322,345 minutes. That’s how long I have spent managing risk in a pressurized cabin.
I did serve about 31,500 portions of chicken and at least 6,900 glasses of the best quality Champagne as a premium class cabin crew.
People usually underestimate the job of a flight attendant.
Let’s be honest, it seems like a very easy job, especially if things are going smoothly.
I just want to make it clear why a flight attendant’s job is much more than serving chicken or beef.
Hiring A Former Flight attendant Comes With Great Benefits
We are not only waiters in the sky but we are also nurses, midwives, first responders, psychologists, firefighters and we even know the basic techniques of restraining.
Below I summarised all the exceptional qualities which cabin crew develop over the years.
1. Constant Vigilance
Situational awareness is the most essential skill that I had to adopt the quickest.
We flight attendants are working 40,000 feet above the ground in a confined space surrounded by more than 400 passengers. Hence we must always be aware of our surroundings.
Unexpected situations can happen any time. We always have to understand what is happening around us and be one step ahead by predicting what threats we might be facing.
Various unexpected and challenging situations can happen at any time where we need to think (and act) on our feet and very often under pressure.
There can always be a medical case, a safety issue or a disruptive passenger to handle.
Imagine being locked up together with 400-600 other people in the sky when all of sudden you hear the fire alarm ringing or you just see smoke coming out from the lavatory.
Then you have to act immediately – and effectively.
2. Time Management
As a flight attendant I can never be late for work.
Do you recall the time when you just showed up in the office 10 minutes late?
You can never do that in aviation.
Once you are late you can forget about your flight.
Actually I am considered being on time when I arrive earlier.
We have a certain time frame to finish certain tasks in order to have an on-time departure.
From briefing, pre-flight security checks, boarding, service until break times we need to make sure we complete all of these steps on time.
Being proactive in doing these tasks will make my day run smoothly.
No wonder wearing a watch is part of our uniform standards.
3. Excellent In Communication, Problem Solving, And Teamwork
On every single flight I have a new team and different colleagues with various backgrounds.
We have a short period of time to adapt to each other. Good communication is essential.
An emergency (which can be safety, security or medical related) can emerge at any time and it is crucial that all the crew (including flight crew) know about it.
In case of emergency we need to ask for help and reach out for our available resources and inform each other what to do.
Safety is our number one priority so we are passing on information even about the smallest changes, the most trivial observations.
4. Cosmopolitan and Multicultural Work Environment
As I mentioned above I work with a new team every day.
On an average flight we have at least 10-15 difference nationalities among the crew.The airline’s diverse network carries passengers from all around the world.
I learned how to understand different cultures and people from various backgrounds to respond their needs in the most effective way.
I dare to say I have a great understanding of the world.
Due to direct contact with disparate cultures my social skills progressed to help me solve conflicts between people easier.
I don’t get confused and surprised anymore when I get a seat change request from a lady simply because she is not allowed to sit next to a man.
I learned and accepted that we are all from different cultures.
I find it perfectly natural and I handle the situation even before being asked for.
5. Customer Orientated
Working as a flight attendant I got used to helping people.
After a while I realized I am always the first one to offer help for people in need in public places (outside of work) like assisting mothers with babies lifting the stroller or being the first one to run and check on someone who just fainted.
We flight attendants know how to deliver great experience since at the end people are buying experience not products.
I know that at the end of the day people will not remember what I did or say but how I made them feel.
We are also required to pay attention to details from our language and presentation to the way we serve our customers.
I learned how to anticipate customers’ needs which make them feel very special and they immensely appreciate it.
I have experienced that offering help simply with finding space for hand-luggage already at boarding leads to a better and more trusted relationship with customers.
Think about how many times have you flown and thought ‘wow how can she read my mind?’
Empathy is vital!
It is the biggest cause of both passenger satisfaction and conversely, dissatisfaction.
Empathy is about sensing the emotions of others and being able to imagine what others are going through.
Passengers are not coming on board with a sign above their head indicating what is going on in their lives.
Once they are onboard they are vulnerable. They are at a confined space in an unusual environment.
We flight attendants are good listeners and enhanced our empathy skill because we know it is critical to build connections and trust with our customers.
They need to feel that they are genuinely being listened to and understood.
At the end we are all humans. Not everybody is going on a flight for cheerful, 5 star holiday in the Maldives.
Having a bad day can also be true about a colleague.
A listening ear can always ease stress. I heard many interesting and life-breaking stories throughout my career – from passenger and fellow crew members.
As a flight attendant I need to be open to other people to get to know their stories.
7. Unusual Working Hours and Shifts
While in the office you start working usually at 9 in the morning and finish 5 in the afternoon, our schedule varies.
I am used to start my shift at 1 or 2 in the morning, working long hours without break.
Still even after a 15-hour night flight I manage to keep up to uniform standards and give a smile while saying goodbye.
8. Medical Training
We know about basic life support.
We are trained how to handle choking, heart attack, how to perform CPR and use a Defibrillator – and we even know about how to deliver a baby at 40,000 feet.
Do you know what to do if your colleague gets a heart attack? About 75-80% of cardiac arrest happen at home or at work places.
Currently, about 9 out of 10 people who have cardiac arrest outside of a hospital die.
But CPR can improve those odds. If CPR is performed in the first few minutes of the cardiac arrest it can double or triple the chance of survival.
We flight attendants are trained and confident to perform CPR without hesitation.
In summary I would say being a flight attendant brought me closer to people and made me more open minded.
It made me become a proactive team player since we each have our roles on a flight (including the flight crew ) but at the end we are one team trying to reach the same goal.
I hope I could give a clearer and more understandable picture of the skills a flight attendant acquires through the years.
If you you wish to share an inspiriting message with the worldwide community of flight attendants, contact us here.
Photo credit: Tami