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Learn How to Become a Flight Attendant.

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In an era where job seekers change jobs every 4.4 years, the longevity of the average flight attendants career defies the employment odds. Veteran flight attendants we spoke with gave their reasons for remaining in their positions long after most people have moved on in their careers:

  • “I decided to work as a flight attendant for one summer between my third and fourth year of college. Twenty five years later – and I’m still with the airline… even my marriage hasn’t lasted this long.”
  • “My friend and I thought it would be fun and glamorous to work for an airline before heading off to college. I’m now in my 15th year with the company and I haven’t looked back.”
  • “After eight years as a flight attendant I know this job is right for me. No two days are alike and there are no office politics to deal with.”
  • “The perks are fantastic. I use my flight passes to commute to the Bahamas. I don’t know of any other job that would enable me to live on a Caribbean island on my days off.”
  • “Flying is my life. I have made some very close friends on the job. It’s very different from other types of work because you shop together, eat together and share unique experiences with your colleagues. The camaraderie and team spirit is one reason I’m still here even though I have a college degree and could be working elsewhere.”

Job Satisfaction or Economic Reality?

According to a 2009 study published by the Population Reference Bureau, “…between 1980 and 2007, the median age of flight attendants rose by 14 years (from 30 to 44).”

In their study entitled “The Changing Demography of U.S. Flight Attendants,” the authors cite current economic conditions for the postponement of retirement as one of the key reasons why the median age of flight attendants has risen since 1980.

Although this may be true, current economic realities do not fully address the tendency of flight attendants to remain in their careers long past the 10, 20 or even 40+ year mark. What is it about the flight attendant lifestyle that attracts so many candidates and why is there such a high retention level?

Pros and Cons of a Career as a Flight Attendant

Although every flight attendant has their own unique reason/s, for choosing this career, there are some common reasons why people may want to join an airline and some reasons why they shouldn’t.

You should consider a career as a flight attendant if you love…

Adventure
No two days are alike. Depending on the airline you work for, your life as a Flight Attendant is like National Geographic on steroids. The people, places, culture and food you will experience will amaze and astound you.

Deeply Discounted Air Travel
What your salary lacks, your travel discount will compensate for. If you’ve ever dreamed of an exotic trip to Machu Picchu or of visiting the ruins in Pompeii, working for an airline is your ticket to dream destinations and vacations.

Time Off
Depending on your schedule, you could have 10 to 17 days off per month. On an annual basis this amounts to six months of work spread out over a calendar year.

Hotel and Car Rental Discounts
Most companies offer airline employees generous discounts especially off-season.

Time to Yourself
On layovers, no one is hogging the remote, you don’t need to make your bed and there are no dishes to wash. Use your down time to read a book, go to a concert, call a friend or get a pedicure. Some flight attendants refer to their layovers as mini-vacations.

Visiting Friends and Family
If you haven’t seen Uncle Hansel or Aunt Gretel since 1992, next month’s layover in Frankfurt will give you the opportunity to get caught up on family business and enjoy your aunt’s famous strudel.

Shopping
Whether you are shoe shopping in New York, buying jeans in L.A. or purchasing the latest handbag in Shanghai; shopping is to flight attendants as water is to fish.

Eating in Restaurants
Every city or country has its food specialty whether its sushi in Japan, BBQ in Texas or seafood in Boston. The chance to eat authentic, local food is a big perk whether you are a foodie or simply famished after your flight.

Wearing a Uniform
This trademark of flight attendants worldwide can be a blessing if you have a low starting salary. You will save a lot of money on clothing and accessories if you are on a tight budget.

Meeting Famous People
I’ve run into stars like Kenny Rogers, Mila Kunis, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer-Love Hewitt, Christopher Plummer, Sting, Lady Gaga, and more. The Who’s Who of society could be on your next flight. It’s always a thrill to brag about the time when so and so was on your flight and whether they were naughty or nice. If you’re lucky enough you might even get a picture to post on Instagram or your Facebook page.

Do not consider a career as a flight attendant if you dislike…

Being Away From Home for Long Periods of Time
The vagabond lifestyle is not everyone’s idea of a good time. You might be on the road for two, three or four days or an entire week. You will be living out of suitcase so be honest with yourself if you are more of a homebody than a jet setter.

Restaurants and/or Eating Out of a Lunch Bag
Even if you pack a serious lunch for a four-day trip, by day three or four, your food supply will run low and you will need to refuel at the nearest grocery store, restaurant or overpriced airport food court. Eating in restaurants can be expensive and unhealthy and not everyone likes to pack a four-day lunch. In most cases, fresh produce, milk products and some select food items are prohibited when clearing customs in other countries. Flight attendants have been known to survive for days on granola bars, juice boxes and ramen noodles.

Jet Lag
Experienced travellers learn to live with the fatigue, sleep deprivation and dehydration that comes with flying through time zones in a pressurized cabin. This may or may not be your cup of tea so know what you are signing up for. Working at the airport might be a better alternative than working in the air.

Enclosed Spaces
Your office is a pressurized tube that darts through the air. If you don’t like confined spaces or you have a hard-core nicotine habit, consider a real office job.

Socializing and Being Visible
Do you secretly dislike people? Was your sole reason for applying to take advantage of the travel benefits? Once in uniform, you are an automatic spokesperson for the company. People will assume you are a walking information kiosk with the ability to immediately direct them to the nearest bathroom, restaurant or gate. They will also assume that you are a sounding board for every airline complaint and injustice they’ve ever experienced. If you don’t like people, it will be extremely difficult to fake compassion and empathy and to survive in a job where you are constantly in the public eye.

The Unexpected
As mentioned, no two days are alike. If you thrive on a routine, the unscheduled landings, flight cancellations and unplanned layovers will disrupt your best-laid plans.

Working on Holidays
Kiss Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter, New Year’s, and Thanksgiving goodbye. For the first decade of your career, don’t count on being home for special holidays. Most airlines run on a seniority-based system. Those flight attendants who are lower on the totem pole must do their time and those who are higher on the pole have paid their dues.

Dealing with Children, The Elderly and the Infirm
Wheelchair passengers, unaccompanied minors, passengers traveling with service animals…it’s all in a day’s work! Patience and understanding are a must when dealing with Special Attention Passengers or (SPATS), as they are known in the industry.

Serving People
If the idea of serving coffee, picking up someone’s garbage or cleaning a lavatory is repulsive, consider a less hands on career.

Repetition
“Please turn off your cell phone; buckle your seatbelt; stow your bags…” Every flight attendant reads from a similar script. These reminders will be repeated hundreds of times throughout your career so ask yourself if you can handle the broken record aspect of the airline business.

Don’t be Afraid to Fly!

After weighing the pros and cons and making a list of what does or does not appeal to you about the flight attendant lifestyle, you will be able to decide if this is a career worth pursuing. Like the veteran flight attendants we interviewed, you could try it for a summer and see what happens.

The more you know about the flight attendant world, the better equipped you will be to make an informed career decision.

What kind of information is featured on the ideal flight attendant resume? What does a sample flight attendant resume look like?

There are key elements that every airline HR department looks for when trying to select suitable flight attendant applicants. Incorporating these key elements into your resume and cover letter will help you obtain that coveted flight attendant position. Since your resume is your ticket to the interview, an impeccable resume and cover letter ensures that you will be given the opportunity to move on to the next stages of the hiring process.

A simple way to get started is to choose the type of resume you want to build. A profile or combination resume with an overview or objective section at the top is a good choice as it allows you to describe yourself and highlight your skills and experience. The following is a sample airline resume using the profile format:

Sample Flight Attendant Resume

Key Elements of a Winning Resume

Company Culture

How can researching an airline’s business, culture, route structure and history help you stand out in a sea of resumes? Sprinkling company knowledge into your resume and cover letter will help you grab the HR department’s attention and conveys your willingness to belong to the airline’s culture.

Resume Example: As a carrier that flies primarily to Asian destinations and offers premium class service, the opportunity to work for XYZ airlines is an ideal fit with my experience as a volunteer English teacher in Korea and my knowledge of the language, etiquette and customs of this region.

Showcase Relevant Work History

Recruiters will examine a candidate’s work history to determine if the kind of jobs they’ve held relate to the on-board tasks a Flight Attendant performs. If you have customer service experience, highlight your skills to distinguish yourself from the pack. If you worked as a bartender for example, the hiring team will assume that you will be great at mixing drinks and making small talk with passengers.

Cover Letter Example: As a bartender at Joe’s Steakhouse, my regular clientele were fond of my signature cocktail. Because of its popularity, this specialty drink was eventually incorporated into the restaurant’s cocktail menu.

Physical Fitness

Are you mentally and physically capable of doing the job? Since you are required to pass a medical test to prove your fitness, it’s a good idea to list some type of activity or sport under the ‘Interests’ category of your resume.

Resume Examples:

Competitive lightweight bodybuilder and avid surfer,
Enjoy hiking and mountain biking in my spare time,
Part-time yoga instructor and Pilates coach,
Tennis, running and biking

Languages

Fluency in a language other than English is an asset and in some cases a requirement if you want to land a position with an airline that has an extensive route structure. Some airlines conduct hiring sprees based purely on the need for language speaking F/A’s. A recent advertisement at American Airlines’ for Japanese speaking Flight Attendants listed the following requirements:

Must be able to fluently speak Japanese
Must be able to read, write and speak English fluently
Competent in handling difficult situations, problem solving and complaint resolution
Excellent communication and interpersonal skills; friendly reception of all customers
Must present a professional image, may not have visible tattoos, facial, multiple or upper ear piercing, or extreme hair color or style while in Flight Attendant Uniform
Work in climates and locations across the globe and work variable shifts
Able to attend up to 8 1/2 weeks of training in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, and move immediately to the city to which you are assigned as a base

Resume/Cover Letter Example: As a tour guide for City Tours, my fluency in Japanese and knowledge of Japanese culture and customs is greatly appreciated by the Japanese tourists who take our tours and the company’s owners who have been able to increase their market share.

May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor

Like the odds faced by Peta and Katniss in The Hunger Games, your chances of getting hired as a Flight Attendant can seem equally insurmountable. When over 90% of applicants do not make the cut (http://mentalfloss.com/article/31044/10-shocking-secrets-flight-attendants), you will need a winning strategy to defy the odds.

Like Katniss’ bow and arrow, a concise resume and cover letter/email that is free of spelling mistakes and formatting errors will help you hit the Flight Attendant job target.

The following resume tips taken from our book “Airborne,” have been designed to set you up for resume success.

Short and Sweet
A good resume is not long. One, maximum two pages should be sufficient when describing your work history, proficiencies, interests and activities.
Stick to the Facts
When it’s time to complete your background checks, what you say on your resume must match your work history or you will be withdrawn from the pool of available candidates.
Consistency
Consistent formatting in terms of font size, headings, bolding and bullets yields a document that is clean and polished. Your resume should have visual appeal.
Proper Spelling and Grammar
Without good spelling and grammar, you will undo all of your hard work. Put your spellchecker to work.
Mind the Gaps
Always account for any employment gaps. If you were unemployed and living with your parents for six months it’s a good idea to validate any breaks in your employment history.

Social Media

If you are going to direct the recruiters to your on-line resume or career information posted on social media such as LinkedIn, there are some important guidelines to follow. The information you direct them to should be up-to-date and consistent with what you’ve said on your resume. In addition, refrain from providing HR with too much information as some of it could work against you. For example if you tailored your resume towards your customer service experience and your LinkedIn profile emphasizes your IT background, the recruiters might overlook you in favor of a candidate who gives the impression of being more customer service oriented.

Last Word

The time and effort you put into your resume could mean the difference between a career at 35,000 feet vs. the view from your office cubicle. A resume that shines will open the door to a Flight Attendant job and help you gain access to a world where travel and adventure await!

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