How to Become a Flight Attendant (With Duties and Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 24 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A flight attendant is someone responsible for giving passengers an outstanding experience by ensuring their safety and comfort throughout their flight. Flight attendants work in the air on flights and on the ground at airports, preparing for flights. Understanding the scope of their duties can help you decide whether this profession is a good match for your lifestyle. In this article, we discuss what a flight attendant is, explain what they do and describe how to become a flight attendant.

What is a flight attendant?

A flight attendant is mainly concerned with customer service and the safety of passengers. Flight attendants also guarantee that passengers are happy and comfortable during the flight. These individuals are part of a larger cabin crew that operates and manages aeroplanes. Flight attendants typically train for the specific aircraft on which they work. Airline companies train their employees on the aircraft's particular safety standards to explain emergency plans to passengers before flights.

Related: Your Guide to Flight Attendant Requirements and Skills

What does a flight attendant do?

A flight attendant is a service employee who ensures that airline passengers are comfortable and safe. They welcome passengers as they board flights and help them with their bags and seating. Flight attendants have specialised expertise in the aircraft they operate on since passenger and aircraft safety protocols are the key emphasis of the job. A flight attendant may do several of the following jobs in addition to servicing passengers on board an aircraft:

  • checking and maintaining emergency equipment and supplies on their assigned aircraft

  • receiving flight briefings from captains about the weather, turbulence potential and other important flight information

  • helping passengers with special needs, such as children and disabled passengers

  • ensuring the flight deck's safety and that passengers follow all safety regulations before and during flights

  • guiding passengers on airline safety protocols, emergency exits and other safety information for take-off and landing

  • authenticating flight tickets, loading carry-on bags and ensuring passengers comply with airline regulations

  • monitoring the flight deck for suspicious passenger behaviour, mitigating the risk of dangerous situations and keeping track of events onboard the aircraft

How to become a flight attendant

The following is a rundown of how to become a flight attendant:

1. Complete your education

A high school diploma is the minimum academic prerequisite for becoming a flight attendant. Although an undergraduate degree or certification isn't necessary for flight attendants, it might make you a more attractive candidate. Employers prefer people with an undergraduate degree in tourism, human relations, communications or a similar subject.

2. Acquire job experience

Because there's much competition for flight attendant jobs, it's helpful to have relevant work experience before applying. Airlines want flight attendants with prior customer service expertise, such as in retail or hospitality. You can have the experience that shows your ability to operate in a fast-paced atmosphere, solve problems quickly and provide excellent customer service.

3. Apply for a job with an airline

Look for available openings for flight attendants, customise your resume and cover letter to the relevant airline and submit your application. Consider airlines that service places you want to reside in or visit when determining which ones to apply to. You may also see what schedules they offer to ensure that it fits your lifestyle.

Related: What Does a Flight Attendant Do? Definition, Role and Responsibilities

4. Attend a job interview

Passing the employment interview is the next step in becoming a flight attendant. Before obtaining a job offer and beginning training, you're going to receive an invitation to an interview. Airlines often request that candidates submit to a drug test and a criminal background check during the interview process. Some airlines may also require you to take a medical check-up. For example, they may request that health professionals examine your eyesight to confirm that you have at least 20/40 vision. Ensure you make the best impression possible by presenting yourself professionally.

5. Complete the required training

Once an airline firm recruits you, they give you extensive training at their training facility. You can get training in passenger relations, emergency response, aircraft evacuation, food and beverage handling and instruction on job obligations, flight rules and company operations. The airline company may need you to take and pass a test after your training.

Flight attendant skills

Flight attendants can have specialised and transferrable skills to accomplish their tasks efficiently. Flight attendants learn specific skills for their employment via an employee training program. The essential skills to acquire while you seek a job as a flight attendant include the following:

Attention to detail

Flight attendants train to be very vigilant before, during and after flights. Their attention to detail enables them to guarantee that all passengers are safe on the aeroplane and that no passengers violate any safety laws. Flight attendants are also aware of elements affecting the flight, such as weather and flight updates.

Problem-solving

Another essential skill that flight attendants can have is the capacity to resolve conflicts. Aircraft attendants depend on their training and skills to handle emergencies and aid passengers and the flight crew. Problem-solving abilities are also required to assist passengers in resolving conflicts and complaints professionally.

Related: Problem-Solving Skills: Definition, How to Learn and Example

Customer service

Because flight attendants make contact with customers frequently, excellent customer service abilities are essential. Passengers depend on flight attendants to meet their demands throughout the journey. These include providing comfort and entertainment, such as food and drinks, periodicals and movies on longer flights.

Communication

Onboard an aeroplane, both written and vocal communication abilities are essential. Flight attendants rely on their abilities to teach passengers about safety protocols. Similarly, active listening enables flight attendants to identify passenger requirements, captain instructions and critical information that assures everyone aboard about the aircraft's safety and comfort.

Flexibility

Flight timetables vary, with flights departing exceptionally early in the morning or late at night. It may cause flight attendants to work late or early hours, requiring them to be away from home. Flight attendants can have a flexible schedule and are required to be ready to do their duties at any time.

Ability to work under pressure

Flight attendants can also maintain their calm under pressure. In the case of an emergency, passengers may seek information and assistance from flight attendants. It's critical for flight attendants to maintain a calm presence and to work in these situations.

Stamina

A flight attendant's job is physically demanding. Good flight attendants are physically capable of lifting luggage and placing it in overhead compartments for customers who can't do it themselves. Their stamina allows them to stand and walk about the cabin on long flights.

Self-management

Because an airline's image depends on its flight attendants, companies want candidates with strong self-management skills. They wish to hire candidates who take pleasure in their appearance and groom themselves well. They also want to hire individuals who regulate their emotions and can maintain a calm and friendly demeanour even when dealing with agitated or dissatisfied passengers.

Teamwork

Teamwork talents or attributes enable you to cooperate successfully with others. A joyful and successful flight is the outcome of collaboration. As a flight attendant, you seldom work with the same individuals every day, so it's critical to adapt and collaborate with other crew members to ensure that the flight runs well.

Patience

Patience is the ability to tolerate difficulty or delay. Being patient might help you maintain your cool when serving passengers, particularly in stressful circumstances. Patience may also assist you in tolerating lengthy flights, delays and layovers, all of which are common in the airline sector.

Related: Interpersonal Skills: Definitions and Examples

Understanding of safety protocols

It's necessary for flight attendants to be aware of the safety standards and procedures followed before, during and after flights. Training for flight attendants often focuses on this particular skill set. Flight attendants learn about emergency protocols, first aid and other job-related safety regulations throughout their training.

Understanding of CAD rules and regulations

Another skill set necessary for flight attendants is industry knowledge and understanding of the government laws and regulations that airlines follow. The Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department (CAD) establishes the rules and regulations that airlines follow to operate safely. It's the obligation of a flight attendant to know CAD requirements and the essential responsibilities to guarantee the safety of passengers.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.