You may have heard that there are all sorts of crazy flight attendant requirements. But are airlines really being that ridiculous when recruiting for flight attendants? We don’t think so.┬áKeep reading and you’ll realise that airlines clearly define their requirements for good reason.

In this post, we cover what’s required of you personally in order to become a flight attendant.

In addition to these personal requirements, all airlines expect applicants to pass their high-level training programs (which we cover in this post).

What are the Requirements to become a Flight Attendant?

While good appearances are one of the flight attendant requirements - but looks aren't everything, says Barbie the flight attendant. Photo credit: Mauren Veras.

Looks aren’t everything, says Barbie the flight attendant. Photo credit: Mauren Veras.

Airlines are looking at the following when they’re recruiting flight attendants:

  1. Minimum age
  2. Physical attributes:
  3. Your appearance
  4. Personal qualities
  5. Physical ability

Requirement No. 1: Minimum Age

First in a long list of flight attendant requirements is the minimum age. All flight attendants must be at least 18 years of age, but the minimum age can be higher depending on the airline – but never higher than 21 years. For example: at United Airlines, you must be 19. Southwest Airlines and Continental Airlines expect you to be 20. At Frontier, you’ll need to be 21.

Why is the minimum age requirement 18 to 21 years?

There are two primary reasons: Firstly, there’s a very high probability you’ll be serving alcohol at some point. Secondly, the nature of the role demands a certain level of leadership and maturity; the safety of passengers is a key part of your role, and you’ll be working in a high pressure role.

Can I be too old?

Unless you’re ready for retirement, there’s no reason why you couldn’t apply for a position as a flight attendant even if you’re having a mid-life crisis career change. On the basis you’re fit and healthy, and meet the basic physical flight attendant requirements – you should definitely feel confident in applying for a position.

Requirement No. 2: Physical Attributes

As you’ll see below, all of the physical attributes airlines are looking for are purely for safety reasons. Be aware that the specific physical flight attendant requirements do vary from airline to airline.

  1. Height: The most common height range is between 4ft 11in and 6ft 3in, or between 150cm and 190cm tall. Note: This value is debatable, see the “Reach requirement” below.
  2. Reach: Even though your reach is closely related to your height, the height you can reach to is a more accurate and is increasingly becoming “the measurement” for determining your suitability to work inside a cabin. Cathay Pacific have stated they require a reach of 208cm. It’s been said some airlines will allow you to stand on the balls of your feet!
  3. Weight: Breathe a sigh of relief, there are no specific numbers regarding the weight flight attendant requirements. The definition is simply this: your weight must be proportional to your height.How do you know if you meet this requirement? A great starting place is to use this calculator to work out your BMI, and if you’re within “normal weight”, you clearly have nothing to worry about.
  4. Vision: You must have at least 20/30 vision. This means you don’t even need to have “normal” 20/20 vision, and with the use of glasses or contact lenses – you’ll likely to pass this requirement without even batting an eyelid! You can read more about 20/30 vision here.

While you can’t necessarily do much to change your height and reach, there are definitely things you can do to get your BMI into the “normal range” and you can definitely do things to correct your vision.

Requirement No. 3: Your Appearance

Contrary to popular belief, looking like a supermodel is not one of the flight attendant requirements. You can thank television and movies for this stereotype. But, you do need to be well-groomed. This means having a neat, unassuming appearance that won’t ever offend anyone!

No matter which airline you work for – you must truly “look the part”. It’s very much one of the basic flight attendant requirements.

It’s worth noting that for most airlines, there are strict grooming regulations you must adhere to in order to maintain the branding of the airline and their company standards. It’s very much one of the basic flight attendant requirements – you really must “look like part of the furniture”. For example: always polished shoes, always the entire company uniform, always having your shirt tucked in and never having an outrageous hair color.

Appearances are everything (seriously):

    • Hairstyle: Avoid the latest radical style cut and stick with conservative, professional styles.
    • Hair color: No unnatural hair color. I.e. Pinks, purples or electric blue.
    • Hair length: Above shoulder length, or at the collar. Do keep your fringe above your eyebrows.
    • Jewellry: Minimal and petite. No big dangling necklaces, no trinkets with bells. One ring on each hand.
    • Wrist watches: Accepted, so long as they’re conservative. Don’t try for the latest pop-princess hyper-white watch with an enormous band.
    • Makeup: Minimal eyeliner, blushes, other highlighting and natural tones only.
    • Piercings: Not allowed. Perhaps with the exception of fine studs in the ears.
    • Tattoos: Always covered by clothing. Neck or face tattoo? Not a chance!

Specifics for Men:

  • Facial hair: Be clean shaven. No goatees or beards.
  • Tom Selleck?: Moustaches not below the corners of your mouth. Keep it trimmed very neatly.
  • Austin Powers?: Sideburns no lower than halfway down your ear. Keep them trimmed very neatly.

During the interview process, you’ll do well before you even start if you can assimilate a flight attendant in appearance. This is a topic unto its own, and we cover how to look like a flight attendant in this post.

Service with a smile. Photo credit: Peter Burge.

Service with a smile. Photo credit: Peter Burge.

Requirement No. 4: Personal Qualities/Characteristics

What makes someone a great flight attendant? The personal qualities you’ll need to meet the basic requirements for a flight attendant position are really just things your parents tried to instill in you throughout your youth or things you learned at school.

Communication Skills:

You must be able to communicate effectively in the English language. You are constantly engaging with passengers, and in an emergency situation, flight attendants are relied upon to give instruction to passengers. We’d say this is one of the most highly regarded flight attendant requirements. Airlines are looking for people with:

  • Excellent verbal skills: Listening, comprehending and giving instructions.
  • Excellent literacy skills: Reading and writing.

Personality Traits:

You’re blessed with your own personality, it’s what makes you, you! And your personality traits will dictate your actions, attitudes and behaviors. These traits help airlines determine whether or not you’re the right person for the job and is one of the most important flight attendant requirements. Flight attendants should:

  • Be able to work well under pressure, or in stressful situations: Can you act quickly, and be relied upon when it matters most?
  • Work well in a team: Team work means efficiency.
  • Be flexible: You should be the one who bends to “make it work”.
  • Be patient: You have the joy of dealing with people, the most complex beings on earth.
  • Be focused on customer service and customer satisfaction: The passenger is the most important person on the flight.
  • Be caring and conscientious: Put yourself in your passengers shoes. How can you make their flight better?
  • Be a problem solver: On many flights, you’ll need to put out a fire or two (metaphorically speaking).
  • Be able to multitask effectively: How many things can you do at once?
  • Have a positive attitude: Positive attitudes are synonymous with positive outcomes. Believe it. Do it!
  • Be confident within themselves, and portray confidence. Confidence breeds success, for you and the company.
  • Be observant and always aware of their surroundings: Do you notice the little things? Little things make a big difference at 35,000ft.
  • Have a professional manner: You personally represent the brand and the company, act accordingly.
  • Be punctual: Be on time, and help passengers promptly.
  • Be safety conscious: You will be working in tight spaces, and in a dangerous environment.

 

Requirement No. 5: Physical Ability

Being a flight attendant is actually a very physically demanding job, especially when you’ll be doing it back to back for days on end without a break. Here’s just a sample of the day-to-day requirements of flight attendants:

  1. Lifting heavy baggage into overhead lockers
  2. Pushing a 200lb service cart up and down the isle
  3. Keeping your balance during the flight, while serving passengers food and drink, and through turbulence (t’s not as easy as it sounds when you have your hands full!).
  4. Walking for miles through the airports, and not getting lost on your way!
  5. Working in tight spaces
  6. Managing to work in a pressurized cabin, with recycled air for extended periods
  7. Managing jet lag/sleep deprivation
  8. Working extended shifts, in excess of 12 hours
One of the flight attendant requirements: hard work! Two flight attendants walking between terminals. Photo credit: MIKI Yoshihoto

Two flight attendants walking between terminals. Photo credit: M. Yoshihito

Summary:

The role of a flight attendant is a critical component of flight and passenger safety. You are the front line of the company, and you are the person who will be making the difference to the experience of the passenger – which is the priority for every company: customer satisfaction. As such, you need to be the best and to ensure they have the best of the best.

Airlines are setting the bar high. With all of these flight attendant requirements, plus their extensive training program – you can tell they’re very particular about who they bring onto the team.

We’re sure some people could find this list a little overwhelming, or make them wonder if it’s even worth it. If you don’t know why you should become a flight attendant – read this post which discusses the perks of being a flight attendant.

Here’s a summary of the flight attendant requirements:

  • Minimum age: 18 to 21 years, depending on the airline
  • Height: 4ft 11in and 6ft 3in, or 150cm and 190cm, tall. This is debatable (see Reach)
  • Weight: Just be a “healthy weight” for your height!
  • Reach: 208cm (on tippy-toes if you have to!)
  • Vision: 20/30, with or without corrective measures
  • Appearance: Clean, neat, conservative
  • Posess excellent communication skills
  • Be a professional team leader who works well under pressure, is patient and flexible, and is able to engage with people from all walks of life (among others!)
  • Be willing and able to persevere, handle discomfort and put your body to the test

How can we better help you land your dream job?

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