Is Swimming a Deal Breaker for Becoming a Flight Attendant?

flight attendants in swimming pool

One of the prerequisites for being a flight attendant is that you must be able to swim and be confident in the water.

But is this really necessary?

I know the swimming requirement can be a real problem for many people so this post covers all you need to know and what you can expect about the swimming practice/test.

Do you need to be able to swim to be a flight attendant?

Yes, flight attendants need to be able to swim in order to be a flight attendant.

Most airlines require a flight attendant at minimum to take part in a group activity involving swimming to a raft and pulling yourself in, floating or treading, and inflating a life vest.

Depending on the airline, these actions may be practiced at a pool and are evaluated on a trained to proficiency necessity.

What if you can’t swim?

Learn to swim!

The pool drills are very basic and can be learned prior to training.

Do you need to be a strong swimmer?

No, airlines do not require flight attendants to be strong swimmers.

Some airlines will require different things but typically you need to be able to swim 20 meters, be confident in water, be able to swim without a flotation device, and be able to tread water for a short period of time.

The swimming drills are also mostly a group activity so you will work with your colleagues to complete the activities.

How can you improve your swimming skills?

You can absolutely improve your swimming skills prior to training.

If you don’t have a pool at home, some gyms have pools or housing communities have shared pools.

Take your time to develop your swimming skills with somebody trustworthy with you that may be able to help coach or guide you to becoming better at the basics of swimming.

Also, many facilities offer swim lessons!

How long will it take me to learn if I can’t swim?

It depends on many things: your fitness level, body awareness, fear of water, and the number of lessons you take.

Do you usually pick up physical skills easily?

Do you feel comfortable in the water?

I’d say you can probably learn to float and move across the pool quite fast, in a few weeks or so, depending on the frequency of lessons.

And good news, once you know how to float, there’s nothing to swimming.

You just need to learn how to breathe and move in the water.

I think it is all confidence but you need to be patient.

Look for opportunities to get in the water as much as possible before your flight attendant training and be ready to have fun.

Will they ask you in the interview if you can swim?

Depending on the airline, they may ask you if you can swim but it is unlikely since it’s a minimum requirement and already expected.

It is a requirement to be confident in water and be able to swim without the aid of a flotation device.

Be prepared to answer the questions honestly if asked and remember that you will still have time before training to learn to swim better and be prepared to prove your ability.

Do they actually test you on whether you can swim as they state in their requirements? When does this happen?

There is absolutely some form of swimming test with each airline as stated in their requirements.

This is required because, in the event of an emergency on water, flight attendants are responsible for evacuating passengers into rafts.

In the airline industry, we call planned and unplanned emergency landings in water, ditching.

You will have lessons and computer tests to learn more about ditching, emergency equipment, and protocols prior to the swimming drills that will simulate a ditching activity.

During your initial flight attendant training, you may have to inflate your life vest, jump into a swimming pool, stay afloat for a few minutes, board a big yellow raft, and help your fellow colleagues into the raft too.

This is a fun day at training and can also be a refreshing break from the books!

What do you need to know about the swimming test?

You need to know that swimming is required and essential to be a flight attendant.

You will be able to learn and practice ditching exercises and water survival skills during training but it is expected that you can swim in order to be trained to proficiency.

Depending on the airline, you may need to :

  • swim across a pool
  • climb into a raft and help others into the raft
  • swim the length of an Olympic pool with clothes on
  • rescue a drowning passenger, survival positions in the water with your colleagues in order to combat the cold
  • and a mock ditching exercise (simulation practice of an emergency evacuation after landing on the water).

While this seems like a lot of swimming activities, some airlines only require at most 1 hour in the pool for ditching drills and as long as you can swim and complete the activities, you will pass this portion of training.

There is no written test and this part of training is predominantly a group activity aside from being able to swim and float on your own.

Has anyone ever failed a flight attendant swimming test?

The only reason someone would fail a flight attendant swimming test is if they didn’t know how to swim.

This is a minimum requirement and expected of a flight attendant.

While you don’t need to be the best swimmer, as long as you can complete the simple tasks in a pool and learn from the various drills presented to you in water, then you will pass the test or be trained to proficiency.

Trained to proficiency is a phrase used in training when you must simply complete the task or go through the training.


Here’s a very nice video of Delta explaining about their pool training:


If you are interested in working one of the best jobs in the world as a flight attendant, one of the minimum requirements is that you know how to swim.

Just as you prepare your bags for training or study the material given to you prior to training, take time to ensure you have basic swimming skills.

This will absolutely help you get through the pool drills needed to become a flight attendant and fly the friendly skies!

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