Career Guide

Flight Attendant

Emily Hanson  · Jan 25th 2023

The ability to travel to far exotic lands, experience new cultures and to see the world is why a flight attendant is one of the most popular jobs around today.

Air stewardess in a red uniform handling a tray from a passenger

Flight attendants are responsible for providing an excellent passenger experience during flights. Their work combines a robust awareness of in-flight safety and emergency procedures with a first class customer experience.

The flight attendant

What is a flight attendant?

As a flight attendant, you act as the face of an airline during flights. Your work combines ensuring customer safety as well as satisfaction for short and long haul trips.

Flight crew attendants help to make flights an enjoyable experience for passengers. They provide refreshments, answer passenger queries and are trained in flight safety, emergency procedures and first aid.


Your responsibilities as a cabin crew member will vary. Most responsibilities depend on your airline, the length of the flight you are working on, and any specialisms you have.

Duties commonly include:

  • Providing a first rate service to all passengers.
  • Preparing duty free goods on flights, including preparing trolleys and taking payment.
  • Preparing and serving refreshments for passengers, such as hot drinks, snacks and meals.
  • Helping passengers access any entertainment features on board such as films.
  • Relaying important information to passengers, such as flight delays, waiting times, or safety alerts.
  • Giving directions to passengers, such as helping them find their cabin, their seat, and any on flight toilets.
  • Providing on flight safety emergency information and procedures to all passengers, such as explaining where emergency exits and teaching passengers about the use of flight vests and oxygen masks.
  • Checking that all emergency equipment is operational before take off.
  • Attending any pre-flight briefings in the crew room, crew cabins or other staff area such as any emergency medical information, information on passengers requiring assistance such as those using wheelchairs.
  • Enacting emergency procedures in case of flight turbulence, unpredictable weather and emergency landings.
  • Providing first aid to passengers.
  • Checking passenger safety before take off, such as ensuring all bags are firmly under seats, seat belts are on and luggage storage areas are firmly secured.
  • Answering passenger queries throughout the flight.
  • Providing reasonable support and assistance to anxious passengers.
  • Completing any post flight documentation or records, especially if there were any incidents with passengers.
  • If you speak more than one language, possibly providing brief translations for passengers.


Cabin crew jobs vary in pay depending on your level of experience and the airline you work with. Luxury or long haul airlines are more likely to pay higher salaries than budget or short haul specialist airlines.

You do not usually need a degree in order to train as a cabin crew attendant.

The average flight attendant salary is around £20,000 per year[1]. Salaries are calculated with a base rate (the amount you earn regardless of how often you fly) plus an additional hourly rate for time spent in flight, as well as potential performance bonuses and commissions on in-flight purchases. Entry level base salaries are usually around £12,000-£16,000[2] depending on your airline, while senior cabin crew members could earn up to £28,000[3]. Flight attendants usually also have access to substantial flight discounts for their own travel.

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You do not usually need a degree in order to train as a cabin crew attendant. However, when applying for places in competitive airlines, a degree in a travel or modern foreign language based subject could be helpful.

Examples include:

Alternatively, you could take a course assessed at level 3 in hospitality, travel and or tourism. This could express your interest in working in the travel industry, and would be helpful on an application for cabin crew.

You could also take a relevant vocational course in Airline Cabin Crew, such as those with City & Guilds. These are not required for applications to cabin crew jobs, though they could give you a further edge against other applicants.

Apprenticeships such as a British Airways apprenticeship or RyanAir apprenticeship do exist within the airline industry. However these are usually for ground positions, such as marketing or engineering. To work in flight steward jobs you usually undertake set cabin crew training programs run by, or in connection with, the airline you want to work for.

Most airlines require applicants to cabin crew programs to have GCSEs in English and maths at grades 9-4 (A*-C). You will usually need to undertake several components of an application process in order to join airline training programs. These usually include assessments of judgement or role play scenarios and full assessment days to see if you would work well within an airline team.

Training and development

Airlines usually provide their own set training program for cabin crew trainees. While every flight attendant course will be slightly different based on the typical customer base and travel destinations, there are some common parts of every air cabin crew course.

Travel crew training programs usually combine in person and virtual learning. Training will cover emergency safety procedures, first aid, customer service and knowledge of the airline brand. You will also learn about expected cabin crew qualities, behaviours and uniforms. You will usually undertake a probationary period once you complete the initial training course, with further learning and assessments along the way.

Applying for cabin crew programs can be competitive.

With time and experience you could train up as a senior cabin crew member or flight manager. These positions will require further training processes, and again vary depending on which airline you work with.


Your skills as a flight attendant combine excellent customer service skills with safety knowledge and brand awareness.

These include:

  • Having a robust knowledge of emergency procedures and safety practices, such as preparing for take off and landing.
  • Having up to date first aid skills.
  • Excellent brand knowledge and awareness, including uniform expectations, customer liaison, key vocabulary and language to use.
  • Excellent attention to detail, particularly in keeping up uniform expectations
  • .
  • Excellent customer service skills, manners and politeness.
  • Ability to be firm while diplomatic with unhappy passengers, being clear with airline boundaries while maintaining confidence and politeness.
  • Excellent verbal communication skills - you will act as the face of your airline so it is key that you communicate effectively, and with the correct tone of voice, to all passengers.
  • Good sales skills - many attendants earn a commission on the sales of duty free and in flight goods, so being able to upsell and persuade customers to buy will be very advantageous.
  • Excellent team working skills - you’ll be working alongside your colleagues in a small space, so it’s key that you work well together.
  • An empathetic manner, especially for nervous fliers.
  • Resilience when dealing with challenging passengers, such as those who have had too much to drink or are abusive.
  • Awareness of when to raise concerns to a more senior colleague.
  • Ability to work unsociable hours, such as overnight flights and long haul flights.
  • A good understanding of the hospitality industry and your travel destination.
  • Excellent organisational skills for travelling between different locations, especially when managing conversions across time zones and consecutive flights.

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Work Experience

Applying for cabin crew programs can be competitive. You will be expected in your application to demonstrate an ability to deliver great customer service - even better if delivered in a pressurised environment.

It’s unlikely that you will be able to access direct crew experience shadowing cabin crew. Therefore, it’s a good idea to build up some work experience in a customer facing, hospitality based role instead. This could come from previous jobs or voluntary work that exemplifies your ability to work well in a flight crew team. Examples include working in retail or catering.

Career Prospects

Cabin crew jobs are exciting and varied. You will usually get the opportunity to advance your career within your airline industry through proof of good performance and time spent with an airline. Most airlines offer further training for senior cabin crew members, which will usually mean responsibility for a full cabin or class.

As a flight attendant, you act as the face of an airline during flights. Your work combines ensuring customer safety as well as satisfaction for short and long haul trips.

For those with particular dedication to the role, becoming an in-flight manager is another senior position. In-flight managers usually oversee the full team of cabin crew across the whole flight, managing junior staff and making key in-flight hospitality or emergency based decisions. With experience and a good track record, you could work towards becoming cabin crew for private clients or jets.

If you particularly enjoy the broader world of travel and tourism, you could work in other ground based departments. You could work in an airport, or move towards working in internal promotions, training, or marketing. This will usually require further training, or prior experience in the specialist area.


  • [1]Flight attendant salary in United Kingdom — Retrieved 5 October 2022.
  • [2]Cabin Crew Salary in the UK — Retrieved 5 October 2022.
  • [3]Heathrow Cabin Crew — Retrieved 5 October 2022.

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