Job descriptions and industry overviews

Air cabin crew

25 Jan 2023, 13:37

Takes responsibility for the safety and comfort of passengers on commercial aeroplanes.

Feature image Air cabin crew

Cabin crew (flight attendants, air stewards, stewardesses) are members of a flight crew employed to ensure the safety and comfort of passengers on board an aircraft.

Work activities

  • Attending pre-flight briefings.
  • Checking there are sufficient meals, drinks and duty free for the passengers.
  • Welcoming passengers on board and directing them to their seats.
  • Ensuring that all emergency equipment is in working order prior to take off and explaining and demonstrating safety procedures and equipment to passengers.
  • Ensuring that all hand luggage is securely stored away.
  • Checking all passenger seat belts and galleys are secure prior to take-off.
  • Clearing and collecting the meal trays from passengers.
  • Distributing landing cards and other documentation where necessary.

Work conditions

Travel: including overseas is a normal part of the working day, with frequent absence from home overnight.
Working hours: irregular work patterns and unsociable hours, including weekends and bank holidays. Also required to spend time away from base (overnights) and time on call.
Location: mainly in commercial airports. May be required to relocate to an overseas base.
Opportunities for self-employment: not possible.

Typical employers

Commercial airlines.

Career development

Merit and performance, will determine career progression. Most airlines have a structured career progression.

Transfer to ground-based employment is also possible to areas such as passenger check-in, cabin crew support services, crew control, performance management or into training and development.

Related occupations

  • Aircraft dispatcher
  • Holiday/Tour representative
  • Restaurant manager
  • Sales assistant
  • Waitress/Bar tender.


Airlines have their own pay structures and employment policies, which will vary.

Entry requirements

Open to non-graduates and graduates of any discipline. There are airline-recognised training courses available which would give you an excellent insight into what you can expect.

Other relevant degree subjects

  • Hospitality
  • Modern languages
  • Nursing
  • Paramedical studies
  • Tourism.

Postgraduate study

A pre-entry postgraduate qualification is not a requirement.

Specific entry requirements

Possession of a full, valid passport with no restrictions that allows entry to all employing airline’s destinations.

There may be additional minimum and maximum height requirements. Minimum of 5 ft 2 in (157cm), maximum 6 ft 2 in (188 cm) with weight in proportion to height to enable you to wear the standard cabin crew safety harness is the norm.

A good level of health and fitness is essential to cope with the demands of flying and generally there is a requirement of being confident in water and be able to swim at least 25 metres unaided. Clear speech, good hearing and eyesight, although glasses and contact lenses are allowed.


There is a normally a mandatory 4-6 week training course covering safety and emergency procedures. Training is generally, though not always, paid for by the airline.

Tips for applications

Work with the public, or experience gained within nursing, catering, hotel, tourism or travel trades is usually necessary.

Skills and qualities

  • Well presented with excellent standards of grooming (crew must adhere to strict standards regarding grooming, appearance and conduct while in uniform).
  • No visible tattoos or body piercing.
  • Ability to work in confined spaces, quickly and efficiently, often within time constraints.
  • Excellent communication skills and confidence in dealing with a range of people.
  • Friendly and caring nature.
  • Ability to work as a team member and to be supportive of colleagues.
  • Ability to remain calm under pressure and in emergency situations.
  • Tact and diplomacy in handling difficult situations and assertive when necessary.
  • Flexibility in working unsocial hours.
  • Good numeracy skills for handling cash, including foreign currency.

Further information

Not all airlines have been equally affected by the current economic conditions which have hit the airline industry hard. International airlines, particularly those in the Middle East are still recruiting.

gradireland editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the gradireland content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

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