I have been just recently hired as a flight attendant for a commuter airlines called Colgan Air. I am just emailing you to ask for some advice on starting out, tips of the trade! I hope to hear from you soon!
Even in this day and age of travel when being a flight attendant isn’t quite as glamorous as it once was, airlines receive thousands of applications each month from people who are interested in the job. This means competition is fierce. Airlines choose only the best candidates. That, Leilah, says a lot about you. Congratulations!
When it comes to flight attendant training, as well as those first few months on the job, my advice to you is simply this, do not quit! Trust me, at some point you will want to. I’ve been there. We all have. Just remember that no matter how frustrated or tired you become, do not give up. Training will only last a few weeks and when it’s over you’ll have a lifetime of adventure ahead of you. No matter how much you miss your friends, family, and loved ones, do not throw in the towel. Stay focused. Think about all the great places you can take your family and friends once you get your travel benefits. No matter how much someone misses you and begs you to come home, don’t quit. Just think about all those days off (at least twelve of them) that you can spend with them when you’re not working a nine to five job – Every. Single. Day. No matter which crew base you’re assigned, do not make any rash decisions. The job is flexible and in time you will figure out how to manipulate your flight schedule so that you can be exactly where you want to be whenever you want to be there. Remember, the job is unlike any other job, so it only makes sense that it will take some getting used to. Eventually you will figure out how to make the job work for you.
While I know the job is not for everyone, I just want to make sure you give it enough time before making any drastic decisions. Because it’s not just a job, it’s a lifestyle, a very unusual one. I say this because years ago I had a crash pad roommate who, after eight months on the job, decided to quit. She wanted to become a hairdresser. Two years later she wanted her old job back. So she reapplied, scored a few interviews with different airlines, and, as far as I know, never did get hired again.
As for flight attendant training, it can be overwhelming at times. In fact, I found the seven and a half week course at my airline to be tougher than four years of college. Not because it was hard, per se, but because there is a lot of information to absorb in a short amount of time. On top of this, there will be late nights and early mornings with very little sleep in between. You will, at some point, feel exhausted. You might also find yourself having trouble thinking clearly, or even thinking at all! Then when classmates begin to suddenly disappear, you may become paranoid. I know I did. At one point I truly believed that the salt and pepper shakers in the cafeteria might be bugged. I mean why else were classmates going POOF! during a five minute bathroom break, never to be seen or heard from again?
Now mix it all together; all that new information coming in at once, the exhaustion, the paranoia, not to mention feelings of homesickness, and you’ve got a trainee reacting in ways they might not normally behave. Perhaps by pushing trainees to their breaking point the airlines believe they will observe how future flight attendants might react in less than desirable situations at 30,000 feet. Maybe this is just a way an airline can filter out the weak since a big part of the job is remaining calm under pressure.
A few other tips…
1. Don’t be late. The airplane doesn’t wait for anyone, so why would your instructor? Unless a flight is understaffed, an airline will not delay a departure in order to wait on a flight attendant who is running late. If you’re late to class be prepared to leave your flight manual by the locked door and return to wherever you came from.
2. Get lots of rest. Nodding off in class is another way to obtain your walking papers. Flight attendants must stay awake during a flight unless it’s a long haul flight overseas with scheduled crew breaks. We are to remain alert at all times in order to handle in flight emergencies quickly and swiftly. Caffeine is your friend.
3. Beware of flight instructors. Do not get confused and think you’re friends with a flight instructor. Oh sure they might be nice, at first, but it’s their job to make sure that only the best flight attendants graduate. Trust me, they’re just looking for a reason to get rid of you, so don’t make it easy by letting your guard down.
Hope that helps, Leilah, and good luck to you!
** ATTENTION FLIGHT ATTENDANTS: Share your flight attendant training stories below – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Photos courtesy of Jfithian and Jfithian