Cabin crew jobs involve a lot of hard work and commitment but the rewards can be excellent. The leading airlines such as British Airways, Qatar Airways, Emirates, Thomas Cook, and KLM recruit large numbers of cabin crew and are often seeking individuals with customer service experience and language skills.
Cabin Crew are a vital part of commercial aviation for a number of reasons. Their role is to provide a high standard of customer care, but equally, they are responsible for ensuring that all the passengers are safe and secure before, during and after a flight.
What do cabin crew do?
The day-to-day tasks of cabin crew can vary depending on whether you are working as part of a long-haul or short-haul team. General duties include:
- Taking part in pre-flight briefings about the flight, the passengers and the schedule.
- Performing pre-flight checks to ensure that security equipment is working properly and that the plane is stocked with enough food for the flight.
- Greeting passengers as they board and directing them to their seats.
- Making sure that passengers are aware of safety procedures and demonstrating how to use emergency equipment.
- Ensuring that hand-luggage is securely stowed.
- Making announcements on behalf of the captain.
- Serving food and drink.
- Selling duty-free items.
- Performing first aid if necessary.
- Ensuring that passengers follow safety procedures in an emergency.
- Making sure that passengers leave the plane safely.
- Completing flight reports after the journey.
What qualifications do you need to become a cabin crew member?
You will need a good secondary education with a minimum of GCSEs in English and maths (grades A*-C or 9-4). Further study, such as A-levels, a foundation degree or even a degree in subjects such as languages, leisure and tourism, and hospitality management may make your CV more attractive to employers.
If you want to prove your commitment to the role, it may be a good idea to take a vocational qualification such as an NVQ or a BTEC. City & Guilds offer Level 2 and 3 qualifications in Air Cabin Crew.
Being able to speak another language is a particularly attractive asset as you will be coming into contact with customers from all over the world on a daily basis. Airlines will also value customer service experience very highly.
Airlines usually have their own list of requirements for cabin crew. These are likely to include:
- A good level of general fitness and the ability to swim at least 25 metres
- A valid passport without restrictions
- Clearance from the Disclosure and Barring Service.
- A minimum height restriction as you will need to be able to reach all the safety equipment in the aircraft
- A minimum age restriction which is usually 18
What skills do you need to become a cabin crew member?
- You will need excellent communication skills in order to understand and see to your customers’ needs, especially in the case of an emergency.
- Cabin crew need to be dedicated to excellent customer service as their main role is to provide a comfortable and safe experience for their passengers.
- Cabin crew members need to work together as a team to make sure that all passengers are looked after and comfortable.
- Numeracy skills are useful for handling money.
- In the case of an emergency, it is essential that cabin crew have the ability to remain calm.
- The ability to deal with a range of people in a polite but firm way is important in such a confined working environment.
How much do cabin crew earn?*
Cabin crew tend to earn a base rate to which an hourly payment will be added for hours spent on flights. The following figures are the base rate. Some airlines will even offer additional allowances if more than one language is spoken fluently. Many airlines have additional benefits for their staff, such as discounted or free flights.
Starting salary: £12,000 to £14,000 (Take home salary will be closer to £20,000 with hourly payment)
Experienced: £15,000 to £18,000
Average: £24,750 (Aviation Job Search data)
Figures from Prospects.
What are the working conditions for cabin crew?
You will typically work in shifts that consist of unsociable or irregular hours. It will include early mornings and late nights, sometimes working through the night and at weekends, as well as public holidays. Short-haul flights may provide more regular hours.
You will need to be flexible on your days off, particularly when dealing with flight delays or cancellations – in the event that either of these happens, you will be compensated. Part-time opportunities are also available, but these will also involve unsociable hours.
What are your career prospects as a cabin crew member?
There are opportunities for cabin crew to progress into more senior roles. After you have gained some experience and demonstrated your commitment to the role, you will usually be promoted to the position of purser or chief purser. These roles come with the added management responsibilities of certain cabins, such as economy or business class.
The next step is usually to become a senior cabin crew member. The senior cabin crew manage all cabin crew on board a flight and it is their responsibility to ensure that the correct paperwork has been completed at the end of each journey.
If you have proven the ability to provide exceptional service in first class or business class cabins, there are opportunities to become VVIP cabin crew. These roles are usually on private aircraft and look after important private clients, such as government officials or members of royal families.
The skills that you learn working as cabin crew will help in training, sales, HR, and marketing roles and many cabin crew move on to such careers.
*Salaries are meant as a guide and can vary depending on a number of factors.
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