I thought I would take the opportunity to answer some questions I am frequently asked by those who are interested in becoming cabin crew and gaining their wings.
How old do you have to be to become Cabin Crew?
It is usually a minimum of 18 years, for some companies it is 21 in commercial aviation. In the UK at least, due to the discrimination act it is illegal discriminate against age and you can apply into your 50’s. We know many crew who have taken a career break and started later in life.
Are there any restrictions?
Visible tattoos and piercings are not usually permitted. You will be asked to demonstrate your arm reach to ensure you can reach the safety equipment this is around 210-212 cm. There is also normally a height requirement anything from 158 cm upwards depending on the company. Things have changed, when I started out we were weighed and measured, the recruiters would have no qualms in telling you to loose a couple of pounds if necessary. Nowadays you are expected to have a healthy weight in proportion to your height.
Desirable qualifications and professional experience
Ideally 4 GCSES at C and above, however each company is different. Languages can also be advantageous.
If you have worked in hospitality or customer service this will also be advantageous – if you haven’t, fear not if you can demonstrate you have a good understanding of customer excellence and how to deliver it, this will help. Also I have worked with former nurses and paramedics over the years who have changed disciplines, medical backgrounds are also very favorable.
Do I need to be able to swim?
You should be able to swim at lest 30 meters unaided as your wet drills are in the swimming pool and form part of your training.
How long does the training take?
Anything from three weeks upwards to six weeks depending on the company, number of aircraft you will be licensed on and the level of service provided.
What is the process for employment as cabin crew?
Things certainly have changed since my first job where I hand wrote a letter to accompany my CV and stuck it in the post. Most applications are online or via a recruitment portal, this is the first stage of recruitment. Here you fill in your details, list your professional experience, qualities, answer a number of questions, scenarios and upload a PROFESSIONAL looking photograph.
If you make the first round of the selection process you will be invited to an assessment day where you will be put through your paces and assessed for suitability. There are a lot of group exercises where your ability to work within in a team and how your interaction with others is assessed. This is vital to the cabin crew role. Also, your ability to think outside the box, problem solve and general level of education will be assessed. Personality is often assessed to see if you fit the culture of the airline (even when you think the recruiters are not looking, or the exercises are over trust me they are watching you like a hawk). If you make it to the end of what can be a very exhausting day where 50 people will be whittled down to no more than 10, you will then be interviewed or invited back at a later date for an interview. I can not stress enough your appearance must be immaculate when you attend the assessment day.
When do airlines recruit?
The charter companies usually start around February for the peak Summer season. The low cost carriers and scheduled airlines will recruit periodically all year round as operational requirements dictate.
How can I prepare?
Lots of interview prep, there are some great websites such as cabincrew.com the forum there is packed with information on the interview process, format, questions asked for literally every company. Research the cabin crew role to demonstrate you know what to expect, the airline, history, routes, aircraft and prepare some answers to questions they are likely to ask. I.e. why do you want to work for us? What qualities do you have?, strengths?, weaknesses? and some likely scenarios. If you want to work for one of the Gulf carriers such as Emirates or Etihad research the local customs and cultures this will stand you in good stead.
What opportunities are there for industry career progression?
There are many opportunities, you can work through the ranks to become a Cabin Manager, move into recruitment or training. Some crews move into management and the operational departments of the airlines. For those that have worked in business or first class they might be able to move into private aviation and work on corporate jets. As they say the worlds your oyster working in aviation can offer a an amazing learning experience, lots of perks and open many doors – Happy flying!