Most travelers in India give little thought to flight attendants, but they are more than just pretty faces. Behind those welcoming smiles are highly skilled professionals, who can be relied on during in-flight emergencies. Yes, your very life could depend on their dexterity in such situations.
This post will tell you more about the required skill sets of flight attendants; we guarantee that it will not just help you appreciate their service, but also help you breathe easy the next time you board your flight.
1. 20-20 Vision
Although eyesight is especially important for pilots and air-traffic controllers, flight attendants also need to be able to distinguish objects in conditions of poor lighting, such as at dawn or dusk. Airlines in India have strict requirements with respect to eyesight. Under no circumstance will a person suffering from night blindness or color blindness be employed as a flight attendant. Most airlines will not even hire individuals who wear spectacles or have undergone corrective eye surgery. These requirements many vary, however flight attendants in many airlines are now allowed to use contact lenses.
2. Health Status
Being medically fit is an essential requirement for every member of an airline’s flight crew. Flight attendants undergo extensive medical testing before being awarded a fitness certificate. Individuals who look perfect, but suffer from diseases like AIDS, diabetes, psychological disorders, and other chronic conditions will not make the cut. This requirement is crucial, as flight attendants need to be able to function at peak levels, even under stressful conditions like enduring long periods of standing, inhaling recycled air, and lifting heavy loads, on a regular basis.
3. Height Requirements
Flight attendants need to be tall enough to reach overhead safety equipment on board an aircraft, and height restrictions apply to every member of the flight crew. These restrictions vary among different airlines in India, with most requiring flight attendants to be at least 160 cms tall. This condition is relaxed by 5 cms in certain exceptional cases like for employees hailing from Northeast India or those belonging to the SC/ST category.
4. Age Restrictions
While age restrictions apply to most jobs, they usually include a fairly broad range, but most flight attendants in India are not so lucky. Many airlines have strict age requirements for new recruits. Air India and Jet Airways, for example, only employ candidates in the age groups of 18 to 24 years and 18 to 27 years, respectively.
Flight attendants always have to be well-groomed and presentable. After all, they are the first point of contact and the face of the airlines they serve. Most Indians know only too well, how much of a challenge it can be to get to work well-groomed and free of body odor. Nevertheless, this is a feat that flight attendants must pull off. Most airlines will also refrain from hiring anyone with visible blemishes, scars, birth marks, or tattoos.
6. Cheerful Demeanor
Patience and a cheerful disposition may be virtues for most of us, but they are essential skills for flight attendants. From rude and demanding businessmen to noisy and obnoxious kids, flight attendants have to smile and bear it all. Flight attendants need to be courteous and polite with all fliers and this requires a great deal of patience and tact, more so when dealing with difficult passengers.
Proficiency in English is an essential skill for flight attendants working with most airlines across the world, while knowledge of the regional language is adequate with some. In India, however, proficiency in English alone will not suffice. Flight attendants on domestic airlines need to be able to communicate effectively in both Hindi and English to cater to the needs of our multi-lingual population.
8. Marital Status
When hiring first-timers, most airlines in India only employ unmarried employees as flight attendants because the job profile requires frequent relocation and irregular hours that can be hard to cope with when you are already juggling the responsibilities of a spouse and family. The next time you are flying you can be pretty sure that most of the flight attendants are unmarried, but this doesn’t mean you can hit on them.
Although it is highly unlikely that you will ever need to be saved from drowning when you board a flight, flight attendants in many airlines are expected to know how to swim. Poolside training is common and those hoping to become flight attendants should be able to demonstrate their ability to float, move freely in the water, use life jackets, and operate inflatable rafts.
10. Dealing with Emergencies
Flight attendants are essentially the first responders in any emergency situation that develops during a flight. This means that from the time you board your flight till the time you disembark your life is in their hands. This is a huge responsibility and flight attendants have to undergo intensive training to prepare for various medical and other emergencies. Behind the cheerful demeanor of that flight attendant, who serves you your food and drinks, is an expert in safety and first aid. Flight attendants may be trained to deal with a variety of medical situations, from providing CPR to delivering a baby!
They may be at your service, serving you food and drinks and helping you into your seats, but they are also skilled professionals. So, the next time you board your flight, be more appreciative and respectful toward your flight attendants, and be rest assured that you are in capable hands.