Cabin Attendant Job Description
Cabin attendants, also known as flight attendants, provide customer service to all aircraft passengers, assist with carry-on luggage, and follow all federal safety regulations regarding air travel. Airlines, corporations, and individuals who own private aircraft hire cabin attendants to work full-time hours that include evening, weekend, and overnight shifts. Cabin attendants work onboard aircraft within a collaborative team environment that includes other members of the flight crew, and ultimately report to the lead cabin attendant and pilot. This is a travel-based job that requires cabin attendants to spend multiple days at a time away from home.
Cabin Attendant Duties and Responsibilities
Cabin attendants perform daily duties that vary depending on the aircraft they’re on, the number of passengers onboard, and whether they work for a commercial flight or private company. These core tasks, however, are common on most aircraft:
Cabin attendants greet passengers as they board the aircraft and bid them goodbye when they depart. This includes directing passengers to their seats.
Cabin attendants explain all available amenities and their use to passengers, such as explaining how to use entertainment features and phones onboard the aircraft. This also includes briefing passengers on using onboard safety devices and following emergency procedures.
Cabin attendants assist passengers with storing their carry-on luggage and with operating seatbelts and tray tables. This includes responding to passenger requests for assistance or refreshment.
Follow Federal Regulations
Cabin attendants follow all federal aviation regulations and monitor all passengers to ensure they are following these rules.
Inspect Crew Areas
Cabin attendants perform visual inspections of the galley, cabin, and crew areas prior to takeoff, and inform the flight crew when these areas are secure.
Plan and Serve Snacks and Meals
Cabin attendants plan and prepare meals and snacks, following safe food storage and handling procedures. They also serve meals, snacks, and drinks to passengers, making recommendations regarding menu offerings upon request.
Cabin attendants keep track of aircraft inventory, including food and beverages, linens, and magazines, and restock items as necessary.
Clean Aircraft Interior
Cabin attendants keep passenger and crew areas clean before, during, and after flights.
Cabin Attendant Skills and Qualifications
Cabin attendants use customer service and interpersonal skills to assist and serve passengers before, during, and after flights. They also maintain safety onboard aircraft. Airlines and private companies that hire cabin attendants look for individuals who have all the following skills:
- Customer service – because this is a service-based job that requires a lot of customer interaction, employers look for cabin attendants who have strong customer service skills
- Communication skills – cabin attendants use excellent verbal communication skills to work in a collaborative environment with other members of the flight crew
- Physical fitness – cabin attendants need strength to lift carry-on luggage. They may also be required to lift or physically assist passengers
- Interpersonal skills – since cabin attendants interact continuously with passengers by providing services, making recommendations, and informing them of safety regulations, strong interpersonal skills are essential for this job
- Public speaking – cabin attendants stage demonstrations and provide safety briefings to passengers, which requires good public speaking skills
Tools of the Trade
Cabin attendants need to know how to work with the following tools and equipment:
- Medical equipment (first aid kits, oxygen equipment)
- Emergency equipment (fire extinguishers, life rafts, defibrillators)
Cabin Attendant Education and Training
Employers hiring cabin attendants look for candidates who have a high school diploma or equivalent. Cabin attendants must also be able to pass a background check. Additional education and training are not usually required for cabin attendants, who are hired as entry-level employees. However, many companies require cabin attendants to learn first aid and CPR, and to complete flight safety training, which is usually provided by the employer.
Extensive training is provided to cabin attendants. The length of training programs varies by employer but typically lasts for several weeks. During training, cabin attendants are instructed by senior cabin attendants.
Cabin Attendant Salary and Outlook
According to PayScale, cabin attendants earn a median hourly income of $14.97. Data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that these professionals earn $50,500 in median annual income. The BLS projects that employment opportunities for cabin attendants will rise 10 percent by 2026. This rate is faster than the national average.
Employers provide cabin attendants with work uniforms. Medical insurance is also typically provided. Many also offer dental and vision insurance benefits in addition to health coverage. Cabin attendants usually receive paid vacation days and personal leave time. Those who work for airlines often also receive discounted rates on flights for themselves and their immediate family.
Use these books and websites to learn essential job skills and stay up to date on flight industry news:
Association of Flight Attendants – read all the latest news updates, explore important issues, and discover resources for flight attendants at the AFA website
The Cabin Crew Interview Made Easy – master strategies and techniques for acing a flight attendant interview with this book covering the essential steps involved in the interview process. It details how to excel at each one and stand out among other candidates vying for the same position
Association of Professional Flight Attendants – learn more about issues that affect flight attendants and stay up to date on developments in the flight industry with the APFA, which offers meeting and event dates, resources, and essential information for cabin attendants
The Essential Guide to Becoming a Flight Attendant – this guidebook was written by a flight attendant to provide in-depth tips and insights into this career path, including information about what to expect from the job and how to perform well during training
Flight Safety Foundation – this website is dedicated to flight safety information, providing resources, industry updates, and event dates for cabin attendants and other flight professionals
The Flight Attendant Survival Guide – this survival guide was written for cabin attendants at all stages of their career and includes essential tips for living on the road and managing a flight-based career
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