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Cabin Crew

Transport/Travel Trade


Airline cabin crew attend to passengers’ needs throughout the flight. They have two main purposes: to instruct and assist passengers in safety and emergency and evacuation procedures, and to sell refreshments and other products to increase revenue for the airline. This task is increasingly more important as ticket revenue has been going down.

Airlines also have ground staff (although the majority of ground staff are employed by the airports), who look after customer service. This involves dealing with problems and communicating with passengers about flight delays and cancellations  and checking in of passengers and baggage. Airlines also have the usual office staff, like sales and marketing, HR, finance and administration.

You would be able to work for such airlines as Aer Lingus, Ryanair or Aer Arann, or decide to work further afield. In this section you can find out about the day-to-day job of cabin crew and ground staff, the career path within an airline, and what sort of course to do to get there.

The Workplace:

As cabin crew you’ll spend most of your time on planes and the rest at the airport preparing for your flights and doing regular training updates. Working as cabin crew is physically tiring (lots of very early mornings and, obviously, travel) and can also be mentally demanding as you’ll deal with stressed-out passengers every day, but it gives you the opportunity to travel and learn about different countries and people. You’ll get free travel in your time off and, once you’ve been in the job for a certain amount of time you can get discounts for friends and family.

With airlines that only do short-haul flights (under 3 hours) you’ll be based at one of their ‘hubs’ – a large airport that has several different routes in and out of it – and you’ll always come back to that hub at night. If you’re working with an airline that also does long-haul flights (to other continents like America, Asia or Africa), you will usually progress to these after you’ve gained experience on short-haul. In these cases you’ll stay overnight in a hotel in the destination and get to explore.

Ground staff are based in the airport and have quite active jobs, as they could be checking in passengers on up to ten flights a day at different check-in desks, as well as going ‘airside’ to check boarding passes at boarding.

The Career Path:

Junior cabin crew are usually given a 4-6 week specific training course upon starting at an airline, in which they get to know the features of the type of aircraft they will be working on, passenger, aircraft and food safety, emergency procedures and first aid, with written and practical exams. They then begin flying, under the supervision of more experienced cabin crew.

All cabin crew report to the cabin supervisor on board, but the ultimate boss on the flight is the captain of the plane, who is at the end of the day responsible for all passengers and staff. Off the plane, you will report to a flight staff manager.

Before every flight, cabin crew attend a meeting telling them how many adults and children are on the flight, if there are disabled people, etc. and what position they will be in the cabin.

The cabin supervisor supervises the actions of the cabin crew, making any decisions, dealing with customer issues and making the safety announcements.

Junior cabin crew
Cabin crew/ Ground staff
Cabin supervisor

How to Get Started:

Each airline provides their own mandatory training programme for new cabin crew, in which they get to know the features of the type of aircraft they will be working on, passenger, aircraft and food safety, emergency procedures and first aid, with written and practical exams.

A one year course: Colleges of Further Education offer courses in Travel & Tourism and Airline Studies – a course like this will prove that you are motivated and already have basic knowledge, which will make your CV more attractive to prospective employers. The courses teach you to use booking systems and ticketing machines, so they provide useful background for ground staff. Whay not check out Stillorgan College of FE for an example of this course.

A two/ three year course: Courses such as Tourism with Business or Tourism with Languages at Institutes of Technology (direct application) will be useful if you plan to progress to a managerial role. Bachelor of Business in Tourism at Cork I.T


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