What it takes to be a Flight Attendant
Updated: May 24, 2019
So I get asked a variation of this question on a regular basis. A lot of the questions has to do with curiosity about the job because it is a bit of a novelty. But I figured I’ll start writing and trying to address some of the questions that I get about this profession. For this blog post, I'll try to detail what you need to become a flight attendant.
Do you study to become a flight attendant?
I didn’t study to be a flight attendant. There are schools for it and programs to cater to teaching you how to prepare for the grueling and strict training that comes before you can fly the friendly skies. But I don't think having a degree or a certificate from one of these academy harms your chances. It will look good optically because it means you're taking this dream seriously but it isn't necessary. I personally don't think you need to attend these courses. I studied to be a high school teacher instead.
You will need a high school diploma. It is even better for some airlines if you had continued your education outside of your four years in high school though. Any degree or diploma you are working towards or have earned is seen as a great asset. We have a variety of professionals that became a flight attendant after a career or a background in different fields. I have met accountants, firefighters, office workers, engineers, nurses etc.
What does an airline expect?
In this section, I am briefly going to talk about what airlines expect from their candidates in two separate categories. The first is hard skills- meaning the qualifications that one could measure and quantify. Then we will talk about the soft skills they would look for. Those are more like qualities and expectations that are not easily measured.
If you apply for a Canadian airline, our national languages are both English and French so it’ll be beneficial if your were proficient at both. We very rarely hire uni-lingual anymore because my particular airline wants to cater to routes. I myself qualify fluently in both English and Cantonese but not in French. But this depends on your airline and the routes they fly.
You must have a high school diploma and be over the age of 18. Different airlines have different stipulations on these two requirements.
You must be of sound mind, be physically fit and able bodied because this job requires you to be very active. You must be able to pass height requirements. Some companies will want you to reach a certain height while others want you to be measured at a certain height. Your height matters because it relates to safety.
Are you able to physically lift a 60 pound window out of a frame and throw it? Will you be able to lift a 75 pound door above your head or swing open a door without any mechanical assistance? Will you be able to drag a 100 pound life raft 10 feet?
Even if you were 5'8 but were not able to do the above you will be disqualified. Likewise, if you were 5'1 (like me) but can demonstrate that you are able to preform these tasks then you are qualified.
Having said that, some airlines would want you to be a certain height, I believe the standard use to be above 5'3 and some may still adhere to that.
You will also be required to do safety and service training and pass at a high rate. I can only speak for my airline but you will study your butt off, write exams, do practical training and you must accomplish all of this to their satisfaction.
There is a long list of soft skills an airline would look for in a flight attendant. I think it is best to imagine yourself as a member of a flight crew and you had to pick a team mate to help you during emergency situations and during regular flight scenarios. What will you look for?
Some soft skills that are prized would be friendliness, communication, team work, customer service, interpersonal skills, the ability to adapt, adjust and think on your feet. These are the day to day soft skills that you will be using.
Remember that you will be working with different crew members on a daily basis and you'll need to be able to integrate and get along with a lot of people in a short amount of time. For the duration of that flight, these are your team mates and they've got your back and they'll expect you to have their back for whatever happens.
But above all soft skills you should have, you must be safety conscious.
We glamorize and romanticize this profession but at the end of the day this job is more than travelling and providing great customer service. A flight crew is responsible for your safety and well being during the flight. If anything at all were to happen in mid air, as cabin crew, you are trained to deal with it. From a medical, to a fire, to the unthinkable, you are to jump into your training and do your job.
That got really serious at the end but these are just some of the skills you will need to be able to be considered as a candidate for a flight attendant.
There's going to be other installments to this blog post because there is simply too much to cover in one sitting but if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask below!
Thanks for reading,