Cabin crew career?

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This topic contains 30 replies, has 15 voices, and was last updated by  handbag 24 Dec 2015
at 14:29

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  • Anonymous


    I’ve been reading BT’s recent article on the challenges of being cabin crew (see below).

    In a different life i would have been attracted to the job given my love flying and people (generally). The following questions came to mind though:

    What attracts people to the job?

    For those currently flying – any regrets?

    What qualities make a good member of cabin crew – perspective from both the customer side and within the profession?

    NB. this thread is intended to encourage discussion and not for research purposes and I’m looking forward to more of rferguson’s great insights ;=P


    I can’t help but feel back in the 60’s and 70’s a flying career was more fun and glamourous but today it’s just a job. Gone are the 3 day stopovers, the 3 week return trip to Oz, Economy class with space and First Class pax who were usually someone and no need to say DYKWIA as everyone did know who they were.

    I would not be attracted to a career today though I could have been tempted then.


    If unpolished, inattentive and dim flight attendants is the price we pay for cheaper flights, more choices and equitable access to air travel, then it is a price worth paying.


    A good cabin crew member (and airline for that matter) takes safety seriously and puts it first, and service second. However, safety should be a given, and in most cases is. So for service it should be someone who knows and has experienced the difference between good and poor service. All too often service staff in many industries just don’t now the difference, airlines included, including BA (there….I said it!). I tend to find on European Airlines the younger ones struggle with the whole service concept, on US airlines it is the mature ones. With the far east carriers I don’t find that difference… they are in the main all good irrelevant of age.

    Could I stick my neck out here and say men are generally better than women.


    Personally, I like crew that engage naturally, are friendly without being too familiar (applies both ways) and who deliver on what they promise.

    Over the years I’ve met some fascinating crew with interesting backgrounds. Ex nurses, teachers, engineers, translators, musicians, artists, sportsmen/women etc One had been flying for 20 years and was finishing his MBA. Another was violin teacher who flew between gigs.

    I loathe a bad attitude though – as in all customer facing jobs – and good crew should like interacting with people but also appreciate that they’re in a service role and not just there for the ride.


    I fancied doing it too when I was a yoof!
    I thought it was the best way to satisfy my early interest in aviation, but I too like helping people (genuinely).
    I ended up working on the ground in my teens and loved that, but still had a hankering to fly.
    I am REALLY critical of service industry staff and always give feedback good and bad – I can’t help it.
    However, I think I’ve had snottier men than women recently. A few BA ones come to mind – they just avoided all eye-contact/conversation etc.
    I wanted that job to serve people and make them happy, I also wonder why others pursue this career – some just look like they don’t want to be bothered by passengers.


    Luckily I joined BA well over a decade ago and have a nice work/life balance on Worldwide fleet, I also take home a reasonable salary. My rosters have allowed me to live up north and commute to Heathrow for my duties. With over 20 years left of my career I am certain things will change, so I am retraining in my spare time as are a lot of my colleagues. I have had a wonderful time and have visited many great places in my role and have met some fantastic people and I continue to enjoy it. However the role has changed even in the time I have been there, our trips are now pretty much made up of 24 hours down route and I really miss the days of long trips down to Africa. Certainly as I get older I am finding the jet lag and nights out of bed to be more of a struggle.

    BAs mixed fleet is a great chance to see the world and I think that’s how many see it. Progression to senior roles and other roles in BA can be quick, but it seems that many only last in the cabin crew roles for a few years. Pay is low and rosters are hard work. But from what my friends tell me it’s a fun and sociable fleet. But pretty hard to make a career out of it.

    Easyjet seems like a good airline to work for, pretty well paid but you do work hard for it. But long days and early starts and late finishes….. Turnover is again high… But if you stick it out it’s easy to progress and the company does seem to reward you.

    The likes of Emirates seem to appeal to many…. Maybe 15 years ago I would of considered it. A tax free salary and paid accommodation in Dubai is appealing for many but how many older crew do you see on any Middle eastern carrier? Plus at some stage you need to return home and to the real world.

    I have been very lucky, I joined an airline at the right time, however now it’s all about cost cutting….. I personally think the days of flying as a career may be behind us.

    Should add these are my own views and not those of my employer!!!


    A Crew Perspective.

    What attracted me?

    When I was 7 years old, I went to Butlins with my parents. I saw the Redcoats and decided that was going to be my job when I grew up. Wandering around all day talking and being nice to people, organising competitions and everyone liking you ( a 7 year old perspective).

    At 10 I met an an air hostess at a function. She was the most glamorous and interesting woman ( from a 10 year olds perspective) with the most exciting job, that I had ever met. I had changed my mind. I was going to be an air hostess.

    When I was 18, I applied to airlines and wasn’t successful. I found that I needed Customer Service and medical experience, so I worked , part time in restaurants and did a St. Johns Ambulance course, as well as working full time.

    Life took a change of route. At 20 and I was in a relationship, started a business and bought a house. Being an air hostess was put on hold.

    At 25, I decided, that I didn’t want the relationship, the house or the business. I wanted to escape it all, so left it all and applied to be a Thomson Rep. Went to Greece and had the best 2 years of my life ( became a Red Coat overseas – what could be better).

    After 2 years, decided, that I needed to come back to UK and build up towards my future again in the real world, if I got a job with an airline. I applied to British Caledonian and was accepted. Through my rose tinted glasses, I remember that the passengers were lovely, the lifestyle was glamorous and I was paid reasonably well. I was on cloud 9. I was a Caledonian Girl.

    We stayed in lovely hotels, got invited to Embassy’s and Golf Clubs and I was working for a Company I was proud of. When I got my first 21 day Australia trip, I thought I had won the lottery; not that there was a lottery in those days 🙂

    We got taken over by BA in 1988 (2 years after I started) and I moved to LHR from LGW. It took a while to get used to it. It was very different. The details and service with B Cal was second to none, the way things were done in BA, were no match, although still very good.

    I enjoyed working for BA for many years. I now enjoy the job that I do (interacting with passengers) and the people that I work with (so many interesting people, that have done or are doing other jobs), but not working for BA. Experience is not valued and the majority of Crew on the old Contract feel that we are not wanted and that the Company can’t wait for us to go.

    The majority do the job because they love working with people, so how we feel about the Company does not reflect on what we do on a daily basis.

    Any regrets?

    None at all. I would go back and take exactly the same path, that I have known all my life that I wanted.

    I will have done 30 years in January. I have been part time for some time and have successfully run a business whilst working as Crew. Something a lot of Crew do.

    What makes a good Crew member?

    Someone who likes people, is caring, professional, reasonably intelligent and has a good dose of common sense

    p.s. Would like to add that I find it very hard to believe that 25% of Crew have been reduced to tears by passengers. Thats surveys for you.


    Handbag….great contribution, as usual! :-))


    Many thanks Handbag, NorthernFlyer and others for your views. Very interesting insights so far.


    Just in from my Xmas night out, can’t be arsed checking my sky+ , already eaten and drunk my fill so I’m in bed perusing my tablet.And discovered…..

    2 excellent posts, so hats off to Handbag and Northern flyer , As .many of you regular reader’s will have gathered I was brought up as part of the CP family. My intention was to become a pilot for the company, starting at the beginning by joining the local Sea Island RCAF cadets.

    Sadly , I’m a bit , sorry WAS a bit of a wild child. And consequently my flight deck career was sabotaged by my own idiocy . Years later my thoughts turned to a second option, after remembering a visit to another member of the CP family. Specifically a bbq in their North Van , on the side of Grouse mountain, rather luxurious house .

    He was a Purser, married to a stewardess that made Linda Carter look like Bella Emberg. Even more impressive to a 14 & 3/4 year old ,was the fact that the garden was filled with girls that made me forget all about Daisy Duke. Most of them, but not all ( some AC babes) worked as CC for CP. .
    I also ,vividly remember, that there were happy men there too, who also worked beside these visions of adolescent fantasy , but seemed indifferent to their …..ehmmm……attributes !
    A few years later, I remembered that day and did the maths , and seriously considered applying . Although servicing the great public was secondary to my primary objective.

    And Handbag as a Caledonian lass, I’d have probably happily married you. : )


    Interesting insights NF and Handbag.
    Handbag, we may have travelled together in the past? I used BCAL from London to DBX stopping over for a few days as i had business interests there, and then on to HKG and vv on a regular basis.

    I loved the crew who were amongst the friendliest I’ve known and I was on the very last BCAL flight in F from HK back to London (I didn’t stopover on that one).


    One point has to be made regarding the the BA Mixed Fleet crews. The job seems very attractive and, of course, has the benefit if BA staff travel.
    But…the big point…is that the starting salary is very low. Because of the Mixed long/short haul operation the crews have to live within striking distance of LHR…high rents and costly living. Virgin new crews are paid slightly more, but can live further from LHR/LGW and can take advantage of lower rents further away as they only fly long haul.
    BA reckoned on a turn-over time of 18 months due to the lower salaries etc, but have been shocked that the turn-over time is actually only 8 months! They crews love the job…the youngsters have a buzz about them, but sadly they just can’t live on the money.
    The likes of our contributors are lucky with their career. It looks like the good days have gone.


    LuganoPirate – 19/12/2015 08:21 GMT
    We may well have done. I remember many a great trip, where we stopped in DBX before going onto HKG

    canucklad – 19/12/2015 02:34 GMT

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