I want to be a flight attendant but need information
July 12, 2007 12:03 AM   Subscribe

How important on a long-term basis is choosing an airline to work for?

I want to work as a flight attendant for a larger international airline. I live outside of Philadelphia and have easy access to any hirings that may be going on in the city, and am willing to relocate if I need to, but I don't know how important it is to wait to try and be hired by my ideal airline.

I want to work on international flights, and I'm willing to take on a tough schedule (I'm a 20 year old female with lots of energy and gumption to travel), and I'd like to get started in this field soon, but I also don't want to take the first job offer that comes along just because I'm anxious to get started.

Does anyone have any advice? I really want to get into this career, but I don't want to regret choosing the wrong airline, and I need to know how important being particular in making this choice is. Also, are there specific things I need to know about where I am most likely to get hired? I have had two years of college, and I know that I fit the physical requirements and at the very least, the minimal desired communications/customer service criteria.
posted by its just me to Work & Money (3 answers total)
I'm not sure how well you can judge something like this, and I only know it in the context of pilots but it probably applies to FAs, too, is how the airline is going to perform in the short and long terms.

The reason for this is seniority; first hired is last fired, as they say, and you probably want the airline to be growing (adding flights/routes). If they're growing, they'll be looking to hire, for one thing, and you can get in and then start to move up the seniority list. If the airline is cutting back, though, they're less likely to hire, and if you did get hired and then the airline cut back more, you'd be near the bottom of the seniority list and one of the first to go.

Because of seniority, it can be a pretty important choice, because seniority at one airline doesn't count for anything if you were to move to another airline. So, if you get a job with an airline and it doesn't fit you, and you're sure that the problem was the airline and not the job itself, I'd try to get out as quickly as possible and look for a job with a new airline, so you can get started building seniority there quickly.

It's good that you'd be willing to take on a tough schedule, because as a new hire that's what you're likely to end up with. (Having more seniority also means getting better choices/assignments for routes and schedules.)
posted by Godbert at 6:39 AM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you're really into relocation, airlines like Qatar Airways, Emirates, and Etihad, based in the Middle East but with crews from all over the world, have been expanding like crazy over the last few years. I don't even think they fly "domestically" in the countries they are registered in, and I imagine they like having people in their hubs, so compensation is probably pretty good (well, at least better than flying regional jets around the Northeast), and they probably help you relocate.

Now, the same labor protections as we have in the States don't exist there - I think unions are actually illegal in Dubai - but something like 70% of the population in these places is expatriate, so you wouldn't be alone, and that labor, um, flexibility is a big reason they've been able to explode onto the scene as fast as they have, so the compensation probably makes up for that.

If you check out the websites of the airlines above, you'll find links to their career sites. I imagine that they really, really need qualified people, just given how small some of the countries they operate from are. Here's the link to the Emirates career page, for example - in the FAQ section, they say you don't need previous experience or a language other than English!

I'd check out a few forums first. Some might require you to pay for membership to post, but it's probably a good investment (*ahem*) if it means access to information. One I have in mind specifically is Airliners.net, which has thousands and thousands of active members.
posted by mdonley at 8:02 AM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Oh, PS: here's a trip report from Airliners.net told from the perspective of an Air New Zealand flight attendant that describes her job on flights to and from Los Angeles in minute detail!
posted by mdonley at 8:28 AM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

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