Flight attendant job responsibilities

Last updated: April 24, 2024
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Kai Dickerson
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Flight attendant job responsibilities
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In the U.S., there are currently 248,700 active flight attendants. If you enjoy meeting new people and traveling the world, a career as a flight attendant may be the right choice for you.

There are perks that come with a job that’s high above the ground. But the role of the flight attendant also comes with responsibilities.

What exactly does a flight attendant do? And what do you need to become one? How much can you expect to earn, and how can you find a job in the industry?

In this article, we will answer all of these questions and provide you with tips for creating your flight attendant resume.

What is a flight attendant?

Airlines are required to have flight attendants on board. In fact, in the U.S., there has to be at least one flight attendant per 50 passengers.

They help to keep passengers safe and comfortable. And they support the captain and crew as the aircraft travels to its destination.

Flight attendants are also known as cabin crew and can travel on planes of all sizes. They work flexible hours and may need to stay on location overnight.

Flight attendant duties include performing pre-flight safety checks, diffusing difficult situations, explaining emergency procedures, and responding to emergency situations.

What do you need to be a flight attendant?

To be a flight attendant, you need to be at least 18 years old. You should be passionate about travel and happy to work unusual hours. For example, you may be away overnight and on weekends.

You'll need to have a high school diploma or equivalent, and if you want to boost your chances, you can attend college.

Most airlines provide training, but they’ll usually expect some customer service skills and good communication skills. If you have at least two years of experience in retail, hospitality, or sales, it can help you get a job as a flight attendant.

During the interview process, you can expect a drug test and a background check. Depending on the airline and aircraft, you may need to meet certain health, height, and vision requirements.

While you should have a professional appearance and be physically fit, you'll learn most of what you need to know during a two-month training period.

For example, you’ll learn first aid, and you’ll go on a series of practice flights. And you'll earn a certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Conditions in the air aren’t always calm, so you may need to deal with stressed passengers during times of turbulence.

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You'll also need to have a valid passport. If you can speak any foreign languages, it'll usually be an advantage.

If you think you'd be a good fit for a job as a flight attendant, browse current job opportunities in your area.

What does a flight attendant do?

You know what skills you may need to be a successful applicant. Now, let’s take a look at eight flight attendant job responsibilities:

1. Introduce safety procedures and respond to emergencies

Explaining safety procedures is a key and critical part of the flight attendant job description. The cabin crew is responsible for ensuring passenger safety, and informing all passengers of what to do in an emergency situation.

The cabin crew demonstrates how to use safety equipment, such as life vests, oxygen masks, and seatbelts. Passengers also receive a safety card with pictures and instructions to reinforce emergency procedures.

Flight attendants inform passengers of FAA regulations, preparing the cabin and passengers for take off and landing, and assist passengers with safety protocols on the plane, and act in the event of an emergency.

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2. Assist passengers in boarding the plane

Flight attendants assist passengers as they board the aircraft and typically help with

  • Locating assigned seats

  • Obtaining the right safety equipment - child life preservation equipment, seat-belt extensions, etc.

  • Stowing carry-on luggage safely in the overhead bins, handling oversized items, and managing storage capacity issues

If there are any issues with the boarding process, the cabin crew will need to use their interpersonal skills with passengers, flight and ground crew to resolve them.

3. In-flight service

Flight attendants usually assist passengers with in-flight services like food and beverage service, entertainment, shopping, and trash removal.

Flight attendants may need to push and properly stow large, heavy service carts. Flight attendants may also need to be aware of proper food handling rules.

4. Interact with passengers

Flight attendants not only greet passengers while boarding, but also engage with them throughout the duration of the flight. Effective crew members are mindful of different cultures, language barriers, and special needs. Passengers with disabilities, young children, or seniors may need extra assistance.

Flight attendants wear a company uniform and are the faces of the airline. They are expected to be professional, approachable, and responsive.

5. Assist in an emergency

Flight attendants are trained in the use of emergency equipment. If there's an emergency, they’re there to support the captain, crew, and passengers with knowledge of how to properly use fire extinguishers, deploy emergency landing equipment, and how to use life saving equipment.

The training to become a flight attendant can be intense, and may include testing in different scenarios using a flight simulator.

Flight attendants receive emergency medical training, like first aid and CPR.

In the event of an emergency, flight attendants are expected to stay calm, reassure passengers and to keep them safe. They’ll give passengers instructions on how to evacuate, assume safety positions, put on or use safety equipment.

6. Communicate with the crew

During the flight, flight attendants need to communicate with the captain/pilots and fellow crew. For example, they may need to tell the pilot if there is an incident in the cabin. Or the cockpit team may need to notify the cabin crew about delays, unexpected turbulence, or other issues. Most planes are equipted with an inter-phone system for direct communication.

Some flight assistants may also have a portable radiophone. They can not use regular mobile devices or smartphones because they may interfere with the radio frequency — there are strict rules regarding using phones on planes.

7. Follow aviation rules

For the safety of passengers and crew, flight attendants will make sure all aviation rules are followed. For example, they'll make sure the overhead luggage is secure and that there's no smoking on the plane.

They perform a cabin check (list of safety checks) before take-off and landing to make sure it is safe to do so.

If beverage services are offered, flight attendants are required by law to serve alcohol responsibly. Flight attendants may need to refuse alcohol service to intoxicated passengers.

There may be additional health and safety rules, such as required mask-wearing. If this is the case, the flight attendant ensures that these rules are followed.

8. Monitor the cabin

Flight attendants are in charge of the cabin. They need to monitor the cabin during the flight and record and report any incidents.

They'll be on the lookout for any safety hazards and passengers who may be in distress. They help to maintain the safety and comfort of all passengers.

Flight attendants also make sure the area stays clean and tidy and routinely check the safety equipment.

What is the average salary of a flight attendant?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual flight attendant salary is $59,050. New flight attendants can expect to earn less than more experienced ones, and pay can vary between airlines.

Your salary may be different depending on whether it's a commercial or private aircraft and whether you're flying domestically or internationally.

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Flight attendant resume tips

Are you interested in a career as a flight attendant? Give yourself the best chance of success with our top resume tips:

  • Share examples of previous customer service experience

  • Proofread your resume and check for spelling and grammatical errors

  • Complete a first aid course and mention it in your resume

  • Note that you're flexible and don't mind working odd hours

  • Show examples of when you've been calm in an intense work environment

  • List your work experience in chronological order

  • Mention experiences from school, a club, or volunteer work if you don’t have previous work experience

  • Check that your contact details are current

  • Include any foreign languages you may speak

  • Customize your resume for each position based on the job description

How to find a flight attendant job

If you're ready to take the next step and apply for a job in aviation, you can search for airline jobs in your area.

Or you can view this list of current flight attendant jobs.

Becoming a flight attendant

Working as a flight attendant gives you the opportunity to travel the world and work in a unique environment. But it can also be a high-pressure job with a number of responsibilities.

If you want to be a flight attendant, experience working with customers can be beneficial. You don't need a college degree and the airline will offer specific training programs for recruits.

Your job duties will include introducing safety procedures, helping passengers, and responding to emergency situations.

You'll also need to interact with passengers and crew, routinely monitor the cabin, and follow strict aviation rules.

If you're ready to find work, check out Jobcase’s job search. And if you need help with your cover letter, resume, or interview, visit the Getting Hired Resource Center for articles and help from the community.



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