Cabin Crew Life: Understanding our roster

You guys love hearing about what it’s like to be Cabin Crew with Emirates, so I thought I’d answer your questions about our roster! Please do keep in mind that I am a GR2, meaning that I work in the Economy Class cabin. Rostering is different depending on your role within the company. As a result, I can only speak to to how scheduling works for me. 😊

Each month we have the opportunity to request up to 5 flights and/or days off- this is referred to as “bidding”. There is no guarantee that we will get what we ask for, but it is a chance to tell scheduling where we’d like to go. Whether these preferences are granted or not depends largely on legalities, language requirements, the number of flights available etc.

There are also “groups” that Cabin Crew are randomly assigned to when we join. Many of us think that depending on which group we are in, the chances of getting what we prefer are higher depending on which month it is. In actuality, as GR2s this supposed grouping scheme does not apply to us, so I‘m not going to confuse you guys and get into that any further.

The truth is that when it comes to rostering nothing is guaranteed and the system that Emirates uses tries to allocate as many preferences as it can for us each month -regardless of seniority. There are over 13,000 Cabin Crew working for Emirates across all grades, so you can imagine how difficult it is to take all of our preferences into consideration!

About once a year Cabin Crew are rostered for reserve month; meaning that we receive few to nil scheduled flights and that each night our roster will change around 6pm for the following day. Based on Emirates operational needs, we could be scheduled for a day off, a flight, airport standby or cross-qualification standby.

Our roster for the following month is emailed to us two weeks prior to it’s start, around the 16th. This gives us time to swap flights (trade) with our colleagues if need be. While I can’t show you an actual picture of my roster, here is a sample of what one may look like:

LV = Leave

SRA = Service Training

XX = Days off

The airport codes represent the destination we are flying to and the numbers above them indicate the trip/flight number and the date of our departure. The arrows (–>) mean that our flight continues over a few days. If it is our reserve month, our roster will say “RSV” instead of having airport codes.

It’s exciting not knowing where each month will take you. If you could choose 5 places to go, which destinations would you pick? Let me know in the comments below!

Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel and follow me on social media to see where I am in the world and where I’m going next!

Next Stop: Casablanca, Morocco

IG: @LipstickAndLuggage
YouTube: @LipstickandLuggage
FB: @LipstickandLuggage
Twitter: @KelseyBelleDXB

Disclaimer: My posts are my personal views and and do not represent the views of my company.


  1. kajal
    September 22, 2017 / 8:41 am

    hey i just wanted to know thst how often you go to your home in canada…As you are dubai based

    • Lipstick And Luggage
      September 25, 2017 / 7:09 pm

      Hi Kajal,

      I’ve operated my home flight (YYZ) 8 times in almost 2 years. How often I go home on vacation depends on when I get time off. Usually I go home twice a year for about a week or so. Cabin Crew are given 30 days of leave each year.


  2. Eduardo
    October 16, 2017 / 1:54 pm

    I have a couriosity, why some of you wear black uniforms? Are they a higher rank?

    • Lipstick And Luggage
      October 17, 2017 / 6:04 am

      Hi Eduardo,

      Pursers wear dark brown uniforms and yes they are of a higher rank. Pursers are responsible for overseeing the entire flight, making sure our customers are both safe and comfortable, and that the services we offer on board are completed correctly. (Essentially, they are in charge of us and we are to do what they ask).

      Hope that answers your question!

      • Ruari Allen
        October 17, 2017 / 6:41 am

        Wat about the crew managers wat uniform do they wear and will always tell them about you on flights and always gonna be a nice feedback of course on your excellent service

      • Eduardo
        October 17, 2017 / 9:40 am

        Sure does. Thanks a lot and love flighing with u (emirates)

  3. Q
    April 2, 2018 / 5:06 am

    What is cross-qualification standby?

    • Lipstick And Luggage
      April 26, 2018 / 5:30 pm

      It means we are qualified to operate on both Emirates aircraft types: the A380 and the Boeing 777.


  4. Ravi
    September 1, 2018 / 10:33 pm

    Stumbled upon this article and it is very informative. Great job explaining everything!

    Typically how many days do you have to do the swaps before your next month roster begins? I would like to know whether the crew can do the swaps once their roster begins.

    Also, would appreciate if you can answer if there is any limit on the number of swaps you can do in a year? Would like to know bit more about the swapping system.

    Thank you in advance!


    • Lipstick And Luggage
      September 5, 2018 / 2:00 pm

      Hi Ravi,

      To answer your questions- I believe crew cannot swap less than 48 hours prior to their next duty. I always swap as soon as our rosters come out so that this isn’t an issue. We can swap all month long EXCEPT for during the freeze period that lasts about a week. During this time we can only swap duty for duty (meaning we cannot swap days off). We don’t have a yearly limit- we have a monthly one. It is capped at three. Each month we receive an email detailing when the freeze period is and when we can log onto our portal and bid for flights.


      • Ravi
        September 5, 2018 / 4:43 pm

        Thank you so much for answering my questions. I really appreciate your prompt response despite being very busy.

        I am eagerly waiting to meet an acquaintance of mine and wasn’t sure whether to suggest her to request a flight or to swap a flight. I didn’t want her to lose her 2/ 3 requests because of me, and I didn’t knew much about swaps. Found this article and thought I could get some help from you on swapping.

        I got the answer now.

        Again, thank you so much for your time!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.