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American Airlines boasts an employee base of 82,000 worldwide. The airline serves 250 cities in more than 40 countries, with more than 3,400 daily flights. About 65 percent of the employees belong to the Allied Pilots Association, Association of Professional Flight Attendants or Transport Workers Union. The Association of Professional Flight Attendants outlines specific training, salary and benefit guidelines airlines must follow. The American Airlines Flight Attendant Training program prepares candidates for the primary responsibility of a flight attendant, which is to provide passenger safety, but also provides an overview of the various customer service duties of an attendant.
All training for flight attendants is conducted at the American Airlines' Training and Conference Center near the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in Grapevine, Texas. The center opened in 1957 as the company's stewardess college and was one of the first facilities of its kind in the industry. The 75,000-square-foot facility includes 75 training and conference rooms, a 300-seat theater, nearly 300 guest rooms and seven aircraft cabin simulators.
The training program for American Airlines' flight attendant candidates is 6 1/2 weeks long and is unpaid. Only after graduation from the program do candidates receive an official job offer. During the training program, candidates receive classroom instruction that includes open discussion of the customer service philosophy of American Airlines, aircraft familiarization, in-flight services and emergency procedures. The classes instruct potential attendants on aircraft boarding, beverage service and how to maintain a calm, friendly and caring atmosphere in the cabin. Candidates have the opportunity for hands-on training in the aircraft simulators.
Accommodations and meals are paid for by American Airlines for the duration of the training program. The company recommends that candidates have at least $1,500 available for incidental expenses incurred during the program and for when they relocate to their base assignment.
Candidates in the training program must be at least 20 years old, have a high school diploma or equivalent and at least two years post-secondary education or related customer service work experience. Candidates also must be able to lift at least and pull heavy objects and operate emergency equipment. Physical aptitude is key in emergency situations, so candidates must have at least 20/50 vision in each eye and be in good physical shape with a height between 5 feet, 1 1/2 inches and 6 feet.
Base assignments are made before graduation of the training program. The assignments are based on seniority, which is based on birth date. Flight attendants must complete a six-month probationary period at the assigned base before they can accept a transfer.
Stephanie Gaughen holds a bachelor's degree in news-editorial journalism from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. She has worked as a photojournalist and copy editor at two regional daily newspapers, and as a corporate communications writer.