The Reality of Being a Cabin Crew – Are You Prepared?

Reality of Being a Cabin Crew

The question itself is rhetorical. The truth is, a cabin crew will tell you that, there can be so many surprising experiences and events that can happen, in flight, that you can never always be 100% prepared. There will always be a new thing, weird thing, or a crazy one that drives you to the Lord, and utter, “Oh my God, what amma’ gonna do!?” Hence, if you are adaptable, flexible, and able to improvise, you may have a plus point there.

Whilst one cannot be fully prepared on every scenario in flight, new cabin crew wannabes should be able to gather enough insights into a cabin crew’s life or what’s the CAREER like. Often, the internet and media are flooded with skewed contents. Therefore, the ability to have an open and prepared mind is obviously, not only important, but almost necessary.

There are hundreds and thousands of application each month and we thought it will be beneficial to list some points herein. These are not Pros and Cons (Advantages or Disadvantages) as they are mostly very personal and subjected to different perception.

So, what are some things cabin crews love about their job?

1) Travel 

We hear it a million times. Yes, we all love to travel. However, a cabin crew’s travel can be slightly different than what you think. Don’t expect to have luxury of time to do everything you want during stop overs or change of flights. Cabin crews are often put on standby even though it was not scheduled as a work day.

If you are the type who appreciates and loves meeting different people from difference culture, speaking in different languages and you derive pure interest in that, then it is great! As a cabin crew who flies internationally, you really get to see different places and feel different climates. In August, it is the hottest month in Dubai, at about 36 degrees Celsius! Whereas it is still winter in New Zealand.


2) Free Flights

Yes cabin crews get to fly for free on “employee pass”. Of course, this is a great perk, with limitations of its own. Cabin crews fly on these passes on”standby”. When there is an empty seat, they can get on. But as more and more airlines are overbooked, the chances of an empty seat is becoming increasingly rare. Usually the leftover seats are non-reclining seats at the back next to lavatory which are smallest or noisiest, or a middle seat in the center. Either way, it is still free! (tax applies though for some airlines). At times if you are lucky, you can get Business Class or even First Class. It requires a lot of patience and planning with such perks, as they don’t come whenever you want. So you can’t plan a trip on the last day of your leave.  Travel for the destination and not for the ride, and you will appreciate it when you arrive.

Reality of Being a Cabin Crew

Photo: Monica Blaset

3) Happy to Serve and Nurture

Consider this as a cornerstone and pride of a cabin crew. If you have such passion, then it will be a meaningful career and journey. Unlike nursing or waiting at restaurants, you get to travel.  Cabin crew can be themselves whilst using their nurturing skills in an unsupervised environment. You can use your inter-personal skills to make passengers feel like they are the only people on earth that matters to you at the point of time.

4) Useful training that is applicable in life

Airlines provide training like first-aid, security and in-flight operations that are still useful even if you quit your job. These skill sets enable one to save life or know what to do during emergencies. Best thing is, you are trained for free and still get paid!

5) Co-workers

Cabin crews in a flight form the guardian angel of a plane. No doubt, there will be a strong bond between one and another simply because, you are ALL IN THE SAME PLANE. Most cabin crews who have flew long enough will tell you they have shared life-events, unforgettable memories, joy and tears together. The tightness of the bond mainly comes from the trust, fear-facing, and knowing that each crew is responsible for one another, and that they are committed to pull together through the best, and in times of the worst.


What are some things cabin crews dislike about their job?

6) Pay

If you are in the job only for the money, then, don’t be surprised to be disappointed some day. You may have been given the exaggerated idea of high and glamorous pay, but you should also know enough on the sacrifices a cabin crew has to put up.

The hourly rate pay or allowance can be quite misleading, if you have not grasp it in full. Cabin crews are paid the hourly flight wage/allowance only from the time captain releases the brake and the aircraft pushes back from the gate, until the aircraft arrives at destination and the captain sets the brakes in.

So if your hourly rate pay as a starter is RM12/hr, and you left home at 5am morning to catch a flight at 8am and arrived at destination at 11am, you are paid RM36 in the total of 6 hours you spent (RM12 x 3 hrs flight). Remember, the hourly flight allowance does not take into account time spent for checking in 2hours before departure, crew briefing, pre-boarding admin work, figuring work position, duty, safety checks, changing planes, boarding and saying goodbye and thank you to passengers. Oh! You will also hope that a flight doesn’t get delayed!

Of course, at the end of the month, a cabin crew will earn a decent income with many other types of allowance, without having to worry on how to pay your bills.


7) Hectic and hardwork

Being a cabin crew isn’t just about being pretty, flirt a little and serve wine. At the end of every long day, they are usually just, looking for their bed. They can appreciate their eye glasses, no make-ups, bad hair day and pyjamas better than anyone else. After arriving at a desitination, you don’t usually get a day or 2 to shop around. You will be lucky to get a 6-hours sleep before you have to get up again. Imagine, your luggage is your daily wardrobe!

8) Pressure and harrassment

Typically in any industry, every large corporate will want to cut cost and increase productivity. Most starters in the cabin crew industry will find it toughest simply because as juniors you will sometimes meet nasty higher-ranked senior. Your pay rate is also determined by your rank.

There will be countless of weird requests and encounters with passengers, who can sometimes be nasty, funny, crazy or even horny. And you put up a smile to it simply because the passengers pay the fares. Also sometimes even your co-workers do so. There are some wolves who simply try their luck, but lady crews, learn to say NO in a nice but firm tone. If things get out of hand, he will loose his job. Guys, it is not worth it to loose your job just because you were lonely for a night.

9) Unpredictable and irregular working hours

Unlike a 9-5pm job, you can’t exactly make plans for your weekend or for next month. Often enough you hear cabin crews miss important events in their lives like wedding anniversary, friend’s wedding, birthdays and more. It is too common, and your partner should be well aware. If you plan for a dinner date, you can only hope for it to happen, but not expecting it. If expectations with your partners are not discussed well, it can affect your relationships. Often crews will know their flight schedules only in the middle of the month before, and sometimes at the very last minute.

Ultimately, the good always outweigh the bad. If you are flexible enough to see it in such a manner, then you can fly long in the industry.

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