There are several requirements to become an Air Hostess (such as age limit, height and weight requirements). The age limit requirements to become a Flight Attendant vary in different countries and airlines, so it can easily cause confusion amongst people who are aspiring to be an Air Hostess or Cabin Crew.
It’s important to know the air hostess age limit for the airline you plan to apply to, as some people have actually applied to an airline and made it all the way to the interview before they found out that they weren’t within the age limit and that they actually just wasted their time. On the other hand, some people don’t apply for Flight Attendant jobs as they think they don’t meet the age requirements, so don’t bother to apply (when actually they do!).
Therefore it’s really important to know the Flight Attendant age requirements for the specific airline you want to apply for. This article will discuss the age limit for Cabin Crew and is based on information purely from the airlines and the Flight Attendants who work there.
Flight Attendant Age Requirements: What Is The Minimum Air Hostess Age Limit?
In many airlines around the world you can apply to be a Flight Attendant at age 18. For some airlines however, such as the Middle Eastern airlines of Etihad, Emirates and Qatar and airlines based in the USA such as Delta, and United, the minimum age requirements is age 21.
This is because 21 is the legal age for consuming and serving alcohol in the countries where these airlines are located (UAE & USA). Other airlines will require you to be at least 19 or 20 when you apply, so it just depends on the individual airline. Note that you can actually apply to some US airlines when you are 20 years old (such as American Airlines, JetBlue and Southwest Airlines).
Generally for airlines in Europe, India and Asia the minimum age to become a Flight Attendant is 18. However do always check on the official website of the airline you are applying for to confirm, as sometimes requirements change.
Am I Too Old To Be A Flight Attendant?
In contrast to people asking about the minimum age requirements to be an Air Hostess, you will also see more mature people asking if there is a maximum age limit for Flight Attendants. They may ask themselves am I too old to be a Flight Attendant, especially because they see many Flight Attendants are young.
The short answer is no they are not too old. Many people choose to become a Flight Attendant later in life. I have known people in their 40’s and 50’s who transitioned into a career as a Flight Attendant with no prior experience. Providing you meet the other requirements, your age should not prevent you from becoming a Flight Attendant.
HOWEVER, what’s important to note though, is that whilst airlines will always say what is the minimum age requirements to be a Flight Attendant, they don’t always disclose what is the maximum age they are willing to accept someone to become Cabin Crew. This can make it confusing and a little unfair. I wish it wasn’t true, but we have to admit that age discrimination does occur in some airlines, even though the airlines will do their best to make it seem like that isn’t the case.
Air Hostess Age Limit: Is There An Age Limit For Flight Attendants?
In countries such as the UK, USA, Canada and Australia there is no upper age limit to become a Flight Attendant. In these countries, age discrimination in employment is actually against the law and they have legislation and Equality Acts to ensure it doesn’t occur. You can’t not hire someone just because of their age and because you want to employ someone younger instead.
Everyone should be given an equal opportunity, and non-discrimination is a priority for companies across all sectors in these countries, not just for airlines. Hence if you’ve ever flown with British or American carriers, you’ll notice the crew aren’t all young model looking females. In fact, the average age of Flight Attendants working in America is in the mid 40s! As long as a Flight Attendant is able to carry out their duties safely, they can carry on working to retirement.
In other countries however, especially those in Asia and The Middle East (in particular Etihad, Emirates and Qatar) and India, it’s a different story. Asian and Middle Eastern countries prefer their Flight Attendants to be young and generally tend to only accept candidates in their twenties and early thirties.
It’s important to remember that even though this isn’t specified on their websites, what some airlines prefer and what they ‘officially’ say can be quite different so as not to appear discriminatory. They often have ‘secret’ requirements that they won’t disclose, as they know they would get a lot of backlash and criticism, even lawsuits against them, if this was publicly revealed.
It’s not impossible, but it is quite rare for a Middle Eastern/Asian/Indian airline to hire Cabin Crew aged 40+, so do bear this in mind before you apply as it can save you a lot of heartache. Generally applicants aged 30 or under are preferred, however I do know a couple of Cabin Crew that got recruited in the Middle East when they were in their 30’s.
The sad truth is that most airlines prefer younger crew.
Why Do Airlines Prefer Younger Flight Attendants?
Airlines prefer younger Flight Attendants for several reasons:
- younger crew are less likely to have a family (or want to start one soon) so have less commitments and can focus on work more and be more flexible.
- they are usually fitter, more able to handle night flights, long hours standing etc, as well as being able to adapt to living in a new city if they need to relocate for the job.
- younger crew are more likely to be able to be moulded into the exact type of employee the airline wants and are less likely to have bad habits from previous jobs. They are also likely to pick up new skills quicker as they are used to learning.
- the Flight Attendants are the face of the company, so the airlines need the Flight Attendants to suit the image of the airline and make a lasting impression. Therefore it helps if they are young and good looking.
- younger Flight Attendants are less likely to have injuries eg back injuries, so there should theoretically be less sick pay.
Airlines basically have the choice of who they can hire.
As there are many applicants to become a Flight Attendant and the competition is tough, often the airlines can be very selective with who they employ. Therefore they can afford to select someone who is younger, compared to someone more mature. They can literally choose whoever they want from a large pool of people.
And as they aren’t legally obliged to tell unsuccessful candidates why they didn’t make it through to the next stage of the process, it means they have have a hidden screening agenda, with maximum age being one of the criteria.
We have to remember that whilst it often isn’t obvious or made public, age discrimination against Cabin Crew does exist in certain airlines in certain areas around the world.
If you are a bit older, don’t panic. What is important is to make sure you show the panel WHY your age is a bonus. What have your past jobs and experiences given you that perhaps the younger candidates won’t have? Whether you have a medical background, previous aviation experience, or great customer services skills – these can all be really convincing reasons for airlines to employ more mature candidates, so make sure the panel know that you are able to adapt and open to new situations and environments. Show that you are a loyal employee, you are quick to learn and that you are a responsible worker.
Other Flight Attendant Requirements
Some other requirements for Flight Attendants include:
- Height Requirements: Height requirements are set for Flight Attendants not to be discriminatory, but because it is a safety requirement for them to be able to reach the overhead stowage compartments unaided as lots of the safety equipment is kept in there. Due to these safety reasons, airlines are usually quite strict about minimum height requirements for Flight Attendants. There aren’t really universal height requirements for Flight Attendants as the height of the overhead stowage compartment varies amongst different aircrafts (for example in narrow body airplanes the overhead stowage stowage compartments are a lot lower than in wide body aircrafts). The height requirements for Flight Attendants varies across different airlines, but an average minimum height is around 159cm (5’2″) without shoes. Some airlines also do an arm reach test. For the arm reach test, an average reach of 212cm (6’9″) is required.
- Weight Requirements: There aren’t specific weight requirements for Flight Attendants – many airlines will check to see that the prospective Cabin Crew are in proportion, they look a healthy weight and that they will be able to fit in the Cabin Crew Uniform. However, you have probably noticed that generally you don’t see a grossly overweight or fat Flight Attendant as they still need to have a relative level of fitness to be able to open the heavy cabin doors and assist in emergency situations, to sit in the jumpseat and be able to fasten their harness, and to be able to spend a long time on their feet. Being a Flight attendant is quite a physical job – it involves a lot of lifting and the Cabin Crew Roster requires a lot of energy, so generally people who apply to become Cabin Crew are relatively healthy. Before you go for your Assessment Day I would check your height and weight measurements on a BMI calculator. Aim to be within the normal healthy range, however if you are deemed slightly overweight definitely do not let this put you off applying at all. They don’t test your physical fitness at the Assessment Day.
- English Fluency: If you want to be a Flight Attendant in an English speaking country such as America, Canada, UK etc, you will need to be fluent in English. Also if you apply to become a Flight Attendant for Qatar, Etihad or Emirates you will need to pass an English test at the Assessment Day as English is the language spoken in these airlines, despite being based in Arabic countries, as the majority of passengers communicate in English and English is the language of aviation. You do not need to know Arabic language to apply to work in one of these 3 Middle Eastern airlines.
- Citizenship/Ability to legally work in that country: Some airlines require you to be a citizen of that country to be able to work as a Flight Attendant (for example at Virgin Australia you need to hold Australian or NZ citizenship or Permanent Residency). The same applies in the United States – you will need to be a US Citizen or a legal resident alien (Permanent Resident). When you apply for Qatar, Emirates and Etihad, if you are accepted as Cabin Crew you will be granted rights to legally work in that country.
- Appearance: Flight Attendant appearance is important as Flight Attendants are seen as the face of the airline and who the passengers will have most contact with. Flight Attendants need to represent the airline well, so it is important that they have a professional appearance. There are certain style and image look standards and requirements that Flight Attendants should adhere to in terms of their appearance. Flight Attendant appearance requirements includes having a clean and professional look. Flight Attendant hairstyles should be neat and well-kept, and females should wear neat makeup. At the Flight Attendant Assessment Day make sure you try and make yourself as smart as possible and have your hair (and makeup) as you would if you were a proper Flight Attendant.
- Passionate for travel and able to adapt to new situations: With some Flight Attendant jobs you will need to move to a new city or country, and will need to adapt being away from home and your friends and family. You will also need to be okay with being away from your base for a few days at a time sometimes.
- Good communication and customer service skills: Whilst this isn’t a physical requirement, it is definitely a requirement recruiters are looking for when they are recruiting for Flight Attendants. Airlines need Flight Attendants that are friendly, caring, understanding and have great people skills. Flight Attendants are often seen as the face of the organisation, so they need to have excellent interpersonal skills and an ability to communicate with a wide range of people. Many of the tasks on the Assessment Day will be to assess how well you can interact with others.
- Drug Test: Airlines expect you to pass a pre-employment drug screen as well as be subject to random drug and alcohol testing in the future prior to your operational duties. Bear in mind certain drugs such as marijuana can stay in your system for a lot longer than alcohol can. Flight Attendants are encouraged not to smoke, and if they are smokers they shouldn’t be seen smoking in their uniform before or after a flight when at the airport.
- Education Requirements: A University Degree is not a requirement to become a Flight Attendant. Airlines will require prospective Flight Attendants to have a High School Diploma or equivalent. You will often find that many Flight Attendants do actually have a University Degree though, and whilst this is seen as an advantage it is not a requirement. Especially in airlines where the minimum age to become a Flight Attendant is 18, such as British Airways and Virgin, many of the Cabin Crew won’t have a University Degree if they would have gone straight into flying after completing college or A Levels.
- Tattoos/ piercings: The majority of airlines do not allow for Flight Attendants to have tattoos visible whilst they are wearing the Cabin Crew uniform. They can however have tattoos that will not be visible whilst they are wearing their Flight Attendant uniform – for example on their torso, back, upper thigh etc. Flight Attendants are not allowed to use bandages or cosmetics to cover up tattoos that would otherwise be visible whilst wearing the Cabin Crew uniform. The question can Flight Attendants have piercings is another question that also gets asked a lot. Most airlines will allow for one piercing per ear lobe for female Flight Attendants. Any other visible body parts (eg: nose, eyebrows, lips etc) can not have piercings. Remember individual airlines do vary their standards so always check the policy for the airline you are interested in applying to.
- Teeth Braces: Depends on the airline, but usually Invisalign braces are permitted, so long as they aren’t visible.
- Passport: As obvious as it sounds, you will need a valid passport to become a Flight Attendant.
- Ability to swim: You need to be comfortable swimming as you never know if you will have to swim in the sea for survival. Your ability to swim without a lifejacket will be tested during your training, so at least you have time to practice and gain confidence if you don’t have it already.
- Eyesight: Eyesight doesn’t need to be 100% and Cabin Crew are permitted to wear contact lenses or glasses. They must carry a spare pair of glasses with them onboard, so make sure you have them if you require glasses or contact lenses!
- Criminal background test: At some point in the Flight Attendant hiring process you will be required to provide a criminal background check.
It may seem that to become a Flight Attendant there are many more requirements that you need to meet when compared to other jobs and in many ways this is true! However don’t let this put you off – most people can meet these requirements, and working as a Flight Attendant is a really great job.
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