11 Little-Known Factors That Disqualify Flight Attendants

Factors That Disqualify Flight Attendants

A Flight Attendant career can be extremely rewarding, but it can be extremely competitive. All airlines have specific qualifications, some way more than others, and if you do not meet these qualifications, you will automatically be disqualified.

Here are 11 disqualifiers that you can find yourself coming across if you are looking to become a Flight Attendant in America. 

1. Age Restrictions

Age restrictions are typical across the industry.

You can say that this is due to having to serve alcohol on board the aircraft, as well as maturity.

This job requires a lot of self-discipline and it’s very easy to go overboard with this job. You will find the starting age to be 21 years of age.

Again, this is due to serving alcohol onboard the aircraft. You will find some airlines have an age limit of 18 years old, but those are definitely few and far between. 

2. Height and Reach Criteria

Back in the day, this one used to be a huge factor in determining if you could be a Flight Attendant, or not.

This also included weight requirements, which thankfully is no longer part of the evaluation, but you do need to be able to fit through an emergency exit, as well as be able to secure yourself in our harness seatbelts.

Height and reach criteria are measured by your ability to reach an overhead compartment. Some will also make sure you can properly grab emergency equipment that is placed in the overhead compartment.

The shortest I would say you could be is 4’11. I have seen both short, and extremely tall Flight Attendants. All of whom have been able to do the job they have been trained for. 

3. Criminal Background Checks

This one is non-negotiable.

You have to be able to pass an extensive background check conducted by the Federal government. You can expect them to do at least a 10-year background check, fingerprinted, your work history looked into, driving record, drug usage, and even credit checks.

Of course, this would differ if you are going for an airline in another country. However, you will 100% see criminal background checks across the board.

This job is extremely security sensitive and if you have anything in your background that could disqualify you, I would very much say this is not the job for you.

Disqualifying offenses, I can say off the top of my head are: any type of felony, they will look into any misdemeanors, drug trafficking, DUI convictions, etc.

Many airlines will automatically pass on anyone with a DUI (driving under influence) due to countries not allowing anyone in with an alcohol conviction.

As a Flight Attendant, you are in a position where you could do extreme damage if you were to have a criminal mindset. They want to ensure that anyone who is looking into this career, has shown a history of following societal rules and regulations. 

4. Drug and Alcohol Policies

As a Flight Attendant applicant, you will be drug tested.

If this comes back positive for any substances they test for, you will automatically be disqualified. This information will also be documented by the federal government.

If you are hired as a Flight Attendant, you will also get randomly selected for alcohol and drug tests during the entirety of your career. If you fail these tests, you are not only risking your job but this information is documented.

It will follow you, especially if you want to apply to any other government position. Failed tests could also permanently disqualify you from certain positions.

Also, remember that being a Flight Attendant, you are federally regulated. Just because your state may have certain drugs legalized, they are not federally legal. You will not be able to partake in any of those activities during your career. 

5. Legal Authorization to Work 

This is a federally regulated position in the United States thus, you need to be authorized to work here.

If you do not have the proper authorization, they will deny your application immediately. This will be a question you have to answer, as well as having to show proof of this authorization.

Flight Attendants could have to work routes that go out of the country, if you don’t have the proper documents to return to the United States, you are going to have a real problem.

This would go for other airlines out of the country as well. You will have to show proof that you are allowed to work there. This is one of those pieces you just can’t get around. 

6. Physical Health Considerations 

This can be a very physically intensive job.

You have to lift very heavy bags, you could be required to push carts that weigh over 200 lbs., extremely heavy bins, moving heavy bags around, very long days, jet lag, inconsistent breaks, inconsistent times to eat, schedule that is all over the place, etc.

If you have any type of health ailments that would limit your ability to lift, this job would virtually be impossible. You have to be able to move around well, or you are truly going to struggle.

I would most definitely suggest talking to Flight Attendants already in the industry, and let them tell you everything they do on a day-to-day basis.

There is a lot that goes into our workday, and if your health is compromised, it is going to be extremely difficult to complete your tasks. Not to mention, you will be on the road a lot of the time, if you need to see your doctor regularly, this job will be very difficult. 

7. Tattoo and Piercing Policies

Many airlines in the U.S. are getting more comfortable with their Flight Attendants having piercings and tattoos, but there are usually specifications when it comes to them being approved.

You would want to look at each airline’s policy when it comes to this area. You will find that there are many airlines who still hold on to the no tattoo and limited piercing policy.

This job is highly focused on appearance, and some airlines really don’t see tattoos and piercings as having that clean and polished look.

If you have tattoos that are visible, and/or piercings that you are unwilling to give up, you will want to go with whatever airline lets you have these while in uniform. Don’t put all your time and effort into an airline, just to find out that they are going to disqualify you for this. Do your research. 

8. Language Proficiency 

U.S. carriers of course will mandate that you are able to speak English.

Other airlines in other countries will also have language requirements, with English always being a standard prerequisite, but you would want to look into each airlines’ requirements for language.

You will also find that many airlines will open up applications for specific added languages.

Many carriers that fly overseas need a certain number of speakers per flight. Of course, if you only speak English, this would disqualify you.

They are looking for English as well as a specific language. The language you speak could very much disqualify you from being able to apply for certain airlines.

If you are looking for an airline that is not based out of the U.S. and you only speak English, definitely do your research. 

9. Physical Appearance

This is a key piece of being a Flight Attendant.

You will be required to wear a uniform, to ensure that it is presented in a polished way, you will have hair requirements, if you are a man there will be facial hair stipulations, makeup requirements, etc.

You are very much the face of the airline, and they want to make sure that you look good. If you cannot maintain a clean and polished appearance, this most definitely is not the job for you.

This is definitely something they will be looking at when you apply to be a Flight Attendant, and they will continue to do so when you are on the job.

This is an aspect of your job that can get you in trouble if you aren’t able to follow their policies and procedures when it comes to appearance standards.

Each airline has their own specifications, some are way stricter than others, so look and see which airline fits your look and style the best. 

10. Demeanor

The way you conduct yourself could get you disqualified right away.

Airlines are looking for candidates that are not only going to fit what they embody, but what their passengers are looking for as well.

You need to want to help others in this industry, or at least, be able to fake it extremely well. If you have a background with customer service, this could help you immensely.

They want to know that you can deliver phenomenal service, all while not having a lot of supervision. If you get hired at a regional airline, you could be the only Flight Attendant in the cabin.

You have to be ready to put on any one of the many hats you might have to wear during the flight. 

11. Education

Across the board you will find you need to have at least a high school diploma, or GED, to even be considered for the position.

You won’t find the need for a bachelor’s degree, but education never hurts. It could be the reason you are offered the job over others.

👉 Check out our article on whether a college degree is necessary in the pursuit of a flight attendant career.


Becoming a Flight Attendant can truly be daunting.

There are a lot of pieces that come into play when applying, and it is an extremely competitive position to attain. It is extremely important that you do your research before you apply.

Would any of the above-mentioned information disqualify you from specific airlines, or across the board?

If it only disqualifies you from specific airlines, then at least you know where not to apply. The process is long and very time-intensive.

Truly, take the time to do your homework, it will be to your benefit in the end.

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