Thursday, 9 April 2009

What are the basic requirements for a cabin crew career?

One of the first questions that you need to ask yourself when considering a cabin crew career is whether you meet the airlines basic requirements. These differ between airlines so we recommend that you check with the airline to make sure you fulfil their basic criteria before applying. Aviation English Asia students have access to the career centre which contains updated information about requirements.

Language proficiency

Regardless of where you are in the world, airlines look for candidates with strong language skills. Fluency in a major world language such as French, Spanish, German or Italian is a major advantage. Asian languages such as Chinese (Putonghua and Cantonese), Japanese and Korean are becoming increasingly important following shifts in the world economy.

But really there is one language that is ESSENTIAL if you want a career as a flight attendant. Airline recruitment departments are very concerned with your ability to speak English - being able to pass an English exam is not enough. You need to be able to communicate in English effectively and be prepared to deal with a lot of non-routine situations.

In Asia, English proficiency is the biggest hurdle for most candidates. Recruiters don't expect you to be completely fluent in English but they expect you to be able to able to express yourself with a high degree of fluency and most importantly confidence. Fluency in English cannot be obtained overnight - it requires sustained effort. For recommended courses to help you achieve that English fluency see

In some Western countries, a lot of flights are domestic only so those airlines will not require you to speak a second language. These airlines might have a second language preference for some international destinations. On these routes, a designated Language of Destination/Origin (LOD/O - pronounced "low-doe") flight attendant is assigned to the flight. These routes are usually awarded to senior flight attendants, and it is very competitive even for qualified applicants.

Residence in a country that the airline serves

Every airline requires you to be a resident of their country of origin or be able to obtain a permit/visa to work in that country. It is also important to have the right to travel to and from the countries the airline serves.

Some countries have a National Identity Card and it goes without saying a passport! If you don't have a passport at the moment it would be a good idea to apply for one as soon as possible as it will speed up the application process. This can take several months.

Willing to relocate if necessary

A lot of airlines have a clause in the contract requiring that you be willing to relocate if necessary. You can read more about this in a future post.


Airlines used to have a reputation for hiring only the most beautiful flight attendants. Beauty isn't the requirement it once was but airlines are still prefer hiring people who have a neat and attractive appearance. Cabin crew have continuous direct contact with the public. Most airlines will say that they don't require beauty but in reality they will at least require that their flight attendants are well groomed, neat and presentable. Some airlines have specific requirements to help create an appealing brand identity.

Typically, airlines do not allow visible tattoos, piercings, long hair on men, wild hairstyles, unusual makeup or very "bling" jewelry, poorly manicured hands, etc. Each airline is are different so be sure that your lifestyle is compatible with the airlines corporate image. If you are a goth or rocker, you might want to avoid wearing studded chokers and white makeup during your interview. Some airlines do not even permit facial hair on men! During your induction training, you will be given specific grooming regulations which must be strictly adhered to.

Physical health and Background check

If you don't quite meet the airlines minimum requirements you might be considering cheating on the application form. It is best not to, as the application will be invalid. Airlines will check your height, weight, body composition, criminal convictions and past drug use. Airlines are very security conscious and will investigate every part of the applicants background.

Every airline will require you to have a medical examination. During this exam, an airline is able to confirm any discrepancies on your application about your height, whether you have a drug or alcohol problem, or whether your past medical history shows anything adverse that would disqualify you from getting the job. Since you are given a urine test during this health check, it is very important that you tell the doctors of any medications you are taking.