt when I was in the UK, I may probably be the only Nigerian applying. For me, that was my selling point. To be honest when I joined Emirates, I didn’t know how big of a multi-national company it was, so I was just going with the idea to try this out. To my surprise, they took me and I probably had all they were looking for. You have to be very patient with the whole interview process with Emirates. You have to also know that it is not just an opportunity for them to hire you but it is also you knowing what you can offer the company, just like any other job.
We are trained rigorously. When I joined, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. The first eight weeks was training all through and it wasn’t just any kind of training. They train you on security, how to deal with hostage situation, things to know about an aircraft, amongst others. So, it is not just the pilots that know about these things, the crew members are also trained to know certain things. They train you on how to deal with medical cases, so we are trained on almost everything. Under eight weeks, the cabin crew trainees learn a lot, and if they pass the exams, then they start flying. Every year, you get retrained and you have to go in for an exam. So, you are constantly learning about your job role. During briefings, they ask questions about the aircraft. So, constantly, your mind is constantly alert which is such a good thing because it means that passengers know that they are safe because you are aware of what you need to know, at all times.
They have a lot of women that are pilot’s and I am very moved by them. As a cabin crew, if I see a woman who is a pilot, I am wowed by it, because it is such a male-dominated section. So, Emirates is very accommodating. I don’t think they are biased in gender equality.
It has given me the opportunity to go to different countries, meaning I get the opportunity to get access to fashion from all around the world. So, I can go to UK, Ghana or some other countries for instance, get the fabrics and give them to tailors in Accra or Lagos to sew the attire. So, the job has had a lot of impact in my fashion sense. So, it plays a lot of role in how I dress. I get nice dresses for the weather, which depends on the destination.
Because I have this fashion background, I love a lot of dresses. I love anything that is comfortable especially when you fly and you are walking on an aircraft, for me comfort is important, so I wear my snickers and nice oversize dress or nice pants and blouse to go with it.