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Cabin Crew

Education and Training: High school diploma and flight attendant training
Average Salary: $35,930
Job Outlook: Good

The cabin crew, often referred to as flight attendants, are responsible for ensuring that onboard safety and security instructions are followed. In addition to this, they also make the flight enjoyable for passengers by providing meals and drinks and helping passengers when required.

Before takeoff, the cabin crew instructs passengers about emergency equipment and check to see if seatbelts have been properly secured. They help elderly and small children with questions about onboard services and also help secure luggage in the overhead compartments.

The cabin crew also checks tickets, greets passengers, and guides them to their seats. Once they have provided safety instructions, the cabin crew serves meals, drinks, and provides assistance when requested. They also take care of emergency medical situations.

Education and Training Requirements

The minimum education requirement is a high school diploma, although employers are now increasingly seeking cabin crew with a college degree in hospitality or travel. International flights prefer hiring those who can speak two or more languages fluently.

Prior flight attendant training can increase your chances of getting hired. Once hired, members of the cabin crew undergo a formal training program which teaches them about emergency medical procedures, dealing with unruly passengers and hijacking, airline rules and regulations, and personal grooming. International cabin crew also gets trained on custom regulations.

At this point, a lot of practice flights are conducted to test each trainee. Unsuccessful trainees are eliminated while others are awarded a professional certification. Most airlines make sure that the cabin crew goes through retraining and recertification after a couple of months.

Getting the Job

To get a job as part of the cabin crew, you can either visit airline websites and check their career page or apply through job portals. Applicants go through an interview process where their communication skills are tested. Interviewers also check for things like a pleasing personality, poise, and patience.

Since a lot of emphasis is given to the physical outlook of cabin crew, applicants who are healthy without being overweight, have no body piercings or tattoos, and those with clean hairstyles are preferred.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook, and Career Development

Employment opportunities for cabin crew and flight attendants are expected to grow 8% by 2018 due to an increasing population and better economic conditions.

This industry attracts a lot of applicants so make sure you work on the required qualifications. More job opportunities will be available with regional and private charter airlines.

As cabin crew, you have multiple opportunities for career advancement. After spending 5-8 years as a flight attendant, you can become a flight attendant supervisor and over time, you may also have the chance of becoming vice president for in-flight operations.

Working Conditions and Environment

The cabin crew has no fixed work hours or timings. Airlines operate round the clock 365 days a year so cabin crew members work nights, holidays, and even on weekends. Flight attendants typically work 12 hours a day with international cabin crew working for as long as a flight is in transit.

Airlines guarantee 85 flight hours a month and also provide an option of working additional hours. Senior flight attendants can opt to live near their home base.

Work related injuries are high and result from irregular sleeping and eating patterns and frequent travel. Stress related problems may also occur since the cabin crew has to deal with unruly and irate passengers.

Salary and Benefits

As of May 2008, the median annual wages for cabin crew were $35,930. Trainee flight attendants earn an average salary of $16,191 annually.

Benefits include discounted fares for air travel, medical insurance, life insurance, pension plans, paid vacations, meal expense reimbursements, and allowances for working on holidays.

Where to Go for More Information

Association of Flight Attendants
501 3rd St. NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 434-1300

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesHospitality and Recreation