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THE JOB FLIGHT ATTENDANTS (also called stewardesses and stewards) help make flights safe, comfortable, and enjoyable for airline passengers. A Flight Attendant's work begins when the plane's crew meets for a preflight briefing covering route, weather, type of food and beverage services to be offered, and passengers with medical problems or special requests. Each Flight Attendant is assigned a work station and specific inflight duties. On board the plane, Flight Attendants check to see that first-aid kits and other emergency equipment are aboard and that supplies, such as food, beverages, blankets, and, reading material are adequate. As passengers board the plane, Attendants greet them, check their tickets, and assist passengers by hanging up coats and stowing small pieces of luggage under the seats or in overhead compartments. Flight attendants are responsible for passenger safety. They explain safety regulations and emergency procedures, check to see that seat belts are fastened during takeoff and landing, and assure that other Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) safety standards are followed. Flight Attendants are also concerned with their passengers' comfort. Depending on the length of the flight, they may operate movie and audio systems, sell and serve cocktails, and heat and distribute precooked meals. Before and after meals, Attendants make periodic trips through the cabin to ensure passenger comfort. For example, they might offer to help care for infants, bring magazines, or adjust seats. In the event of an illness or emergency, Flight Attendants may distribute medicine to alleviate symptoms or administer first aid or operate emergency equipment such as chutes to quickly evacuate passengers. At the end of the flight they see the passengers off the plane, inspect and clean the cabin, and fill out any flight attendant reports required by the airline. WORKING CONDITIONS A Flight Attendant's job is both physically and emotionally demanding. Flight Attendants are on their feet during most of the flight and under pressure to complete their tasks within the scheduled flight time. At times they have to serve meals and pour drinks under turbulent flying conditions. Despite stress or fatigue, they are expected to deal pleasantly with passengers of all personality types, including those who are difficult or rude. Although Flight Attendants enjoy the benefits of travel, they also may have to live out of suitcases for weeks at a time. They may be scheduled to fly at any hour, weekends and holidays. Attendants are usually required to purchase their first uniforms. Payment can be made through payroll deductions. Most Flight Attendants belong to a union representing all flight attendants within their airline. Among the unions representing these workers are the Association of Flight Attendants, the Independent Federation of Flight Attendants, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. EMPLOYMENT OUTLOOK The following information is from the California Projections and Planning Information report published by the Labor Market Information Division. Estimated number of workers in 1993 12,060 Estimated number of workers in 2005 16,510 Projected Growth 1993-2005 37% Estimated openings due to separations by 2005 3,840 (These figures do not include self-employment nor openings due to turnover.) In recent years the turnover rate for Flight Attendants has declined because a greater number of career minded people have entered the occupation. The turnover rate has also been reduced by the fact that maximum age and marital restrictions were eliminated. However, the bulk of job openings occurring through the year 2005 will continue to be the result of Flight Attendants changing occupations or leaving the labor force altogether. Population growth and increased per capita spending power are expected to enlarge the size of passenger carriers and the frequency of flights. The result will be an increase in the number of passengers which will translate into an increase in Flight Attendants, since FAA safety rules require at least one Flight Attendant for every 50 passengers. The allure of the airline industry, with its travel opportunities and promise of adventure, attracts many job applicants and makes competition for available positions keen. Job seekers who fair best are those with a minimum of two years of college, experience in dealing with the public, and knowledge of a foreign language. The prosperity of the passenger airline industry is vulnerable to periodic downturns in the economy. When consumer confidence hesitates, pleasure travel is looked upon as a nonessential luxury. Flight Attendants are often laid off or put on part time status during such recessionary times, with very few new hires taking place until the economy bounces back. WAGES, HOURS, AND FRINGE BENEFITS Flight Attendant wages start at a range of $12,000 to $18,400 annually. With several years of experience, Flight Attendants can expect to earn from $14,100 to $20,100 per annum. Top senior wages can reach from $20,100 to $42,000 a year. The hourly wage paid to Flight Attendants is quite high, but they are customarily contracted to work only from 50 to 75 hours per month. If the need arises for them to fly more often, they are compensated at a rate of time and one half. Many airlines offer extra compensation on international flights to Flight Attendants are fluent in a foreign language. The pay differential for multilingual Flight Attendants can range from 50 to 75 cents per hour. Fringe benefits can include health and life insurance, retirement plan, paid vacation, lodging and food costs on "layovers", uniform replacement, and free or discount air travel for Attendants and immediate family members. ENTRANCE REQUIREMENTS AND TRAINING Hiring requirements are similar among all the airlines. Flight Attendants must be at least 19 to 21 years old. Height may be between 5' 2" and 6' 0", with weight in proportion to height and bone structure. Depending on the airline, natural vision must be at least 20/50 to 20/200; corrected vision (glasses or contacts) must be 20/20 to 20/50. General health must be excellent; all airlines give pre-employment physicals. A high school education is usually required. In addition, most airlines prefer two or more years of college and/or work experience involving contact with the public. Nursing experience or training is advantageous. International air carriers require or prefer fluency in a foreign language, such as Spanish, German, Chinese, or French. Personal characteristics, as revealed in interviews and tests, are extremely important. When interviewing prospective Flight Attendants, employers look for maturity and adaptability, a pleasant voice and good vocabulary, good grooming, and tasteful dress. Applicants are also evaluated on their poise, tact, and enthusiasm for the job. Flight Attendant courses, offered by some community colleges and trade schools, may provide helpful background information on the job and its requirements. However, airline officials emphasize that such instruction is not necessary and has little or no influence on their selection decisions. In any event, all airlines conduct their own training programs for new hires, regardless of their backgrounds. While in training, which lasts from four to six weeks, candidates usually receive either a small salary or free housing and meals. They are expected to bring sufficient money to cover personal expenses during training, plus moving expenses to their first home base. Depending on the circumstances, the amount required may range from $200 to $1,000. With the exception of airlines flying only within California, the first home base will probably be in another state. This is because assignments are awarded on the basis of seniority and California is a very popular choice. In fact, 10 or more years of service may be required for a California home base. ADVANCEMENT As seniority increases, Flight Attendants receive higher pay, better flying assignments, and greater job security. Some advance to management positions such as flight attendant supervisor, instructor, or inflight services manager. A few transfer to other departments such as customer services, personnel, or sales. FINDING THE JOB One should apply directly to the airline. Candidates who meet the minimum requirements may be invited to local group interviews by a team of recruiters. Those who pass this screening are scheduled for individual interviews. Free air transportation may be provided to the interview location if in another city. ADDITIONAL SOURCES OF INFORMATION Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) 1625 Massachusetts Ave NW, 3rd floor Washington, D.C. 20036 (202) 328-5400 http://www.afausairways.org International Flight Attendants Association (IFAA) c/o P.R. Miller 2314 Old Windsor Pke. New Windsor, MD 21776 OCCUPATIONAL CODE REFERENCES DOT (Dictionary of Occupational Titles, 4th ed., Rev. 1) Airplane-Flight Attendant 352.367-010 OES (Occupational Employment Statistics) System Flight Attendants 680260 Source: State of California, Employment Development Department, Labor Market Information Division, Information Services Group, (916) 262-2162.Note: This is NOT a job opening. The purpose of This California Occupational Guide is to provide you with useful information to help you make career decisions. If you are searching for a job, go to:
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