Flight attendants are the smiling faces that greet you when you board a plane, provide you with in-flight service, and assist you after landing. They’re the people who watch over your flight to make sure everything goes according to plan. And they are responsible for the overall safety of all passengers while the flight is in progress.
Flight attendants are responsible not only for helping passengers, but also for working within a schedule to ensure that flights run on time. This means they must be prepared for any situation—even an emergency—while onboard the airplane.
Read on to learn more about what it’s like to be a flight attendant and what it takes to become one yourself.
Flight Attendant Job Duties
Flight attendants are responsible for a wide range of duties, including:
- Ensuring the comfort of passengers during flights by responding to passengers’ questions and assisting them pleasantly where needed
- Ensuring safety measures are followed such as stowing carry-on bags properly and securing the doors for take-off and landing.
- Explaining safety procedures to passengers before each flight, including how to use oxygen masks in case of cabin depressurization
- Ensuring that the plane is properly stocked with food, beverages, and supplies for each flight, along with clean linens and pillows for each passenger’s seat
- Selling goods on board the plane such as food, beverages, and duty-free merchandise
- Reporting maintenance problems to appropriate personnel during each flight
- Handling in-flight emergencies such as assisting with medical issues or evacuations
Flight Attendant Salary & Outlook
The median annual wage for flight attendants is $47,563. The top earners make over $130,000 a year.
The employment of flight attendants is expected to grow much faster than average over the next decade. This is due to the increasing demand for air travel as the economy improves and more people take vacations and travel for business purposes.
Flight Attendant Job Requirements
The requirements of a flight attendant include:
Education: A high school diploma or GED is required. Some employers require applicants to complete a degree in hospitality, travel, or tourism. These programs teach students about the airline industry as well as customer service skills. Some airlines may prefer candidates who have graduated from a bachelor’s program.
Training: Most training for a flight attendant is on-the-job. Airlines provide their employees with training on the company’s products and services as well as on-flight safety procedures. Training programs vary according to the employer and could include a combination of classroom instruction and on-the-job training.
Certifications: All U.S flight attendants must have the Flight Attendant Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency issued by the FAA. Additional training programs that lead to certification are optional but often preferred by employers.
Flight Attendant Skills
In addition to education and other requirements, candidates that possess the following skills may be able to perform more successfully on the job:
Teamwork: Flight attendants are part of a team that includes pilots, ground crew, and fellow flight attendants. They must be able to cooperate with all members of the team.
Communication skills: Flight attendants must be able to communicate clearly and calmly with passengers, crew members, and other airline personnel. In addition to being fluent and articulate, they must be able to create rapport and good relations with passengers and colleagues.
Physical fitness: The job requires individuals to be generally fit in order to perform physical tasks such as helping stow on-flight baggage.
Judgment skills: Flight attendants must be able to make quick decisions when necessary. For example, they may need to determine whether a passenger is sick or intoxicated based on their behavior or appearance. They also must know how to handle emergency situations such as fires or bomb threats.
Stress management skills: The travel industry can be stressful due to the potential of high-risk situations. It’s important to remain calm and collected in all situations.
Safety awareness: In addition to their responsibilities as customer service agents, flight attendants must also be safety-conscious professionals who keep track of cabin equipment and make sure that everything is working properly. Therefore, they must be alert.
Flight Attendant Work Environment
The work environment of flight attendants is highly dependent on the airline they work for. However, fundamentally all airlines are alike in that most cabin crew members spend the majority of their time inside an airplane performing duties such as safety demonstrations and serving meals or beverages to passengers. Flight attendants may need to stand for long periods of time, resulting in back pain.
Work schedules vary widely given the nature of the business, almost every flight attendant works days, nights, weekends (and even holidays). The hours can be long as well as stressful. Flight attendants often must face challenging situations with courteousness and professionalism. A professional attitude is mandatory for this job.
Flight Attendant Career Advancement
As flight attendants gain more years of experience, they will be able to apply for positions that require more responsibility. One of these positions is that of a senior flight attendant. This is a leadership role that is usually given to flight attendants who have 15 or more years of experience.
Flight Attendant Trends
Here are three trends influencing how flight attendants work. Flight attendants will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.
Technological advancements have changed the way that airlines do business, as well as how they train their staff.
In addition to technology that helps with check-in and baggage claim, airlines are increasingly relying on tablets and mobile devices to provide customers with information about flights and destination points.
This trend will likely intensify in the coming years as more customers become comfortable using these technologies for other purposes, such as accessing email and other digital services while traveling.
Impact of Travel Restrictions
The travel industry has been hard hit by restrictions on travel to certain countries, as well as the rise in airline fees.
However, despite these restrictions and challenges, some airlines are managing to innovate their business models to make up for the loss of revenue. For example, many airlines have begun selling extra legroom or “exit row” seats on flights for additional money.
As airlines look for new ways to make up for lost revenue, flight attendants will have to develop new skills that allow them to accommodate different types of passengers.
Flight Attendants are Increasingly Key To Company Brand
As airlines have become more competitive, they have looked to create brand loyalty by investing in customer service. This has resulted in the creation of corporate programs that emphasize the importance of individual employees in representing a company’s brand. For example, United Airlines emphasizes “celebrating each customer” while Southwest Airlines encourages its employees to “make every moment count.”
These efforts are reflected in survey results that show customers want flight attendants to provide personal attention, inform them about options and guide them through their experience. Flight attendants will need to focus on developing strong communication skills if they hope to achieve positive results in these areas.
How to Become a Flight Attendant
1. Planning Your Career Path
If you’re interested in becoming a flight attendant, it’s important to think about the type of work environment you want to be in. Some airlines have infamously difficult application processes while others are more laid-back. While many flight attendants love their jobs, the position does have its challenges. Long hours, minimal sleep, and travel-related stress can be hard on even the most experienced professionals. If you’re interested in becoming a flight attendant, make sure that you are aware of what you’re getting into.
2. Writing a Resume
Flight attendants typically interact with many people on a daily basis, so you should be sure to include specific details about how you handled challenging situations and interacted with clients. Be sure to highlight your skills such as language fluency, good communication skills, good people skills, and empathy. If you have a passion for travel be sure to include this, along with any industry knowledge or certifications that could be relevant to your role.
You may choose to include any certifications or licenses that you have completed, which will highlight your dedication to continuing education and industry knowledge. These details allow employers to see that you are invested in keeping up with the latest trends and standards in your field.
3. Applying for Jobs
This can be a very competitive industry to break into, so you’ll want to have a lot of patience when it comes to job hunting. It’s essential that you use your networking skills and social media platforms to keep your name out there. In addition to making connections with other flight attendants, you should also find ways to reach out to the airline’s employees; for example, many airlines have Facebook groups where their employees can connect with each other and their fans.
4. Ace the Interview
To prepare for a job interview as a flight attendant, do your research on the airline you are interviewing with. Review their website and study their flight schedule. Familiarize yourself with the company’s products and services so that you can speak knowledgeably about them during the interview.
During the interview, be sure to highlight your abilities in customer service, organization, time management, and communication. The interviewer will want to know that you are able to effectively respond to any situation that may arise during the flight. Be prepared to talk about an interesting experience you had. For example, if you were in charge of escorting a passenger off the plane for unruly behavior, what did you do?
Be honest about the challenges you faced when dealing with your passengers. As an example, if your flight was delayed or canceled because of weather conditions, how did you handle the delay? How did you deal with angry passengers?