Cabin Crew FAQ- All your Cabin Crew questions answered!
14th February, 2023
Many people aspire to become Cabin Crew- it is an exciting job after all and one of the most popular jobs in travel and tourism! But applying for Cabin Crew jobs also raises many questions… in this article I will answer the major questions that most people who want to become Cabin Crew will ask.
- What Age Can I Become Cabin Crew?
- Am I too tall/short to become Cabin Crew?
- Am I too fat to become Cabin Crew?
- Do I Need To Swim To Become Cabin Crew?
- Do you need to be able to swim to become Cabin Crew?
- Can I get a Job as Cabin Crew with a Tattoo?
- What is a pre-flight briefing?
- What is a post-flight briefing?
- What is Cabin Secure?
- What is the chain of command onboard an aircraft?
- What is Staff Travel?
- Can I have a Baby Whilst Working as Cabin Crew?
- What Does Cabin Crew Training Consist of?
- Customer service training
What Age Can I Become Cabin Crew?
Is there an age limit for being Cabin Crew? Is 18 too young? Is 40 too old? Whilst some airlines do have restrictions, most don’t. So if the question you are asking is ‘what age can I become Cabin Crew?’, the answer is usually as soon as you finish full-time education, at 18 (rules may differ according to where you are based).
Am I too tall/short to become Cabin Crew?
Before applying for a job as Cabin Crew, it is essential that you check the airlines Cabin Crew height requirements. If you are not within the requirements for that airline, you will not be considered past the application stage. In this post, I will explain whether you are too tall or short to become Cabin Crew!
How tall do you have to be to be Cabin Crew?
As mentioned above, height is one of the requirements that you will need to meet to get the job. You can’t know exactly how tall you have to be until you check the height requirements for the specific airline you are applying for. However, generally Cabin Crew need to be between 159 cm (5ft, 2″) and 189 cm (6ft, 2″). If your height is within this range, it is still super important that you double check as height requirements do differ between airlines.
How is your height measured?
When you attend an assessment day, it is likely that the airline will measure your height. They will ensure that you reach the height requirements for their airline. This tends to take place at the start of the day. If you do not reach the requirements then you will automatically be unsuccessful. It is also likely that you will be asked to perform a reach test during the assessment day. You will be assessed to see if you can reach a certain height, which is normally the height of the overhead lockers. You will be allowed to stand on your tip toes for this test.
Why does your height matter?
Airlines don’t discriminate against super short or tall people, they care about the safety of their passengers. It is essential that you can reach the overhead lockers, not only to help passengers out, but also so you can reach the aircrafts safety and emergency equipment which is usually stored in there. Safety equipment may also be stored deep in stowages and cupboards, so it is really essential that you have an extended arm reach which is able to stretch far enough.
Examples of airline height requirements
Height requirements differ from airline to airline as they are based on that airlines own aircrafts. But as mentioned before the general height requirement is between 159 cm (5ft, 2″) and 189 cm (6ft, 2″) and you will usually be asked to reach between 208 cm (6ft, 9″) andv214 cm (7ft).
You should be able to find the height requirements for any airline on their websites. For example, British Airways state in their job descriptions on their website that their Cabin Crew must be between 1.575m (5’2″) and 1.87m (6’2″).
As you can tell, Cabin Crew height requirements are important! They may vary slightly between airlines, but they ensure the safety of passengers. Therefore, it is essential you are aware of the airlines height requirements before applying to make sure you are an acceptable height.
Am I too fat to become Cabin Crew?
To successfully pass the Cabin Crew application stage, you must meet all of the airlines requirements. This includes the Cabin Crew weight requirements.
How much do you have to weigh to become Cabin Crew?
You may think that to get a job as Cabin Crew, you have to be a super slim supermodel. However, this is not the case! In previous years, Cabin Crew were certainly expected to live up to their ‘sexy’ image. But these days airlines tend to ask that Cabin Crew have weight that is proportional to their height. There is an abundance of information online like weight calculators which tell you what your ideal weight should be. In essence, you don’t have to weight anything in particular. But you do have to look healthy.
How is your weight measured?
Unlike with your height, it is very unlikely that your weight will be measured at an assessment day. Instead, the airline will just assess your appearance by eye. The most important thing is that you look physically healthy and that as mentioned before, your weight looks in proportion to your height. Your weight may be measured during medical tests. However, there is not a set weight you will have to be. Instead, you will just need to be a healthy weight.
Why does your weight matter?
Cabin Crew are required to stand for long periods of time and carry our strenuous activities. So, airlines look for candidates who are healthy and will be able to fulfil the job. It is also important that Cabin Crew can sit in the aircraft and move down the aisles without difficulty.
Examples of airline weight requirements
Almost every airline has the same Cabin Crew height requirements. They ask that their Cabin Crew are healthy, with their weight in proportion to their height.
British Airways state on their website that they look for Cabin Crew ‘between 5’2″ (1.575m) and 6’1″ (1.85m) tall, with weight in proportion to your height.’ Whereas, EasyJet just ask that their Cabin Crew are ‘between 5’3″ (160cm) and 6’3″ (190cm)’ and that they can pass the medical test.
Over everything else, it is just really important that you are healthy and at a healthy weight. Before your assessment day it could be useful to check your BMI to see whether you are within the ideal weight for your height.
Do I Need To Swim To Become Cabin Crew?
When you decide to pursue a career as a member of Cabin Crew, there are a lot of different skills and things that you need to know to be successful. One of these skills is the ability to swim.
Do you need to be able to swim to become Cabin Crew?
So, do you need to be an expert swimmer in order to become Cabin Crew? Not necessarily. You definitely do need to be able to navigate the water, especially in emergency situations, but you can still fulfill your dream of becoming Cabin Crew with only basic swimming skills.
Along with other tests and evaluations, you will need to show that you can in fact swim before joining an airline’s crew. Each airline has its own set of standards and expectations. However, the majority of airlines will test the following:
- you can swim a short distance
- tread water
- climb into a life raft
- inflate a life jacket in the water
What swimming abilities do airlines expect?
Since each airline will be different in its expectations, it is important for you to do your research. Checking out the airline’s website will give you a better idea of what to expect when you go for your testing.
For some airlines, they use ditching* mock-ups that are used to test the prospective cabin crew’s abilities in the water. These ditching modules consist of a slide that ends up in the water where you will be required to demonstrate putting on a life jacket, swimming across a pool, getting into a lifeboat and possibly even rescuing a drowning passenger.
*Ditching is the term for a controlled emergency landing.
According to the British Airways Cabin Crew website, a member of their Cabin Crew must be able to swim 50 m or 55 yards. Similarly, to become a part of EasyJet Cabin Crew, you must be able to swim 25 m without any assistance and tread water for at least a minute.
If you are thinking about applying to an airline to become cabin crew, but aren’t very confident in the water, here are three tips to help get you prepared.
1. Get in the water.
Go to your local leisure centre as often as you can and get in the water. Float around, swim from one end to the other and get comfortable being in the water. The more comfortable you feel, the better you will be at the swimming test. Make it fun for yourself!
2. Find out the requirements for the airline and practice them.
Investigate what the exact requirements are for the airlines you are applying to and make sure you practice the different aspects that you need to know. If you need to be able to swim a specific distance, get in the pool and swim that distance. Make sure you can do it within the allotted time if the test is indeed timed.
3. Practice with the appropriate equipment.
For many airlines, you will need to be able to swim with either a life jacket or be able to at least put one on. Grab the proper equipment that will be used during the swim test and practice swimming with the items. The more prepared you feel, the more confident you will be during the test.
Can I get a Job as Cabin Crew with a Tattoo?
Quite frankly, if they are visible (ie. appear outside of areas which would be covered by uniform), then the answer is no. People have hidden tattoos and been fired when they have been found out. They have also had them removed in order to get their job as Cabin Crew.
There is an article on the Mail Online about a girl that had her hopes of being BA cabin crew ‘dashed’ when she was sent home from her assessment day for having a tattoo. This article made me really quite cross for a number of reasons.
Why the article angered me…
- Why should she appear in a newspaper article complaining that she feels being sent home is unfair when she simply failed to meet the essential criteria? If somebody did not get a job because they didn’t have a degree or an English qualification when these are listed as essential criteria, would they have a right to complain? Of course not!
- British Airways have very high grooming standards and a large tattoo on somebody’s foot would look unprofessional. They clearly state that tattoos are not allowed. So, why would Larissa assume that they would change the rules for her?
- After the media hype with the recent show ‘A very British airline’ I can’t help but feel that she is simply ‘jumping on the bandwagon’, with an unsubstantiated complaint. Does she just want some media attention? I suspect so!
- She does not demonstrate the initiative and intelligence that British Airways would require anyway. For example, she makes unsubstantiated suggestions that 8 out of 10 people on UK high streets have tattoos. I think this is a huge generalisation, with no proof of its validity. It is also just not applicable to this argument. This may well be the case in some parts of the country – but are the people who live there likely to fly BA? I do not believe that tattoos are a bad thing by any means, but in general, BA’s target market is not people that live in the areas whereby most people sport tattoos. British Airways’ ethos is very much luxury, style and traditional ‘Britishness’, which would not be represented by a crew that is covered in tattoos.
- Secondly, her initiative is not demonstrated. Did she not read online (where it is VERY CLEARLY stated) that she is not allowed tattoos? A number of cabin crew do, in actual fact, have tattoos – myself included. However, they have the initiative to either have them done in a place that cannot be seen, they purchase a very good tattoo cover-up product, or they undergo treatment to have them removed. Did Larissa not think any of these would be appropriate? Furthermore, if working as cabin crew was her ‘dream, job’, why did she even get the tattoo done in the first place? People don’t usually decide on their ‘dream job’ overnight. I teach many aspiring cabin crew at the college that I work at. Every single one of them is aware of the required grooming standards at UK airlines and that tattoos are unacceptable. So I find it very hard to believe that Larissa would not have been aware of this.
- Thirdly, why would Larissa think that her tattoo would be ‘covered up’ when she wore tights? I can assure you that 15 denier tights do not cover anything up!
Larissa has demonstrated here that she did not meet the criteria to become British Airways cabin crew for a number of reasons – not just because of her tattoo. It honestly angers me that she thinks she has the right to complain and act as if she has been victimised!
There are thousands of people that apply to become cabin crew each year. Why would they hire anything less than the best? Does she ‘look the part’ for British Airways? I think not!
What is a pre-flight briefing?
Before every flight it is essential for Cabin Crew to participate in the pre-flight briefing – this ensures that your knowledge is up to date and that you’re fit to operate the maximum Flight Duty Period.
Elements of a pre-flight briefing
The main aim of a pre-flight briefing is to make sure that the Cabin crew are prepared for the flight. To make sure that this is the case several measures are put in place – which together make up the pre-flight briefing. These include:
- Crew documentation inspections.
- Checks to ensure uniform regulations have been adhered to.
- Paperwork completion.
- Flight Crew names.
- Flight number and flight time.
- Aircraft type, registration, and name.
- Weather conditions.
- Performance monitoring.
- Allocation of crew positions.
- Onboard service.
- Bar float.
- Specific passenger needs (dietary, wheelchair, unaccompanied minors)
- Safety and emergency procedures and first aid questions.
- Night stop information.
The manager will check that you are suitable to fly by checking that you have your airport ID and passport with you. You will then be questioned by the manager to make sure that your knowledge of crew notices, safety, security and AvMed is up to scratch. If you fail to answer satisfactorily, you will then be asked a minimum of 2 further questions. If the knowledge of a member of Cabin Crew is not up to standard, then they will be grounded immediately for retraining.
Want to know more about typical questions you may be asked during a pre-flight briefing? I have it all covered in my Becoming Cabin Crew e-book!
The importance of pre-flight briefings
It’s a legal requirement for all crew to participate in a pre-flight briefing as it will make sure that they are prepared and ready to work the flight in a safe manner. If you are late to a pre-flight briefing you may miss important information and may be unable to fly.
Overall, pre-flight briefings will be an essential part of your role as Cabin Crew. They will be carried out before every flight, and they’re important in ensuring you are ready to carry out the flight safely.
What is a post-flight briefing?
What is a post-flight briefing and why what is the purpose?
Cabin Crew have a number of different duties, that involve more than just what they do during a flight. One of these is reflecting on the flight and recieving any relevant feed back – this happens during a post-flight briefing.
Cabin Crew are required to attend a meeting before the scheduled time of departure. This meeting ensures that crew members knowledge is up to scratch and that they are fit to fly.
Cabin Crew are also required to attend a post-flight briefing after the flight. Post flight briefings tend to be less formal and shorter in duration than a pre-flight briefing.
What does a post-flight briefing involve?
A post-flight briefing is an important part of the job for Cabin Crew. It typically involves the following:
After a flight all crew members meet for the post-flight briefing. This gives them the opportunity to discuss all onboard situations and issues. It’s important that any issues are discussed by crew to ensure that they have been resolved and to help prevent them re-occuring in the future.
During the post-flight breifing Cabin Crew will also recieve feedback on their performance. This can then be used by the Cabin Crew to improve their performance and help them progress.
Another important part of a post-flight briefing is Cabin Crew counting the money they have taken in. This is then used to assess how much money has been made on the flight, which Cabin Crew can use to work out how much commission they have made. This commission will contribute to the Cabin Crew’s final salary.
It’s also important to finalise all of the documents that are needed from the flight. For example, the flight report and summary of sales.
Night stop information
If applicable, Cabin Crew will be informed on any night stop information.
Benefits of carrying out a post-flight briefing
A post-flight briefing is benefical for both the airline and Cabin Crew. They allow any issues from the flight to be resolved and for the crew to recieve feedback on their own performance. Therefore, it is possible for both the airline and crew to act on this feedback and make any adjustments to ensure that the airline provides the best service possible to its passengers.
What is Cabin Secure?
When pursuing a Cabin Crew career, you will have a number of new responsibilities. One of these is the responsibility for the safety of all passengers on board the aircraft. Therefore, one of your main jobs is to maintain safe operating procedures during a flight.
As a member of Cabin Crew, you will undertake a procedure known as ‘Cabin Secure’ before every flight. This is designed to make sure that the cabin is secure and ready for take off, and that the aircraft can take off safety.
What does Cabin Secure actually involve?
There are several steps that Cabin Crew need to take during Cabin Secure, these involve:
1. Stowage of bags
Cabin Crew must check that all bags have been stowed safely under the seats by passengers. If passengers have left their bags somewhere else, then it’s your responsibility to tell the passenger to move their bag under the seat in front of them, or in the overhead lockers.
You will need to check that passengers have their seatbelts on and that they are fastened. Again, if passengers don’t have their seatbelts fastened it’s your responsibility to instruct them to do so.
3. Overhead lockers
You will also need to check that all overhead lockers are securely closed. It is important that you are able to reach the overhead lockers, as this is a requirement for the job and you may be asked to demonstrate this at an assessment day.
If you’re wondering what an assessment day involves, check out my becoming Cabin Crew e-book!
All armrests have to be placed down before take off. It’s your responsibility to check that all passengers have their armrests down.
5. Window blinds
All window blinds also need to be open before take off.
6. Trolleys and atlas boxes
Finally, you will also need to check that the trolleys and atlas boxes have been locked in place, to prevent them from moving when the aircraft takes off.
What is the chain of command onboard an aircraft?
You may have heard of the ‘chain of command’ onboard an aircraft. But what does this actually mean? It’s simply the hierarchy of members on board the flight. The pilot in command (Captain) will be at the top of this hierarchy, as they have ultimate responsibility during the flight. This is then usually followed by the First Officer(s) and senior Cabin Crew members.
Some airline companies will follow this ‘chain of command’, which means as a member of Cabin Crew you will need to carry out orders based on those who have more authority than you. For example, you will need to follow the orders of a Senior Crew member, and you may also need to go to them for any help you need during the flight.
Other companies, such as easyJet, follow a ‘flat’ structure. In a company like this, your place in a hierarchy is less defined and you would be able to approach any member of staff.
So, why is this ‘chain of command’ important for Cabin Crew? As a member of Cabin Crew working for an airline who follows a chain of command, you would need to know who is above you so that you can go to them for help. You may also need to go them in a situation where further authority is required.
For example, when dealing with passenger conflicts it’s important that Cabin Crew follow the chain of command. First of all, you should try and deal with the issue yourself if it is possible to do so. However, if the issue continues to persist you would then need to report it to a Senior Crew Member, who would be above you in the chain of command. The Senior Crew member can then look at the situation, and if it is still unresolved it would then need to be reported to the captain, who is above them in the chain of command.
It’s important to follow the chain of command, as Cabin Crew should firstly try and resolve the issue themselves first. If this is not possible then the Flight Manager can assert more authority and may have previous experience dealing with a similar problem. Ultimately, the Captain is in charge of the aircraft. So, if a problem is very serious with a passenger they can decide to remove them from the aircraft.
What is Staff Travel?
Every airline employee will tell you that staff travel can be one of the big selling points to commencing a career in this industry. Each airline will differ slightly, but there tends to be two main forms of staff travel: standby tickets and confirmed tickets.
Standby tickets so what they say on the box- allow you to ‘standby’. If there are seats you will get on the flight, if they aren’t you could end up on a jump seat or be denied boarding all together. This can be difficult during peak seasons and on busy routes. If you purchase a confirmed ticket, on the other hand, you will be guaranteed a seat on your chosen flight (unless it is overbooked, but that’s a separate issue). The price, however, does tend to be significantly more than a standby ticket.
Staff travel is a fantastic perk to working for an airline. If you can be flexible, it can be easy and not stressful. When planning a holiday I always have 3 options I’m looking into, and choose which of the three looks the least busy. If you are determined to go to a specific destination at a specific time you’re likely to be disappointed. Use your flights to get to other destinations. Flexibility is the key! And sit back and enjoy your perk once you take off-it is worth the effort!’
Can I have a Baby Whilst Working as Cabin Crew?
Cabin Crew is a dream job for so many girls, however a question that will undoubtedly sit in the back of many peoples’ minds is ‘what do I do when I choose to have a baby?’. Many people assume that this is the time to hand back your wings and to keep your feet firmly on the ground. However, this doesn’t have to be the case! Vicky and I did our Cabin Crew training together for BA CityFlyer back in 2007 and since then she has progressed to Purser and has two children! Vicky has been inspirational in the way that she has juggled her work and family life and demonstrates that you can continue working in the skies whilst having a family back home. Here’s what Vicky had to say…
“I have been flying just over 6 years with BA CityFlyer out of London City Airport. When I fell pregnant I was grounded immediately and had to do Monday to Friday 9-5, doing general office duties. This wasn’t as fun as flying but it was an exciting time as I knew I had the baby on the way. During this time I missed flying lots. I couldn’t wait to be back in the skies; missed the crew, crew life style and even the shift work!
I took 9 months maternity leave, I returned back to work part time 50% on a flexible working pattern. Not many Cabin Crew are able to get part time contracts due to the nature of the industry so I was really lucky that this worked out so well for me! I am also extremely lucky to have a big family so I was able to work whilst the baby was looked after by a family member.
BA CityFlyer have been great throughout, I am currently grounded again on my second child, due in August! I really couldn’t fault them whatsoever.
The only thing u have to think about when having a career as Cabin Crew and a family are the possible disruptions in the airline industry, which can be hard when u have a baby waiting at home for u. However with a flexible part time working pattern it has worked so well for me and my family life. It is hard work but it can be done! I am looking to go back after my second baby as I enjoy the skies too much to give it up! If you’ve got a lot of support behind you then you should be able to enjoy your family life and your career. All you need is the motivation and the support and you can have both!”
So if, like many, you have been worried about your career prospects after deciding to settle down and have a family…it can be done!’
What Does Cabin Crew Training Consist of?
Cabin Crew training is not easy. You will endue around 6 weeks of intense training and you will have short refresher courses each year. You must pass each element of the training course, which include:
SEP stands for safety and emergency preparation. You will cover many things as part of this training, including:
- Evacuating an aircraft
- Putting out a fire onboard an aircraft
- Dealing with an incapacitated pilot
- Restraint training
You will have a range of equipment and mock ups that you will use for this purpose and be tested extensively on your capabilities.
AVMED stands for aviation medicine. In this part of your Cabin Crew training you will undertake a thorough first aid training course. Note- this is much more thorough than you would have in most workplaces, because there are probably not any doctors at 30,000ft!
Aircraft type training
During this training you will learn all about the specific aircraft that you will be operating. You will learn things such as equipment location and how to open the doors. You may be trained on up to three aircraft types.
Customer service training
Customer service is an important part of working as Cabin Crew. As such, you will be required to learn the expectations of the airline that you are working for and demonstrate these, usually in a role play scenario.