If it’s your dream to become a flight attendant and travel the world, check out this guide that will take you through all the steps you need to pass before getting your wings.
The whole process is different with each airline, but they are all generally quite long and tedious.
I’ve gone through this process with various airlines, so I’m well placed to share my experiences with you, and hopefully, my advice will help you to get your dream job.
Steps to become a flight attendant:
- Find a job opening or apply to the airline that you are interested in
- Check that you qualify for the job, do you meet the requirements for this airline?
- Tailor your resume for each application. Identify what’s most important to the company and match your resume content with the job description. Also, do make sure that your pictures adhere to the required formats.
- Send your resume and photos, or fill in the application form
- Participate in a video, phone or face to face interview
- Assessment Day stages: Height test, English test, group exercises, final interview
- Congrats! You’ve been selected!
- Pass your medicals in order to get your Cabin Crew Medical Certificate and pass your 5-10 year background checks. This check can include fingerprints, your work history, driving records, drug usage…
- Pass the airline training course. You’ll complete a 4-8 week training course covering all aspects of safety/security, first aid, and service and you’ll be tested in written and practical exams.
- Congrats! You earned your wings! You are ready to fly!
Okay, let’s dig down and take and a look at all of this step by step.
Before you apply for a flight attendant position
Remember that each airline is different, so the requirements are not always the same, and the selection processes can vary from country to country.
But I’ve compiled the common steps and resources that most airlines use, so let’s see what you need to do.
- Pick an airline or check aviation job sites or blogs to search for job openings. You can also apply spontaneously (a sort of cold calling, in sales terms) if you can’t find a vacancy in an airline that interests you, but you will really have more chances if there’s already an existing job on offer.
- Check if the airline you picked has a base in your city and, if not, think carefully about the possibility of moving there and commuting to work.
If you are not willing to relocate, this is not really the job for you. Seriously. You’ll get tired of commuting long distances after a few months and depressed every time you have to think about that journey to work.
- Take a look at the airline’s requirements: height, languages, experience, cabin crew attestation, the lot, to see if you meet them. The requirements for each airline are usually different, but there are some requirements that most airlines indicate.
If the airline you are applying to, for example, is Canada Rouge and they’re looking for French & English speakers, but you only speak English, it makes no sense for you to apply, because they won’t be flexible at all on such a basic requirement. Having said that, study the job description closely because some requirements are desirable but not mandatory. So you might have a chance in this case.
- Check if you need any specific experience or Certificate: B737 experience or certificate, customer service experience, etc. Again, if the airline requires it and you don’t have it, there’s no point in applying.
- Create a tailored resume for each airline: base this around what they are looking for and make sure that it aligns with the job description.
Tips for your resume:
It’s a good idea to use a resume template to stand out from the crowd, but always keep your resume’s style classic and formal. There is absolutely no need to get cute or clever about this, the airline wants professionalism, not cleverness.
Double-check that all your employment dates are correct.
Proofread thoroughly for spelling and grammatical errors.
Read that last sentence again.
Your resume should be a maximum of 2 pages but 1 is preferred. It really is good to see if you can be concise enough to get it all down on 1 page and it will make for an easier interview.
Structure your resume so that it only includes important information. It it isn’t relevant, leave it out.
Highlight your biggest achievements, strengths, skills. This is no time to be bashful, you are selling your skills to the airline, so don’t be afraid to sing your own praises.
You can find more tips on my article How to write the perfect flight attendant resume
- Prepare your photos according to the airline’s specifications. Photo requirements are different for different airlines, so take a look at the maximum size permitted for uploads on their recruitment page. Normally you’ll need one full-length photo and a passport photo.
Tips for your photos:
Always wear business attire.
Stand facing the camera. In other words, don’t present them with a profile shot.
Use a white background, good lighting.
The full-length photo should include your head and your shoes.
Remember that your photograph speaks a thousand words about you, so you need to have to look smart, confident and well turned out – and that includes your posture. Stand straight and proud.
Okay, so let’s look at an example of the Qatar photo specifications for candidates.
How to apply to become a flight attendant
There are a few ways to apply to become a flight attendant:
- Attending an Open Day
- Filing an online application
- Sending your resume by email
Case#1: Attending an Open Day
Open Days are initial stage recruitment days that will usually be advertised on the airline’s website.
If the airline you want to apply to runs Open Days, then you can just attend the event in your city and drop your CV and photos.
You don’t need to be invited; anyone can just go and drop off their resume.
If all the initial paperwork looks good and professional, there will be a presentation about the company and the job role, and they may ask you some questions.
If you are successfully through this stage, you will be contacted to attend an Assessment Day on the same or following days.
Case#2: Filing an online application
Some airlines don’t run Open Days events. In this case, you’ll have to apply online on their recruitment page.
What most major airlines will use is a detailed application form on their websites for potential applicants to fill in.
Expect these application forms to be very long to complete, so just take it easy, relax and, above all, take your time.
In most cases, you can stop and save the filled-in fields at any time and come back to the application later.
The application form will include all your personal details, education and work history details, and you will have to upload your resume and photos.
You’ll also have general questions about what languages you speak if you have ever been convicted of a criminal offense if you have any medical conditions if you are able to swim unaided if you have any travel restrictions etc.
After providing all your personal details and resume, the application will include basic tests such as maths and logical thinking.
You can also expect interview type questions such as: ‘Give an example of how you delivered excellent customer service,’ ‘Describe a specific situation where you worked as a team,’ ‘Describe a situation where you solved a problem.’
You need to prepare for this part of the process very carefully, as this is the first filter you’ll have to pass in order to be invited to an interview.
Case#3: Sending your resume by email
Some smaller airlines don’t have an application form on their websites, so they could ask you to simply send your resume and photos by email.
In this case, always use PDF format to send your resume by email, it’s the best format. It works on any system and it’s recognized in any device, and your content will stay intact.
If you are shortlisted after providing these details, you’ll be invited to an Assessment Day.
Pre-recorded video interview
After applying you can be asked to take part in a pre-recorded video interview or a Skype or phone interview as part of the initial hiring process before the Assessment Day.
Video interviews can save the recruiters a lot of time and money; that’s why they have become very popular as an initial interview.
Delta, American Airlines, Emirates, Virgin Atlantic, Qantas, Air Canada, Aer Lingus, Jetblue, TUI, FlyDubai, and Evelop are some airlines that have a video interview stage in their recruitment process.
What is a Pre-recorded video interview?
- It’s an interview using a computer and webcam or phone/iPad camera, but it’s very different from a Skype or phone interview. In this pre-recorded interview they use a software program that will ask you questions. This will involve reading or hearing the question, recording your answers and submitting them. (you will have to answer within a specified time).
- It sounds daunting, and even a little freaky, but don’t worry, the airline will send you all the instructions on how to do it and some tips and examples so that you can prepare yourself and so you’ll be able to rehearse your answers a little before the recording starts.
My tips for your pre-recorded video interview
- Make sure you are dressed nicely and in business attire, a nice blouse or shirt, full makeup, and proper hairstyle. Take it as if it was a traditional face to face interview.
- Don’t look at yourself on the screen while you are recording the video, I know it’s tempting, but you should look at the camera as if you were talking to a real person, don’t just stare at the screen while talking. You’ll look better and more professional, way more.
- Don’t forget to have good lighting and to position yourself centered in the camera from the waist up. Remember that the camera is harsh on faults; there is nowhere to hide, so eliminate them before you go live.
- Prepare the answers that you will give so that you can manage times when answering. If your answer is too long, it will be automatically cut, and if it’s too short, there will be a long-empty gap in the video.
- You will be asked 3 or 4 questions of the same sort you would expect in a personal interview. So it will only take you around 15 minutes.
- Most questions are about the airline or about how you fit the ideal candidate they are looking for, so make sure you do in-depth research before starting the interview.
- Note that depending on the software they use, you might not be able to go back and re-record your answers, but recruiters will be able to replay your answers, so it is important that you think carefully before you answer.
- The secret is practice, practice, practice, before even hitting the on switch.
If the recruiters decide that you’ve got what it takes to be a cabin crew, they’ll invite you to an Assessment Day.
Phone interview or Skype interview
Not all airlines will ask you to participate in a pre-recorded digital interview.
Some will just call or Skype you first.
Usually, they will send you an email first to arrange a day and time but they can also call you by surprise and ask you if you have a few minutes to answer a few questions.
In this case, you’ll have to improvise but at least you’ll be able to speak to a real person and read them then a little and to also receive instant feedback.
Here is what to expect, and how to nail your phone interview.
- Before the phone interview, double-check that your phone and country code is correct, and your phone is fully charged. Please don’t forget that last point: phone goes dead – interview over.
- Do some research about the company: when was this airline founded, who is the CEO, what type of aircraft they have? Prepare for the interview as if going to an in-person interview. Be totally familiar with the job requirements and the interview process. And go over and over your resume so you can easily remember dates, numbers, skills, or experience. These things are easy to forget during the pressure of an interview, trust me.
- Prepare a brief self-introduction and most common cabin crew interview questions. You can even keep your CV in front of you in case you need to check it. But you should know your resume inside out because this is what they will question you about.
- Find a quiet room, where you won’t be disturbed.
- Allow 30-45 minutes.
- Have a notepad and pen ready.
- Act naturally and let the interviewer lead the conversation. You are the one being questioned, remember? That’s the whole point of an interview.
- Try to keep answers short and to the point, so you don’t get lost in long, irrelevant details. Don’t overshare and give lots of irrelevant information. Plus, if you give long, vague answers, the recruiter’s eyes will glaze over, and you probably won’t be in the running anymore.
Important: Never interrupt the interviewer from talking, explaining, or asking. Be sure to listen. It’s totally unprofessional and rude to stop people while they are talking. if you didn’t understand a question, or you didn’t hear it well, of course, you should ask, but only when he/she finishes what they are saying.
- Your tone of voice is important.
Are you sounding positive, energetic, enthusiastic? Good, that’s exactly what they want. But don’t exaggerate it or it can sound too gushy and fake. Just maintain an easy and nice pace, enunciate your words clearly and try no to sound too nervous. I know, I know, that last one is easy to say. It’s important not to answer the questions as if you have memorized your text and are answering them like a robot.
- Have some questions ready to ask. Asking interesting and relevant questions about the job, the company or the hiring process. This will help show your interest in the job.
- If you have any gaps or any unclear information in your resume (frequent job changes, you resigned from your previous job), this can be your opportunity to explain what you couldn’t do on paper. So be ready.
- While you are on the phone, don’t get distracted by anything at all. Nothing is more important than that moment.
- Be careful about using humor. Everyone has their own sense of what is funny and what may sound hilarious to you may sound downright peculiar to the person on the other end of the phone. Don’t go for familiarity, it never works and is disrespectful.
- Once you have finished the interview, write down the questions and the answers you gave, the name of the person you talked to and all the doubts you have, so that you can prepare yourself for the next stage.
Assessment Day and Face to face interview
Not all airlines will ask you to pass a phone or video interview before having a face to face one, but most of the major airlines will.
So, you’ve received an invitation to an Assessment Day or a face to face interview, here is what you need to do next.
Before going to the interview
- Prepare all the documents the airline requires: Resume copies, Passport, application form, highest Educational Certificate, Criminal Record Check, Passport photo, formal full-length photo. Check on their website or the email they sent you, what paperwork you need. Do this, and then check again. When you’ve done that, check that you’ve got all the documents asked for. Again.
- Confirm the address where the interview is being held.
- Arrive on time. Check your itinerary and calculate how long it takes you to arrive.
Being on time is crucial for a flight attendant job and you don’t want to ruin your chances of being selected at the very first interview hurdle.
- Prepare a note pad, pen, makeup, water bottle, etc.
- Go over your resume, you should know every date and entry. It’s easy to forget things when you get nervous. Go through what you have researched about the company beforehand and think of one or two examples for the behavioral questions and apply them to your own experiences.
- It’s important to anticipate the interview questions you will have to answer and practice your responses before the actual interview.
- Get some good sleep the night before. If you can.
On the interview day
Remember that they are watching you from the moment you arrive at the place.
Therefore it’s essential to :
- Show up early, this more important than in any other job interview. There is absolutely no excuse for arriving late or just on time when you are a cabin crew. We always allow at least 15 to 30 minutes before our report time in case something happens. You do the same for your interview.
- Dress smart and professional. Always business attire and polished professional look. Don’t forget to hide your tattoos and remove piercings if you have them.
- Don’t forget little details: haircut, manicure or clean short nails, outfit clean and pressed, shoes polished, blouse ironed, tie straight. The devil is in the detail, and it takes just a few moments of critical self-appraisal in front of the mirror to get your appearance right.
- Socialize while you wait, don’t isolate yourself and sit alone staring down at your phone. Cabin crews are outgoing and sociable people, so show them that you are potentially one of them.
- In the group activities, always be respectful, let others speak, listen, and when it’s your turn to speak, be inclusive of your fellow applicants.
- Watch your body language, and smile. Not just during the arm-reach test or your face to face interview, keep smiling through the whole day.
Do watch your posture while sitting on the sofas; don’t slouch and don’t complain about how long things are taking. Do you want this job or not? Imagine how many people would love to be where you are.
- Try to stay calm. Easy to say and very hard to do, but do keep trying, it will pay dividends as the day goes on.
- Want to know some easy ways to fail your interview? Just chew gum, fidget all the time, slouch or eat something. Look at yourself from the viewpoint of the person on the other side of the table.
- Always thank your interviewer before leaving.
What happens in an Assessment Day?
It all depends on the airline but it is usually follows this structure:
- First, they will introduce the company, the job and explain the working conditions (salary, job role, etc.). Make sure that you pay attention, you will be observed the whole day. Don’t talk to others or chat on your phone while they are talking.
- Height test or arm-reach test. Depending on the airline, they will measure your height (without shoes) to see if you meet the minimum required for that airline, or ask you to raise your arms to the maximum while on tiptoes to see if you reach the minimum reach height marked on the wall. If you don’t pass this test, you will not make it further in the process. Sorry, game over.
- Next, you’ll have an English test. This could be a multiple-choice test, essay writing, filling the gaps exercise, listening short dialogues and answering questions, finding synonyms exercise, and perhaps some others. There could also be a maths or logic test in this part of the process.
- Group exercise. You will be divided into groups, and you’ll be given a situation/problem to solve. All groups will have a certain time (10 minutes) to make a decision, and the decision will be presented to the recruiters.
Remember: what matters in a group excercise is that there’s no right or wrong answer. It’s about respecting others, listening and being polite and courteous.
It’s time for you to show your communication and teamwork skills. It’s not about winning.
When you talk, watch your tone of voice, include other people in the conversation (e.g. ‘I like your idea’), never attack other candidates for not having the same opinion as you and be careful with your facial expressions and hand gestures.
Be a cooperative and helpful team member. Be nice.
- The final face to face interview.
Don’t be discouraged if it’s a long tiring day. Assessment Days can be stressful and they really are long. Try to be happy, friendly and to look immaculate until the last round.
Once working as a flight attendant you’ll also have long tiring days dealing with a lot of different people. So just treat this as a test run.
If you’ve been selected
If you’ve been one of the chosen ones, Congratulations!
You’re one step closer to your dream job.
But there will be a few more steps before finally landing the job.
You will probably receive an email or call to let you know that you’ve been selected and what the next things to do are.
From here, there will be lots and lots of paperwork:
- Medical check-ups for your Medical Certification,
- Security clearance for your ID,
- More paperwork for your visas,
- References from previous employers
- Cabin crew Certificate.
Lots and lots of paperwork.
Slow and troublesome, but very, very necessary, so be patient.
Once you are done, or while this is still processing, they will inform you about when and where your Training Course is, and after 6 to 8 weeks of course, if you pass, you’ll get your gold wings! Woo hoo!
If you get a no for an answer
If you didn’t make it this time through the selection process, don’t lose hope.
I know many flight attendants that didn’t get the job at their first attempt.
There will be more opportunities at other companies, so take this as a learning experience.
Besides, you can always apply again after 6 months in the same company (that’s the minimum period to re-apply again in most companies).
Flight attendant Training Course
Having been selected is a wonderful achievement, but it’s not over, you’re not a flight attendant yet.
You could still fail the training course, so don’t let your guard down.
In your training course, there will be 2 parts: the Initial training course and the Conversion training course.
- The Initial course is a training course that covers general aviation knowledge, cabin crew duties and responsibilities.
- The Conversion training course is an airline-specific training, where you will learn aircraft specific knowledge and the company’s procedures.
You will need to pass both courses.
My recommendations are:
- Take it seriously from the very first day. You will have to work hard, very hard, and nobody is going to give you anything for free.
- If you know you are not good at English, take some extra classes before the course, learn specific aviation vocabulary in English (this book is highly recommended) and practice with someone.
- If you are not a strong swimmer, the same thing applies; practice, hire a coach, do what you need to do to get good at swimming. You’ll have to pass a test during the course, including swimming 50 meters, rescuing techniques, group exercises, climbing on a raft from the water – the test can vary depending on the airline and the country’s Aviation Authority.
- Study every day, don’t leave it to the last minute. You’ll need to achieve a mark of 85% or 90% to pass or higher. There’s no room for error in any of this, no room at all.
If you fail you will have the one time option to re-take it and if you don’t pass this time around, you’ll have to leave the training. I’ve seen many people fail and leave and it’s truly sad and heartbreaking. Just heartbreaking.
So if you truly have the desire to be a flight attendant: Study. Every. Day.
How long does it take to become a flight attendant?
It depends on the airline, but it normally takes from 3 months (the fastest) to 6 months.
Here is an example of the step by step process in British Airways (it’s similar in most airlines):
- Online Application -10th June
- Assessment Invite – 20th June This is an email asking you to attend an Assessment Day.
- Assessment Day – 14th July This is the interview day that I explained above
- Golden call (you’ve been successful) – 19th July
You are called and offered a contingent contract online. Once you accept the employment offer, they will begin your personal History Background check – Criminal Record Check (2 weeks) and 5-year pre-employment history (can take up to 16 weeks). In the US you pass a 10-year background check and a drug test.
- Medical Assessment – 30th August
Once you have completed your history check and cleared your medicals, you will be ready to attend the airline cabin crew training.
- Training Start Date (6 weeks training course) – 16th September
You’ll have theoretical and practical (including swimming and fire) training and tests.
After completing the course you will receive your wings! Yey, you’re a flight attendant!
But the process isn’t finished yet, you’ll be called to start your flight training.
- Supernumerary Flights – 28th October
Supernumerary flights will be your flight training: these are flights where you are an extra crew member but since you have not passed a check flight yet you are not operating as crew.
Although you will get the opportunity to do everything a crew member would do. This is your opportunity to ask any questions you want and more importantly, have time to practice what you have learned whilst doing your training. Your instructor will fill in a report with comments and you’ll sign it.
- The Check-Flight – 30th October
You will also have to pass a check flight before you can fly alone as a cabin crew. A trainer will assess you are safe and competent for flying and you’ll need a 100% pass mark.
Congratulations! Now you are ready to start flying!
- However, remember that you have a 6 months probationary period contract. This is a trial period for new recruits during which the company may terminate employment by giving short notice. Only after this 6 months as a flight attendant, can you truly celebrate.
Example of Emirates timeline:
January 29, 2019 – application submitted and received
April, 7, 2019 – Open Day in Brussels
April, 8, 2019 – Assessment Day
April, 10, 2019 – Final Interview
April, 17, 2019 – Interview Complete
April, 22, 2019 – Joining Formalities In Progress
April, 23, 2019 – Golden Call
June, 3, 2019 – Date of Joining
Is it hard to become a flight attendant? With no experience?
It depends on many factors.
Some airlines are harder to get into than others, it also depends on how many candidates there are and how many flight attendants they need, your skills, the way you prepare your interview.
You can have no experience at all, but you should have a minimum of some sort of customer service experience and meet the requirements of the airline (height, language, age, etc.).
What qualifications do you need to be a flight attendant?
You need a High School Diploma or equivalent.
But if you have a Degree in Tourism or similar it’s highly valued.
Only some specific airlines require a University Degree. For example Singapore Airlines.
Do you need to attend a flight attendant school?
No, it’s not necessary.
There’s really no need to pay a flight school because the airline that hires you will literally train you in their ground school training.
*Except in Europe, where you must hold a valid Cabin Crew Attestation(Certificate) if you wish to work. Many airlines offer the Cabin Crew Attestation training too, but it’s also paid in this case.
If you really need some extra help in the hiring process, I can help you prepare for your interviews and training. I’m available to help with the cabin crew job search and resume assistance or image consulting. I would love to help you to achieve your goal.
What are some important qualities of a flight attendant?
- Good communication and customer service skills: you’ll have to deal with all types of passengers and situations, help demanding passengers or calm the rare aggressive one.
- Teamwork: On a plane, each one of the cabin crews has a specific duty in each moment. So you’ll need to be a team player. If one of the team members is not doing their part, they will put more stress on the others, so teamwork is critical.
- Ability to work under pressure: not only in emergency situations. You will also face a lot of stressful situations every day and still need to perform your expected tasks.
- Organizational skills: Especially in the plane, you need to follow procedures all the time and being organized is important in getting the sequence of tasks done well.
- Adaptable and flexible: you’ll have changes flexible work schedules, so flexibility is everything in a flight attendant’s life. The ability to juggle work hours around a medical appointment, a wedding or even your husband’s birthday is almost as important as your wage.
- Excellent personal appearance: No matter how many hours you have to work, a cabin crew should look always perfect, after all, they are the image of the company.
Try to include those in your flight attendant resume. These are the qualities that airlines are after.
Is flight attendant training provided by the airlines?
Yes, in most countries, once you are hired by the airline, they will provide you with training whether you already have experience/training or not.
So you don’t need to spend a fortune in a flight attendant school, training to be cabin crew and then hope that an airline hires you.
Note for Europeans companies:
In Europe, it is required to have a Cabin Crew Attestation (a Certificate of completion of Initial Safety Training, sometimes called Cabin Crew Certificate) to apply to some job offers.
To get that Certificate, you need to finish and pass your cabin crew course at a cabin crew Academy/School.
This Initial course is not always provided by the airline, but in some cases it is.
So ask beforehand, because you may be able to apply without having done any previous course, and be able to do the cabin crew Initial course in the airline’s own training center or associated school. It can be a bit more expensive this way, but at least you know that you’ll get hired after finishing.
In this case, airlines will have 2 different cabin crew recruitment processes:
1) For Cabin crew holding a cabin crew attestation(Cabin Crew Certificate) or experienced cabin crews
They will just have to attend the airline Conversion course (as you are already hired, you will receive fixed pay for every day of the course)
2 ) For Cabin crew without cabin crew attestation and without any experience
In this case, it’s the opposite. You will be asked to pay an Initial cabin crew training course (essentially paying for your own training) that they will provide. And if you pass, you’ll then do the airline Conversion course and will be offered a contract.
Remember, this is only in some countries in Europe. In the rest of the World, the company will just train you once you are hired, and you’ll get paid for it. As always, do your research.
Is flight attendant training difficult?
The work and the study aren’t hard to do and it becomes easier to understand with each passing day, but the training does take commitment and application.
You will need to study hard to achieve scores of 85% to 90%.
But the hard work and time spent on studying are very much worth the effort. You want this wonderful job, right?
Let’s look at the sort of things that your training will cover :
Aviation safety regulations, meteorology, safety and security procedures, flight attendant duties, the airline procedures and policies, the duty and rest requirements, emergency procedures (fire, emergency landing, aviation physiology, security, dangerous goods).
This is not a totally comprehensive list, but you get the picture.
It will include theory and practical training.