Have you always wanted to travel the world and get paid for it? It’s definitely possible once you join the ranks of the aviation profession.
Working in the field typically comes with big travel discounts that you can extend to your friends and family. This is why being a flight attendant is a thrilling experience that many people usually vie for.
Although not usually required, going to a flight attendant school can give you a competitive edge over other applicants. To get the lowdown on online and traditional flight attendant schools, read on below!
Online Certificate Programs
There are many kinds of online programs available on the Internet. Most of the certificate courses on the web teach onboarding know-how. However, these programs will differ depending on your target airline. Whether you want to work for a regional airline, international airline, or large international airline.
The reason why you need to take a different course depending on airline size or type is because of the airplanes associated with each. Depending on the type and size of a flight, there are a specific number of airplane models that are fit for that flight. What online certificate programs do is to fit the program curriculum based on the likely airplane models to be used for a particular flight type and size.
Included in a standard online certificate program are topics about the history of flight, aviation terminology, uniform policies, boarding, and standard safety procedures, to name just a few. Certificates of completion are then issued via email or you may also opt to purchase a printed certificate.
In terms of cost, online certificate programs for charter operators or regional online usually cost an average of $250 while courses for large international airlines cost an average of $350.
Supplemental Online Courses You Can Take
If you plan on taking your training to the next level, you can also take supplemental courses to add to your knowledge. Typical supplemental courses on being a cabin crew include topics about first aid and emergency, inflight leadership training, and safe food handling, to mention a few.
You can also take short courses on a specific aircraft type. There are a lot of courses out there on airplanes such as the Boeing 737 line, Airbus A330, and Dash 8-100, among others.
For those aiming for management positions, there are also available courses for that.
Traditional Flight Attendant Training School
Traditional flight attendant training schools are those that you have to attend in person. The duration of the courses offered in these schools lasts anywhere from a few days to a few months. The usual curriculum of these short courses is divided into different phases.
You’ll usually start out with basic introduction of responsibilities, aircraft protocols and procedures, as well as emergency situation training. After completing each course, you will undergo a competency check to test your learning and knowledge of the whole course.
Compared to online training programs, going to a traditional flight attendant school can cost you $1,500 to $5,000. If this is too steep for you, seminars are also a good alternative. They cost less than half and are typically held in much shorter duration.
Comparing School Training to Airline Training
There are some cabin crew veterans out there who are not a big proponent of undergoing training schools. This is because once hired, airlines will also provide you with their own training.
Once hired by an airline company, they will typically pay for your training, food, as well lodging. However, you’ll have to shell out your own money to buy your uniforms. In one airline, uniforms can cost as much as $2,000, which is often deducted to your salary over the years.
Nonetheless, your expenses won’t stop there. If ever you’re stationed outside of your hometown (happens about 90% of the time), you’ll have to find your own place. This means you have to have enough money to pay for rent in the city you’ll be based in. This could be a problem if you’re just starting out since you might not necessarily make a lot of money even if you work for a major airline.
Compared to flight attendants who started in the 90s, those entering the field today are making 30% lower than their counterparts.
What Airline Training Is Like
The mandatory training provided by your airline is typically FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) approved. Training lasts anywhere from a few weeks to two months.
During your training period, you will be taught cabin crew duties, responsibilities, industry terms, emergency procedures, and aircraft exit/entrance, among others. Your most important duty, however, is to assist passengers in any case of emergency.
The passing rate would be anywhere from 85% to 90% in all subjects. In terms of schedule, you could be either assigned to the AM or PM class.
The lessons are fast-paced and only about two or three “Needs Improvement” marks are allowed. Any more than the quota set by airline and you’ll be sent home. Most airlines are also strict when it comes to attendance. A late or no-show are often likely causes of being booted out of the training program.
Every airline has their own training standards and these are just some of the things you can usually expect. It’s very important that you review your airline’s training requirements as this can definitely vary.
Flight Attendant Training Benefits and Salary
Training salary per week ranges anywhere from $300 to $400, which is paid to your bank account. If you translate this to an hourly rate, you would net anywhere from $27 to $32 an hour.
A good number of airlines usually give a cash advance upon starting or on the 1st day of the month. This typically amounts from $800 to $1,000. The rest of the pay is then paid after two weeks, which already includes expense allowance and flight pay.
If the training is in a different city, your hotel, transportation, and food expenses will be usually provided. Any expenses outside of those will be shouldered by you.
During training, you’re also entitled to receive medical benefits (includes dental), pension, and life insurance. These are all on top of your travel benefits and discounts. However, each benefit is instituted at different times throughout your 6-month probationary period.
Every month, you’re guaranteed 13 day offs. For the rest of the month, you’ll usually be required to be on call 24 hours.
How to Pass Training
To pass training, having a stellar attendance is a must. Most airlines are pretty strict when it comes to tardiness and no-shows. Another important thing is to listen to the lessons. This will prove handy when it comes to doing your assignments, exam, and practice flights. Failure to learn or pass the home works can mean a failing grade for you.
The most important role of a cabin crew is making sure passengers are safe during any emergency. Make sure you’re calm and alert during emergency exercises.
More than just acing standard training requirements, you have to show that you’re a good fit for the job role. One of the criteria you’ll be assessed against is how good you get along with others. A good attitude and pleasing personality can do a lot for you. You might have the best grades in the class, but if you’re at odds with everyone then you could still fail training.
These traits show that you’re a team player and that you have people skills. There are nothing more integral to flight work than these two in addition to customer service skills.
Once you pass training then you’ll be given a FAA Certificate, which will be your proof of demonstrated proficiency. This certification is dependent on the specific aircraft you’ve been trained for. To maintain your certification, you’ll be required to undergo recurring training every year.
Top Valued Flight Attendant Skills
During your training, you’ll be typically assessed on your communication, customer service, physical fitness, and decision-making skills on top of your attentiveness level.
As someone who’ll be working with a lot of people from all walks of life, you have to know how to communicate well. Customer service skills are also crucial because that’s the nature of the job. Outside of emergency aid, you have to assist and make the passengers comfortable. This means providing meals and helping stow away their luggage.
Physical fitness is another vital aspect of the job because it entails long working hours. More than that, you might have to do some bag lifting every now and then.
For decision-making skills, this will come in handy during emergencies and safety procedures. You have to be able to think on your feet regarding the best steps to handle dire situations.
What Happens After the Training Period
Once you pass the training period, you’ll be guaranteed a minimum of 65 hours and maximum of 95 hours of flying time. This could be higher or lower depending on your airline. During summer, the minimum and maximum are increased with an additional 5 hours in anticipation of increased flights.
After completing initial training, new flight attendants don’t typically have their own scheduled flights. They’re generally placed on call, known as reserve status. Having this status means you must be able to report to work on short notice (usually 2 hours) as an additional staff or to fill in for any crew who’s absent. Expect to be on reserve for about a year after starting. However, there are cases when flight attendants are on reserve status for years.
You’ll also likely be relocated once you start. Many airlines will inform you of your impending relocation to weeks before you finish your training. This is to ensure that you have ample time to prepare for the move. If you agree with the move, you’ll be given a relocation allowance that will cover a 7-day stay in a hotel. You will also be given moving expenses and a maximum of 50 kilos of freight, with no charge. Any additional expense that you might incur, such as food or transportation, will come from your own pocket.
Any additional expense that you might incur, such as food or transportation, will come from your own pocket.
Flight Attendant Promotion and Advancement
Flight schedules (blocks) are based on seniority. Those who have tenure in your airline will be the first to bid on blocks. Bidding for blocks is done monthly. Once you achieve seniority, you’ll have more say on your monthly flying schedule. Expect the most popular and high-paying routes to go to tenured flight attendants.
Most airlines also enforce a substantial pay increase yearly, which some basing it on performance. By your 8th year, you’ll be able to reach the highest salary possible for flight attendants. This is assuming you get the yearly pay increase.
If you want to be promoted to a higher position, you’ll be required to have at least 30 months’ of experience. However, this will still depend on your airline’s current wait time before bidding up. Some have as long as 12 years’ wait time.
Once you reach senior status, you’ll be tasked to oversee the work of the crew in international flights. Many are also promoted to management roles, which are more stable. This is ideal for those who are starting a family and prefer not to fly back to back anymore. Those in management positions are usually responsible for recruiting, scheduling, and instructing new flight attendants.
Flight Attendant Job Demands
Although a job as a flight attendant is often admired and idealized, the job demands can be heavy. One of the job’s top requirements is to be prepared to work on holidays, weekends, and night shifts. You have to be able to cope working on irregular hours as well as long duty days (sometimes exceeding 15 hours).
A big part of your working hours will also be usually spent standing up. Additionally, you will also often be required to lift heavy bags (around 10 kg. and up). These conditions sometimes result in chronic back or feet/leg problems.
Expect to deal with turbulence on occasion when the weather’s bad. Although it happens rarely, dealing with unruly passengers or emergencies can be hard and cause you stress. You’ll also spend many days away from home and you’ll likely sleep in shared apartments or hotel rooms with other flight attendants.
During flights, expect cabin pressurization, and chronic jet lag.