Once known as a “waitress in the sky”, you were required to be slim, short and pretty to become a flight attendant. In 2020, flight attendants still serve refreshments and make sure you’re comfortable, but their main job is to keep passengers and crew safe. With the change in responsibilities came a change in requirements for applicants that want to become a flight attendant.
To make sure you can keep yourself and everyone else in the aircraft safe, there are a few general requirements every airline will need you to meet if you want to become a flight attendant. Every airline will have its own specific additional requirements for their applicants, so don’t forget to check the airline’s website for their specific requirements before you apply.
There are a few airlines that hire flight attendants at 18. However, most airlines only hire men and women that are at least 21. There is no maximum age to get hired as a flight attendant. Airlines will accept you at any age as long as you are in good physical shape and fit their idea of a good flight attendant.
Height and weight
Most airlines will accept flight attendants that are between 5’3 to 6’1 tall. You may be accepted with some airlines if you are shorter or taller, depending on their fleet.
You will have to be able to reach the overhead compartments while you’re working, so you can’t be too short. Some airlines will have you do a reach test if they are unsure you will be able to perform your job duties.
There are no absolute weight restrictions in place anymore, but most airlines will require your weight to be proportionate to your height to make sure you’ll be able to safely perform flight attendant job duties and take a jumpseat.
Citizenship and work permit
You can become a flight attendant with any citizenship. However, you will have have to have permission to work in the country your airline of choice is based out of. You can choose an airline in the country where you are a citizen or another country where you hold a work or residency permit. There are a few countries where it is quite easy to get a residency permit. You should also be able to obtain visas and permission to enter the countries your airline of choice flies to.
This can get challenging if your citizenship causes you to have difficulties obtaining visas for the airline’s destinations or if you have a criminal record (including DUI convictions) which will make you inadmissible to some countries. So make sure you’re able to pass a criminal background check.
Appearance rules for flight attendants have changed a lot over the years. Policies have become a lot less strict and a lot more practical. Most important to any airline is that you are well-groomed. Make sure your hands are manicured, your hair is neat and be careful when making jewelry and makeup choices.
Flight attendants are still not allowed to have visible tattoos on exposed parts of the skin. With most airlines, this means that men can’t have tattoos on their arms, hands, neck and face. Since most airlines give women a skirt or dress option and ask from them to wear heels, women also are not allowed to have tattoos on their feet and possibly their legs. This will ultimately depend on their uniform of choice. For example, you can get accepted with an arm tattoo if it is covered by a long-sleeve uniform item. However, it should still be covered when you’re reaching for the overhead bin. The flip side is, you will have to always wear long sleeves if you do decide to get an arm tattoo. Airlines typically don’t allow flight attendants to have facial piercings. They also limit ear piercings, bracelets and rings to one each.
Any airline will require you to have at least a high school diploma. However, education and work experience beyond high school is definitely appreciated and will boost your chances to be hired.
Like with any job, airlines expect you to be able to perform flight attendant duties. You will undergo training to make sure you will be able to keep everyone safe and comfortable. To assess whether you will be able to get through training, hiring departments from airlines usually seek applicants that are situationally aware, are service oriented and have great interpersonal skills.