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Career and Job Search Guide
  

Flight Attendant

Major airlines employ flight attendants to attend to the needs of passengers and provide instruction on safety and emergency protocols. A flight attendants number one responsibility is making sure security and safety rules are followed, but they also are responsible to make sure passengers are comfortable.

One hour prior to takeoff, pilots brief attendants about flight details and security rules. Flight attendants ensure that emergency equipment is available for the flight as well as monitoring the plane for adequate amounts of food and drinks. After passengers enter the plane, flight attendants instruct them about safety and emergency procedures.

Prior to take off, flight attendants make sure carry-on items are securely stored and passengers' seatbelts are properly secured. If there is an emergency, it is a flight attendants' responsibility to assist passengers. For example, if passengers had to be evacuated from a plane after an emergency landing, flight attendants would direct the evacuation. They also administer first aid to sick or injured passengers. Before the plane lands, flight attendants take inventory, make a note of the cabin's condition, and keep records about any sick or injured patients.

Lead flight attendants, also known as pursers, supervise other attendants while performing the same duties.

Work environment. Flight attendants work nights, weekends, and holidays. But since most attendants are union members, they usually work set hours. Most attendants are usually limited to working 12 hours shifts but some are allowed to work 14 hour shifts. Those working on international flights are usually permitted to work longer shifts.

Attendants usually spend 65-90 hours in the air and 50 hours preparing planes for passengers monthly. Most airlines usually guarantee attendants at least 65-85 flight hours every month, usually with opportunities to work overtime.

While working, Flight attendants are away from their homes for at least a third of the time, so airliners pay for hotel rooms and food.

Flight attendants are often required to move. Those with seniority can choose the routes they work and the location of their home bases. Nearly all flight attendants begin their careers working on call or being designated to reserve status. Flight attendants on private jets usually work whenever they are needed.

Flight attendants get to travel to new places and often receive discount airfare for their personal travel. Being a flight attendant can be stressful since attendants often deal with difficult passengers and must be pleasant during their entire shift even if they are stressed or the plane is flying through turbulence.

Flight attendants are susceptible to back injuries if overhead luggage is not properly secured and health problems associated with a pressurized cabin and breathing recycled air. Flight attendants sometimes have irregular eating and sleeping routines.
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