Cabin Crew Profiles - Rafael De Carvalho
Updated: May 18
So you’ve always wanted to be a flight attendant and wanted to travel the world. Now, where do you begin your journey? Every flight attendant you see in the sky started their journey somewhere and they are not very different from you and me. Today we speak to Rafael, a former Emirates Cabin Crew from Brazil, flying fulfilled his ambition to travel the world. After flying for 7 years, he now lives in Switzerland with his wife and son. He sits down to tell us his story.
ECC: Hi Rafael, thanks for sitting down with us today and telling us your story,
Rafael: Hola! It’s my pleasure and please, call me Rafa!
ECC: So there is no better place to begin than the very beginning, so can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Rafael: Of course, so my name is Rafael and I am originally from Brasilia, the capital of Brazil. I speak Portuguese, English, Spanish and French fluently as well as a little of both Italian and German as you need these languages in Switzerland where I now live.
ECC: Excellent, so how does a boy from Brazil end up working for one of the biggest airlines in the world?
Rafa: I used to work at the airport in Brasilia for Varig International, the Brazilian national carrier at the time and was part of the ground team, part of my duties involved greeting incoming flights from destinations all over Brazil as well as some international flights. I would often get to speak to incoming Flight crews, both Flight Attendants and pilots, it’s these conversations that got me curious about becoming crew. They all spoke about how much they enjoyed their job and their perks; I needed a change; I already liked aviation and was exposed to the environment so this seemed like a logical next step.
ECC: So you started applying straight away?
Rafa: It’s not so easy in Brazil, all flight attendants in Brazil need to obtain a qualification in order to be eligible to apply for a job. It’s run by private companies and it’s designed to teach you the essentials as well as survival skills, for example, you need to be able to survive in case the plane crashes in the jungle. So they give you the same kit you’d have onboard and leave you in an isolated location for 2 or 3 days with army trainers who then teach you how to survive!
ECC: That sounds intense! I take it you survived…….
Rafa: Haha! Yes, I survived, the upside of this course is that it equips you to deal with all types of situations and crisis management. All flight attendants in Brazil need to take this course just to be able to apply for crew jobs so we are all very well trained.
ECC: So next time I fly with Brazilian crew onboard, I should feel safe!
ECC: So then you started applying for flying jobs, correct?
Rafa: Exactly, I wasn’t actually aiming to fly for Emirates, I would have been happy flying for one of the Brazilian carriers but as I started the application process an Emirates Assessment Day became available and I jumped at the opportunity. At best I would get the job and at worst I would get some interview experience.
ECC: Do you remember much about your experience on the day?
Rafa: The day was crazy; we started the day with 300 people and the ended up taking only 3 of us. I was very fortunate to have a contact in Emirates that helped me prepare, they told me all about the process, what to expect and how to present myself. All simple things you would think, but knowing this key information definitely helped me along my way. I also remember that one of the recruiters mentioned that they played Tennis, this helped me relax as I am a keen Tennis player and we spoke about this during my Interview. This gave me something in common with the recruiter, this feel more confident as the interview went on.
ECC: Did you know you got the job straight away then?
Rafa: No, I had to wait a month for my “golden call”. It was all excitement after that.
ECC: Do you remember you remember getting ready to go to Dubai? What were your first impressions once you arrived?
Rafa: Dubai was different to what I expected, I didn’t know much about Dubai at the time apart from Emirates being based there and their association with Arsenal Football Club. The city was growing very quickly at that stage and there was construction everywhere, the Burj Khalifa was under construction at the time! My company accommodation was in Al Nahda, which has changed a lot since then.
ECC: What about starting with Emirates, how did you find that?
Rafa: I knew that the company was multi-cultural and that I would meet people from all corners of the world but I found myself with batchmates from Uruguay, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, India, Czechia, Australia and the UK. I was very surprised that only 2 out of our group of 20 had been Cabin Crew before. It was great to meet so many people but challenging at the same time. I spoke English before I arrived in Dubai but I had never worked in an environment where everything was in English, all the conversations and all the training was in English. It was challenging at times but with practice and patience, I got through it!
ECC: It’s safe to say you made it through, so how long were you in Dubai for and what did you do with your spare time?
Rafa: I was in Dubai for 6 ½ years, I really enjoyed my time there, I remember I initially wanted to fly to Australia as it was the furthest from home I would ever get from back home, so I did that for a bit and discovered that Mauritius was also a nice place, with similar beaches to Brazil but with less people so I could relax more than at home. Whilst in Dubai I spent a lot of my time close to the Aviation College in Gharhoud playing a lot of tennis. I became the Director of the Emirates Tennis Team and built a club that allowed over 350 Emirates employees play tennis in several sports clubs in and around Dubai.
ECC: Is there any advice that you would give to people who want to join the airline?
Rafa: Yes, practice your English as everything will be communicated in the language, also once you start flying, enjoy your layovers as much as you can whilst you have the energy, don’t be afraid to explore. I would say that you should fly for as long as you enjoy it, I left at a good time for me, I have a wife and now I have a beautiful boy here in Switzerland. I am a fireman and I am also a Tennis officicial for the Swiss Tennis Federation. The life I have here would not be possible in Dubai but my experience there definitely helped me land the life I have now!
ECC: Thank you for your time Rafa, we hope to speak to you soon.
Rafa: You’re welcome, speak soon!
A big thank you to Rafa for taking the time to sit with us, a true gent. Whilst he didn't always dream of becoming a flight attendant, he took the opportunity with both hands and enjoyed every minute of it. His story goes to show that people from all walks of life can go on to be a flight attendant. He saw the opportunity and used the sources he had to get as much information about the job, how to apply and succeed at the assessments and he succeeded in his mission. Obrigado!
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