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Flight attendants provide routine services and respond to emergencies to ensure the safety and comfort of airline passengers.Duties
Flight attendants typically do the following:
Airlines are required by law to provide flight attendants for the safety and security of passengers. The primary job of flight attendants is to keep passengers safe, ensuring that everyone follows security regulations and that the flight deck is secure. Flight attendants also try to make flights comfortable and stress free for passengers. At times, they may deal with passengers who display disruptive behavior.
About 1 hour before takeoff, the captain (pilot) may conduct a preflight briefing with flight attendants about relevant flight information, including the number of hours the flight will take, the route the plane will travel, and weather conditions. Flight attendants must ensure that emergency equipment is working, the cabin is clean, and there is an adequate supply of food and beverages on board. Flight attendants greet passengers as they board the aircraft, direct them to their seats, and provide assistance as needed.
Before the plane takes off, flight attendants demonstrate the proper use of safety equipment to all passengers, either in person or through a video recording. They also ensure that seatbelts are fastened, seats are locked in the upright position, and all carry-on items are properly stowed in accordance with federal law and company policy.
A flight attendant’s most important responsibility, however, is to help passengers in the event of an emergency. This responsibility ranges from dealing with unruly passengers to performing first aid, fighting fires, protecting the flight deck, and directing evacuations. Flight attendants also answer questions about the flight, attend to passengers with special needs, and generally assist all passengers as needed.
Before the plane lands, flight attendants once again ensure that seatbelts are fastened, seats are locked in the upright position, and all carry-on and galley items are properly stowed.
Before they leave the plane, flight attendants survey the condition of the cabin. They submit reports on any medical, safety, or security issues that may have occurred during the flight.
Flight attendants receive training from their employer and must be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Although flight attendants must have at least a high school diploma or the equivalent, some airlines prefer to hire applicants who have taken some college courses. Prospective flight attendants typically need previous work experience in customer service.
Applicants must be at least 18 years old, be eligible to work in the United States, have a valid passport, and pass a background check and drug test. They must have vision that is correctable to at least 20/40 and often need to conform to height and weight requirements. Flight attendants also may have to pass a medical evaluation.Education
A high school diploma is typically the minimum educational requirement for becoming a flight attendant. However, some airlines prefer to hire applicants who have taken some college courses.
Many employers prefer applicants with a degree in hospitality and tourism, public relations, business, social science, or communications. Those who work on international flights may have to be fluent in a foreign language. Some flight attendants attend flight attendant academies.Work Experience in a Related Occupation
Flight attendants typically have 1 or 2 years of work experience in a service occupation before getting their first job as a flight attendant. This experience may include customer service positions in restaurants, hotels, or resorts. Experience in sales or in other positions that require close contact with the public and focus on service to customers also may help develop the skills needed to be a successful flight attendant.Training
Once a flight attendant is hired, airlines provide their initial training, ranging from 3 to 6 weeks. The training usually takes place at the airline’s flight training center and is required for FAA certification.
Trainees learn emergency procedures such as evacuating aircraft, operating emergency equipment, and administering first aid. They also receive specific instruction on flight regulations, company operations, and job duties.
Toward the end of the training, students go on practice flights. They must complete the training to keep a job with the airline. Once they have passed initial training, new flight attendants receive the FAA Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency.Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
All flight attendants must be certified by the FAA. To become certified, flight attendants must complete their employer’s initial training program and pass an exam. Flight attendants are certified for specific types of aircraft and must take new training for each type of aircraft on which they are to work, in addition to receiving recurrent training every year if they are to maintain their certification.Advancement
After completing initial training, new flight attendants are typically placed on call, also known as reserve status. While on reserve status, attendants must be able to report to the airport on short notice to staff extra flights or fill in for absent crewmembers.
New attendants usually remain on reserve status for at least 1 year, but in some cities attendants may be on reserve for several years. After their stretch of time in this reserve period, flight attendants gain enough seniority to bid on monthly assignments. Assignments are based on seniority, and the most preferred routes go to the most experienced attendants.
Career advancement is based on seniority. Senior flight attendants exercise the most control over route assignments and schedules; therefore, they often can choose how much time to spend away from home. On international flights, senior attendants frequently oversee the work of other attendants. Senior attendants may be promoted to management positions in which they are responsible for recruiting, instructing, and scheduling.Important Qualities
Attentiveness. Flight attendants must be aware of any security or safety risks during the flight. They also must be attentive to passengers’ needs in order to ensure a pleasant travel experience.
Communication skills. Flight attendants should speak clearly, listen attentively, and interact comfortably with passengers and other crewmembers.
Customer-service skills. Flight attendants should have poise, tact, and resourcefulness to handle stressful situations and address passengers’ needs.
Decisionmaking skills. Flight attendants must be able to act decisively in emergencies.
Physical stamina. Flight attendants may need to lift baggage and stand and walk for long periods.
Flight attendants should present a professional appearance and not have visible tattoos, body piercings, or an unusual hairstyle or makeup.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Flight Attendant
Top Careers After Flight Attendant
Hispanic or Latino11.3%
Black or African American0.6%
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University of Phoenix18.1%
International Air and Hospitality Academy6.7%
Georgia State University5.4%
University of Central Florida4.6%
Florida State University4.6%
University of Memphis4.6%
University of Houston4.4%
University of Georgia4.3%
Florida International University3.8%
Southern New Hampshire University3.8%
Miami Dade College3.8%
Houston Community College3.7%
University of South Florida3.7%
University of North Texas3.5%
Michigan State University3.3%
Northern Kentucky University3.3%
College of Southern Nevada3.2%
Unfortunately we don’t have enough data for this section.
How to Become a Flight Attendant
Cathay Pacific - A Day in the Life - Flight Attendant
Flight Attendant, Career Video from drkit.org