What Does a Stewardess Do? (Definition, Duties and Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 17 January 2023

Published 27 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Stewardesses are important professionals in the aviation industry. They have important responsibilities and may benefit from exciting travel opportunities. Learning what this job entails can help you determine if it's right for you. In this article, we explain what a stewardess is, examine what a stewardess do and investigate what qualifications and skills they may need.

Related: What Is Aviation Management? Definition and Jobs in Aviation

What is a stewardess and what does a stewardess do?

Stewardesses, also known as flight attendants or air hostesses, work on aircraft. Their main function is to attend to the passengers. Their primary role is to care for the safety and comfort of passengers on the aircraft. Because they're responsible for the safety of passengers, their job is of great importance. Their position ensures that everything on-board runs smoothly. These are some of the usual tasks that flight attendants fulfil:

  • Preparing the aeroplane

  • Maintaining and checking the supply of food and beverages

  • Serving meals, drinks and snacks

  • Checking that the emergency equipment functions

  • Cleaning the cabin

  • Communicating and demonstrating the safety guidelines and rules

  • Leading and assisting passengers during emergency procedures

  • Administering first aid

  • Preparing the aircraft and its passengers for take-off and landing

  • Greeting and processing passengers during boarding

  • Verifying tickets

  • Attending preflight meetings

  • Handling emergencies

Typical work environment for flight attendants

Flight attendants can find jobs aboard several types of aircraft, including:

  • commercial flights

  • private flights

  • business jets

  • government aircraft

Their schedules may be flexible. Because this career involves adequate rest between flights, flight attendants typically only work about three days a week. The nature and scope of their shifts change depending on what airline they work for. For example, they may work through the night on long flights, or they may work on shorter flights. Sometimes, depending on the location, they may spend the night at a hotel in the country of arrival. External factors, such as weather conditions, can also affect their work schedule.

Related: What Is Shift Work? (With Examples, Tips, Pros and Cons)

What qualifications do stewardesses need?

The requirements employers are looking for typically depend on the airline. These are the general qualifications you may complete:

Education

A bachelor's degree is usually not necessary, but it can give you a competitive advantage. Obtaining a degree in a relevant field, such as hospitality management, tourism, languages or even nursing, can prove helpful. This degree typically takes three to four years to complete. While an undergraduate degree isn't usually necessary, many airlines do require you to pass a certain amount of GCSEs.

Related: How To Build Education Section In Your Resume

Training

Most airlines provide new employees with in-depth training courses covering all the necessary elements related to the job, such as legal or immigration issues, safety procedures and customer service. There are also preliminary courses available for students who want to know more about the recruitment process and the necessary skills. Some employers ask that candidates have previous work experience. Working in a relevant industry such as customer service, catering or tourism can help you stand out when applying.

Additional qualifications

Becoming a flight attendant usually involves fulfilling various requirements that can change depending on the airline you're applying for. The employer typically asks that you have a passport, especially for international travel. Furthermore, all airlines have an age requirement for how old candidates can be before applying. They usually ask that candidates be at least 18 years of age.

Most airlines also have requirements concerning your physical features, such as your height and arm reach. Like the age requirement, this also tends to vary depending on the airline, so it's advisable to research what the specific employer's prerequisites are before you apply. Many airlines also ask that you're fluent in English and can speak an additional language. Again, this requirement can change depending on the specific airline.

Related: How To Include a Language On a Resume (With 5 Examples)

What skills do you need to become a stewardess?

These are some of the skills that can help you succeed in this career:

Decision-making

It's important for stewardesses to have confident decision-making skills. This is a particularly vital skill because they're in charge of the passengers' safety. For example, during the boarding process, the flight attendant can ban a passenger from entering the plane if they decide that person is too intoxicated to fly. Developing your ability to make quick decisions based on good judgement can greatly benefit you in this career.

Responsibility

When you work as a flight attendant, you're in a position of great responsibility. You ensure that the journey runs smoothly by caring for the passengers and attending to their comforts and ensuring their safety.

This career also comes with a certain level of freedom and flexibility in how and when you manage your tasks because, although there's usually a lead flight attendant, this career often involves some self-management and independence. Therefore, being able to conduct your duties responsibly and professionally can help you find success in this job.

Related: 10 Important Social Skills to Have (Definition and Examples)

Customer service

One of the most important skills you can have in this career is customer service, especially because the primary focus of this job is to ensure that the passengers are safe and happy. When working as a flight attendant, you're the customer's main point of contact, and you're therefore a representation of the airline. Having strong customer service skills helps you make the passenger's journey memorable, maintains the airline's good reputation and consequently increases the probability of returning passengers.

Interpersonal skills

This career often involves meeting a lot of new people. Your colleagues may rotate if you work on different shifts or routes. You may also meet a lot of new passengers. Strong interpersonal skills, such as compassion, empathy and active listening, can help you build connections with new people. If working in an environment that constantly varies and introduces you to different people excites you, you may find this career incredibly rewarding and educational.

Flexibility

If you wish to work as a flight attendant, it's necessary that you feel comfortable being flexible. This is especially important when it comes to your schedule. While it's often possible to schedule your flights a few weeks in advance, it's good if your personal itinerary is as free as possible, so it's able to adapt to unexpected issues, such as having to fly on short notice or covering sickness.

Physical endurance

Having good physical endurance can help you succeed in this career. Flight attendants are usually up on their feet for long periods, for example when they're walking up and down the aisles serving or checking on the passengers. The job also sometimes requires them to lift heavy bags. For example, if a passenger needs help placing their luggage in one of the overhead compartments, you may assist them. Therefore, it's beneficial if you develop your fitness skills so that you can complete these tasks comfortably.

Having good fitness is also vital during certain emergencies. For example, if the plane has to land on water, you're the one who helps everyone exit the plane. Having strong swimming skills is also beneficial because it can increase your confidence in your ability to handle such emergencies.

Language skills

Developing your language skills can greatly benefit your career and help you find a job in this industry. Many airlines have strict requirements about the number of languages they seek in candidates. They usually require you to speak and write in fluent English, sometimes asking for an additional second or third language. Having strong language skills allows you to interact with a great number and variety of people. Your ability to communicate with passengers helps you attend to their comfort and can prove crucial when their safety is at risk.

Average salary of stewardesses

The average salary of a stewardess is $2,041 per month. This amount can change depending on the type of employer, their level of experience and their position in the company. Here are some common benefits for this career:

  • Travel opportunities

  • Medical insurance

  • Retirement benefits

  • Flexible schedule

  • Dental insurance

Related careers

If you're considering this line of work, the following careers may also interest you:

  • Pilot

  • Hotel desk clerk

  • Customer service representative

  • Travel agent

  • Airline manager

  • Airport operations manager

  • Cabin crew instructor

  • Tour operator

  • Tourism officer

Read more: How to Become a Travel Agent in 3 Steps (Including Skills)

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

Explore more articles