For long, people thought, rather believed that flight attendants were mere waitresses of the airplanes and only so much fuss about getting into the career. Well, little did they know that there was (and is) lot that went into brewing a perfect and professional flight attendant. Have you heard about the story of NeerjaBhanot? If not, please read it and you may just reassure yourself that what others thought and what you believe are two extremes. If you are on this page, it means you believe in courage, humility, sophistication, and a passion to serve others – all that goes into becoming a flight attendant.
And therefore, we shall walk you through the various things you will require to become a successful flight attendant.
What Will Your Work Look Like
A flight attendant’s primary job (yes, surprisingly) is to take care of the passengers’ well-being and safety. He or she makes sure that everyone is comfortable in the aircraft, everyone follows the Federal Aviation Administration Policies, and she responds to emergencies that occur on the flight, quickly and effectively.
Job responsibilities of flight attendants are vast: you will be required to work quickly and methodically, and possess multi-tasking skills. You will be prepared to work in bursts, work on short notices, as shifts change, schedules canceled and airports close down due to bad weather. You have to be in good physical shape to move freely with lithe. You also have to refine your personality development skills, problem-solving skills, and communication skills and work on anger management if necessary.
Holding a flight attendant’s job, your actions will reflect the perceived values of the company you are part of. The customers will totally judge the quality and efficiency of the airline with your service, followed by the rest of things, such as price, food, amenities etc. You will be the front liners of the airline. This job is also for those dreamers who are passionate travelers and dream of journeying across the world. However, to get to travel to several countries and serve your purpose, you need to outshine the competition. It is only possible by planning carefully and acing your interview. It is also important to not merely survive in this career, but rather enjoy every bit of it.
How to Start Your Career as a Flight Attendant
Step 1: Qualifications Required for the Ideal Applicant
Although there are many certified training institutes that offer great courses to practice flight attending and stewarding that also give placement guarantee, you don’t have to go through them to enter into this career. The required training will start only after you get the job after the airline hires you.
However, you cannot apply just like that. All airlines require applicants to have a minimum qualification of high school degree or GED diploma. However, major companies hire candidates who are college graduates, holding degrees in hospitality, communication, tourism, and public relations.
You will stand a higher chance of being the perfect candidate if you have experience in the related job, such as serving customers/ guests in hotels, resorts, clubs, or in restaurants.
Apart from educational qualifications, other requirements include:
- You must be at least 18 years old.
- You should be tall enough to reach overhead luggage bins. Average height requirement is 5’ 7” to 5’ 11”.
- You should be in excellent physical health to fly most of your days in the air. For instance, you should have the ability and endurance to stand for extended periods with no rest.
- Your eye vision must be at least 20/40 (you can correct it to suit the requirement).
- Although hiring overweight applicants is not an issue, the general rule specifies that your height should be in proportion to your weight.
- Your medical and criminal history should be clear, as in, you should pass background check criteria and pre-employment drug test.
- You must have the skill to handle a variety of situations and people temperament and behavior.
- You must possess basic first-aid knowledge.
- You must have a cheerful and friendly nature.
- Having selling and marketing skill is a bonus point.
- Finally, you must dispose of a professional image, including no visible tattoos, no facial piercing, no fancy hair color, and no over dramatic hairstyle or makeup.
- You must speak fluent English language (and respective local language).
Step 2: Get Your Training Done
If you meet the above qualifications during your interview, you will get the job. And, once the company hires you, only then you will actually receive the formal training required for the flight attendant. The company will prepare you for the position over a three to six weeks of training. You will be trained on flight regulations, job duties, company policies, and operations.
You will also be trained on tackling emergencies, such as operating oxygen masks, evacuation slides and floatation devices when and as needed, and given guidance on handling unforeseen situations, such as dealing with hijacking and terror activities, and evacuating passengers quickly. By the end of the training, you will take practice flights.
Step 3: Get Your Certification
After you finish the training through the employer airline company, the director of operations or HRD manager will apply for your Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency was established in the year 2003 in the vision of Aviation Reauthorization Act.
The Act defines a flight attendant as an “an individual who works in the cabin of an aircraft that has 20 or more seats and is used by a part 121 or part 135 air carrier to provide air transportation. The FAA will not issue a Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency to any flight attendant that does not meet this definition.”
Although flight attendants are not required to carry the certificate with them, if necessary they must submit to the particular board, such as Federal Agency, FAA, and National Transportation Safety Board within the stipulated time period (mostly 15 days from the date of request).
Separate Certification of Demonstrated Proficiency is required for different types of aircraft. Also, to renew the certificate, you and other flight attendants must receive the annual training.
What Your Journey Will Look Like
Your first year may or may not be as you had perceived – traveling across the world to Italy, Rome, Switzerland, and India. Well not just yet, and not so fast. You will not be assigned to regular schedules immediately and it will take a while for you to travel in most common and popular routes.
You should aim for being in monthly assignments. However, before you achieve that position, and based on your experience and skills, you will spend at least one to seven years on Reserve Status.
In the airline industry, being on ‘Reserve Status’ means being available on call. You will have to keep your bags ready all the time as you may have to report at moment’s notice to replace an absent crewmember or manage additional flights. You may be summoned within one hour’s time. As with seniority, your position will change and so will your salary.
A Day’s Job of Flight Attendants:
- Report on time, meet flight staff and pilots, go through the scheduled flight’s blueprint, and discuss services and flight details, such as rough weather, delays, length and travel route.
- Oversee equipment inspection used by flight attendants, such as seating and overhead bins, security and safety devices, intercom, and galley equipment.
- Show the usage of safety equipment to passengers before taking off, and instruct them ‘what to’ and ‘what not to’ do during flight mode.
- Help passengers use safety devices.
- Sell and serve food and beverages to the flight passengers with care and precision.
- Make sure passengers are comfortable and follow instruction during bad weather conditions.
- Help passengers with special needs and children to board and de-board the flight.
- Administer special aids, such as emergency medical care, and prepping sick passengers to EMTs when landing.
- Direct passengers during emergency landing.
- All of the above with poise, patience, courage, and resilience.
Work Schedule of Flight Attendants
Work schedule will vary based on the flights’ status quo, such as cancellation, delays, airport closings, weather condition, and in most drear cases, terrorist threats.
You should be prepared to fly 24/7 and overnight often, and sometimes without sleep. Most of the time, your shift will be longer than the traditional 9 – 6 work hours. You may at times work for 14 hours at a stretch. However, to rejuvenate your sanity and health, the federal law has made it mandatory that all flight crewmembers, be it attendants or pilots, must have at least 9consecutive hours of off-duty time, depending upon their previous in-flight shift, before they take the next shift.
You will spend two-thirds of your work time in the air. Rest of the time, you will be doing duties at the airport or on the tarmac. These include preparing passenger and flight list, getting ready to help at least 100 passengers on board, and awaiting the arrival of flights.
As you will rise in seniority, you will be awarded better flight shifts and flying to better destinations. You can also work part-time as a flight attendant. About 20% -30% of the flight attendants work part-time.
As a new joiner, ensure you take up your residence just near to the airport for a faster commute. You may be ushered any minute, as you will be working on a reserve basis. You will be expected to be ready to fly at moment’s notice, so make sure your apartment or home is within six KMs radius.
Your earning will depend upon your position in the cabin crew. However, as per data retrieved from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average income that flight attendants drew in 2017 was $50, 000 per year. You can initially expect an annual salary between $25,000 and $30,000. You will also be receiving per-diem allowance for meals and hotel stays while on the shift, apart from your monthly salary.
Flight attendants get a lot of other benefits too, such as pay for uniforms, free personality development, and hair&make-up tutorials, free standby seats on the airlines, as well as discounted flights.
Tips on Becoming a Flight Attendant
The outlook of the job looks very pleasant and satisfying, however, you need to go through a lot to earn status. We have listed below a few important points that you need to by-heart to get qualified easily.
- Learn as many languages as you can. However, most important is fluency in English as it will take you a long way across the world.
- Although you can start working at 18 years old, to enter into companies providing long-haul flights, you require to be at least 21 years to serve alcohol.
- Research the cabin crew requirements of airline companies before you apply. Some make university education mandatory.
- Try to gain customer service experience from the hospitability
- Be presentable and clean, both grooming wise and the way you handle food and beverages.
- Go through some kind of physical training, concerning the core, to manage heavy overhead baggage ofthe passengers.
- Resume does matter in aviation as well. Prepare a concise and professional resume. Do not cross two pages of content.
- Just like a modeling career, you need to create a portfolio for your cabin crew job position. You will be asked to submit full-body and a headshot, as well as a passport size photo during application.
- Do not opt for loud makeup and extravagant hairstyle. Choose a bun and use pastel shades to highlight your facial features.
- Research the airline company before you apply. You should know about their history, hiring processes, culture, vision, mission, leaves, and company policy.
- Prepare a list of questions you would like to ask your employer. Do not play dumb. Airline companies prefer smart and intelligent applicants.
If this article helped you choose your career wisely, do leave us a comment below. You can also connect with us for further queries about this career.