This blog post was updated on September 2, 2021.
Have you ever fantasized about becoming a flight attendant as a young child…(because I certainly did!). It seemed like such a glamorous job — traveling the world in a sharp outfit. But it wasn’t until I started traveling as an adult that I realized how hard flight attendants work. From training to rude passengers and working long hours, it’s safe to say the life of a flight attendant surely isn’t the easiest. And, most travelers probably don’t know what the job entails so, as a homage to these hosts and hostesses of the sky, here are some interesting facts you probably didn’t know!
The Competition is Stiff
Throughout the years, it has become increasingly difficult to land a flight attendant position with a major airline. The chances of landing an interview are tough as the competition is certainly fierce! With any job comes pros and cons, but a major pro of this career is the benefits offered and the travel discounts on non-work trips (like flights to California), perks (depending on your airline). Although getting hired by a major airline is difficult, the hardest part is passing all the requirements to be considered qualified for the job.
In fact, some coveted airlines can even have a lower acceptance rate than top universities! Once you submit an application, you’re required to attend several interviews and sometimes complete up to two months of intense training. Training protocols include learning first aid, CPR, self-defense, and more. You’ll also be put in flying boot camp with simulations for every possible situation that can occur. It’s preferable to have a college education, customer service experience, and be available to work during holidays.
They Work Hard and Long Hours
This career is surely a great gig if you’re willing to work flexible yet crazy hours and travel to destinations you may be unfamiliar with. For entry-level flight attendants in the US, the average salary is around $39,000 according to PayScale. And just like most careers, the time put in, and the number of years on the job will affect pay increases.
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There are Lots of Requirements
The flight attendant career came to be in the 1930s. From the 1930s through the 1960s, airlines were strict and only hired women who were white, single (without children), young, attractive, and slender. Over time, these restrictions have relaxed and now both men and women work in the field. And although the restrictions have changed since the 1930s, the requirements that must be met in order to be considered for the position today still include height and weight restrictions due to safety concerns.
The acceptable height ranges from 4’11 to 6’1 and the weight of the flight attendant must be proportionate to the height. Depending on the airline, the minimum age to be considered is between 18-21 years old. Other requirements include at least a high school diploma or GED and holding a clean record with no priors. All flight attendants must look presentable with no visible tattoos, clean-shaven, no piercings, etc. Lastly, great communication skills are key as well as the physical ability to lift objects, be balanced, and be able to function if sleep-deprived.
They’re Always Aware
As you board the aircraft, you’ll be greeted by a kind flight attendant, and the reason for this isn’t because they’re just being friendly. In fact, all flight attendants are extremely aware of their passengers as they profile each person who steps onto the aircraft. They make mental notes if you’ll be a concern, a hazard, or a great help in the case of an emergency. The safety of every person onboard is in the best interest of the flight attendants. And if you’ve been drinking, you better believe you’ll probably be denied entry onto the aircraft.
They Know More Than You Think
All airlines have different training programs and requirements, but the basics are typically the same. Safety and flight procedures, as well as medical training and emergency procedures, are usually the main topic of training. It isn’t easy as most will have to go through simulation training for emergency instances for turbulence, emergency landings, high jacking, fire, etc. And along with all of that, flight attendants have some other special knowledge, like how to unlock the airplane bathrooms from the outside (in the case of an emergency, naturally). So, note to self: never underestimate your flight attendant because they don’t only push a food and beverage cart down the aisle!
Did we miss any interesting facts about flight attendants? If yes, tell us in the comments!