A career as a Flight Attendant is a dream to many youngsters.
The first thing that comes into your head when thinking to pursue this career is the glamour world. However, this career is much more beyond. Flexibility, patience, attention, vigilance, perseverance, willingness to help, service first attitude are some of those qualities to rely on if you choose to pursue your career as a Flight Attendant.
I spoke with Harpreet Kaur (currently working as an air hostess with Saudi Airlines, have also worked with Kingfisher Airlines as well as Flynas Airlines)
I am a firm believer that you can get pretty much anything or everything you want. The desire itself, however, is not sufficient.
You need a plan. You need to take actions that will get you results. So, apart from the above-mentioned qualities, the other thing to keep in mind for the start is a proper training and early preparation. Having a package of all these components is a great start for a successful cabin crew career.
The minimum educational requirement for this wonderful career is Higher School Certificate to ensure the candidates have some general knowledge and ability to learn in order to be able to pass the safety and emergency training that needs to be completed once an offer of employment is made.
You must be minimum 18 years for domestic airlines and 21 years old for international to start working as a cabin crew.
This job is associated with glamour, and for many people being a Flight Attendant means looking fabulous all the time and offering tea or coffee in the planes.
The truth is actually far from that. You will need to work long hours (day or night), on high heels, different cabin pressures- while continuing to look fabulous.
Also, you will need to make sure that you are able to read, understand, speak correctly and fluently and write correctly in English as it is the widest used official language of aviation and the one used for all emergency related commands and training. It is also the language to communicate with colleagues and passengers.
So, if you exude a charming personality, have excellent communication skills, have Higher School Certificate, should be medically fit and are 18/21 years old, you are a perfect fit for this career and you don’t need to join any course or training academics as these are just money-making companies.
You are the best person to train yourself.
And believe me, it’s not a rocket science.
Anisha Jindal (DreamBegins’ Team): Can you please give me a brief introduction of your academic degrees.
Harpreet Kaur: When I appeared for the cabin crew interview for the first time, I was pursuing my graduation in Bachelors of Arts as the minimum qualification requirement for any airlines is Higher Secondary Certificate.
Anisha Jindal (DreamBegins’ Team): Is there anything interesting in your resume apart from academic degrees.
Harpreet Kaur: Though this job requires a minimum qualification of HSC (Higher School Certificate). However having expertise and experience in the area of customer service is an added advantage and increases the possibility of selection.
As for me, I had the experience in the field of customer service. I had worked for Hyundai as customer care executive for 2 years and after that, I worked as a senior counselor for 2 years in a finishing academy. My experience in related fields interested them and benefitted me to a great extent.
Anisha Jindal (DreamBegins’ Team): What was the recruitment process when you applied?
Harpreet Kaur: Becoming a flight attendant is a rigorous process as the life of a cabin crew member is demanding. Therefore airlines use a challenging recruitment process for cabin crew candidates.
All airlines hold an assessment day for cabin crew applicants. Most assessment days have three major activities: a group exercise (to help them determine both your skills in a group setting and your leadership skills), a reach test (to check that you can reach the required height of 212 cm) and a one-on-one interview (that consists of a mix of general knowledge, competency and motivational questions). Some airlines may include further tests, such as an assessment of your English language skills (to see if your fluency is at the level they expect it to be).
I also underwent all the above-mentioned assessments when I applied for cabin crew interview.
Anisha Jindal (DreamBegins’ Team): How was your first day?
Harpreet Kaur: The first day of Cabin Crew training is the first day of your new life. I was filled with emotions; nervous, anxious, stressed, excited and happy. However, it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. As I entered the training room, I felt immediately acquainted with my fellow newbies. My first couple of days was an introduction to the job, airlines behaviors, company structure, and expectations. During these days, we got to know what would be expected of us and were introduced to the job and the people we would be training with. But it wasn’t until day 3 that the fun really began.
Anisha Jindal (DreamBegins’ Team): How much salary you get? Was it satisfactory to you?
Harpreet Kaur: The salary was very attractive even in the initial phase of my career, but the job itself was most attractive to me.
Every airline has different contracts with different salaries and benefits, depending on their own rules and regulations.
An average starting package for new cabin crew is approximately $20,000-$25,000 per annum that includes fixed basic salary per month and other financial benefits such as pay per flying hour, in-flight duty free sales commission, layover allowances (when crew operate duty flights and stay in other cities than their main base), international medical insurance etc.
You get to travel and see the world without paying a penny for the plane tickets or the five-star hotels. You rather get paid for it.
You don’t pay any tax on your salary. You get discounted tickets for yourself and your first family; get paid one month’s annual vacation, free accommodation, and transportation, discounts on Duty-Free products in major airports across the world.
What more could you ask for?
Anisha Jindal (DreamBegins’ Team): How were your colleagues? Like were they friendly?
Harpreet Kaur: Working in a multinational company with colleagues from more than 100 different countries is not really easy. The challenging part of this job is to make a good rapport with the colleagues despite from being raised in a completely different culture, facing and learning the right way to deal with people in day to day life.
You need to understand the fact that no one is perfect. Your colleagues may have different behavior, attitude and work styles. No matter how your colleagues behave, you need to portray professionalism, teamwork, helpfulness, respect and good communication to have a smooth, safe and happy flight with good coordination keeping all the personal issues at bay.
Friendliness and respectfulness are give-and-take. This is the best key to be loved and respected by your colleagues.
I have turned a majority of my colleagues into my friends for the lifetime, following this virtue.
Anisha Jindal (DreamBegins’ Team): Tell the students about the dress code? What were the work hours?
Harpreet Kaur: Cabin crew uniforms are crucial to identifying them as airlines’ employees and front-line ambassadors, making them easily recognizable from afar.
Uniforms need to be über stylish and instantly recognizable. As well as looking good, cabin crew must also feel good and most importantly be comfortable to work in uniform. Different airlines have different styles and colors of uniforms keeping comfort and convenience of the crew members in mind. Some airlines have a smart and stylish shirt and knee length skirt along with the jacket for females some have full trousers in lieu of skirt and some have elegant one piece dress and for males, they all have three-piece suits.
Flight attendants are not allowed to wear uniform or pieces of uniform if they are off duty, which would be pretty taboo.
My uniform in Flynas Airlines consists of a smart long blouse, trousers, jacket along with hat and scarf. It was very elegant, stylish and comfortable.
Working hours: Of Course there is no typical day for cabin crew. In fact, there is one thing I can promise you- no two days are ever the same. There is no 9 to 5 here, and you are never sure quite how your day will turn out!
You fly across the entire world, operating on long and short haul flights.
As for working hours, there is no set number only in terms of the maximum hours you can work in a month, as per safety regulations. Cabin crew work ‘shifts’ which can be any time of the day or night and will include weekends and holidays such as Christmas and New Year.
These will be rostered 4-6 weeks in advance. A working day can be anything from 6 hours to 14 hours and may be there and back or a night stop/layover where you may have time at the destination. There also ‘standby’ days which maybe at home or at the airport, where you may be called upon to do a flight at short notice.
Anisha Jindal (DreamBegins’ Team): How was the work environment?
Harpreet Kaur: Whatever your position, working for an airline is not really easy.
You will be on the go at all times. Because air industry is one that lives and dies by customer satisfaction, you will be expected to work quickly and efficiently under deadline pressure. However, if your airline is crew friendly, you can easily deal with the challenges your job brings to you at each step. It’s really challenging, yet fun to work in a great multicultural and diversified work environment.
All the airlines I have worked with,
Kingfisher airlines (was a 5-star airline, currently shut down), Flynas (a national carrier of Saudi Arabia) & Saudi airlines (currently working) have well organized and disciplined operations and are crew friendly at the same time. A professional environment in all aspects of the time. I plan to grow, learn and improve myself continuously and I’m happy to work in such environment that keeps me challenged.
Anisha Jindal (DreamBegins’ Team): What is the best thing about your job?
Harpreet Kaur: The best thing about my job is that it gives me the opportunity to travel and discover new cultures and interesting people. It is the work that gets me excited to wake up every day, be challenged to think out of the box and continually learn.
Anisha Jindal (DreamBegins’ Team): Is there anything interesting that you would like to share with us
Harpreet Kaur: The cabin crew job itself is so interesting. It’s not a boring 9 to 5 office job, but a challenging life above 36000 feet wherein you deal with more than 300 different personalities in an enclosed cabin from boarding; take off until landing and deplaning.
Not only has this, the quality of training cabin crew get, polished them as a better person in real life.
Flight attendants get trained to handle day-to-day normal situations as well as emergency situations like how to save more than 300 passengers lives in any expected or unexpected emergency, how to evacuate them from the aircraft in less than 90 seconds, how to use firefighting equipment in case of fire, how to give medical help (like CPR, how to treat heart attack, use of oxygen bottle, how to take care of expecting mother & how to do delivery for expectant mother and many more), how to have control over the situation in case of bomb or hijacking, how to cater 5 star services and amenities to the valuable passengers. You are not just tea or coffee serving models or trolley dollies; you are a safety officer, a police officer, a nurse, a babysitter, a receptionist, a call center agent and much more.
Nevertheless, another interesting thing about this job is the benefits such as travel, good accommodation in 5-star hotels and good pay.
Anisha Jindal (DreamBegins’ Team): Thanks a bunch for being so generous with your answers as well as time.
Harpreet Kaur: Most Welcome.