Working as a flight attendant is a dream job for many people. The cabin crew life seems to be easy and glamorous on the outside – traveling the world, always looking beautiful and stylish, performing easy tasks like serving snacks and drinks. A dream life…
What people don’t know about the job is that there is another, not so glamorous, side.
We’ve summarized the top pros & the cons of working as a flight attendant.
- Traveling the world – obviously, most of the people apply for the position of a flight attendant because they want to travel. Indeed, the biggest advantage of the job is that the cabin crew travel all the time and visit a lot of new places. The cabin crew members can bid for the places they want to fly to. If they work for one of the big international airline companies, in one month they can set foot on different continents. How cool is that…
- Discounted tickets – as airline employees, the cabin crew get huge discounts on flight tickets, not only for flights of the company they work for but for other airline flights as well.
- Meet new people – usually, the cabin crew on each flight consists of people who have never worked together before. The big airline companies have thousands of employees, each one of them having an individual schedule. It is rare for a flight attendant to fly with colleagues he or she has already worked with. The advantage is that it is interesting to meet new people from different cultures and different background.
- Another pro is that if the cabin crew members don’t like each other, they will have to work together only during the current flight. It is very unlikely they to meet soon again on another flight.
- Discounts at airports – the cabin crew receive discounts at the airport shops and restaurants worldwide. Additionally, airline employees enjoy great discounts on hotels, rental cars, city tours, etc.
- Fancy hotels – the airline companies usually provide a first-class accommodation to their staff during layovers.
- Health problems – Plane cabins are known to be crawling with germs. With so many people sitting together in a small space, it isn’t surprising how easy viruses are transmitted.
Often there are big temperature differences between the place of departure and the final destination. It is common for the cabin crew to feel sick due to the temperature amplitudes they experience in a short period of time.
It is hard to eat healthy. The food served on the plane is not that good. Some cabin crew members bring their own food on board but it is not always possible.
Another issue is dehydration. The crew has to drink a lot of water and to moisturize their skin that gets quite dry during long flights.
- Loneliness – flight attendants spend most of the time traveling. Being away from home that much makes it difficult for them to maintain a healthy relationship with family and friends. Other than that, it is not possible to make friends with the colleagues because the cabin crew members are different for each flight and rarely the same people fly together.
- The schedule/roster – the schedule of the cabin crew is called roster. It is different from month to month. The schedule for the next month is announced around the middle of the current month. Not knowing their schedule for longer than a month ahead makes it difficult for the cabin crew to plan their personal time.
- Tiredness/Jet lag – there is no such a thing as standard working hours for the cabin crew. The working hours depend on the flights. One day the flight attendant might start working at 2 am and work for 12 hours, while another day the same person can start working at 8 pm. The random working hours, the long international flights and changing time zones make the cabin crew feel constantly tired. Often they prefer to rest in the hotel rather than exploring the city during a layover.
- Missing family events – big holidays like Christmas, Easter, New year eve are when most people travel. The holidays are the busiest time for the airline companies. It is unlikely the flight attendants to be able to take a day off during those times. The cabin crew usually spends family events either working or alone in a hotel, far away from home.
Cabin crew responsibilities
- Attend a pre-flight briefing, during which cabin crew members are assigned their work position and get details on the flight and the passengers;
- Ensure that all the equipment such as life jackets are in proper condition;
- Welcome the passengers when boarding;
- Find a place for all the bags that passengers carry on board;
- Help passengers who need a special assistance;
- Deal with all kind of complaints and requests;
- Provide first aid when needed;
- Taking care of the passengers’ safety in cases of emergencies like landing on water, fire on board, aggressive passengers, etc;
- Serve snacks and drinks;
- Collect trash;
- Sell duty-free products;
- Ensure that the passengers disembark safely;
- Check for any forgotten luggage on board;
- Complete a flight report after the flight;
Requirements to become a flight attendant
The requirements vary between airline companies. The most common requirements are:
- excellent health and mental condition;
- at least a High school diploma;
- no tattoos or piercing on visible places that are not covered by the uniform;
- height requirements;
- be a good swimmer;
The pay consists of a based salary and flying hours. The count of the flying hours begins when the gate is closed and ends when the plane lands. The cabin crew is not paid for the boarding time, flight delays, flight cancellations. Most companies guarantee to ensure a certain amount of flying hours for their employees. The average flying hours per month are around 80.
During layovers, the cabin crew is entitled per diem. They don’t pay for accommodation or transportation to and from the airport.
Career development options
All junior flight attendants begin their career serving the economy class. After gaining some experience, they can be promoted to senior flight attendant which means a higher salary and more bonuses but also more responsibilities like supervising the rest of the cabin crew. The more experienced cabin crew are responsible for the business and first class where usually they take care of businessmen and celebrities.
More career options are
- Check Flight Attendant
- Flight Attendant Supervisor
- Base Manager
- Inflight Manager (or Inflight Vice President)
Learn more about the different roles.
If you want to work as a flight attendant, make your research on the different airline companies and their policy. Keep in mind some of the companies have much more rules that the cabin crew has to follow.
Find out more about the salaries, the requirements and the policies of some of the biggest airline companies on become-cabincrew.com/airlines/
We also recommend you to follow the YouTube channels of flight attendants who share their experience and give a lot of curious information on the job.