JOB PROFILE: Air Cabin Crew

Qualifications and courses

Entry requirements depend on the individual airline. Employers often expect 3–5 GCSEs/National 5s (C or above, or 4 or above in England), including English and Maths and although a degree is not required, having one in languages, hospitality management or travel may be useful.

You will need to be at least 18 years old (sometimes 21), physically fit and within height and weight restrictions. You will also need a valid passport allowing unrestricted world travel, or at least, with no restrictions to the countries the airline travels to. Most airlines will expect you to be able to swim at least 25 metres. Previous experience in a customer service role, the ability to speak another language (essential if you are looking to be based abroad) and training in First Aid would all be beneficial.

There are various qualifications that could be useful for people looking to become an air cabin crew member. These include a GCSE/National 5 or A level/H grade in Leisure and Tourism, BTECs in Customer Service or Aviation Operations and NCFE Airline Cabin Crew courses. While these qualifications may give you an edge over other candidates, they don’t guarantee you a job and are not required by airlines.

Cabin Crew Apprenticeships are also available and are a good way of preparing you for the work involved.

Some airlines may want relevant work experience rather than qualifications, so it is a good idea to do part-time or temporary work in customer service roles or anything that demonstrates teamwork and communication skills.

Once accepted by an airline you will take part in their 3–6-week training course which covers areas such as First Aid, safety and emergency procedures, security regulations and customer care.


What the work involves

When you have prepared the cabin, you will welcome your passengers on board and make sure that they are comfortable.

You will be responsible for checking that customers are wearing their safety belts when required and that their bags are stored away. You will demonstrate safety procedures before take-off.

During the flight you will help to care for any young children and sick passengers, giving First Aid if needed. You will also serve food and drinks, sell duty free items, ensure that passengers are ready for landing and see them all safely off the plane.


Type of person suited to this work

You will need to be welcoming, friendly, well-groomed, confident and caring.

You should be happy working in a team with the rest of the crew.

Common sense and tact are important when dealing with a variety of situations ranging from nervous or unruly passengers to medical emergencies. It is essential to stay calm under pressure and to have a reassuring attitude.


Working conditions

You will work in a cabin, which can sometimes be cramped and unstable. You will spend the majority of your time standing up and the work may affect your health, for example ear pain from cabin pressure or jet lag from long flights.

Planes fly 24/7 which means unsocial working hours. You will work different shifts on a rota system. You might work on short flights within the UK/Europe or you could fly long-haul with frequent periods of time away from home.

You could be based overseas as a member of an airline's international crew.

You will be provided with a uniform and you must have a smart appearance at all times.


Future prospects

There is strong competition for jobs and the assessment process can be very tough.

With experience, you could progress to working as a purser (looking after a particular cabin such as first class) and then to cabin service director or crew controller. You could also go on to train new cabin crew.


Advantages/disadvantages

You will travel to dream destinations, but on short flights you will not always get off the plane!

No two working days will be the same.

While working with people can be very rewarding, you may have to deal with difficult passengers.


Money guide

Starting salaries for air cabin crew are usually around £12,000.

With 5 or more years' experience, earnings can rise to £15,000 to £18,000. Senior members of the crew with 10 or more years' experience can earn between £20,000 and £30,000.

Benefits include meals, free or discounted flights and allowances for working unsocial hours or working away from home. Air cabin crew can often boost their income with commission on in-flight sales.


Further information


Content generously provided by Indigo Trotman.


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