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The primary duties of a flight attendant center on ensuring passenger safety and offering service and support during flights. While much of their work takes place in the air, attendants also perform ground-based duties, such as cleaning the cabin and restocking supplies, before and after flights. Steward and stewardess are other common titles for a flight attendant.
As with most airline workers, attendants have some responsibilities in getting ready for flight. One responsibility for attendants is participating in briefing meetings with the captain about the flight plan, length, weather conditions and potential layovers in the destination city.
Flight attendants fill refreshment supplies and check safety equipment. They also play a role in cleaning the plane, checking safety equipment, and stocking snacks, meals and drinks between flights so that the plane is ready for passengers to board.
In-Flight Safety Duties
The safety responsibilities for the attendant begin right away with safety procedure instructions. This process includes making passengers aware of in-flight requirements, where emergency equipment is located and how to exit in an emergency situation.
Checking passenger seat belts during takeoff and monitoring safety through the flight are major duties as well. If a passenger is hurt, the attendant may administer first aid in line with training. If extreme turbulence or emergency situations arise, attendants are in charge of communicating instructions from the captain to passengers, or directing procedures as outlined during pre-flight meetings.
In-Flight Support Duties
The other primary role for flight attendants is ensuring a comfortable and satisfying flight experience for guests. Serving free snacks and drinks or taking orders from a sales cart is a common service role.
Some passengers have special needs, including disabilities. Attendants offer extra assistance in seating some passengers or providing additional pillows for comfort. When the airline shows in-flight movies or offers music, the attendant normally distributes headphones.
Flight attendants spend more than one-third of their monthly work time, or about 50 hours, performing ground-based activities. Some of this time is spent waiting in the airport for their flight to arrive. Attendants also write reports and submit logs about their flights.
After completing initial training required by the Federal Aviation Administration, new attendants spend time on-call, which means they are at home but could get called in to work.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Flight Attendants
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Flight Attendants - What They Do
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Flight Attendants - Work Environment
- SkyWest: Flight Attendant: Career Guide
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.