Flight Attendant Career Advancement: What’s Next?
Have you considering what you want to be doing in 5 to 10 years? This is a common question during the interview process for most prospective flight attendants.This is something you should consider as part of your flight attendant career, something we should all consider as we progress though life. Is there room for you to move and advance in your industry, or the company you work for?
Flight Attendant Career. The Sky is the Limit!
Pun intended. With a flight attendant career, the opportunities for promotion are plentiful. In addition to the side-benefits of being a flight attendant, your ability to seek new challenges is certainly one of the greatest reasons why taking up a career in this industry is a wise choice.
Where can my flight attendant career take me?
There are numerous career paths you can pursue once you’re employed by an airline, with many opportunities to “move up the ranks”.
We’ve established 3 main ways you can progress your flight attendant career:
- Natural progression with job promotion
- A step sideways into a different department
- Take on the world outside the airline industry
1. Natural Progression of your Flight Attendant Career
In an airline’s chain of command, a series of positions exist. All are based of the role of the flight attendant.
All of these positions are dependent on the experience and expertise of the roles below them, which means you do need to start at the bottom (in most cases) and the benefit of this is that you truly can work your way to the top.
Here’s a typical company structure:
- “Ready Reserve” Flight Attendant
- Flight Attendant
- Senior Flight Attendant
- Check Flight Attendant
- Flight Attendant Supervisor
- Base Manager
- Inflight Manager (or Inflight Vice President)
To give you some insight, here’s a brief overview of all of these positions. You can see how you can progress from one role to the next throughout your flight attendant career.
Senior Flight Attendant
While still a flight attendant, this is a similar role to a flight attendant but with more responsibility. You will be supervising other attendants on the flight, and will be responsible for everything in the cabin.
You will also be required to perform the pre-flight briefing, work with the “ground agent” as part of the boarding procedure, liaise with the flight deck and cabin, make announcements to the passengers and crew over the PA, manage the catering, tend to first-class and forward section of the cabin and most importantly, your leadership will be required in an in-flight emergency.
Check Flight Attendant or (Line Check Flight Attendant)
This is an excellent opportunity as part of your flight attendant career.
You will be responsible for the positive facilitation of “line checks”, where you will observe a flight leg to ensure FAA compliance, and adherence to company policy.
You will be expected to create a supportive environment within your crew, so that flight attendants may be measured accurately on their performance and proficiency.
It is the goal of a Line Check FA to ensure that the FAs have the knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm to fulfill the requirements of the position.
The Line Check FA is also accountable for checking to see if the flight attendant exhibits crew resource management, and delivers genuine customer service.
The Line Check FA is a model of exceptional flight attendant behavior through outstanding knowledge of policies and procedures, excellent interpersonal skills, compliant uniform and image appearance, and positive customer service interactions.
Flight Attendant Supervisor
The FA Supervisor is responsible for a group of flight attendants at the operational base of which you are assigned.
For those FAs in your group: You will be required to evaluate their performance, maintain their employee records and manage each FA on an individual basis regarding the performance, attendance and other matters as they progress their own flight attendant career. You will also be required take disciplinary action when necessary.
The FA Supervisor will also meet with the Base Manager and other FA Supervisors regularly, to keep up with changes relating to your base (i.e. new rules or regulations or new procedures) and to discuss matters pertaining to your group.
The Base Manager is accountable for the entire flight attendant base, including all FA Supervisors and FAs.
As you oversee the entire base, you will assist the collective FA Supervisors in their role, and report to the Inflight Department Manager.
The Base Manager is by definition a “managerial position”. It is mostly performed from the base, with little need for you to leave the base. However, you may be required to fill the position of one of your team members during whilst they are on holidays or away sick.
Inflight Manager (or Inflight Vice President)
Seen as one of the most prominent positions in the flight attendant career, the Inflight Manager oversees all flight attendant bases within the system, and coordinates with all other departments within the airlines.
You will be responsible for all matters relating to the flight attendant bases themselves and the Base Managers at each base, plus the entire crew of FAs.
Depending on the airline, you may also be required to perform “check rides” (see Check Flight Attendant), if your airline does not have a designated Check FA.
2. Step Sideways within the Airline
What if you decide that you don’t want to work in the cabin for your entire life? You wouldn’t be alone, that’s for certain.
Many people see their flight attendant career as something they’ll do while they’re young. And when the day comes where you realize you’ve traveled the world, and would rather kick off the heels and settle down…
What else can you do with an airline? There are of course alternatives available for you within the airline, which does make changing jobs a whole lot easier.
Consider these positions as options off the tarmac:
Flight Attendant Recruiter
Help your airline find new flight attendants. Screen candidates, perform interviews and make hiring decisions that will help shape the future of your company.
You most likely will be required to travel between cities in your airline’s system, to help make someone else’s flight attendant dream come true!
Flight Attendant Instructor
You were once trained to be a flight attendant by an instructor, now the roles are reversed…
Using your years of experience in the field and in-depth knowledge of the airline system, you will teach new trainees how to perform their duties as a flight attendant.
You’ll also be training flight attendants on the latest aircraft, new safety and security procedures and provide recurrent training as mandated by the FAA.
A Risk Management role is highly technical in nature, and a big change from the standard flight attendant career path.
You will be required to assess, communicate and respond to risks the airline is exposed to, in terms of both internal and external factors.
You will perform an ongoing management progress to develop and maintain the airline’s risk strategy, and drive the risk-management processes within the company to reduce the opportunity for liability and to maintain company safety standards.
Other departments within the Airline
The range career possibilities are very diverse, with a multitude of options in other departments including:
- Human Resources
- Customer Service
3. The world outside the Airline Industry
Or, do you say goodbye to the Flight Attendant Career? No more dealing with jet lag to say the least!
If you don’t find any other options with the airline appealing, you’re actually in a good position to find employment in other industries using your flight attendant career as a springboard into just about anything else the outside world has to offer.
You could become a paramedic, emergency medicine technician or even a fire fighter. The skills you’ve obtained as a flight attendant, those that have given you the ability to perform under pressure, where time is critical and where the lives of others depend on your every move will make you a desirable candidate for these roles.
Or, of course you can rely on your customer service skills and work in retail or hospitality. The options really are only limited by your imagination.