Every airline company’s top priority is the health and comfort of its passengers. As a flight attendant, it will be your responsibility to keep customers safe and at ease throughout the duration of their flight. Airline companies have fairly strict mental, physical and psychological requirements that candidates must meet before they are even considered for entry into a flight attendant training program.

Age and Citizenship Requirements

In order to become a flight attendant, you must be at least 18 years old. Certain companies require candidates to be up to age 21 before applying. Applicants must meet these age minimums primarily due to safety reasons. Flight attendants must be mature enough to handle high pressure situations calmly and competently. Many airlines also serve alcohol, which their flight attendants must be able to legally handle. There is no age cutoff for flight attendants, provided that the individual in question is fit and healthy enough to meet the physical requirements for the job.

In the U.S., flight attendants must be citizens with valid passports or be authorized to work within the United States, and must pass a background check. Airlines in other countries have similarly strict requirements. Flight attendants must also apply for a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security clearance pass, which involves a thorough background check. Airlines will not hire a candidate that fails his or her background check.

Physical Requirements

Flight attendants must meet certain physical criteria for their own safety and the safety of their passengers while on board. The job calls for daily feats of strength and endurance, such as lifting a heavy bag into an overhead bin or keeping your balance during heavy turbulence. Applicants must meet the following minimum physical requirements in order to become a flight attendant:

Height and reach: Applicants must be tall enough to reach the overhead lockers, but not so tall that they can’t walk comfortably through the cabin. Although height and reach requirements vary from airline to airline, the requisite height range is often around between 4’11”, or 150 cm, to 6’3”, or 190 cm.

Weight: Most airlines don’t have set weight restrictions. Companies simply require that a flight attendant’s weight be proportional to their height. Applicants that are either overweight or underweight may not be able to safely perform the physical tasks required of them. The easiest way to figure out if you are within the normal weight range for your height is to calculate your Body Mass Index, or BMI.

Vision: Applicants need to have at least 20/30 vision instead of the traditional 20/20. This means that you can wear corrective lenses such as glasses or contacts while on the job if they help you to see clearly.

All flight attendants have to pass a medical examination before they can be allowed in the air. This is a simple physical that consists of a battery of tests, including heart, ear and eye exams along with urine and blood analysis.

Appearance and Grooming Standards

Most airlines have incredibly strict grooming standards. Flight attendants represent the company brand, and as such, are expected to maintain a clean and professional appearance. Airline companies expect flight attendants to meet the following basic grooming guidelines:

Hair: For women, stick with a conservative and professional style that doesn’t reach past your shoulders. If you dye your hair, use only to natural colors. Men should keep their hair short and clean cut.

Makeup: Go for the “nude” look, with minimal coverage and natural tones. Try to avoid anything too bold.

Jewelry and Watches: Personal accessories are usually fine, but they should be small and tasteful.

Piercings and Tattoos: Most airlines will allow women to wear small ear studs, but will not tolerate other visible piercings. Tattoos should be fully covered by your uniform.

Facial Hair: Many airlines allow male flight attendants to sport facial hair, provided that they stay clean shaven. Mustaches should be well maintained and trimmed above the corners of the mouth, while sideburns should be no lower than halfway down the ear.

Personal and Interpersonal Skills

In the airline industry, looks aren’t everything. A large part of a flight attendant’s job is dealing with customers, so it’s important to have strong interpersonal and communication skills. A good flight attendant is expected to engage the customer, make them feel at ease, and relay important information with patience and compassion.

Communication skills are particularly important in emergency situations. Flight attendants must have a strong grasp of both written and verbal language in order to communicate quickly and clearly with passengers and other cabin members. Airlines that operate within the U.S. require flight attendants to be fluent in English, but airlines based out of other countries have different language requirements.

The path to becoming a flight attendant is not easy, but it is a rewarding experience that comes with unique perks and benefits. Simply meeting the minimum requirements for becoming a flight attendant is the first step towards an exciting career in the field of air travel.