The Cabin Crew Roster Explained..

Mystery of the Cabin Crew “Roster Gods”


People are fascinated by how our rosters work.

Do we fly there and back? Do we stay over? If so, for how long?
Do we get to see the places we go to?
Does the company provide a hotel?

A lot of the answers depend on the airline that you work for!

Lorna - Cabin Crew for Virgin AtlanticI fly for a long-haul scheduled carrier, so all our flights are ‘nightstops’ meaning we never operate there and back in the same day.

“We can have as little as 13 hours in a destination, or as much as 5 days.”

These days I prefer the shorter trips and end up flying 5 or 6 times a month, whilst others prefer the longer trips and only fly 3 or so times a month.

Every airline is different

You have to be flexible. I am very lucky in that I can swap trips for others or for days off. Some airlines don’t have this, and you have to work the roster as given. Others have a mixture of nightstops and ‘there and back’ flights. This is something you need to consider when choosing who to apply to.

My last roster was mostly USA trips, although my first trip of the month was to Lagos in Nigeria. I had swapped onto this as I had a theatre trip booked with a friend that I didn’t want to miss.

Lagos is a relatively short flight time of around 6 hours and there is no time difference, so no jetlag! I had one night there before flying back.

This was followed by Atlanta, a beautiful city with some great bars and restaurants. 2 days off then back across the Atlantic to Boston – my absolute favourite trip! Boston is wonderful, so much history and culture, the home of Harvard University, the famous historical Boston Tea Party, Duck Tours (Google it!) and whale watching. We were lucky enough to get two nights there, and I go there a lot as I love it so much.

Mid-month I had a training course. On joining we were not trained on the Boeing 747 aircraft, 18 months in and I’m now licensed to fly on it. It’s such a beautiful, iconic aircraft, deserving of being called The Queen of the Skies. However, as I prefer flying from Heathrow, I probably won’t be on it much.

After the training course I had 2 more trips to finish up the month. A 2 night trip to Los Angeles, a long flight but so worth it! Who doesn’t love a bit of LA sunshine and Californian wine?

And then, last but not least, a 1 night trip to Washington DC, home of the White House – the President wasn’t there though!

The White HouseI am definitely more of an East Coast fan. The flights are shorter, and the time difference is less, so this really helps with the jetlag. However, I have friends who prefer West Coast, and then others who prefer going the other way, to places such as Delhi, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

“There is a whole amazing world out there.”

Those of us who fly are privileged to experience it regularly, we are put in lovely hotels, all provided by the company, and our downtime is our own. I personally like to make the most of it by getting out and seeing it, although I have been known to sit in my room and binge watch episodes of Law & Order!

Living one month at a time (that’s the roster period) can be tough, it’s more difficult to plan things. And be prepared to miss out on family parties, weddings and birthdays. But I believe the positives of the crew life outweigh the negatives many times over.

Don’t give up and follow your dreams.

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I am a 46 year old mum of 3 grown up sons, and a nearly 5 year old grandson - however I don't knit or wear cardigans! I started flying in 1994, since then I've worked outside the industry in various roles and for a number of leading airlines. Since January 2018 I have been flying full time as cabin crew for Virgin Atlantic. My hobbies include Latin American and Ballroom dancing, spending time with my lovely man and drinking white wine, particularly New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

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