Flight Attendant Jobs: Benefits, Careers, and Challenges
Passengers of the airplanes enjoy high quality customer service and members of cabin crew ensure safety and comfort of everybody on board. The flight attendant jobs imply training of the crew who have to be able to manage possible emergencies and give first aid to the airplane passengers.
A cabin crew job description emphasizes the fact that a member of the crew is expected to check on the availability of sufficient supplies and equipment needed in case of emergency prior to the flight. He or she should assist the passengers in boarding and show the equipment and procedures of safety to them. What they have to do is to ensure pleasant flying experience for the passengers, sell duty-free goods, offer gifts, and serve refreshments and meals during the long-haul or short-haul flights.
Depending on the type of the flight (long-haul or short-haul) and on how many members the team comprises, the tasks can vary. Nevertheless, the responsibilities of the crew are the following:
- being present at the pre-flight briefing to be assigned the corresponding working position for the planned flight. All members of the crew get full information about the schedule and details of the intended details, availability of infants and passengers with special needs (e.g. wheel chaired, diabetic passengers) on board
- performing duties before the flight, in particular monitoring the functioning of the safety equipment, checking the security, keeping the aircraft tidy and clean, making sure that all the meals and beverages are on board, and ensuring that the seat pockets contain up-to-date materials
- cabin crew careers imply welcoming and directing the passengers on board
- demonstrating the safety procedures to the aircraft passengers and checking whether the hand luggage is stored securely
- giving answers to the passengers’ questions during the flight and making the flight announcements instead of the pilots
- checking the security of every galley and seat belt before the plane takes off
- serving beverages and meals
- making the passengers feel safe and checking if they adhere to the regulations and safety procedures in case of emergencies
- administering first aid, if needed
- selling goods from duty-free shops
- giving advice to passengers regarding the limitations and restrictions in allowance at the destination
- doing paperwork, in particular composing a flight report
- checking if the passengers disembark securely
- checking the overhead lockers to monitor the availability of suspicious things and hand luggage left on board
Taking into account the cabin crew responsibilities and the number of spoken languages, the airlines provide extra allowances added to the standard pay. Moreover, many airlines provide additional overnight payments if the crew have to stay away from home for more than a day. Most of the airlines allow the cabin crew to have generous discounts for international flights and free domestic flights. They also allow discounts for the travels of the crew families, according to a special airline policy.
The jobs with airlines typically allow the cabin crew to work shifts, including early mornings, overnight work, and flights scheduled on public holidays and weekends. Long-haul flights typically involve unsocial and irregular shifts, while short-haul ones are mostly regular. The crew gets compensated if the return flights are delayed or cancelled, but this work always implies flexibility.
What Is to Be Expected?
- Cabin crew is hired on a seasonal basis for package tours and airlines catering.
- One of the possible requirements to the staff is living within a short travelling distance from the airport. The crew has to be on board at short notice, so it is important to be flexible and around.
- It is one of the most demanding jobs as the cabin crew is frequently exhausted after long hours of shifts and jet lag in various time zones.
- The crew are dressed in a special uniform provided by the airline. Smart clothing and good grooming are a must. Moreover, visible piercings and tattoos are forbidden by most airlines.
- The work of air cabin crew is physically draining as people work in confined space, mostly on their feet. It is also stressful to deal with scared or capricious audience in an enclosed space.
- The airline defines the amount of time the crew spend away from home in the short-haul and long-haul flights. The latter imply frequent nights away from home.
- Flight attendant jobs imply working with people of different cultures and backgrounds.
The airlines mostly do not demand either HND degree or postgraduate qualification from the cabin crewmembers. However, they do require secondary education with good performance rate, for instance, ‘C’ or higher grade in Math and English.
Getting a foundation degree, degree, or HND in the following disciplines is required to demonstrate to the airline company that you are willing to work in the area:
- hospitality management
- leisure and tourism management
It is of great use to know how to speak foreign languages as it gives a considerable advantage to a person against other candidates. Such bodies as Pearson, City & Guilds, and NCFE (Northern Council for Further Education) award vocational qualifications (BTECs and NVQs) in different topics at various levels.
There are two-day and one-day introductory courses on the fundamentals of cabin crew work. If you complete one of those courses and get the required qualifications, you will show the airline that you are enthusiastic about this career and get an advantage; however, there is no guarantee that you will get the job. Nevertheless, there is no requirement set by the airlines about the completion of the courses.
The candidates can read the list of typical requirements of the airlines, which include the following:
- minimum age of 18 or 21
- minimum height and proportion to weight with different requirements among the airlines
- ability to swim unaided the distance of 25 meters
- good eyesight (contact lenses and glasses allowed)
- good hearing
- valid passport with unrestricted permit to travel around the globe
- a completed DBS check (Disclosure and Barring Service)
- medical examination (optional for certain airlines)
A candidate willing to be working as cabin crew is required to demonstrate:
- good customer service skills
- exceptional communication skills
- confident attitude in managing different people’s problems
- excellent cooperation skills and ability to be a team-player
- ability to demonstrate compassion and support
- discretion while working with royal persons and VIP passengers
- ability not to panic in emergencies and under pressure
- competence in coping with complicated situations
- being diplomatic, polite and tactful; however, accompanied with the ability to be assertive, if needed
- sales skills
- commercial awareness
- numeracy skills to manage cash operations with foreign currency
- flexibility in having shifts all year round
- ability to cope with deadlines and time constraints
- ability to work efficiently and quickly
- being able to stay in a confined space
- problem-solving skills
Hiring for flight attendant jobs, the airlines can demand not the proofs of qualifications, but the evidence of previous work experience to check on the flight attendant skills of the candidates. It is good if you can demonstrate that you have already worked at customer service, even having a temporary work.
The new entrants can undergo the training program of the airlines, which can last for approximately four – seven weeks. The key focus of the conducted training is ensuring of the safety on board, in particular the first aid, efficiency of emergency procedures and checking of the safety equipment of the aircraft.
The program of the training includes a set of practical and written tests for a crewmember in such areas as:
- preparation of food and servicing passengers
- galley management
- currency exchange
- cultural awareness
- immigration regulations and customs
- personal grooming
- customer relations and passenger care
- knowledge of the products
The basic training is followed with a three-to-six-month probation period as a part of the initial training. Performance monitoring is done by senior crewmembers and special coaches. After a successful probation period aimed at learning how to become a flight attendant, new recruits can be referred to as the cabin crew team members.
The air cabin crew gets appointed to certain positions and has to attend special flight attendant education course or a training program suited for the required position. In addition, the training programs of airlines with various aircrafts can be specific for each type. The specialist courses in crew resource management and other similar areas imply having on-going development and upgrade of skills.
The performance rate and experience of the air cabin crew serve as the basis for promotion. For instance, a cabin crewmember can be promoted to a chief purser. A purser has similar
responsibilities to those of the typical crew of the cabin, but they are combined with the business class or first class cabin management responsibilities. Becoming a stewardess or a purser, it is important to ensure the best level of customer support service. One of the functions on board is boosting sales of duty-free items with positive feedback on the performance from the passengers. A typical requirement of the airlines to a purser is two-five-year work experience.
If you want to get more money than the salary for cabin crew or a purser, you can pursue your ambition to be a senior cabin crewmember, a cabin supervisor, a cabin service director, or a cabin manager. You hold responsibility not for one cabin, but for all the on-board cabin crew. You get the reports from the crew, conduct trainings, supervise new staff, and do the paperwork related to the flights.
Another career for an air cabin crewmember can be related to work with private passengers. VVIP cabin crewmembers typically work on prestigious private aircrafts, for instance those of royal families or government officials. They ensure the highest level of support and service. The minimum requirement to this position is two years of work experience in first or business premium class. Most often, such VVIP positions are available in the Middle East countries.
There are the options for the crewmembers to choose: they can perform training of the cabin crew, recruitment, or another ground-based work, provide passenger services or work as crew controllers. The cabin crew at large airlines has great career prospects; for instance, they can be promoted at sales, marketing, safety training, and HR jobs.
All in all, a jet-set lifestyle of a cabin crew member requires diligence, hard work, professionalism, and willingness to work.