How to Become a Flight Attendant
Do you feel drawn to the life of a flight attendant? Flight attendants play an important role in air travel, working to help passengers feel comfortable and stay safe. With layovers in hundreds of cities around the world, they have the opportunity to experience sights, smells, and tastes that most of us can’t imagine. This article outlines the details of a flight attendant’s job, the qualifications you need to be a candidate for a position, and tips on landing a job with an airline.
Know what the job entails. Flight attendants are caregivers, customer service professionals, and safety providers. They ensure that passengers have a safe and calm passage while they’re on the plane. They work hard to make sure everyone’s comfortable while constantly wearing a friendly smile. Their responsibilities include:
- Greeting passengers as they board the plane, and thanking them as they exit.
- Helping passengers get seating and stow their luggage in the overhead bins.
- Giving a presentation of the airline’s safety procedures.
- Facilitating beverage and food services.
- Answering passengers’ questions, and calming passengers who are anxious or upset.
- Guiding passengers to safety in the event of an emergency, and administering first aid if necessary.
Get familiar with the benefits and drawbacks. In addition to getting the opportunity to travel all over the world on the job, flight attendants receive steeply discounted airline tickets for themselves and for their families. For many, this makes up for the fairly low pay (the entry-level salary is $18,000 per year) and the taxing hours a flight attendant must endure. A particularly grueling trip might include a ten-hour flight, a twenty-four-hour layover, another ten-hour flight, and so on. In addition to base pay, flight attendants also receive a “per diem” from under $2 to $3 per hour depending upon domestic or international assignments, to cover meals and incidental expenses while they are away from their base – even when on layover and not working. Thus, a flight attendant with a per diem of $3 per, receives an additional $72 for each day spent away from base.
Understand the hierarchy. New flight attendant hires go through a few months of training before they become “junior” flight attendants. Junior flight attendants are under close scrutiny, and they receive lower pay and fewer benefits than “senior” flight attendants while they learn the ropes. After about a year of doing a satisfactory job, junior flight attendants get promoted to senior status, which gives them greater control over their hours.
Make sure the lifestyle is right for you. Since flight attendants travel so much, they often have to make personal sacrifices. But flight attendants function as each other’s family, and they provide each other with a lot of support. Flight attendants usually have the following qualities:
- They’re fiercely independent. Flight attendants are able to navigate new places alone, and they enjoy being on their own, even if it means being away from their families during long trips.
- They live in the moment. Many flight attendants explore the nightlife in the cities they visit, or take advantage of the attractions each city has to offer. They enjoy having new experiences and finding something great about every city.
- They’re generous with time and space. Flight attendants don’t get a lot of personal space. They share their quarters with other flight attendants on longer trips. While flying, they have to put the customer first, even if they may be just as exhausted from being in the air for ten or more hours. Flight attendants have a cheerful attitude and uplift others under uncomfortable circumstances.