Flight attendants take care of passenger needs.
Flight attendants receive training from their employer and must be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Flight attendants typically need a high school diploma or the equivalent and work experience in customer service.
Applicants must meet minimum age requirements, typically 18 or 21; be eligible to work in the United States; have a valid passport; and pass a background check and drug test. They must have vision that is correctable to at least 20/40 and often need to conform to height requirements set by the airline. Flight attendants also may have to pass a medical evaluation.
Flight attendants should present a professional appearance, which may be defined by the employer.
A high school diploma is typically required to become a flight attendant. Some airlines may prefer to hire applicants who have taken some college courses or who have a college degree.
Those working on international flights may need fluency in a foreign language.
Prospective attendants may enroll in flight attendant academies.
Work Experience in a Related Occupation
Flight attendants typically need 1 or 2 years of work experience in a service occupation before getting their first job as a flight attendant. This experience may include customer service positions in restaurants, hotels, or resorts. Experience in sales or in other positions that require close contact with the public and focus on service to customers also may help develop the skills needed to be a successful flight attendant.
After a flight attendant is hired, airlines provide initial training that typically lasts for several weeks or a few months. The training usually takes place at the airline’s flight training center and is required for FAA certification.
Trainees learn emergency procedures such as evacuating aircraft, operating emergency equipment, and administering first aid. They also receive specific instruction on flight regulations, company operations, and job duties.
Toward the end of the training, students go on practice flights. They must complete the training to keep a job with the airline. Once they have passed initial training, new flight attendants receive the FAA Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency and continue to receive additional on-the-job training as required by their employer.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
All flight attendants must be certified by the FAA. To become certified, flight attendants must complete their employer’s initial training program and pass an exam. Flight attendants are certified for specific types of aircraft and must take new training for each type of aircraft on which they are to work. In addition, attendants receive recurrent training every year to maintain their certification.
Career advancement is based on seniority. On international flights, senior attendants frequently oversee the work of other attendants. Senior attendants may be promoted to management positions in which they are responsible for recruiting, instructing, and scheduling.
Attentiveness. Flight attendants must be aware of security or safety risks during the flight. They also must be attentive to passengers’ needs in order to ensure a pleasant travel experience.
Communication skills. Flight attendants should speak clearly and interact effectively with passengers and other crewmembers. They also must be able to write concisely when documenting in-flight issues.
Customer-service skills. Flight attendants need poise, tact, and resourcefulness to handle stressful situations and to address passengers’ needs.
Decision-making skills. Flight attendants must be able to act decisively, especially in emergencies.
Physical stamina. Flight attendants push, pull, and carry service items; open and close overhead bins; lift heavy objects; and stand and walk for long periods.