30 Essential Skills Needed to Become a Cabin Crew Member

The skills will lift off your career as a flight attendant.

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

Cabin crew professional skills

The prospect of traveling to a new destination every week and being paid to do so seems like a dream job, doesn’t it? I have certainly always felt so.

While there are several professions that encourage traveling, one of the most glamorous ones is that of a flight attendant. But this career is often underestimated.

We have compiled a list of cabin crew skills that an applicant is often required to have before they are accepted for the job. See if you have what it takes to sail the skies.

1. Communication

Probably the most important skill for a flight attendant to have is the ability to communicate effectively.

A significant portion of the job is to relay instructions to the passengers or to understand their needs so they can be fulfilled. Great communication skills also come in handy while trying to coordinate with your crew members to finish tasks quickly for take-off and landing.

2. Teamwork

As a cabin crew member, you would usually be working together with a crew of four or more. Since the number of tasks that the crew must carry out is rather innumerable, it is impossible to do everything by yourself.

Hence, it is particularly important to know how to work in a team and communicate effectively with them.

3. Customer service

The duties of a crew member often include serving food and beverages to passengers and helping them out with any queries that they might have regarding the flight. Your job would be to serve the passenger and ensure they feel as comfortable as possible in a scenario that many people find rather daunting. This is where your customer service skills will be useful.

4. Amiability

An important aspect of customer service is to always be approachable. People will only feel comfortable asking for things they need if you don’t appear intimidating. This can be very important if the customer has some safety-related query.

Simple gestures like greeting the passengers when they come on board or smiling at them while you move through the aisles can make you seem amiable and will go a long way with your passengers.

5. Cultural awareness

Being aware of multiple cultures and their practices is one of the most important flight attendant skills to have.

This is simply because people from every corner of the world board a flight. They have different practices and customs which they have developed because of their upbringing. More importantly, some acts might be normal in some cultures while offensive in others.

So, a good knowledge of all the different cultures in the world will ensure you don’t step on any toes (or sentiments) during service. Moreover, some people would really appreciate it if you knew the intricacies of their customs. This quality will kick your customer service game up a notch.

6. Assertiveness

Traveling in a pressurized metal tube a dozen kilometers above ground sounds just as dangerous as it is.

There are several safety checks to be performed and precautions to be taken. But there are always some unruly passengers who think they know better than the professionals.

To overcome this, you sometimes need to be assertive to explain the rules to them. It is important to remember that there is a very fine line between assertive and aggressive.

7. Self-control

Drawing from the previous point, some unruly passengers will really test your patience with their ignorance of rules and unreasonable demands. Therefore, it is extremely important to know the difference between assertion and aggression.

You would have to control yourself in these situations and calmly explain the situation to them. If nothing works, you could always refer them to the air marshals.

8. Flexibility

The job of a cabin crew member is filled with uncertainty. You may be flying to different countries with different cultures, different food and, most importantly, different time zones. You will need to be flexible about your schedules and be okay dealing with jet lag.

9. Adaptability

Continuing from the last point, as you will be moving from one country to another at the drop of a hat, you will need to be able to adapt to the different lifestyles that each of them comes with. Moreover, your crew may not be the same for every flight.

Therefore, you will be required to get used to a whole new set of teammates every few flights, or maybe even every flight, so adaptability is another essential quality for flight attendants.

10. Physical stamina

The job of a flight attendant is a very strenuous one. Erratic work schedules and dealing with disruptive passengers are only the start.

Cabin crew spend most of their time on their feet — either serving the passengers or helping to keep things running on the flight. Even when they’re not in the air, there is a long list of ground duties that they must tend to.

To do all these tasks, you’d really need to build up your physical stamina before applying for the job.

11. Stress management

From the point above, you can clearly see how physically demanding the job can be. But other than that, dealing with abusive passengers while still smiling at them and sometimes dealing with unnerving situations, like turbulence, it’s clear that this career can induce a lot of stress in a person. It’s very important to learn how to deal with your stress.

12. Attention to detail

Flight attendants need to have a keen eye for detail. It can be extremely useful in spotting any safety issues. Moreover, this skill can be useful in spotting any mistakes you’ve made that could affect your customer service.

As a bonus, this skill can also help you pick up some cultural cues that you could use to ensure the passenger is served in the best way possible.

13. Leadership

Another important flight attendant skill to have is the ability to lead others. As a cabin crew member, it would be your duty to lead and guide the passengers during any emergency.

Furthermore, if you work in the industry long enough, you are given a leadership position. This post is usually called chief purser or in-flight service manager. It would then be your job to direct the other crew members and to check up on their tasks.

14. Organization

Being organized is a key skill for any flight attendant as they must manage everything in the space they are working in and keep the plane looking neat and tidy. This skill will also help while serving your customers, as a vast number of customers may have different orders, and it is of great importance not to serve them the wrong things.

15. Time management

Nowadays, many airlines pride themselves on always being on time. To achieve this, the entire crew works as fast as possible to get the planes ready for the next flight (after landing) or ready for take-off after completing all the safety checks.

Since there are several things to do in each of these periods, including in-flight service, it is very important to be able to manage time properly.

16. Discretion

Often, passengers might have in-flight problems that are sensitive in nature. It is of utmost importance that, during these times, you act discreetly to solve the problem. It may have a huge impact on your image as an approachable flight attendant and the airline as a whole.

17. Sales

One of the sources of income for airlines is to sell food, beverages and other products on board.

Sales experience is always looked favorably on, as you’ll have the skills to market these things to the customer and convince them to buy. In fact, having some experience in a sales role in your list of qualifications may give you an edge over the other applicants.

18. Problem-solving

While the training for a flight attendant is rather comprehensive, sometimes you may be thrown into unexpected situations. This is when you will need to remain calm and put your problem-solving skills to use and come up with a solution that is optimum for everyone involved.

19. Numerical competence

As a crew member, you will be handling a lot of money while performing in-flight services and selling the products the airline has to offer. It is extremely important to know basic math, as you must ensure that you have added the totals correctly (and in the right currency) and given back the correct change.

20. Basic swimming

Another essential cabin crew skill to possess is being able to swim. Fortunately, this skill will only be useful in the worst-case scenario of a crash landing on a body of water. While you are given life-vests to help you keep afloat, this skill can come in handy in case you need to swim to the nearest boat or help a passenger in need.

21. Patience

Being a cabin crew member can involve long hours, flight delays and disgruntled passengers, among other things. This is why patience is truly a virtue in this line of work, as it will allow you to perform your duties effectively under every condition.

22. Positivity

A positive disposition is important for any cabin crew member, especially during turbulence, as it could help passengers feel calmer in your presence, diffuse tension and offer much-needed reassurance to nervous flyers.

Beyond that, keeping a positive attitude can create a more pleasant atmosphere throughout any flight, both for yourself and your passengers.

23. Diplomacy

Throughout your cabin crew career, you will need to rely on your diplomacy skills to resolve any issues that may arise between passengers or other cabin crew. To avoid offending the parties involved, you will need to be tactful with your approach and avoid causing further tension without taking sides.

24. Multitasking

Throughout a single flight, a cabin crew is required to juggle multiple things at once; from answering passengers’ call buttons to performing safety checks to handing out hot meals and offering assistance to their colleagues. For this reason, being a good multitasker is a must for any cabin crew member.

25. First aid and emergency training

The number one priority of this role is to ensure passenger safety and wellbeing. As such, cabin crew must be prepared and trained to deal with medical emergencies, incidents and emergency evacuations that could occur while onboard. Therefore, having first aid knowledge and being familiar with all safety protocols is critical.

26. Aviation software and tech proficiency

Being proficient with in-flight technology is necessary to perform various duties, including safety checks. However, tech proficiency will also allow you to assist passengers and offer them better customer service, especially on aircraft with entertainment systems, as you will be able to address any problems that might occur.

27. Food and beverage management

Knowledge of food and beverage management will ensure that everything served on board is safe, well-packaged and properly handled. This will prevent potential foodborne illnesses and food poisoning that could occur from poor handling processes.

As such, being able to adhere to strict health regulations will once again ensure the safety of your passengers.

28. Independence

As a cabin crew member, you will be required to carry out numerous tasks without supervision or guidance. Consequently, being a responsible and dependable person who is capable of working independently is a crucial part of your job.

29. Conflict management

While your diplomacy skills will be useful in addressing any tension onboard, your conflict management skills will be needed when things do escalate further.

During such situations, it is crucial to know how to handle them in a way that all parties involved will feel respected and heard while preventing any further tensions from rising.

30. Language proficiency

Cabin crew members meet hundreds of people every day from every part of the world. For that reason, the more languages you are proficient in, the better!

Not only will this allow you to offer your passengers a better service, but you will also be able to connect with them on a more personal level.

Cabin Crew Skills

Final thoughts

Of course, while having all these skills is quite important for the job, you must also be impeccably dressed and presentable when on the clock. Well, I guess the job of a flight attendant isn’t all fun and games.

Do you still think you have what it takes? If you lack some of the required skills, don’t worry. A lot of these things are often taught during training, depending on the airline you apply to. But having most (if not all) of these qualities inherently within you will guarantee career success in this field.

If you feel it would be right for you, you can look into the process of becoming a flight attendant. Hope to see you on my flight soon!

Are you a cabin crew member? What skills do you think are important to become a member of the cabin crew? Let us know in the comments section below!

Originally published on October 25, 2017. Updated by Melina Theodorou.