County Antrim boy with sky-high hopes of becoming world class cabin crew

As one of the world’s largest airlines, Emirates can probably afford to be quite picky when it comes to hiring cabin crew.

So when the carrier invites you to spend some time at its training academy in Dubai, you jump at the chance.

And that's exactly what happened to 12 year old Calum McGarrigan who dreams of a high flying career as cabin crew with the United Arab Emirates based carrier.

Calum was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome - a form of autism - when he was just 2 years old.

Thanks to his early diagnosis and an encouraging support network, Calum is a determined young man who doesn’t let his autism stand in the way of him reaching for his dreams.

His aunt sent a safety demonstration video Callum had recorded aged 9, to Emirates. And the airline loved it so much that it invited Callum, along with his mum and dad, to its training academy in Dubai.


While there, he got a glimpse into the the training involved - everything from safety & emergency procedures through to medical training, and from how to perfect the cabin crew imageto perfecting the food being served to passengers.

Calum explained what attracted him to the cabin crew? “Visiting all the different places and countries. And just helping people and serving people.”

It wasn’t all work and no play in Dubai. The family were also treated to a UAE safari, got to travel over sand dunes in buggies travelling at 50mph, were able to do some camel riding and were entertained by belly dancers while enjoying a dessert banquet.

I asked Calum if, after four days in Dubai, he was still as keen to get a job as cabin crew. He said “yes, even more so” with New York the city he wants to visit most.

He has another 9 years to wait as you have to be 21 years old or over before your career with Emirates can take off. “As soon as the clock hits 12 on 21 [his 21st birthday], I will be applying!”

And his family couldn’t be more proud. Dad, Mark McGarrigan, says “me, his mum, all his family, friends, teachers and students in his school are all just really, really proud of him.”

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