Working with an airline as cabin crew or flight attendants, flight stewards/pursers or air hostesses Set the opportunity to travel, stay in the best hotels and hobnob with the elite. Depending on the routes they fly, cabin crew may get to do a lot of sightseeing — the longer the route the higher are the chances of sightseeing as crews often change planes at ‘slip points’ or stop-overs. The opportunity for travel attracts many to this career, but this occupation requires working nights, weekends, and holidays, and frequently being away from home.
Nature of Work
The airhostess or air stewardess, as she is sometimes called, is the first person to welcome a passenger aboard an aircraft. Her welcoming smile and greeting acknowledge every passenger. She helps to check them in and supervises their seating arrangements and helps them in arranging their hand baggage in the proper manner. In all this her male counterpart the flight steward or flight purser helps her. Once all the passengers are seated, the cabin crew set about ensuring the safety-belt arrangements and demonstrate the use of emergency equipment. They have to make the necessary precautionary announcements over the public address system. Their duties and responsibilities start much before the arrival of the passengers. Before their arrival, necessary arrangements are made for the comfort of the passengers by checking that blankets, pillows, magazines, newspapers, etc., are in good order in the proper places.
On international long-haul flights, cabin crew are also in charge of the sale of duty-free goods on board the aircraft.
Since airlines operate around the clock the year round, flight attendants may work at night and on holidays and weekends. The work can be strenuous and trying. Short flights require speedy service if meals are served and a turbulent flight can make serving drinks and meals difficult.
Cabin crew/flight attendants are on duty throughout the duration of the flight looking after passengers in general and taking special care of air-sick travellers, sick children and babies; and also the elderly or very young who are travelling alone. They provide first aid should the situation arise. In the confines of the aircraft, they must fulfil the responsibilities of serving pre-cooked meals to passengers and crew. Although they may not need to cook, they do need to heat and arrange the trays. After the meal the dishes have to be cleared away; they check again that all passengers have been served all the items. All through the flight their work goes on continuously and efficiently in the confined space and with good humour.
Cabin crew may be prone to medical problems that occur from working in a pressurised environment and breathing recycled air, irregular sleeping and eating patterns; and dealing with stressful passengers.
Physical and Psychological Requirements
An attractive appearance; a well-modulated pleasant voice; and a proportionate figure are what airlines look for on the surface. Those aspiring for cabin crew openings with airlines should also be confident, intelligent, patient, with lots of common sense, keep calm in crises and take the initiative. Resourceful, efficient, sensitive to anxious passengers' needs, congenial and tactful manner with the public, well-groomed appearance, and poised, all cabin crew must have excellent health, good vision and be able to speak clearly.
Airlines recruit airhostesses and flight stewards on the basis of these eligibility criteria:
Age : Below 25 years or 19-27 years broadly.
Height : Minimum height should be 154-160 cm (barefoot) for women; 170-180 cms for men (Flight Purser).
Weight : Proportionate to height as per the company's standards.
Status (marital) : Unmarried.
Vision : Preferable normal eyesight without glasses; however minimum uncorrected vision (distant) should be 6/24 in each eye.
Educational qualifications : Graduate degree from a recognised university, or Plus Two/ equivalent with 3-year diploma in Hotel Management and Catering from a recognised institute.
The applicant should be physically fit with a pleasing personality and clear complexion.
Airlines, as per their requirement of cabin crew, release advertisements in the prominent newspapers calling for applications. In the notification, eligibility criteria are specified. Those who are interested and fulfil the eligibility criteria can apply
After the initial screening of applicants is completed, the airline company calls them for a written examination, usually of the objective type (multiple choice). Those who qualify in the written examination have to appear for a group discussion followed by a personal interview of successful candidates.
Knowledge of the national language and at least one international language (English, usually) is essential.
The sequence of activities varies between airlines. There are interviews, group discussions and general ability testing — English proficiency and general awareness.
Some of the private and international airlines also follow a procedure of organising walk-in interviews in some prominent cities. Interested candidates who fulfil the criteria laid down in the advertisement can appear with their curriculum vitae (CV) in attire as prescribed (Indian/Western). There may be elimination rounds followed by the crucial selection interviews.
Job duties are learned through extensive formal training after being hired. During the period of training the subjects taught include catering, first-aid, general airborne procedures, documentation (dealing with the flight documents they have to complete after each flight), use of the public address system and technical details of air craft pressurisation and ventilation. Cabin crew is given lessons in the use of safety equipment and the emergency drill. At first the practical work is taught on firm ground; later on they have to gain flight practice flying as an extra or supernumerary.
Carriers like Jet Airway, Alliance Air, Sahara and a few regional airlines have made a bid to augment their fleet strength. In this encouraging atmosphere those who are interested in working as cabin crew will find innumerable opportunities ahead of them. While most airlines advertise their openings, interested candidates can also apply on their own. A resume accompanied by a photograph may be mailed to the different airlines. Airhostesses can look for monthly emoluments in the range of Rs. 8000 to Rs. 40,000. Indian Airlines and Air India are major employers of cabin crew.
There are promotions in a limited manner from junior to senior and commanding air hostess or chief steward/chief flight purser or equivalent designation. Usually senior cabin crew are put in charge of first class passengers.
Some cabin crew decide to move on to tourism and hotel industry keeping new recruits coming into the profession. While being physically demanding the flight attendant/cabin crew's job does provide the combination of periodic free time and the opportunity to travel. For those who enjoy helping and working with people, being an Air Hostess or Flight Purser may be a rewarding career.
Information about job opportunities in a particular airline and the qualifications required may be
Obtained by writing to the personnel manager of the company.
Future Aviation Professionals of America, 4959 Massachusetts Boulevard, Atlanta, GA 30337
Air Line Employees Association, 6520 South Cicero Avenue, Bedford Park, IL 60638
Careers Without A Professional Degree
Travel & Tourism
LIST OF TRAINING INSTITUTIONS
Cabin crew training
Graduation or Hotel management training after 10+2
Indian airlines, central
Cabin crew training personal grooming & personality development for young ladies
International cargo documentation procedures
For graduates between 19-22 years of age fluency in English and working knowledge of Hindi for 18-25 year olds with matric 1st class or Matric with CPL or plus two with 45% marks/graduation.
Note: These courses are not guaranteeing a job in Indian airlines Ltd.
Flytech aviation academy.
102, Al-Kauser Road
No. 1, West Marredpally,
Cabin crew training
Graduation or hotel management training after 10+2
Such courses can provide exposure and, hence, some element of self-confidence to face the selection. Process when vacancies are announced. However, these and similar such institutions/programmes cannot provide guarantee of jobs.
Airlines prefer to provide in-house training to selected candidates. Hence, prior training is usually not a pre-requisite for entry into airlines as cabin crew or flight attendants.