What it Takes to Become a Flight Attendant

Application 

They never told us specifically what it was that made them pick our applications amongst the many they received. I have a degree, I’ve done a lot of international travel in the form of volunteering and studying abroad, I’ve volunteered with organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters for many years, and I have worked as a lifeguard for 5 years. Not to say you need these things specifically; I think my airline was looking for a range of people and backgrounds who had experience in and could contribute to making a safe, positive and comfortable environment for our guests.

Most airlines now require you to be bilingual. In Canada, it is more than likely that you will have to speak English and French, and any additional language will make you a more viable candidate. The airline will determine how fluent you need to be in that second language. Fake it till you make it though – if you can read the safety announcement and ask questions in regards to first aid (i.e. where is your medication?) then you’ve got it.

The interview

I got a call for an interview many months after applying – I had honestly even forgotten that I had applied. It was probably close to 6 months later that I heard back. They gave me a weeks notice. The interview time and date was non negotiable so make sure you can go!! The interview itself was amazing. The recruiters were so nice, friendly and funny. There were probably about 30 people getting interviewed. We all did individual interviews and then if successful, which it seemed most were, were invited back for a group interview later that day. The group interview isn’t as stressful as you might think – it was a presentation about the company with a few ice breakers and games to see how we got along with others. It was really laid back and was used more as an information session for the candidates to decide whether they want to be a part of the company.

Tips for the interview: Dress like a flight attendant; you want them to be able to picture you as a flight attendant! Wear tights, have a polished look, clean nails (no crazy colours), don’t show tattoos, natural makeup, pencil skirt, hair back and be happy, friendly and positive. Also, just relax, have fun and be yourself! 

Waiting Game

This part is different for everyone and depends on how many people being hiring, the other people interviewed and all sorts of other things out of your control. However, you will find out within two weeks whether or not you are successful – but that doesn’t mean you’ll become a flight attendant… yet. After you’re successful, you’re placed within a pool of “successful candidates.” You can be kept in this pool for up to 6 months waiting to get a spot in ground school (flight attendant training), and if you don’t get a spot within that 6 months then you have to re-apply.

Preping for Ground School

I lucked out and got a spot in ground school at the same time that I found out I was successful. I still remember that moment. I had a voicemail saying I was successful and had been placed in a training class which started in less than a month. Before you actually start ground school, there are forms and courses that need to be completed. You also need to pass a drug test, and a physical test prior to starting. Once you have everything signed, sealed and completed, you are ready (ish) to start ground school! 

Ground School

Most stereotypes about being a flight attendant are wrong.. as are most stereotypes.  I have completed 5 weeks of training and I still don’t know how to make your coffee or much about service at all. Flight attendants go through rigorous training on regulations, fire fighting, first aid, depressurization, evacuations and security. Our training took place in Toronto and Calgary – 42.5 hours+ a week. Our first two weeks were straight lectures and exams. We would sit in class for 8.5 hours (or more) every day for 2 weeks. We had 7 exams during that time where we had to get 85% to pass. If you got less that 85% then that was considered a fail. If you failed you had to rewrite that exam, and if you failed again you were sent home. If you passed, but failed a different exam, then you were also sent home (including the final exam on week 5 which was 100 questions long). We sadly did have to say bye to a few incredible people along the way, and the further along we got the sadder and more stressful it got. After the two weeks of lectures we got into the practical stuff – but not serving sweet or salty snacks like you might assume. I actually didn’t learn how to do that until my first day of flying. Instead, week three was spent learning how to fight fires in the air, doing first aid, and dealing with a depressurization. We had a variety of drills where we would have to follow the exact procedures quickly for different situations. At the end of the week we were even tested on our ability to fight a real fire! The next two weeks we had more 85% pass/fail drills. These were similar to the exams, where if we failed one we would have to redo, and if we failed that or a different one then we were sent home. These drills were intense as the procedures we had to follow were quite lengthy – some evacuation drills would take up to 30 minutes to follow all of the steps required – and you couldn’t miss one. There were other rules you had to follow too, in fear of being sent home. You couldn’t be late. Not even by a minute. You also had to show up every day in a training uniform with strict guidelines and we would have to do uniform assessments on each other to ensure conformity. If you broke these rules more than once then you were also at risk of being sent home. Seems a bit crazy – but the idea was that they were trying to prepare us for when we started to fly.

Probation

Once you pass ground school you become a qualified flight attendant with your airline!!! You also want to cry because you are so mentally and physically exhausted and want sleep for like 2 weeks except you start flying in 3 days!!!! Yay!!!!

There is still a 6 month probationary period where you basically need to show the company why you should be there. Don’t be late. Know your job. And dress in your uniform. I’m not sure how many people get let go during this period – but after all this time, money and most importantly, energy, I do not want that to happen to me!

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WestJet Encore, Class #24!

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xx,

S

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