Working as a flight attendant is an intense job but provides an exciting career opportunity. Besides the benefits of traveling the world with paid meals and hotels, flight attendants develop valuable people and life-saving skills.
However, you may have asked yourself, “Can I be a flight attendant at 18?” The minimum age to apply for a flight attendant job is 18. However, many airlines require applicants to be 19 at least. By the time you are 21, you can apply with any airline.
1. Start Your Dream Career at 18!
According to The Travel Academy, cabin crew applications surpass one million annually. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics deems it a faster-than-average job outlook for the next decade at 11%, with a projected 16,600 openings annually.
These statistics and the low entry-level requirements with on-the-job training make this an exciting career opportunity for young adults looking for an exciting career. The average age that flight attendants fall in for the major carriers is between 25 and 34, but that changes with smaller or regional airlines. Most airlines don’t have upper age limits, but typically, cabin crew move on to other positions, making room for younger candidates.
Despite the minimum age requirements of the major carriers, these apply when candidates complete their training requirements. Therefore, you can start your dream career at 18 by beginning your training, ensuring you get some experience and are of an applicable age by the time you apply.
2. Requirements for Young Flight Attendants
Airlines receive a vast number of applications for cabin crew positions annually. But, they have high expectations, making securing a job in this competitive field difficult. These are the most critical requirements they expect you to meet:
A high school diploma, or the equivalent at least, is essential, but a college degree or completing a flight attendant program can prove you have more skills for the job. All applicants must speak and write English, but being fluent in a foreign language is also a plus. Finally, it will help if you have strong communication skills and some experience in hospitality or customer service.
Citizenship and employment eligibility will count, and the airline you apply to will also perform background checks and drug screening tests. Airlines also want reliability, so they may prefer you live near their base airport.
Ability to Perform
A flight attendant’s responsibilities include ensuring good health and fitness. Your duties will involve standing for long hours, assisting passengers to lift heavy baggage into overhead compartments, performing safety checks, etc. Therefore, there is a minimum height requirement, and you should have good eyesight (or wear corrective lenses). Besides testing your health and fitness levels, most airlines expect you to know how to swim.
Airlines prefer people who maintain a neat and conservative appearance. They prefer candidates with natural hair colors, conventional hair styles, and one earring per ear. Some airlines have strict policies when it comes to tattoos and piercings. Do your research to ensure you meet the requirements when applying.
Once accepted, you must complete flight attendant training to learn the airline’s service and emergency response protocols. Training includes handling food and beverage service, emergency response, passenger interaction, and aircraft evacuation. The training lasts between 3 and six weeks, after which you must pass the exams and participate in a test flight.
After training, you must receive FAA certification for each aircraft type you’ll serve on. After that, you must maintain these FAA Certifications by renewing them annually. Most airlines offer these through their airline training programs.
3. Advantages of Becoming a Flight Attendant at 18
Becoming a flight attendant at 18 has several advantages, including:
- Gaining the experience to apply to other airlines when you reach their minimum age.
- You have several opportunities to explore locations between flights.
- On some airlines, you earn flight benefits based on mileage, allowing you to claim extra seats to visit other locations. Other airlines offer discounts to flight attendants, even from different airlines.
- Some airlines extend flight benefits to families of flight attendants, even allowing spouses, parents, or children to fly for free or at a discount for trips made outside of work. Other airlines even allocate some free or discount passes to crew members that you can give to friends.
- You work more flexibly than employees elsewhere, allowing you to rest and see family between trips. As you build seniority within the airline, you can choose a work schedule that matches your needs and interests. Typically, flight attendants have a three-day week.
- Being a flight attendant creates opportunities to meet new people, including athletes and celebrities. Additionally, the rotating schedule practiced by most airlines allows you to meet new colleagues and coworkers from other locations.
- Overnight stays at hotels and food expenses are free or reimbursed. Even if your stay at a location is longer than one night, the airline pays the expenses.
- Airlines cover their cabin crew with health insurance and retirement plans.
- Most flight attendants have good compensation packages. Currently, the average is $63,769 annually. Their compensation packages may include employee discounts in the travel industry or profit-sharing packages.
4. Tips for Landing Your First Flight Attendant Job
It’s good to keep the following tips in mind if you plan to land your first flight attendant job:
- Your minimum age must be 18 at smaller airlines, but more than half accept candidates from 19.
- Ensure you meet the minimum and maximum height requirements.
- Safeguard your overall health and fitness.
- Have a pleasing appearance.
- Meet the educational requirements, which is at least a high school diploma.
- Speaking a foreign language is an advantage.
- Try to get some training and experience because airlines prefer it.
- Get a passport for international flight requirements.
- Ensure you can pass their background checks and drug tests.
- Make sure you meet the qualifications of the airline you have set your heart on working for.
- Besides experience, airlines also look for mature candidates with pleasant smiles and personalities.
5. Training Programs for Young Aspiring Flight Attendants
Most airlines invest in you if they choose you from a list of applicants because they want you to stay with them as long as possible. They provide the training required to become a flight attendant and also ensure you get the FAA certification for the types of aircraft they expect you to serve.
However, there are also suitable training programs that provide you with the training and experience they require that will give you the advantage over other candidates.
You can get flight attendant training at several places. Some examples include The Travel Academy in the U.S., the International Air and Hospitality Academy in Canada, and the International Flight Academy in Portugal. The Inflight Institute also offers several types of flight attendant courses online.
6. Key Skills to Excel as a Young Flight Attendant
The basic skills you learn as a flight attendant ensure you understand concepts like passenger safety, undertaking an emergency response, serving food and beverages, and preparing the plane for take-off and landing. However, cabin crew members also learn several vital soft skills. These include:
Customer service – Customer service skills help you assess and meet passenger needs from when they board until they disembark. Maintaining the airline’s excellent reputation while greeting them or meeting their needs during the flight is your job.
Communication – Your role is to enlighten passengers and enforce airline policies clearly and calmly. Your communication skills are vital because you must give pre-flight instructions, answer passenger queries, and understand instructions given by the captain. With your specialized training, your communication skills will allow you to maintain order, even in an emergency. The two main types of communication skills include nonverbal and active listening. The first helps you recognize when a passenger needs something. The second makes you a better listener, allowing you to show the proper concern and respect in all passenger interactions.
Confidence – The more confident you appear, the more passengers see you as capable and knowledgeable, helping to put them at ease.
Patience – Patience is an essential attribute for cabin crew. It allows you always to remain calm, even when dealing with nervous or excited passengers, providing excellent customer service. It also helps you cope with travel industry delays, layovers, and long flights.
Problem-solving skills – During a flight, you can face several challenges, including shortages of one of the food options, technical difficulties like finding lost items, or helping stash everybody’s luggage in the overhead lockers before take-off. Finding ways to solve challenges that help put passengers at ease requires excellent problem-solving skills.
Observational, analytical, and organizational skills – These three skills are vital to ensuring you pay attention to the smallest detail that ensures your airline meets the standards it has set, including appearance, safety, and customer service.
7. Overcoming Challenges as a Flight Attendant at 18
Your work as a flight attendant is exciting and glamorous, but it also has several responsibilities teamed with extended service hours. Here are some of the challenges you can expect to face in your career and how to overcome them:
Irregular work hours
Unlike people in a nine-five job, you often need to work overnight, weekends, and holidays, compromising your family life. However, you also work fewer days a week than traditional employees and can often set your work schedule.
Hard training process
Yes, the training of a flight attendant is hard, but once you acquire these skills, they will serve you well in an emergency and provide you with excellent life skills that you can use to move to another career later.
If one of your colleagues calls in sick, you may get a call to cover for them. It’s good always to ensure you get enough rest in case duty calls unexpectedly,
When you need to spend a few days away from home, it’s natural to start missing your home and loved ones. On the bright side, you may be away from home often, but you can explore other places. Additionally, thanks to our increasing connectivity, you can stay in touch with your family with one of the social media apps or Facetime.
The effects of traveling across different time zones disrupt your sleep and sometimes affect your health. One solution is trying to get on round trips, but it is not always possible. Try to keep fit and healthy by sleeping at every chance you get, and ask your doctor for tips on how to fight the effects of jet lag.
It’s not uncommen for flight attendants to deal with passengers who have had too much to drink or act unruly. Your training will help you remain calm in these situations, allowing you to resolve these crises and prevent escalations.
Challenging promotion prospects
There are few promotion opportunities as a flight attendant, and even with a promotion, your role remains similar. However, you can expect to earn more as you become more experienced. Many flight attendants move up into other positions in the travel or hospitality industry.
8. Success Stories: Inspiring Young Flight Attendants
Can I be a flight attendant at 18? Yes. It’s possible. However, it’s less common to see very young flight attendants on some of the larger airlines since they have a minimum age of 21. These criteria ensure that applicants have the maturity and responsibility required for attending to passengers and assuring they arrive safely at their destination.
However, several airlines will accept younger applicants, and there are several success stories from inspiring young flight attendants that you can follow on socials. Follow Stanesha Hutshell on YouTube to learn more about being a young flight attendant. Other popular flight attendants on socials include Cierra Mistt on TikTok and Imbrigita on Instagram. They are great to follow if you want to learn more about life as a cabin crew member and how to achieve your dream.