A few days ago, I started a new section in this blog called The FA Stories.
I shared with you some of my flight attendant stories, I promised to give you important information about the profession and of course to help you break into the magical world of aviation. Having already received numerous emails with queries about the profession, I decided to first make a list with all your questions, along with my answers, in the form of FAQ, in order to help you with your first steps in the field. This will be a guide that will focus more on the Commercial Airline sector, rather than on the Private Operation one, even though we will talk about the later, as well, as we move along.
This will be the First Guide to the Flight Attendant profession.
But before I move on the guide, I would like you to answer to the following question yourself:
Why do you want to follow this profession?
It’s important to be sure why. Do you want to be a flight attendant because you like traveling and you want to travel for free, because you think that it’s a profession sprinkled with fairy dust and luxury, or because you want to get away from your daily routine by doing something more interesting? Is it maybe because someone told you it’s the best job in the world, without any difficulties or demands? Keep in mind that, unfortunately, the enviable golden eras of the Olympic Airways during Aristotle Onassis’s times, or of the famous Pan Am, are long gone, and the demands are no longer inversely proportional to the benefits. So be prepared, before you get disappointed.
Also, be aware of this:
In this line of work, there are those who wear a uniform in order to fly
those who fly in order to wear a uniform.
I don’t know what your own motives are, but my advice is to choose the former, rather than the latter. Because if you fall for the second, dear reader, rest assured that you will soon become disappointed. No flight attendant was ever offered life on a platter up there, simply by wearing a uniform with wings pinned on the lapel; no flight attendant advanced with any dignity simply by posing in the cabin like a catwalk model, and no flight attendant was ever called a professional if her sole priority was showing off her uniform, instead of properly executing her duties.
So make sure you are certain of your motives BEFORE you move on to applications, duties, relocations, uniforms, and the rest.
1. In order to enter the profession, do I need a university degree, or is my high school diploma enough?
No airline company will ask for a university degree. Your basic training, along with your high school diploma will suffice. If, however, you do possess a degree, and especially if that is a degree in a foreign language, or customer services (of any kind), that will count to your advantage.
2. Should I invest in some program or school for my training?
No. No school or organization that takes on the theoretical training of flight attendants can EVER guarantee you a job. After all, all airline companies take on the task of training their flight attendants themselves, with the exception of some low cost companies that cooperate with special organizations, thus making their applicants cover the training costs themselves (which in my opinion is unacceptable).
Moreover, no third party organization can train you better than a serious company that cooperates with the biggest training centers in Europe (e.g. Lufthansa Training Center, Swiss Aviation Αcademy, etc). I suggest you never invest in any such organization, especially because it’s a waste of time and money, and since the airline company will train you itself. But then again, this is my personal opinion, after nine years in the field.
3. Now that I’ve decided I want to follow this profession, where do I begin?
So you’ve decided. Great. Now you must first follow these steps:
a. Prepare a proper Resume (CV). In English.
It doesn’t matter if your resume is a little light. Everyone’s resume is like that in the beginning. Even if you don’t have any previous experience in the field of aviation, make sure you enrich your resume with information that may seem useful to your future employer. If you have ever worked as a waiter, or sales-person, or receptionist, somewhere, somehow, sometime, make sure you add that under your Work Experience, for it is considered a qualification.
In the beginning, because your resume will be rather empty, since you may have just finished high school, or your studies, you can add various activities you might have been involved in. Later on, your resume will need to get more specialized, tailored for the field of aviation. I take it for granted, also, that you will eventually create a profile at LinkedIn, since most companies will be looking for you there. This is mostly for Corporate Flight Attendants, of course, so we will talk about it further in a future post.
b. Check the job requirements and see if you fulfill them.
Visit the site of the company you are interested in, and search under Careers or Jobs to see the company’s requirements (height, weight, physical condition, age, nationality, languages, etc.). Check them, one by one, and then continue. If, for example, you want to apply to a company in Germany (because for some reason you would like to move there), and the company requires knowledge of German, then know that, unless you speak German, you do not qualify for the job, so don’t even bother trying - unless knowledge of the language is considered an added asset and not a prerequisite.
The same holds true for the infamous tattoos: if you have a tattoo that is visible while in uniform, then you are immediately beyond consideration.
In general, if you don’t fulfill even one of the requirements, move on to the next company. No need wasting your time.
c. If the company has an Online Application System, this means you can proceed through there ONLY.
Under no circumstances are you to send your resume to one of the company emails you’ll find on the site. The Online Application System is a one-way street, and you have to apply through there. You will build your application step by step, making sure you provide valid information, and in the end you will be asked to upload your resume as well. This digital application form will be your online resume.
In general, do not send a resume if the company does not specifically mention it’s open for applications. If it mentions something like, “Sorry, but we are not hiring at the moment,” or “No cabin crew jobs are available at the moment,” it’s preferable to wait until there are job openings again. Otherwise, your resume will be end up in the unread pile.
4. How many languages should I speak?
Let’s start with the basic and essential, which is the English language. All training, all in-flight communication, and even most of the interviews are done in English, so I take it for granted that you are setting off on your attempts, having a good knowledge of English, both written and spoken. Don’t bother lying about your level, because a company can check it any time.
As far as the rest of the languages go, they are considered a great asset, but it helps most if you know the language of the country in which the company is based, because this is the language that will be used and have priority in most interviews.
5. I live in Greece and do not want to move abroad. Do I have any choices?
Yes, there are choices, but not many, unfortunately. There are various companies that use Greece as their base, either all year round, or during the summer season (because of charter flights). On the Internet, you can find various lists with these companies, and you can check them to see what country they use as their base.
My personal opinion is you should start from a large and well-organized company, because the ground knowledge you acquire will be very important for your future advancement. Write your application, complete your training, learn the procedures properly, study your duties, follow the rules, and no matter how difficult it all seems in the beginning, know that this is how you lay the right foundation.
The ghost companies that appear overnight, for one summer only, are not for beginners. You need a big, organized school, and you can only get this in large airline companies. In my case, of course, it was a charter company with two planes only, but I was lucky, because even though I was young, I built the right groundwork (and friendships to last a lifetime).
If you want to take my advice, once you start applying, do not exclude the possibility of applying to a company abroad. This profession knows no frontiers, anyway, if you want to make a career out of it.
6. How do I build a professional profile?
This takes time, but you must set out right. Three steps here as well:
To begin with, as I mentioned in question #3, you must have a professional resume, no matter how light it may be. Ask for an expert’s advice (preferably from the aviation field) and make sure you attach a photo in professional attire, and not some selfie that you took one day with your friends. The layout of your resume is also very important. Make sure you spend a considerable amount of time working on its look and its sections.
b. Email Address
You then need to create an email address that will include your full name, so forget about addresses like elen020583 or funkylady, or anything else that does not look professional. Come up with something that you will have for the rest of your career, and of course avoid changing it every three months. You need to build a public profile, and the industry does not need email addresses with dates of birth, or engagement, instead of your name.
Finally, since you are preparing for this line of work, keep in mind that a passport is a necessary accessory, so be ready to issue one at a moment’s notice. If you want my advice, have one ready before you even begin with interviews and training, because your career may commence in the blink of an eye.
7. What are Open Sessions or Open House interviews?
Open sessions are days reserved for mass interviews, organized by an airline company in different cities around the world, or in the city they use as base. In this case, all you have to do is apply online, print your application, and present it during the Open Session in order to have the interview. If the company is holding the interview session at their base, for example in London, keep in mind that you are responsible for the travel and accommodation expenses, and that the company will not compensate you, even if you are hired.
During these ‘open days,’ a lot of people show up, so make sure you are prepared to make an impression. Since you are interested in this field, you can apply for every Open Session that is held somewhere near you. If only for the experience, I suggest you give it a try.
8. Do I need a fashion model’s body proportions for this job?
Of course not. Flight attendants are real, everyday people; not mannequins for window display. They have imperfections and sometimes not ideal body proportions. However, there are some basic requirements concerning height and weight, so these are probably the only requirements concerning looks that you might need to fulfill.
9. Interviews make me nervous. What do I need to know?
The interview process is your opportunity to cross the aviation threshold, so make sure you are properly prepped. And since you’ll never get a second chance to make a first impression, make sure your let the impressive side of your personality unfold, by accentuating your gifts with self-confidence and certitude. No airline company wants timid personalities crouched on a chair. On the contrary, they are looking for enthusiastic, self-confident people, who have an appetite for work and are ready to face difficult situations.
That’s why the interview process has two stages: the Personal Interview, which is the personal contact you will have with the company, and the Group Case study, which is a case on which you will work as part of a team, in order for the company to determine you ability to make decisions, and your ability to handle a situation as part of a flight crew.
Some companies start with the Personal Interview; some others with the Group Case study. Having gone through both these procedures, I think that it’s an advantage to start with the Personal Interview, so make sure you make an impression. Accentuate your qualities, and give emphasis on customer service, in all its forms.
And for the love of God, when asked, “Why do you want to be a flight attendant,” do not give the usual silly answer, “Because I love traveling free and because I want to experience new things (for free again).” Also, discretion opened many doors, so you better possess it, whether in reference to your personality, or to your make-up.
10. What is the hiring process?
The process is like this:
Receiving the application & resume > Evaluation > Interview > Training > Evaluation Test > Line-check > GO!
In this process, the only step you have no influence over is the Evaluation, so make sure you are impeccable in all the rest. Your resume, your interview, and your training are your three keys. Study, ask around, learn, read, obey, respect, and proceed. And even if you are deemed inadequate at some point during the process, don’t give up. An interview gone wrong is always to be expected. It’s like your first walk with a pair of new shoes: they will blister your feet and it will hurt, but next time, you will be running!
Another important point I want to make is that if you send your resume and you don’t get a reply, don’t bother contacting the company or re-sending your email, asking if they received your email, etc. If you have sent it to the right place and double-checked the address, then they have received it, and, if they are interested, they will contact you. Your resume stays in their archive for six months, anyway. So you can try again after some months, if you have not gotten a reply. So keep that in mind.
If you have more questions, don’t hesitate to contact me at
info(at)maryhop(dot)com mentioning “Flight Attendant” in the subject.
I will try and get back to you as soon as possible!
The content on this blog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
You may not republish, copy or modify the content without my consent.