Life As A Flight Attendant
Ring….ring……there goes a call at 3 o’clock in the morning.
“Hello”, I answered in my sleepy bedroom voice.
“Hello, CrisSp. Good morning”, said the guy on the other end.
“This is crewsked calling. You have a flight departing at 5:45 this morning”
“Great”, I said, “Where to this time?”
This is the life of a Flight Attendant. No, I’m not ranting. I love my job, in fact, except for the early morning flights. This instance of being called to fly is because I’m sitting on a home reserve schedule from 0300 Hrs to 1700 Hrs, but our schedule is so dynamic that it is sometimes hard to schedule a life.
"The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. – Steve Jobs"
So, I am a Flight Attendant. Bow. Off, I go, got myself ready. Donning full uniform, wings pinned on my dress, scarf on my neck, hair neatly done. Oopps, too red of a lipstick. It’s a no-no or I’ll look like a sky whore. (Pardon my French). Remember, proper grooming is to keep it to the minimum, carry myself well with dignity and respect.
Respect, I said. Hopefully today, no passenger will hand me his or her soiled tissue. And, excuse me but I refuse to take it with my bare hands. I’ll come back and bring you the garbage bag or better yet, walk few steps and drop it yourself in the lavatory please. Your stiffed legs and neck will be happy you did!
I am a Flight Attendant. I did not study and undergo a lengthy and rigorous training only to pick up your Snot! *sigh*
And, even though the adrenaline is rushing, we still have to keep our composure because we are trained to remain calm and to control our demeanor.
The safety of the aircraft and everyone on board is our primary concern and is of importance to us.
On becoming a flight attendant
I got tired of my 9 to 5 (plus an overtime without pay). I came from a big corporate world with a glamorous job but I got tired of doing something, which I thought I was destined to do. Then I was drained, emotionally and physically. So, I walked out without a concrete plan, only hoping to free myself. That was quite a big risk but I did it and the choice gave me the freedom to follow my heart and be the person I am today. Yes, we all have a choice!
Fast forward a bit, I found myself doing what I always wanted to do: Travel and Write.
It’s pretty much a story to tell but now I am a Flight Attendant and a freelance writer when on the ground. What a perfect job combination. I couldn’t be any happier to discover my own life and live it.
Flight Attendant as a career~
A career as a Flight Attendant is very competitive and advancement takes more time. Well, this is because flight attendants mostly remain in their jobs for a longer period of time and simply because we love our job.
FA’s have to take annual re-qualification to keep their jobs, which means we undergo review and re-testing of our knowledge as a Flight Attendant. Not only because the law changes every now and then but also to maintain our presence of mind, in case of emergencies. Yes, we have a big book that we carry with us every time we fly that contains air traffic laws, rules and regulations that we must know by the heart. And, we constantly read this (bible) in order to familiarize ourselves even though we are on a layover somewhere in the Caribbean.
So, would you like to have my job?
I remembered very well, after our line indoctrination when our head trainer congratulated us for graduating and finally becoming a flight attendant, she said: "Take care of your job. Do well. Don't give it away because they want your job."
Flight attendant salary, benefit packages and other perks are great!
In the US and in Canada, flight attendants salary/wages ranges from $40-65K annually (plus per diem allowance). This includes grooming allowance. Hotel and food allowance is also provided when on a lay over and not to forget the travel deals.
Please note, these figures are only average for all flight attendant jobs in the US and in Canada. There's, however, a lot of factor that may affect the salary ranges of a flight attendant.
How to become a Flight Attendant?
There’s a list of requirements in order to become a flight attendant:
- Age – must be of legal age (18-21 to enter) depending on the based country.
- Education – although a secondary school diploma (US and Canada) is alright, you’ll have the better advantage if you have a college or university degree.
- Language - most airlines require a bilingual candidate. So, if you speak a foreign language, that’s definitely a plus factor.
- Customer Service or Public Service Skills - airline also require one who have the experience working with the public with a great customer service skills.
- Height - the height requirement depends on the airline company, however, most require that you are able to reach the overhead compartment, an average of 5'3 but not any taller than 5'9 to hit the ceiling of the aircraft. One should also be able to lift at least 45 kilos of baggage/luggage.
- Vision - vision doesn’t have to be 20/20 but correctable to 20/30 or better.
- A certain degree of creativity and latitude is required and a clear judging ability.
Special Attributes: Punctual and Patient--you will need a lot of the latter.
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The heart of your career as a flight attendant~
ALL newly hire Flight Attendants are required to undergo a thorough background investigation by The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Be prepared to disclose all pertinent information about yourself and your family, husband or common-law partners included.
Once hired, Flight Attendants must undergo and complete a rigid formal training. Once this is completed, new flight attendants will be scheduled to work on reserve status either at the airport base or in their home. Flight Attendants grow by seniority in terms of their work status. After being placed on reserve status, FA’s can then bid for regular flight assignments and will have the opportunity to choose a flight destination. However, bidding is not guaranteed and flights are awarded based on seniority.
Flight attendants training are intense. There are numerous written and practical (hands-on) exams that we have to take every week and must meet a passing mark of 85 percent and the final drill at the end of everything. The training covers safety and security including medical emergencies onboard and even firefighting. Our service training, which lasted only for 2 hours, came at the very end of the training session.
What does it mean?
It means ladies and gentlemen, that in the eight weeks of our intense training, we only spent 2 hours learning about “service”, which means our job is not just about service in the sky and purely service. I hope flyers realize it by now, that your Flight Attendants were trained and are there for your safety and security up in the air and even at the ground and to make sure that we all land safe and sound. We are your first responders in the air, in case of your medical emergencies. We are your James Bond spying and checking on those unruly or intoxicated passengers who maybe a danger to our flight and we conceal that behind our pretty, smiling faces. Now, you know.
We are your Emergency Specialists at 37 thousand feet!
What’s a typical day for Flight Attendant?
Flight Attendants are required to check in an hour or two (depending on the destination) before the passengers boarding time. We meet at the crew room to check our mailboxes, clear and read any updated publications/memos prior to our flights. Not all FA’s know each other, as we all have different schedules every now and then and coming from different bases. So, meeting at the crew room is the best opportunity to get to know our fellow FAs for that particular flight. This is also where we socialize a bit.
Prior to the flight, while the passengers are checking in at the counter, flight crews do the following:
1. Pre-flight check to ensure the security of the aircraft and the condition of the cabin by zone. This is also when we conduct our thorough check of the emergency and medical equipment on board to ensure that all necessary equipment is on board and in working condition. During pre-flight check, we also determine and ensure the availability of the catering items, i.e. food, water, drinks and utensils and comfort kits.
2. Briefing by the captain on details and other pertinent information about the flight such as: flight time duration, expected weather conditions, emergency and evacuation procedures, crew coordination and other special issues (if any) to do with the passengers.
3. Briefing by the In-charge FA on the crew coordination and review of our knowledge on the safety and security, emergency, evacuation, medical and communication procedures.
4. Then we position ourselves to our respective zones for boarding.
5. Greet and assist passengers as they start boarding, check their tickets to make sure we are all going to the same destination.
6. Brief special need (with disability) passengers in the use of emergency equipment.
7. Go through the safety procedures with the passengers, i.e. seatbelts are fastened, seats in the upright position, table trays lock and bags are properly stowed prior to take off. We also have to make sure that all electronic devices are switch off and your ears are free of any headsets or earphones during movement at the surface, and that is part of the safety check.
8. Assist passengers in the event of emergency.
9. Re-assure passengers in the event of turbulence.
10. Answer any questions that the passengers may have.
11. Distribute custom/immigration documentation.
12. Ensure comfort of passengers and distribute entertainment items.
13. Serve meals and beverages.
In addition, Flight Attendants also attend to:
- Those needing assistance, i.e. small children or elderly, those with mobility restrictions.
- Administer first aid to ill passengers.
- Take inventory of headsets, alcoholic drinks and other items for sale on board prior to landing.
N.B. FA's are all First Aid and CPR Certified.
At the end of each flight~
So, we have arrived safe and sound. Like a broken record, we say “bye, thank you for flying with us or bye, take care now, or bye, have a great day/night, or bye, enjoy your vacation, or bye, welcome back home or simply, bye-bye with a smile.” And, we hope you smile back as well.
Hold on, that’s not the end for us. Flight Attendants duties do not end upon landing. There are other paper works and reporting activities that we have to complete upon arrival like any medical problems. Have I depleted the oxygen bottle I have administered to a passenger with respiratory problem? What was the condition of the passenger before and after? Couples on row 32 were found making out, so a complimentary blanket was given out to cover their nastiness. Yes, we even have to report this kind of incidence for inventory purposes because we're running a business here. Book found on seat number 12 goes to the lost and found paperworks and any other incidents before, during and after the flight. All these, we do because we need to protect our credibility and of the company that we work with.
To sum it up, Flight Attendants are trained to multi-task. More than anything else and especially after the 9-11 incident, our primary responsibility is to make sure that the safety regulations on board are followed. We are very strict on that and it is our prime concern to protect the security of everyone on board. Yes, if I may say, we are trained to restrain unruly and suspecting passengers. So, beware!
Only then when our cabin is secure that we could attend to your comfort and gladly come by to get your drinks and make sure that you are all comfortable during the flight.
While we love to be of great service to you dear passengers and ensure your comfort, please bear with us, because it is not our priority and we will not compromise your safety and security for that matter.
And by the way, please do not talk to us when you see us already buckled in our seats prior to take off and landing. It’s not that we are not friendly or ignoring you but so you know, that is the time we have to do our silent review. A silent review is mandatory for us. During this time, we mentally prepare ourselves in case of emergency.
Once airborne or landed and you see us stood up and walked down the aisle, please feel free to ask and approach us, we’ll be more than happy to assist you.
Watch the aircraft shadow as we glide in the sky~
The final goodbye~
At the very end, we do our group hug and say bye-bye to our fellow flight attendants and crew members.
Becoming a flight attendant is fun but we're serious about our job and in making a difference.
So, until the next flight. I hope you enjoyed your trip.
Copyright@CrisSp~TM /11-2012. Fearless but not Heartless!
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© 2012 CrisSp