The Definitive Guide: How To Become An Air Hostess/Cabin Crew Member

Published: 24 Jan 2017

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If you’ve ever wanted to travel, you’ve probably considered the kind of roles which would allow you to do so while still earning a living wage.

Unless you’re a champion wordsmith, travel writing is definitely out, while becoming ‘the next David Attenborough’ could be a little ambitious.

However, if you put the hours in and the dedication, a flight attendant or an air hostess or cabin crew role could just be within reach! But how do you go about it? We’ve put together this handy guide to the best route into the profession, as well as expected salaries, progression and more. It’s time for career lift off!

What is an Air Hostess/Host Salary?

Most people enter the industry due to a love of travelling, as the salaries aren’t always great. That said, the opportunity to visit more places in a month than most would see in a year can be reason enough to begin a career as a cabin crew member or air hostess.

Basic starting salaries for air cabin crew are around £12,000, with additional allowances often received on top of this. Such allowances could take the salary to around £14,500, while experienced air cabin crew can expect to earn £15,000 to £18,000 a year.

Senior cabin crew members can expect a starting salary of around £20,000.

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What is an Air Hostess/Host?

So what exactly is an Air hostess/Cabin Crew – and what exactly does it entail?

  • Job Description

    So, what does an Air hostess/host do in terms of day-to-day duties?

    Pretty much everyone’s been on a plane, but do you actually know what an air hostess or member of cabin crew does? It isn’t all handing out peanuts and life jackets, you know.

    Great customer service is at the very heart of an air hostess or cabin crew member’s role; it’s about ensuring everyone on board has a comfortable and safe experience and that they actively choose to fly with that company again.

    As well as ensuring everyone is safe, fed and watered, air hostesses are trained to deal with any security and emergency situations which may arise. It really is a high-pressured, responsible role and the whole team needs to be prepared should a situation like an emergency landing or bad turbulence arise.

    An air hostess or member of cabin crew will also help passengers to board the plane and give a demonstration of safety procedures and equipment. Working on long-haul or short-haul flights, air hostesses and cabin crew team members have a chance to travel the world while doing a job they love – sounds good, doesn’t it?

  • Hours of Work

    While there are few jobs that allow you to see more of the world – and get paid for it– being >a member of cabin crew does have its downsides too.

    Your shifts will include weekends, nights and public holidays and you may find that you spend quite a lot of time away from home, with unusual sleeping patterns depending on your times of work.

    You may also be expected to live within an hour’s travelling time of the airline’s base, and you will be required to be smart at all times – there will be no rolling out of bed at 8am and throwing any old thing on to wear in this job!

    Short-haul flights may offer more regular hours than long haul, but you may also be required to be fairly flexible on your days off too. This is simply to account for delayed (or even cancelled) flights but you’ll generally find that you’ll be compensated in such instances.

    Typically, air hostesses and cabin crew members work full-time. There are, however, some opportunities to work part-time but the hours can often be unsociable.

  • Main Responsibilities

    So we’ve briefly touched on the kind of responsibilities you’ll have as an air hostess or member of cabin crew, but here’s a more detailed rundown of how a typical shift might pan out:

    Before a flight you will:

    • Attend a meeting regarding the flight and its schedule
    • Check that there are enough supplies on the plane
    • Double – and maybe even triple! – check that and that emergency equipment is working properly
    • Greet passengers and show them to their seats, before demonstrating the emergency equipment and procedures in a calm and confident manner

    During a flight you will:

    • Ensure that passengers are comfortable
    • Deal with any requests, as well as serve food and drinks, and sell duty-free items
    • Make announcements on behalf of the pilot and reassure passengers in the event of an emergency
    • Make sure passengers follow any necessary emergency procedures, if required

    At the end of a flight you will:

    • Ensure that passengers leave the plane safely
    • Put together a flight report, which generally includes about any unusual incidents
    • Tot up and record food and drink orders, and duty-free sales.

Key Air Hostess/Host Qualifications

So, what do you need in terms of relevant qualifications when it comes to entering this highly competitive industry?

You’ll be pleased to discover that there are routes into this profession for both university graduates and school leavers. While a degree in any subject is generally accepted, some courses will be deemed more relevant – including nursing, travel, tourism, languages or anything leisure-focused.

Good communication skills are vital, as is good health and pride in your appearance.

In terms of qualifications, many airlines do ask for at least five GCSEs (including English and Maths) at grade C or above. Alongside this, any work you’ve done with the public – such as caring, nursing or working in a hotel, for example – will stand you in good stead, too.

Once you’ve got the job, many airlines will require cabin staff to complete a training course. This typically covers safety procedures, legal/immigration issues and customer service.

On top of this, preliminary training courses are also available. These introduce would-be >cabin crew members to skills and recruitment processes.

Vital Air Hostess/Host Skills

As with all public-facing roles, good communication skills are absolutely necessary. But which other skills must you display in order to excel in this industry? Here are just a few:

  • Confidence when dealing with people from all walks of life
  • Team working
  • Discretion when dealing with VIPs/royalty
  • Competence in handling difficult situations
  • The ability to remain calm under pressure and in emergency situations
  • Commercial awareness and sales skills
  • Flexibility, particularly when it comes to your hours of working
  • Numeracy skills (for handling cash, including foreign currency)
  • The capacity to work in a confined space
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How To Become An Air Hostess/Host Member

Where to begin on your route to becoming an air hostess or host, then?

While a degree or HND/foundation degree or postgraduate qualification isn’t a requirement for entry into work as a cabin crew member, you will need a good secondary education. A grade C or above in English and maths is required, while studying for a degree, HND or foundation degree in hospitality management, languages, travel or leisure and tourism management may also be useful.

NVQs and BTECs are also available at different levels in various cabin crew topics. They are awarded by bodies including City & Guilds, Edexcel and the Northern Council for Further Education (NCFE).

You can even take a one and two-day taster course – an introduction to what the world of cabin crew work is like – to give you an idea of the role; just head to GoCabinCrew.com for more.

Competition for roles as flight attendants is high and there are a number of criteria you must meet.

These include:

  • You must be a minimum of age of 18, in some cases 21;
  • You must have a good standard of health and fitness, with the ability to swim 25 metres unaided
  • You must have good hearing and eyesight, although glasses and contact lenses are allowed
  • You’ll need a valid passport permitting unrestricted travel worldwide
  • You’ll also need to undertake a Disclosure and Barring Service check, as well as a medical examination

Air Hostess/Host: The Next Steps

We’ve briefly touched upon the kind of things you’ll need to do in order to become an air hostess or cabin crew member – and it isn’t all about qualifications. Of course, you will need a minimum of grade C in maths and English, but you must also demonstrate good team work skills, excellent interpersonal skills and the ability to work under pressure, too.

If you’re still interested in entering the profession, a degree or HND/foundation degree is the best place to start. Look into courses in hospitality management, leisure and tourism management or travel, and display a can-do attitude and willingness to learn.

Becoming an air hostess or host isn’t just about demonstrating emergency procedures or dishing our meals; there’s a lot more to the profession than that and only the most determined will succeed in the industry

Ready, steady…time for that career lift off we talked of earlier!

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