Cabin Crew

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What does a Cabin Crew Member Do?

As a cabin crew member, you’ll provide excellent customer service to passengers while ensuring their comfort and safety throughout the flight. Serving refreshments and meals and selling gifts and duty-free items are all part of the job.

Cabin crew are highly trained to deal with security and emergency situations and can administer first aid to passengers.

As Cabin Crew member, it’s also your responsibility to ensure that all emergency equipment is in working order prior to take-off and that there are enough supplies on board. You’ll help passengers board the plane and give a demonstration of safety procedures and equipment.

What are the Key Responsibilities of Cabin Crew members?

Working as Cabin Crew for a major airline provides plenty of contact with people as well as opportunities to travel. The air cabin crew of a commercial airline share responsibility for the safety and comfort of its passengers.

Your duties will include:

  • greeting passengers as they board and exit the plane
  • showing passengers to their seats and providing special attention to certain passengers, such as the elderly or disabled
  • serving meals and refreshments
  • checking the condition and provision of emergency equipment and information for passengers
  • demonstrating emergency equipment and safety procedures
  • administering first aid
  • dealing with emergencies
  • supplying passengers with newspapers, magazines and in-flight entertainment
  • selling duty-free commercial goods and pursuing sales targets
  • producing written flight reports after completing a journey.

The role can be physically and emotionally demanding and there is a high degree of responsibility involved. Cabin crew are expected to deal with all passengers diplomatically – even when feeling the effects of travelling through time zones and spending extended periods of time on their feet.

What Qualifications & Skills Do I need to Become Cabin Crew?

A university degree is not usually required to work as airline cabin crew. However, a bachelor’s degree in travel, tourism, hospitality management, leisure or languages may be helpful to help you stand out from the crowd. A nursing degree could also be relevant.

Interpersonal skills and good health and fitness are normally more important than academic qualifications, although many airlines do ask for at least five GCSEs (including English and maths) at grade 4 (C) or above.

For international travel, you’ll need a valid passport. You will also need to pass a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

Work experience with the public in a customer service role will help demonstrate that you have the necessary skills. Experience gained within nursing, catering, or the hotel, tourism or travel trades is likely to be an advantage.

Most airlines require cabin staff to complete a training course covering areas such as safety procedures, legal & immigration issues and customer service upon entry to the airline.

Some of the most important skills you need to have in this role include: excellent communication skills, diplomacy and tact as well as the ability to remain calm in emergencies or when dealing with difficult passengers.

What’s the Career Path for Cabin Crew?

Promotion for cabin crew is based on experience and performance. From the role of cabin crew member, it’s possible to progress to the position of purser or chief purser – which is the title given to the chief flight attendant.

Pursers have the same responsibilities as the general cabin crew but are also given the management responsibilities of a certain cabin, such as first class or business class.

As purser, you’ll ensure that all crew within your cabin deliver the highest level of customer service while encouraging the sale of duty-free items. Most airlines require staff to have between two to five years’ experience to become a purser.

From the role of purser, you can progress to senior cabin crew. This position is known at some airlines as cabin supervisor or cabin service director.

The role is very similar to that of the purser except you’ll have responsibility for all cabin crew on board, not just in one particular cabin. All cabin crew and the purser/chief purser will report to you.

You’ll usually be involved with training and supervising new recruits and will have to ensure all relevant paperwork is completed at the end of the flight.

Another option to progress your career is to move into ground-based operations, such as cabin crew training or recruitment, passenger services or crew controller. At larger airlines, you can move into other areas, including marketing, sales, HR and safety training.

What Can I Expect to Earn as Cabin Crew member?

For cabin crew, base salary can vary greatly depending on the airline as some pay better than others, but you can expect a starting salary in the region of £14,000 to £17,000.

Cabin crew with experience can expect to earn a base rate of £17,000 to £20,000 a year.

Base salary at senior cabin crew level, which can be reached after a few years, is around £22,000.

Some airlines offer additional allowances on top of base pay for the number of languages spoken. Most airlines also offer overnight payments for nights spent away from home.


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