There are several requirements to become a Flight Attendant (such as age, height and weight), as well as several questions that surround them. The requirements to become a Flight Attendant have changed over the years and vary from airline to airline so it can easily cause confusion amongst aspiring Cabin Crew.
It’s important to know current requirements for Flight Attendants, as some people have actually applied to an airline and made it all the way to the interview before they found out that they didn’t meet the requirements 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 one of the requirements, so don’t bother to apply. However, it can often turn out that the specific requirement that they thought they didn’t meet isn’t actually a requirement any more, or at least not for some airlines!
Therefore it’s really important to know the Flight Attendant requirements for the specific airline you want to apply for. This article will look at the main requirements to become a Flight Attendant and is based on information purely from the airlines and the Flight Attendants who work there.
Flight Attendant Age Requirements
In many airlines you can apply to be a Flight Attendant is at age 18. Whilst many airlines have age requirements for their Flight Attendants to be a minimum age of 18, you will find that in some airlines such as Etihad, Emirates and Qatar and airlines based in the USA such as Delta, the minimum age requirements are age 21. This is because 21 is the legal age for consuming and serving alcohol in the countries where these airlines are located. Other airlines will require you to be at least 19 or 20 when you apply, so it just depends on the individual airline.
In contrast to people asking about the minimum age requirements for Flight Attendants, 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 many 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 will not prevent you from becoming a Flight Attendant.
The only airlines that age may be a problem is the big three airlines in The Middle East (Etihad, Emirates and Qatar). They generally tend to employ people in their twenties and early thirties. It isn’t specified on their websites, but it would be extremely rare for one of these airlines to hire Cabin Crew aged 45+.
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Flight Attendant Height Requirements
A common concern and question amongst aspiring Flight Attendants is regarding the height requirements. Many people think they don’t meet the height requirements to be an Air Hostess/Air Stewardess – either they are too tall, or mostly because they are too short.
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. Remember the role of the Flight Attendant is firstly to look after your safety, so it is crucial they can reach emergency equipment such as oxygen bottles, fire gloves, fire extinguishers, Emergency Medical Kits, Defibrilators and PPE in an emergency. 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.
In the arm reach test, you will also be barefoot and will need to reach up to a certain height marker on the wall with either of your arms. You can reach it barefoot, but you aren’t allowed to jump – you must be able to reach whilst part of both of your feet are on the ground.
For example, Etihad Airways has a minimum height of 165cm (5’4″) – they will measure your height without shoes at the Etihad Open Day/Assessment Day. You will also need an arm reach of 212cm whilst standing on tiptoes – again they will measure this to ensure you meet their requirements to become a Flight Attendant.
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What If I Don’t Meet The Minimum Height Requirements To Be A Flight Attendant?
As mentioned above, airlines are usually quite strict in terms of passing the height test as it is to do with safety. At many Flight Attendant Assessment Days, the height test is the first thing that will be assessed, and if you don’t reach the minimum height you will often be sent home straight away, sometimes even before you have had a chance to drop off your Cabin Crew CV. However, some airlines are more flexible. Some airlines base more emphasis on your arm reach than your height, so they may give you some leeway if you are technically a tiny bit shorter than their minimum height requirements.
So, what if you think you’re too short to be a Flight Attendant? I have one friend who was a couple of centimetres shorter than the minimum height requirements. In the weeks coming up to her Assessment Day, she put a mark on her bedroom wall at 212cm above the ground and every day she would try her best to reach it. When she started she was a few centimetres off reaching it, but within a few weeks she was able to reach it, so you can always try this technique to practice stretching your arm reach. I would recommend always practicing with the same arm as the airlines don’t mind which arm you use. You can also do other arm stretches to help you reach higher.
Therefore if you are a tiny bit shorter than the height requirements for the specific airline you are applying for, I would recommend to apply anyway, practice the reach test and hope for the best. Some airlines are a lot more flexible with height so long as you pass the arm reach test.
In terms of being too tall to be a Flight Attendant, the airlines will again have their own specifications and requirements depending on the aircraft they use. For example, taller Flight Attendants may be too tall to work on certain narrow body aircrafts, but they may be fine to work on wide body aircrafts at the ceiling is higher. Height requirements would ensure a Flight Attendant can comfortably stand up in the aircraft and they aren’t higher than the ceiling height. You’ll find that most Flight Attendants are under 6’3″ (190cm) to work comfortably in the aircraft.
Flight Attendant 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.
Flight Attendant Appearance Requirements
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 can often leave a lasting impression on people, and they need to represent the airline well, so it is important that they have a professional appearance. This isn’t to say all Flight Attendants need to look like supermodels. This definitely isn’t the case at all. However, there are certain style and image look standards and requirements that Flight Attendants should adhere to in terms of their appearance.
Some of the most important appearance requirements you will find for Flight Attendants 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. Pay attention not only to your physical appearance, but also your posture and how you sit, behave and speak.
Can You Be A Flight Attendant With Tattoos?
Another popular question many prospective Cabin Crew ask is can Flight Attendants have tattoos? Pretty much all airlines do not allow for Flight Attendants to have any tattoos visible whilst they are wearing the Cabin Crew uniform. They can however have tattoos that will definitely 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.
In addition Cabin Crew shouldn’t have visible scars when they are in their uniform. If they have any scars on their face it can be covered with makeup.
Flight Attendant 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.
Can a guy be a Flight Attendant? Absolutely. Whilst Flight Attendants are predominantly females, if you are a male you can definitely become an air steward.
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Other Flight Attendant Requirements
Some other requirements for Flight Attendants include:
- 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.
- Passport: As obvious as it sounds, you will need a valid passport to become a Flight Attendant.
- Criminal background test: At some point in the Flight Attendant hiring process you will be required to provide a criminal background check.
- 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.
- 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!
- Teeth Braces: Invisalign braces are permitted, so long as they aren’t visible.
- 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.
- 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.
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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