One of the first things that you have to realize if interested in becoming a flight attendant is that it is much more than what the job seems like on the surface. You have to have the psychological, emotional and mental qualities necessary to make it in this career field. When thinking about this career and if it is right for you, consider the following qualities, which are what are considered to be necessary for this position:
Flexible/Adaptable: In the airline business, things often change at a moment’s notice. You have to be able to adapt to these changes and embrace them.
Compassionate and caring: It is necessary that you have a soft spot for people who are on the flight. Being sympathetic and understanding is quite helpful.
Patience: Picky passengers, crying infants, demanding pilots, smelly bathrooms…if you are not patient, then you will not make it as a flight attendant.
Sense of humor: If you have a sense of humor toward passengers, as well as yourself, it can help to remedy even extremely awkward situations.
Focused and calm demeanor: You are the manager – you have to make sure that everything works as it should ensure a safe and comfortable flight for everyone.
Team player: The cabin crew is your team and everyone has to pull their weight. Be sure you are a team player.
Punctuality: Airlines rely on the clock to keep running as they should. You have to be on time, every time.
Tact and diplomacy: You are not going to be just another crew member. When it comes to the passengers, you are a representative of the airline. You have to make sure you are representing it in a proper way.
One of the things that you have to realize is that you should not take anything personally. In some cases, you will come across a passenger who wants to vent their frustration and while you may not be the right person to talk to, they want to be sure they are heard. Act with compassion and empathy and make sure that you don’t take the issues, blame, fault or anything else personally.
Basic Requirements for Flight Attendants
From the perspective of an airline, it is essential to find a person who has the right combination of talent and skills to ensure that the person is going to represent the company well while providing a quality on-board experience for passengers.
While each airline will have unique and specific requirements in regard to the type of aircraft, geography, culture, destinations, etc. there are some universal requirements that will be necessary to understand.
Regardless of if you are a flight attendant in New Mexico who can speak Spanish fluently or one in the Arctic who must load and unload cargo, you have to meet the specified criteria in order to fulfill the duties, you will have while on the plane. Your overall competency, personality, and skills have to be screened heavily so that the people hiring are sure you will meet and exceed the necessary requirements.
Now the question is, what is that magic formula that recruiters are looking for to find competent and qualified candidates? The answer is found in a few requirements. If you want to be considered seriously as a candidate for a flight attendant job, then you need to possess as many of the following requirements on this list.
Background and Citizenship Checks
In the U.S., you have to be a citizen or have received authorization to work in the United States and be allowed unrestricted, multiple entry out of and into the country. The majority of airlines are explicit in regard to these requirements.
Also, all members of the cabin crew have to apply for a Transportation Security Administration security clearance pass. If you are unable to satisfy the required background checks, then you will not be able to work for any of the airlines in existence.
In addition to seeking airline and government clearance, if you do not yet have a passport, you will have to also apply for that. If anything questionable or unsavory about your background is found out, then you will not continue on with the selection process.
In the U.S., it is required that you have a diploma or a GED (Government Equivalency Degree). While most airlines specify that a high school degree is needed, this is typically considered to be the absolute minimum. In all reality, a higher level of education is going to be preferred.
There are quite a few flight attendants today who have earned university degrees. An airline will recognize when a flight attendant has the ideal combination of life experience and post-secondary education, which helps them be better equipped to handle any on-bard situation they may experience. It may also help them earn consideration for a management position down the road.
Experience in Customer Service
For those who have ever worked as a tour guide, in a clothing store or call center, or any other area where customer service experience was gained, then they may be able to have a competitive advantage when working toward the career goal of being a flight attendant. While there are some who think customer service goals are able to be learned while on the job, this is not something that most airlines are going to want to have to train new flight attendants in. In fact, once hired, 95 percent of all training a flight attendant receives will be in relation to cabin safety.
In the U.S., a fluency in the English language will be necessary, but carriers that go overseas will require flight attendants who also speak another language.
In some cases, airlines will hire flight attendants based mainly on language competency. In the United States, a language flight attendant is referred to as LOD/O’s. It can be difficult for companies to find people who speak certain languages, which means that the language requirements may override other criteria used to make a selection.
Also, a candidate who is able to pass the language fluency tests, but who does not have any customer service experience may still be hired instead of a candidate who has as much as two years of experience in regard to the service industry, based on the needs of the airline.
An advantage offered by being a language flight attendant is that they are often the very last ones that will be laid off during cutbacks.
The beverage trolley that is used in most airplanes can weigh more than 200 pounds when they are fully loaded. Being able to pull the trolley up the aisle will require quite a bit of physical strength. Stamina physical well-being is necessary for this role.
If a person is not physically fit then they are not going to be as prepared to handle the often grueling tasks required of a flight attendant. Someone who knows how to take care of themselves and who leads a better lifestyle will be more capable of handling the effects of jet lag than others.
For most airlines, there is a height minimum for flight attendants of at least 5’2”. A person’s physical stature is crucial when they are working on a wide or narrow body aircraft and it is important they can reach the overhead bins.
If a person is overweight, they have asthma, a heart condition, diabetes or some other significant health issue, they will likely not pass the medical exam issued by the airline. All airlines want to find healthy candidates who are able to look after their passengers, not the opposite.
Much like the background check, the medical exam will reveal the actual picture of a person’s physical health, even if they decide to embellish the truth. If a person has a history of alcohol or drug abuse it will be found during the tests that they are required to take. Some of the tests that are administered during this evaluation including eye, ear, heart, urine and blood tests. The person’s weight and height will be measured, as well.
If you are a person who makes concrete plans that can’t be changed, then the life of a flight attendant is not for you. Your travels may result in you being gone for up to seven days. This means that you need to have a flexible lifestyle and be willing to work at night, on the weekends and on holidays. In most cases, the recruiter you speak with will ask you if you are willing to relocate. It is essential to say yes. Adaptable and flexible candidates are the ones who will get hired first.
Having a well-groomed and neat appearance is essential. In some cases, the pass or fail as a flight attendant may come down to a tattoo that is barely able to be seen on your wrist, or the three or four earrings you have in only one ear. While there is no need to be a supermodel, appearance matters when you are working with the public.
Passengers who are on the plane will expect the person who is hanging their coat or handing them their meal to appear professional and be a representation of the airline. Wrinkled uniforms make the statement that a person just doesn’t care.
Where to Apply?
There are a number of factors that should be considering when thinking about what airlines you should apply to. Factors such as the details of the aircraft that will be worked on, the city where you are going to be based and where you will be flying are all important.
It is not uncommon for a person to work for a number of different airlines during their career. This can result to a number of factors, but something a person should be aware of.
Creating a Targeted Strategy
Applying for a flight attendant position will require a bit of research on your part. It is essential that you have a bit of information and background about the airline you would like to work for. This will also help you determine what airline is best for your work preferences and lifestyle.
Prior to sending in an application for your first job as a flight attendant, be sure to ask the following questions:
- What type of travel benefits are offered by the company?
- Would you prefer a job based on a cold or warm climate?
- Do you want to be close to family?
- Does the company offer any type of medical benefits?
- What are the routes that the company flies?
- What is their initial salary offerings?
- What is the top wage?
- What are the current number of flight attendants who are employed by the airline?
- Would you rather work on a large or small plane?
- Do they offer a pension plan?
When you have created a targeted strategy, you will have a clear picture of what you want and where you should concentrate your efforts. Remember, you don’t control the hiring process and having a targeted approach can be quite beneficial.
Creating Your Airline Resume
It is important to create a resume that outlines your desire for a role as a flight attendant. Some of the elements of an effective airline cover letter and resume are found here.
Research: Take some time to research the company that you are applying to so that you will have a better chance of being called for an interview.
Company Lingo: Use the common language of the company in your cover letter and resume, which may require you to visit their website to get a feel for their personality or vibe.
Work history: Be sure to list all your work history and how it would apply to the role as a flight attendant.
Personality: Be sure to let your personality shine through your resume and cover letter.
Beneficial skills and abilities: What will make you an asset to the airline?
Remember, when typing up your resume, you should keep it short and sweet and stick to the facts. This will help ensure you provide only the vital information.
If your efforts are successful, you will be called in for an interview. Be sure that you look professional and that you exert yourself as being competent and able to complete the job. There is no way to guarantee you will land the job, but when you use the tips here to prepare, you will have a much better chance to finally get the job you want as a flight attendant.