What Is The Average Weight Gain Per Year When 13 So You Want to Become a Flight Attendant!

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So You Want to Become a Flight Attendant!

So, you want to be a flight attendant. Or, more specifically, you think you want to be a flight attendant. Most aspiring flight attendants are eager to jump right into the application process without thoroughly researching the career first. Here’s a look at what to expect.

Then and now

United Airlines was the first commercial airline to hire a female flight attendant in 1930; her name was Ellen Church. She and seven other single women made up the “original eight” flight attendants. Their primary role was to provide comfort to the traveling public. The minimum qualifications were such that the applicants had to be single, registered nurses. Marriage, pregnancy, or weight gain meant instant job termination and most flight attendants were forced out of the profession by age 32 due to “older age.”

Thanks in large part to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, airlines can no longer discriminate based on race, sex, age, or marital status. This legislation helped transform the job from a short-term endeavor—strictly for young, single women—to a long-term career for virtually anyone.

In the 1970s and 1980s, there was a large influx of men into the industry, creating the need for a non-gender-specific term to describe the position. As a result, the term airplane was born.

Today there are approximately 100,000 flight attendants in the United States; 70% are female and 30% are male (this gender gap, however, is narrowing and it is not uncommon to see all male crews on certain flights). The average age is 25 to 35 years and 50% are married. More than one-third have a college degree (although only a high school diploma is required); common majors include communications, French, Spanish and geography. Pay on average around $16,000 for the first year and up to $50,000 after 14 to 15 years. The turnover is high (especially among new hires), but the job satisfaction is equally high among those who succeed in the first year. Average seniority is 10 years.

Successful flight attendants describe themselves as friendly, outgoing, patient, flexible, reliable and punctual (there is absolutely zero tolerance for being late) – unsuccessful ones as aggressive, temperamental, impatient and inflexible. Typical concerns include job security (“Will my airline take off or go out?”), long hours, and low pay.

Perception vs Reality

When you see a flight attendant walking through an airport terminal, what is your perception? Imagine someone who serves a few drinks, chats with friendly passengers, and enjoys frequent layovers in exotic cities?

Historically, the public perception of the career has not matched the reality of the job. Today’s flight attendant is very different from the stereotypical flight attendant portrayed in movies and on television. To a certain extent, some of these myths are born from the “old days” when flight attendants were elegant nurses who worked on spacious planes with relatively few passengers. However, in 1978 airline deregulation changed everything. The government no longer controlled fares and route structures as in the past. This created bidding wars and turned airlines into cost-cutting machines. Today, it is nothing more than a numbers game where more passengers equals greater income. The result: planes are now overcrowded, creating cramped conditions and a culture of hostile passengers. This leaves flight attendants in a rather unenviable position.

These are just a few of the not-so-happy aspects of the job. As a flight attendant you must:

  • Duration 4 to 7 weeks of typically unpaid initial training, part of which takes place on nights and weekends.
  • Purchase a uniform at a cost of approximately $1,000 (automatic bi-monthly installment payments are available to reduce this financial burden).
  • Endure a 6 to 12 months probationary period in which you will be under control and
  • required to report to work at a moment’s notice.
  • Demonstrate remarkable strength and agility (e.g. move a 200+ pound beverage cart through tight aisles or lift heavy suitcases over the heads of passengers in tightly packed overhead compartments).
  • Remain courteous and professional despite sometimes abusive passenger behavior.
  • Respond quickly to stressful in-flight medical emergencies.
  • Endure occasional violent air turbulence (sometimes strapless when helping passengers).
  • Experience short periods away from home (usually from 1 to 3 nights at a time).
  • Work long hours (up to 16 hour days; no more than 8 hours in flight).
  • Work many weekends and holidays in your career when most of your friends and family have days off.
  • Attend mandatory annual recurrent training.
  • Occasionally work in the presence of prisoners escorted by armed guards to court cases or prisons in other cities.

For friendly, outgoing and patient individuals who can tolerate these negative aspects of the job, a flight attendant career can be very rewarding. Flight attendants work hard, but they also enjoy many extraordinary benefits. As a flight attendant you get, for example:

  • Lots of free time (13 to 17 days off a month; about 6 months off a year!), up to 10 days at a time.
  • Free or reduced travel benefits for yourself and immediate family, covering air travel, lodging, car rental and cruises.
  • A lucrative benefits package, often including health and life insurance, credit union membership, employee benefits options, and a 401(k) retirement plan.
  • Unparalleled Variety – Forget the predictability of 9 to 5 cube life!
  • Maximum flexibility in planning – You are not limited to weekends off like the rest of the world!
  • The chance to see the world.
  • The opportunity to meet new people, including many celebrities.
  • Independence.
  • Responsibility.
  • A sense of pride and accomplishment (especially if you help an unaccompanied minor or disabled passenger reach their destination safely).

The #1 priority: Passenger Safety

Many people have lost sight of the fact that flight attendants are on board an airplane for one primary reason: passenger safety. Did you know that every American flight crew is capable of completing a full passenger evacuation in less than 90 seconds? (every new hire must achieve this feat during initial training). Furthermore, flight attendants are required by law to be fully trained in safety for every type of aircraft in an airline’s fleet

Indeed, flight attendants are much more than waitresses in the air. Flight attendants know how to manage and prepare hundreds of passengers and crew in the event of catastrophic events, such as hijackings and land/sea disasters. They know how to fight fires, operate and troubleshoot the oxygen system, open emergency exits, tend to the sick, detain distressed passengers – even administer first aid and administer CPR.

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