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Flight Attendant

Career Outlook

Flight attendant jobs are in demand as the airlines continue to steadily grow. The commercial airline industry is a 24/7 operation. While most flight attendants work full time, they usually have variable schedules, often working nonstandard hours and days as well as evenings, weekends, and holidays. Schedules also vary due to inconsistent numbers of flight legs from day-to-day, early and late departures, and nonstandard duty such as all-night flights.

Flight attendant duties can typically keep them away from home two to six nights per week. Benefits generally include a flexible work environment, extensive opportunities for travel, health care coverage and retirement at legacy airlines.

There are 100,000 flight attendants in the United States. The majority are employed at mainline and regional airlines, but there are also opportunities at corporate and charter flight companies.

The majority of U.S. flight attendants have union representation, and a contract between the airline and the union determines flight hours, duty, and rest provisions.  Learn More >

Responsibilities

Flight attendants play a vital role as aviation’s first responders in the airplane cabin. Airlines are required by law to have flight attendants trained and certified to ensure the safety and security of airline passengers and crew. This responsibility ranges from dealing with disruptive passengers to delivering and coordinating emergency medical care, containing security threats, protecting the flight deck, fighting in-flight fires, and directing evacuations.

Typical flight attendant duties include the following:

  • Coordinate with pilots to ensure in-flight safety and security
  • Conduct preflight inspections of emergency equipment
  • Demonstrate the use of emergency equipment
  • Ensure all passengers follow safety regulations and procedures (for example, secure stowage of baggage in the cabin)
  • Help passengers who require assistance
  • Manage incidents that may involve disruptive passenger behavior or non-compliance with requests
  • Reassure passengers during flight, such as when the aircraft encounters turbulence
  • Administer and coordinate emergency medical care as needed
  • Provide other routine services related to the comfort and care of airline passengers

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Qualifications

  • All flight attendants must be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
  • Flight attendants must complete their employer’s initial training program as approved by the FAA and pass a proficiency check.
  • Most airlines require flight attendants to have at least a high school diploma or equivalent, but some prefer to hire applicants who have some college education.
  • Must be at least 18 years old (although some airlines raise this minimum age requirement).
  • Be eligible to work into the United States.
  • Have a valid passport.
  • Pass a background check.

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Training

Once you are hired as a flight attendant, the airline will provide initial training. This training usually takes place at the airline’s flight training center, and the programs take about three to six weeks to complete.

During initial training, you will participate in drills and scenarios to learn emergency procedures such as aircraft evacuation, how to operate emergency equipment, and administration of first aid. You will also receive specific instruction on regulatory requirements, company policies and procedures, and flight attendant job duties. Toward the end of initial training, you will go on practice flights.

You must successfully complete required training to be issued an FAA Flight Attendant Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency. To maintain your position, you must complete annual recurrent training throughout your career. Learn More >

Regulatory Oversight

The FAA sets the standards for maximum scheduled duty periods (up to 14 hours domestic, 20 hours international) and minimum rest requirements. Actual duty may exceed these duty regulations.

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