Profile of Cabin Crew
Profile of Cabin Crew
Tasks may vary depending on the size of the team you're working in and whether you're working a short or long-haul flight. However, your duties will include:
• attending a pre-flight briefing, during which air cabin crew are assigned their working positions for the upcoming flight. Crew are informed of flight details, the schedule, the number of infants on board and if there are passengers with any special requirements, such as diabetic passengers or passengers in wheelchairs.
• carrying out pre-flight duties, including checking the safety equipment and doing security checks, ensuring the aircraft is clean and tidy and that information in the seat pockets is up to date and all meals, drinks and stock are on board.
• welcoming passengers on board and directing them to their seats.
• informing passengers of the aircraft safety procedures and ensuring that all hand luggage is securely stored away
• checking all seat belts and galleys are secure prior to take-off.
• making announcements on behalf of the pilot and answering questions during the flight.
• serving meals and refreshment.
• selling duty-free goods and advising passengers of any allowance restrictions in force at their destination.
• reassuring passengers and ensuring that they follow safety procedures correctly in emergency situations.
• giving first aid where necessary.
• ensuring passengers disembark safely at the end of a flight and checking that there is no luggage left in the overhead lockers and no stowaways or suspicious items on board.
•completing paperwork, including writing a flight report.
A degree or HND/foundation degree or postgraduate qualification is not required for entry into work as a cabin crew member. Instead, most airlines expect you to have a good secondary education, with some requiring grade C or above in English and maths.
Studying a degree, HND or foundation degree in one of the following subjects may be useful in showing the airline that you have an interest in the area:
leisure and tourism management
Being able to speak other languages may be particularly useful and this could put you at an advantage against other candidates.
The majority of airlines do have a list of requirements, however, which candidates must meet. This includes some or all of the following:
• minimum age of 18, in some cases 21
good standard of health and fitness, with the ability to swim 25 metres unaided
• minimum height requirement, which may differ between airlines and usually be in proportion to weight. In the UK, this is often measured as reach rather than height
• good hearing and eyesight, although glasses and contact lenses are allowed
valid passport permitting unrestricted travel worldwide
• a completed Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check
• a medical examination, although some airlines may not require this.
You will need to show:
• Communication skills.
• exceptional customer service
• confidence in dealing with a range of people
• good co-operation skills as you'll work with different teams day to day
• compassion and the ability to support your colleagues
• discretion when dealing with VIPs or royalty
• competence in handling difficult situations and the ability to remain calm under pressure and in emergency situations
• the gift of being tactful and diplomatic but also assertive where necessary
• commercial awareness and sales skills
• flexibility in working unsocial hours on any day of the year
• the capability to work quickly and efficiently, often to tight time constraints
numeracy skills for handling cash, including foreign currency
• the capacity to work in a confined space
the ability to diffuse situations calmly and quickly.
Cabin crew work shifts that usually involve irregular and unsocial hours. It can include working early mornings, through the night, at weekends and on public holidays. Short-haul flights may provide more regular hours than long haul.
You may also have to work or be flexible on your days off if your return journey is cancelled or delayed, but you'll normally be compensated in these cases.
Part-time opportunities are available, still involving unsocial hours.
What to expect:
• Airlines catering for the package holiday market tend to recruit air cabin crew on a seasonal basis.
• Some airlines require staff to live within a certain radius/easy travelling distance of the airport. Flexibility is vital as staff may need to be on stand-by for work at short notice. You might be based abroad.
• The work can be demanding as cabin crew have to deal with, and often work through, tiredness and jet lag if crossing over different time zones.
• The airline will provide you with a uniform, and you'll be expected to dress smartly and be well groomed at all times. Many airlines do not allow visible tattoos or piercings.
• Air cabin crew often work in confined spaces and have to spend a lot of time on their feet. The work is physically demanding, particularly on long-haul flights. • Dealing with difficult passengers in an enclosed space, with an audience, can be stressful.
• The amount of time spent away from home varies depending on the airline you work for, and whether you're working on short or long-haul flights. Spending nights away from home is especially common with long-haul work.
• You'll work with a variety of people from different backgrounds and cultures.
Airlines may wish to see evidence of relevant work experience rather than qualifications, as they're keen to see that candidates have the required skills.
Part-time or temporary work in customer service roles will be particularly useful, as will any work that demonstrates teamwork and communication.
Each airline provides its own structured training programme for new entrants, which can vary in length depending on the airline. It typically lasts between four and seven weeks.
The primary focus of the training is passenger safety, including the aircraft's safety equipment and emergency procedures, security and first aid.
Training also involves a series of written and practical tests on specific areas such as:
customs and immigration regulations
food preparation and service
passenger care and customer relations
Following the basic training, the first three to six months are usually spent in a probationary period and are viewed as a continuation of the initial training, during which performance is monitored by trainers or senior crew.
In passing the probationary period, new recruits become full members of the cabin crew team.
Promotion for air cabin crew is based on experience and performance. From the role of cabin crew member, it is possible to progress to purser or chief purser.
Pursers have the same responsibilities as the general cabin crew but are also given the management responsibilities of a certain cabin, such as first class or business class.
As the purser, you would ensure that all crew within your cabin deliver the highest level of customer service. You would also give feedback on their performance and try to boost sales of duty-free items. Most airlines require between two to five years' experience to become a purser.
From the role of purser you can progress to senior cabin crew. This position is also known at some airlines as cabin supervisors, cabin managers or cabin service directors.
The role is very similar to that of the purser except you'll have responsibility for all cabin crew on board, not just in one particular cabin. All cabin crew and the purser and/or chief purser would report to you. You would usually be involved with training and supervising new recruits and would have to ensure all relevant paperwork was completed at the end of the flight.
Some air cabin crew may also wish to move on to become very very important person (VVIP) cabin crew. This type of work is carried out with very important private clients usually on private aircraft. The clients are typically prestigious and may include government officials or royal families. The highest level of service is expected and employers usually require at the very least two years' experience of working in premium (business or first) class. Many VVIP positions are based in wealth areas of the Middle East.
Yashashree Bhorkar (MBA)
Aviation HR Intern