Air cabin crew

flight attendant

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would look after airline passengers and be responsible for their comfort and safety during their flight.

You'd make passengers feel welcome and safe on the aircraft, inform them about services on the flight and help them enjoy a comfortable journey.

You'd be firm and polite in telling passengers what to do in an emergency. You'd reassure them if they are nervous about flying.

Before a flight you would:

  • Go a meeting about the flight and the schedule
  • Check that there are enough supplies on the plane and that emergency equipment works properly
  • Greet passengers and help them find seats and put their hand luggage away
  • Demonstrate the emergency equipment and procedures to passengers.
  • Check that passengers have fastened their seatbelts

During a flight you would:

  • Make sure that passengers are comfortable and deal with any requests
  • Serve food and drinks and sell duty-free items
  • Deal with payments in cash, including foreign currency, and credit cards
  • Make announcements on behalf of the pilot
  • Calm nervous or sick passengers and give first aid
  • Reassure passengers in the event of an emergency and make sure that they follow safety procedures

At the end of a flight you would:

  • Make sure that passengers leave the plane safely and with all their hand luggage
  • Write a flight report, including about any unusual incidents
  • Add up and record details of food and drink orders, and duty-free sales

You'd need to be assertive but polite when dealing with difficult customers.

Working conditions

Hours

You would work shifts that include weekends, nights and public holidays.

Environment

You would be expected to be neat and smart, and your company would provide you with a uniform. The work can be physically demanding, as you would spend a lot of time on your feet and work in small spaces like the kitchen galley. Bad weather could make it uncomfortable in the aircraft.

Travel

The amount of time you would spend away from home would vary depending on the flight routes that you work on.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Explaining things
  • Working as part of a team
  • Persuading people
  • Being tactful
  • Working with numbers

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Qualifications

There are no formal qualifications required but some employers ask for qualifications at SCQF level 4/5.

Entry is highly competitive.

Useful subjects

Many courses and employers require English and maths.

Some may ask for a modern language.

Other useful subject include health & food technologies and care.  

You will also need

  • A good level of fitness and colour normal vision
  • A smart appearance
  • No visible tattoos or piercings
  • Over 18 years old, although some airlines set the minimum entry age at 21
  • A valid passport with no restrictions for the countries to which the airline travel
  • To be approved for membership of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme run by Disclosure Scotland

There are also rules around height and weight, although this will vary between airlines, so check with them. As a general guide, many look for people between 5ft2in (157cm) and 6ft2in (188cm).

Many airlines look for you to have the ability to swim up to 25 metres.

You will need to undergo a medical as part of the recruitment process.

Previous experience of working with people in a customer service role is often desirable. Some airlines have a minimum requirement of six months to two years of customer service experience  

Helpful to have

Qualifications and experience that show helping customers, awareness of health and safety and physical fitness such as:

  • Skills for Work Travel and Tourism (SCQF level 4/5)
  • Uniformed and Emergency Services (SCQF level 4) 

Communication and language qualifications such as SQA Modern Languages for Life & Work Award (SCQF level 3/4).

Work-based qualifications in areas such as customer services (SVQ level 2/3) or that include health, safety and hygiene.

National Qualification or National Certificate (SCQF levels 2 to 6) introduction to cabin crew or international travel and airport operations course.

Various other self-funded industry preparation courses but these do not guarantee entry to the job. Competition is very fierce.