How to Get Through Flight Attendant Training

Being a flight attendant is not just a nice pleasant trip aboard Hawaiian Airlines... it is a lot of hard work!
Being a flight attendant is not just a nice pleasant trip aboard Hawaiian Airlines... it is a lot of hard work! | Source

It's A Lot Harder Than You Might Think!

Many people may have seen flight attendants in the past and thought that they are really not a whole lot more than waitresses and waiters in the air.The fact is, a huge focus of flight attendants is on the safety and well being of passengers. I think it's time to change the old way of thinking because flight attendants are SO much more today!

They are highly trained individuals. And they are totally in control and in command of every aspect of that airplane cabin from the time passengers arrive on the plane until everyone has safely and successfully disembarked at the final destination. There is a lot of responsibility involved in being a flight attendant.

Flight attendants are totally focused and dedicated to seeing that everyone on the plane is safe throughout the flight and that everyone arrives where they are going in the safest and most comfortable way possible. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, they are also trained to scrutinize passengers for any possible signs that a person could harbor ill intent. They are highly trained professionals.

I know someone who has gone through flight attendant training. The training is intensive, difficult and nothing is given to any person going through it. You have to study, pay attention throughout the long and sometimes rigorous classes and be able to pass all tests in order to become an FAA certified flight attendant.

Did you know that flight attendants have to be thoroughly trained in things like what to do in the event of a water landing, how to help passengers with the safety life vests and in the operation of all types of safety equipment? They also have to master self defense principles taught by a professional self defense instructor and they have to learn basic first aid and CPR in order to provide assistance to any passenger or crew member in need. They have a tremendous amount of responsibility, and the job definitely is NOT easy!

In a way, they have to almost become like psychologists in order to deal with passengers who choose to give the flight attendants a hard time. They learn effective methods to diffuse a potentially dangerous situation before it ever gets the chance to become dangerous. They are taught effective ways to deal with all different types of personalities and to change almost any situation from one of imminent danger to one of cooperation. This takes a special kind of skill and is not easy to do.

So, when you look at a flight attendant and think they are simply there to bring beverages and snacks and to crack jokes with the passengers, it's time to think again. Yes, many of them do these things. Some of the most enjoyable flights I have been on have featured flight attendants who have had wonderful senses of humor and have been able to make the flight very enjoyable through their laughable antics.

But that still does not erase the primary seriousness of the job and the things that a flight attendant must learn and master before they are allowed to graduate from flight attendant training and before they get to wear that well earned set of wings on their uniform. Believe me, after seeing someone I know go through flight attendant training, those wings are definitely earned.

To get through flight attendant training, it is so important to be sure that your schedule is clear for the duration of the training, and that you are able to focus entirely on the training, because it will be intensive and difficult. If you have to go to another town to receive your training, be sure that every night after you've been in class all day, you have a quiet place to go at the end of the day to study. You're going to need it.

Even though it's tempting to go out and party and cut loose and just have fun with other prospective flight attendants, doing this can be detrimental to achieving your goal, which is to successfully get through the training so you can become a flight attendant. It's very similar to being a new college student. It is so tempting for college freshmen to take advantage of the abundant social life, and lets face it, it's fun to do that. Somewhere along the way, however, college students pay the price for that behavior.

But those who are serious minded and intently focused on getting through flight attendant training with the best outcome should definitely try to resist that temptation and use their time in the evenings for study. There is a lot of memorization involved in flight attendant training and it is important to keep a clear mind to do the work required to pass the course. Tests are given frequently and are not easy to pass. Flight attendants see people throughout their training who wash out of the program and end up leaving because they were not able to successfully get through the training.

Preparing to "Ditch" The Plane Into Water

Helpful Tips To Get Through Flight Attendant Training

Here are some of the most helpful tips to get through flight attendant training:

  • Have a quiet place to go to study in the evening, even a place like a library if you have a roommate and just feel a need to get away alone to study.
  • Get plenty of rest at night. Resist the urge to go out and socialize with other prospective flight attendants. If you show up to class tired or worse yet, with a physical problem like a headache or hangover, you will decrease your chances of successfully getting through the program.
  • Know your own personal best ways to study. Some people study best alone and quietly so they can totally focus, others study best with a partner or in a small study group situation. If a study group works for you, use that method if you can.
  • Be sure you know the material that was covered in class each day. Stay afterwards and ask your instructor for help if you need help understanding a concept that was covered in class.
  • Be sure to study in small increments and to study often. Leaving all your studying for the night before a test is not the way to do it. Cramming for a test is never a good idea. Break up study sessions into increments to be most effective.
  • Pay special attention to show up for class well rested on days when you will be challenged physically. Self defense training is very physically demanding and you will need to be well rested and ready to learn that day. Jumping into water for water landing training is another time you will want to be well rested and ready to take on the challenge.

Flight attendant training has some very interesting sessions and the training can be really fascinating. Many who have gone through the program are glad that they received good training. It is not an easy job and definitely is so much more than "what would you like to drink today, we have..."

Knowing someone personally who has gone through flight attendant training has opened my eyes and given me a whole new respect for the difficult job they do and for the challenging training that they were able to endure to become a flight attendant. Many happy flight attendants will say that the training was well worth it and that the job is an interesting and challenging one. Perhaps with some bouts of boredom thrown in there, especially on those long flights, but then aren't all jobs that way?

So, I know that next time I fly I'll take a moment to thank the flight crew on our plane for a job well done. It wasn't easy for them to get to where they are, but most will tell you that it definitely was worthwhile.

Frequently Asked Questions

What's a typical work week like in terms of hours flown and days off?
A typical work week usually involves being on call.
 
Some flight attendants don't like this especially if they have families.
 
Not too much of a chance to have a life outside of work.
Is there a standard pay scale or does each airline set it's own pay?
Most airlines guarantee about 75 hours a month, at a rate of around $18 to $19 per hour.
 
Flight attendants who are fluent in a second language sometimes earn more.
 
Also, International flight attendants generally earn more. Most start at around
 
$20,000 per year, but some pay less. It depends on the airline.
If a flight attendant works for Hawaiian Airlines one week, can they work for another airline the following week?
No, flight attendants work only for the airline they are employed by.
 
However, they do enjoy the benefit of being able to fly on any airline
 
for travel purposes by showing their flight attendant badge.
 
 

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Comments 12 comments

hawaiianodysseus profile image

hawaiianodysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

Very interesting, Kathy!

What's a typical work week like in terms of hours flown and days off?

Also, is there a standardized pay scale across the board for flight attendants, or do individual airlines pay their FA's varying rates?

Finally, if a flight attendant works a Hawaiian Airlines flight one week, can that same attendant work for United the next week?

Thanks in advance for answering my questions. I really do appreciate the great service that flight attendants provide. I am also glad to see the employment of many flight attendants who are middle-aged. In my humble opinion, flight attendants are really a unique branch of the military, given the rigorous and extensive training, especially post 9/11.


KathyH profile image

KathyH 4 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada Author

Hi Hawaiian! I'll do the best I can here to answer your questions! :) The typical work week usually includes being on call, which some flight attendants do NOT like especially if they have families. I've heard some complain that you can't really have much of an outside family life.

That being said, most airlines (the one my friend will be employed by) guarantee 75 hours per month, which is just under two weeks of work for those who work 40 hours a week. BUT, it's hard to know what your schedule will be. Usually you get paid for 75 hours at about $18 to $19 per hour. Some flight attendants who know a second language earn a bit more.

International flight attendants make more generally. I believe most flight attendants start out around $20,000 per year, some airlines pay less, it depends on the airline. And I don't think flight attendants can fly for other airlines. I DO know that one extra "benefit" they have is being able to fly anywhere on any airline as a flight crew member, but they are not on duty for that airline when they do that. They use one of the jump seats to fly that way. That's good if there is a family emergency out of state and they need to get someplace fast. Saves paying $800 for a last minute ticket to somewhere!

For the most part, flight attendants who have been doing it a long time usually average about $40,000 per year. Starting out though, it's about 1/2 of that. Hope this helps! :)


hawaiianodysseus profile image

hawaiianodysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

Kathy, as busy as you are, I really appreciate your willingness to take time to answer my questions. You wrote a very well-researched article, and I'm really proud and honored to be a follower.

If I might make a humble suggestion, when you have time, put together a little FAQ chart (including the facts you so graciously shared with me above) and add it as a capsule to your Hub. This will potentially add to the evergreen quality of an already outstanding article.

Aloha, and have a great week, Kathy!


KathyH profile image

KathyH 4 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada Author

Thanks so much for the suggestion, Hawaiian! I did my first attempt at making a table, I hope this is what you meant! :) I had never done an FAQ section on a hub before. Thanks for the fantastic suggestion, I appreciate it!


hawaiianodysseus profile image

hawaiianodysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

Great job, Kathy!

Just this little bit of editing has probably added months or even years of longevity to this excellent article. It also answers some of the questions young men and women might have regarding a career as a flight attendant.

I've been resurrecting some of my Zzz hubs just by adding a cell here and there. Even just posting an invitation to new Hubbers has helped upgrade some of my hubs.

See you around the bend, Kathy!


shiningirisheyes profile image

shiningirisheyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

Great job with this Kathy. I have flown often and have always been in awe of the flight attendants and the many hats they must wear. "Savior, "soother", "psychologist" and "babysitter"...just to name a few.


KathyH profile image

KathyH 4 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada Author

I know what you mean, Hawaiian! I had to resurrect about six hubs this past weekend by adding more to them. :) Thanks for the tip, it was fun to learn how to do something new! : )


KathyH profile image

KathyH 4 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada Author

Thanks, Beckie! My friend has heard TRUE stories of difficult passengers from the instructor, and it is amazing what they have to put up with and situations they have to diffuse! Thanks so much for commenting! :)


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

When I was a young girl, I wanted to be a stewardess (flight attendant). I think they are to be commended for how they provide security and comfort to travelers. They do have to deal with such a diverse group of people who are not always the most pleasant travelers. Your chart FAQ's is really good, I always wanted to know how much they got paid and if they could travel on other airlines. Now I know. However, I'm surprised at the low pay, but perhaps the free travel is a compensation for this. Voted up.


KathyH profile image

KathyH 4 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada Author

Thanks so much, Dianna! So glad you found this to be helpful! I think I went through a phase of wanting to be a stewardess, too. The first time I flew on a plane was to an Uncle's home in Biloxi MS at age 11. I was hooked on flying from that very first flight and still love traveling that way today! :) I guess I was impressionable at that young age. I didn't pursue it once I grew up, though.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 16 months ago from United States

I think being a flight attendant is a tough job and carries a huge responsibility. I like your article as you listed several things I never thought about. I think you are also underpaid!


KathyH profile image

KathyH 16 months ago from Las Vegas, Nevada Author

Glad you enjoyed this, Pamela99! I'm not a flight attendant, but I sure do agree with you that they're underpaid!

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