Education and Training: High school diploma and specialized training
Average Salary: $23,130 to $88,997 annually
Job Outlook: Good
An air hostess, also known as a flight attendant or stewardess, are employees of airline companies. They are mandated by federal law to monitor public safety and ensure the compliance of passengers with airline safety regulations. They handle the in-flight requests of customers, administer first aid to those who become ill, and serve food and beverages. They usually work long hours during which they must carry out various duties.
Before boarding, air hostesses attend a short briefing by the pilot in command regarding the flight plan, including their tasks in flight. This briefing covers weather forecasts, emergency procedures, length of the flight, evacuation protocol, and other flight-related issues. Prior to the flight, air hostesses are tasked to double-check if first-aid kits and other emergency facilities are in excellent working condition. They also inspect the cleanliness of the plane’s interior, as well as the adequacy of the supply of food, drinks, and blankets.
As passengers board the plane, the air hostesses greet them and check their tickets. They also lead the passengers to their seat assignments and provide assistance in storing their luggage. In business and first-class cabins, they are expected to serve welcome drinks. Before takeoff, air hostesses give a live demo of in-flight safety procedures, such as how to fasten seat belts and how to use other safety equipment like oxygen masks.
During the flight, air hostesses are tasked to distribute food and drinks to passengers, as well as give out blankets, pillows, and headsets. They are also responsible for attending to ill passengers and comforting anxious ones. In general, their duty is to help out the passengers in any way they can and keep them safe. Furthermore, they make announcements when needed and pass out immigration and customs documents. Before landing, they conduct the last round of safety checks. They make an inventory of alcoholic beverages, headsets, pillows, blankets, and money collected. In addition, they report the condition of equipment, lost-and-found items, and medical issues passengers may have had during the flight.
Education and Training Requirements
The minimum educational requirement is a high school diploma. However, most airlines prefer those with a bachelor’s degree. A degree in communications, tourism, psychology or nursing may have higher job prospects compared to those with an unrelated degree. In addition, airlines look favorably upon those are fluent in at least two foreign languages because this skill can be useful in international flights.
Upon recruitment, candidates have to undergo formal training and must be certified by the Federal Aviation Association (FAA). This training program normally lasts about three to six weeks, depending on the airline company. The goal of the training is for air hostess candidates to learn about emergency procedures, administering first-aid, operating emergency systems, and surviving in water. In addition, they are educated on how to deal with extreme events like terrorism and hijacking and how to handle very difficult passengers.
There are different techniques utilized in the training program for air hostess candidates. Simulation is one of the most frequently used training methods. Under the same conditions and equipment in actual flights, the trainees practice the duties to be performed while in flight, from food and drink distribution techniques to first aid administration.
Classroom lectures are also one training method that is being utilized. Trainees are presented with different modules on flight safety requirements. Airline manuals are also read and discussed with other co-trainees.
Candidates also undergo on-the-job training. A group of trainees are assigned to a facilitator who explains and demonstrates the task. When the facilitator is done, the trainees are given a chance to perform the same task. They get evaluated by the facilitator right after.
Another training method that is used is e-learning. Workshops about customer service and safety are made available online and accessible to candidates. At the end of the online course, there’s an evaluation tool that will help assess the efficacy of the web program.
Getting the Job
As mentioned previously, only a high school diploma or its equivalent is required by employers. However, a bachelor’s degree is increasingly becoming the norm among air hostesses so having such a degree would increase employment prospects.
Aside from the educational requirement, there are a lot of physical requirements that have to be fulfilled by aspiring air hostesses. They should have flawless skin, a nice set of teeth, and a warm and friendly smile. Before, there was a minimum height requirement. But due to a rise in discrimination lawsuits filed against airline companies, they changed the requirement to a height range instead. Most air hostesses are somewhere between 5’2” and 5’9”. This is because these are the heights that would enable one to be tall enough to reach the overhead cabin when barefoot yet short enough to be comfortable working in narrow aisles. Furthermore, height must be proportional to weight. Candidates must possess good eyesight and must not be color blind. A medical evaluation will be done to check your overall health.
There are also additional training requirements that must be met before one becomes eligible to become an air hostess. Candidates must sign up for an air hostess training program and make sure that the said program is recognized by the FAA. Trainings in customer service, safety procedures, and emergency medical protocol would be beneficial and would boost one’s chances of getting selected.
After finishing the air hostess training program, it would help if you make a list of employers you would like to work for to narrow down the choices. If there’s an opening and you managed to land an interview, prepare for it. There might also be a written exam that you should pass.
Bear in mind that airline companies conduct a comprehensive background investigation that goes as far back as a decade. This is one of the requirements of the FAA. One’s personal details, school records, employment records, employment gaps, and criminal records will be checked. If there are any discrepancies, the applicant will be rejected.
Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development
Over the 2008 to 2018 period, the job growth of air hostesses is expected to be at 8%, which is about the same for other occupations. An improving economy following the 2008 financial crisis and a rise in population would boost airline travels. Hence, more air hostesses will be needed to meet the increasing demand. Nonetheless, this demand will be curbed by low job turnover. Fewer air hostesses now choose to remain in their work. In fact, the average tenure is 16 years and is still continuing to increase.
Despite the growing demand for air hostesses, competition is seen to be stiff because of the tremendous number of applicants for the position and stringent hiring qualifications. Applicants with a bachelor’s degree and an experience in customer service have the best prospects of being recruited. Apart from commercial airlines, one may consider the growing number of regional, charter, and low-cost airline companies as well as private companies that utilize private aircraft for their senior executives.
After the training, new air hostesses are on reserve status and are called to staff extra flights or to substitute for other flight attendants who are rerouted, sick, or on vacation. Newly hired air hostesses must thus be readily available for work on short notice. This reserve status is usually held for a year, but in some companies, it may take a while, around five to ten years or even longer. Career advancement takes longer nowadays as compared to before because experienced air hostesses are choosing to remain in the field longer.
Some air hostesses are promoted as supervisors. The typical career ladder involves moving from reserve status to senior air hostess, to lead air hostess, to check air hostess, to supervisor, to base manager, then finally to manager of in-flight operations. Some assume additional work such as training, recruiting, or developing in-flight services and products. With supplemental education, other air hostesses are able to transfer to other departments of the company they’re working for, such as human resources or risk management.
Salary and Benefits
On the average, the salaries of air hostesses range from $23,130 to $88,997 annually with the hourly rate being $15.29 to $44.82.
Surveys shows that a significant increase in salary comes with experience. Those with one to four years of experience receive between $15,289 and $46,721 per year. This shoots up to a range of $19,806 to $61,933 for those with five to nine years of work experience. Air hostesses who have been working for 10 to 19 years receive salaries from $24,588 to as high as $84,221 yearly.
Industry may also affect compensation. Those in corporate flight receive the highest salary at $72,877 annually. Those in commercial airline companies come in second, earning top average salaries of $60,251.
Air hostesses receive company benefits such as health insurance, life insurance, and company pension plan. They also get paid sick leaves and holidays.
Where to Go for More Information
Association of Flight Attendants-CWA
501 3rd St. NW
Washington, DC 20001
Association of Professional Flight Attendants
1004 W Euless Blvd.
Euless, TX 76040
Federal Aviation Administration
800 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20591