The goal of every airline is to provide a smooth, safe and comfortable onboard experience for its passengers. Flight attendants are the single most important factor when it comes to onboard customer satisfaction. Flight attendant training school is designed to prepare you for any situation that you might encounter while in the air, from unruly passengers to medical emergencies.
Before You Apply
Every airline has a set of minimum physical requirements that its flight attendants must meet. Candidates have to be able to push, pull and lift heavy loads, endure long periods of time up on their feet, and power through fatigue and jetlag. Crew members must be healthy enough to take on their daily responsibilities and to pull their weight as a team member.
All airlines have height restrictions that flight attendants must meet, but these restrictions vary between airlines. Flight attendants can’t be too short, but they also can’t be too tall to walk comfortably around the cabin. While height restrictions vary from company to company, most airlines generally accept individuals between around 4’11”, or 150 cm, to 6’3”, or 190 cm. Airlines also have mandatory requirements for how high a flight attendant is able to reach. This ensures that all staff members are able to safely access the overhead bins without endangering themselves or passengers.
Most airlines do not impose strict weight restrictions on flight attendants, but candidates must be within the normal weight range for their height. You can check if you are within the normal weight range for your height by checking your BMI. Flight attendants that are either overweight or underweight may not be able to safely perform their onboard responsibilities.
In addition to height and weight restrictions, airlines around the world also impose age restrictions on flight attendants. All flight attendants must be 18 or older, although some companies require that their flight attendants be at least 21 years old. Flight attendants must be mature enough to cope with the daily pressures of air travel.
The Interview Process
Many interviews are performed in the fashion of a “cattle call,” which involves dozens to hundreds of qualified applicants all being screened at once. Unacceptable candidates are quickly weeded out by written, language competency, and vision tests. Flight attendants working for companies that operate within the U.S. must be able to prove that they can communicate fluently in English with passengers and other crew members. Applicants must also prove that they have at least 20/30 vision, which means that they are able to see clearly with the aid of corrective lenses.
Some airlines conduct a preliminary one-on-one interview with candidates. Applicants will be asked a standard series of interview questions and are given a set amount of time in which to answer. It is best to keep answers clear and concise in order to get through all of the questions in the allotted time frame. The more questions you are able to answer, the more the recruitment staff will know about your unique background and skills.
Group interviews are popular among airline companies, since they help to demonstrate a candidate’s communication and interpersonal skills. You will be split into a group along with other trainees and given a role play scenario to act out. Recruiters expect to see candidates demonstrating strong team building skills and creative problem solving techniques. Airlines are looking for flight attendants that are able to stay calm and focused in any given situation.
During your interview, it is important to dress and act professionally. Women should wear a dark suit, preferably with a skirt, while men should wear dark slacks, a suit jacket, and a dress shirt. The idea is to look as much like a flight attendant as possible. Applicants should stick to natural, conservative styles when it comes to hair and makeup.
Those that pass the interview process will then undergo a of a battery of tests that assess their cardiovascular and respiratory health, their hearing, and their vision. This company physical also includes urine and blood analysis. Candidates that pass the physical are deemed healthy enough to safely take on the responsibilities of a flight attendant.
Much of what you’ll be learning during your flight attendant training pertains to cabin safety. In the classroom, you’ll listen to lectures, learn about safety equipment and procedures, and take tests. This is no normal classroom, however. Supervisors will be keeping a close eye on your grooming habits and disposition. Dress and act as you would while on the job. An unkempt appearance or a rude comment to your colleague in the classroom could get you kicked out of the flight attendant training.
Trainees are expected to show up on time to every single class. Your punctuality will be regularly tested by sudden schedule changes such as a delayed lunch or a test date change. The flight attendant school classroom is designed to test how well you can adapt to stressors such as fatigue and hunger when your routine is shaken up. Flight attendants need to be prepared for the possibility of a schedule change at a moment’s notice.
Lectures and classrooms are only a small part of flight attendant school. Your practical training will take place in either a simulated aircraft cabin or an aircraft that is out of service. You will learn how to perform safety briefings, serve food, and operate essential equipment. Over the course of your training, this simulated cabin will be like a second home.
Your practical training will also help you to learn how to deal with a variety of emergency situations while in the air, from fires to hijackings. Towards the end of your training, you will be tested with the notorious “flight from hell.” Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong during this simulated flight. Your instructors will be watching closely to see how you handle yourself during an emergency. It is important to stay calm and to communicate clearly with your fellow crew members throughout the entire simulation. You must prove that, as a flight attendant, you can keep yourself and your passengers safe in an emergency.
After graduating from flight training, there is still one more step before you can call yourself a bona fide flight attendant. The familiarization flight, or line indoctrination flight, is the first flight on which a new attendant serves. Trainees observe and assist senior crew members with their in flight duties, and experience their first real interaction with customers. During this flight, you are expected to hone your skills with the help of an experienced flight crew.
When you’re up in the air, you’re not just a flight attendant. You are also a nurse, a plumber, a firefighter and a chef, just to name a few of the roles you will have to occupy. Flight attendant training will teach you a variety of skills that will prepare you to cope with any situation that you might face.
It takes time and commitment to become a flight attendant, but the job is worth the effort. After one to two months of intensive training, you will be well on your way down a rewarding and lucrative career path. Flight attendant school is an investment in a promising future.