It has been a common dream of little girls to be a flight attendant. All they want is to be up there in the sky and fly from different places all over the world. Seeing pretty ladies and handsome men all dressed up, onboard an airplane is quite a sight. They just have to say some welcome words, smile, and hop from one passenger to another to ask if they need anything. They are also seen going about with standard safety tips and proper handling of life jackets. Back then these dreamers are not yet aware of what it really is to be a flight attendant. But what does flight attendant really do, or you should say what you have to do to become one.
There are different prerequisites prior to becoming a flight attendant. There are airline companies that require you to be a graduate of a course that specializes in airline work while there are some that accepts a high school diploma and are only concerned that you pass their training school as long as you are 18 years old. But most airlines prefer those with a college degree and those with previous working experience with the public. Studying or training can be exhausting and intense, but it’s worth it. You also need to be in the best physical condition which includes a good vision and of course you must know how to swim.
Being a flight attendant does not only mean working up in the air. If you choose to work as one, you become an ambassador between the airline you’re working for and its passengers. You make everyone feel comfortable all throughout the flight to make their flying experience better. Most of their working time is spent on seeing the needs and comforts of the passenger, making sure that they have their blankets or masks and magazines or headsets.
Your duty starts before an airplane flies – this is what you call the pre-flight checks. Flight briefings are being conducted before a flight to discuss whether a passenger needs special consideration and what to expect on the flight. Once on board, you have to make sure that the entire plane is clean, the seats, the compartments, and including the restrooms. You need to check on the kitchen if food and drinks are available and whether the first aid requirement is complete. Once boarding starts, you have to be courteous enough to welcome each and every passenger, and if necessary guide them to their respective seats. Ask them if they are comfortable and if they need special arrangements, especially if it’s going to be a long flight ahead. Then, once everyone is settled, you then go through the safety routine announcement and demonstration. You may encounter some mockery at this point, especially if there are teens onboard. You need to assure everyone that the safety precautions are there not to scare them away, but to guide them in case anything untoward happens.
You then prepare and serve food and drinks. The availability of the kind of food depends on the airline you are working with and how long the flight would be. Flight attendants are supposed to respond to every passenger’s need throughout the flight. They are also in charge in helping carrying their luggage once the flight has ended. It’s mostly a busy time for flight attendants, but this is the part where you establish connection with the passengers to make them fly with your airline the next time they need one. This is the goal of an airline company in hiring a flight attendant. Be friendly and approachable. After each flight, you are also required to write flight reports and inventory works. The report includes the flight details, the cabin condition and medical issues encountered.
There is however some challenges that you may encounter while in-flight like dealing with sick or pregnant people or even dealing with some unruly passengers. Although these things are being taught to you during training, it’s going to be different when you’re right there facing a pregnant woman who is about to give birth, or a sick person vomiting everywhere. You just have to be calm and relaxed. Ask around if there is a doctor on board and ask for assistance. If unfortunately there is none, then you need to apply first aid to the best of your knowledge and once the airplane lands, report to the cockpit crew of the situation. You also have to calm the rest of the passengers to avoid chaotic situations which may lead to more agitation.
A very big challenge for you is when you encounter emergency situations involving emergency landings. Again, actual situations would be far different from what you did in training school. This is where your quick thinking is needed and loads of energy because at this point you’re putting the safety of the passengers into your hands. You must be ready to help the passengers and to provide them with instructions and directions, making sure not to confuse them all the more.
Flight attendants must be ready for on call works. You may be asked to work beyond your working schedule in a short notice. There is no weekend or holidays for you when the need of one arises. This is one of your responsibilities and so you have to be prepared in cases like this. This may involve long hours and staying overnight in a hotel. But enough with the downside, you will also be given an opportunity to choose when to fly and how many days off you want – depending of course on the availability of slots. And of course, not to mention, the opportunity to travel and be paid while doing so.
Most flight attendants do not go on flying forever. There are airlines that are strict on age limits, but there is nothing to worry about. Once you have progressed and proven to become a member of a senior cabin crew, you can opt to become a training instructor for newbies. All the knowledge you have gained will be then passed to would-be flight attendants.
Post written by Lauren Porter, CEO and chief writer at Flight Attendant’s Academy. She is a current flight attendant with a major American airline and has been writing about flying for over 15 years. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.