About Air Hostess

If there is one career that matches the glamour of the movie industry, it is undoubtedly this! Even the movie industry is enamoured with this profession–making super heroes out of flight attendants in movies like Executive Decision and Air Force One where air hostesses fight terrorists.

It is not at all preposterous to show flight attendants fighting a plane full of deadly snakes in a movie like ‘Snakes on a plane,’ if you know that in reality air hostesses are trained to perform hand-to-hand combat, survive in extreme weather conditions, fight fire at 35,000 feet in the air and even deliver a baby on board.

However addressed, be it Air Hostess, Cabin Crew or Flight Attendant, it is one profession everyone dreams of following at least once in their life. For over the last fifty years, in every country, air hostesses have been the fashion icons while also symbolising grace, elegance and customer service. Naturally, the criteria of selection emphasise on a pleasing personality and have a minimum age (18 to 25), height (5 feet 2 inches), proportionate weight and eyesight (6/6 uncorrected in both eyes) requirement. Being multilingual is always an added advantage in this profession.  Some airlines also have a criterion about the marital status (applicants must be unmarried at the time of applying.) 

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Is it mandatory to study an air hostess training course to be placed in an airline? Absolutely not! All airlines – whether flying domestic or international induct and train their new hires according to the airline standards and protocols. Yet, it cannot be completely denied that – an air hostess training program significantly increases the chances of getting hired by a prestigious airline.

In India, there are a variety of cabin crew training courses which offer a Certificate or Diploma at the end of the course. The 3 - 6 months certificate courses (Ex - Aviation Management and Hospitality, Air Hostess Management, Aviation Customer Service, Air Hostess Training, Cabin Crew/Flight Attendant and Airlines Hospitality) are mostly fast-track programs although there are some certificate courses which are 12 months long. The Diploma programs (6-12 months courses, Ex - Diploma in Air Hostess Training, Diploma in Aviation and Hospitality Management, Diploma in Hospitality and Travel Management and Diploma in Cabin Crew/Flight Attendant Training) which are more practical and detail-oriented carry more weight than the certificate programs.  Students who have passed their 12th grade or are currently pursuing their 12th grade are eligible to apply for such programs. There are also a few institutes which offer three years undergraduate courses like B.Sc. in Air Hostess Training, B.Sc. Aviation, Bachelor of Hospitality and Travel Management and Bachelor of Travel and Tourism Management.

Colleges in the US also offer undergraduate certificate air hostess training programs. You must, however, take the TOEFL , IELTS exam to apply for the same. 


Duration: 10 weeks to 12 months

Fee per course/annum: £8,000 - £10,000

Career Prospects

During the air hostess training program, you will be taught the various nuances of cabin crew operations with hands-on experience on an actual flight deck. On completion, ready students are interviewed and hired as flight attendants in various domestic and international airlines and can also secure jobs as aviation or travel manager, flight purser, night rating manager or ground service staff at airports. 
Once you get recruited as an air hostess, you will be typically placed on a 12 to 14 hours shift duty per day (more hours on an international flight) with 9 consecutive hours of rest after each duty period (in accordance with the Federal Aviation Administration requirements.) Most flight attendants spend 75 to 90 hours flying a month and another 50 hours on ground duties like preparing flights and writing reports. As a part of their job, air hostesses spend three to four nights a week away from home. Hotel accommodations and meals are taken care of by the airline during this time. 
New flight attendants are usually on a reserve status for a period of a year. Senior air hostesses get to choose their schedules and route assignments. Promotions are also based on seniority. 
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Jobs & Salary

Most of us have witnessed air hostesses in action. Flight attendants are responsible for passenger safety and to make their flights comfortable. Besides serving meals and refreshments and demonstrating the use of safety and emergency equipment, air hostesses are also responsible for pre-flight briefings, assisting passengers with special needs and assisting in cleaning the cabin between flights, just to name a few. On international flights, senior attendants often oversee the work of other attendants. Senior attendants in management positions are responsible for recruiting, training and scheduling.

Since the profession attracts more applicants than the number of job vacancies and also because most hiring for flight attendants is for replacing those who leave the workforce, securing a job as an air hostess is highly competitive. Recent trends in the airline industry point that low-cost airlines offer better job prospects for flight attendants.  The starting salary of an air hostess in a domestic airline in India is between Rs. 25,000 and Rs. 40,000 per month. A senior air hostess gets paid anywhere between Rs. 50,000 and Rs. 75,000 a month. International airline pay is understandably more with the initial pay. ranging between Rs. 50,000 and Rs. 80,000 and between Rs. 80,000 and Rs. 200,000 for a senior air hostess. In the US, a Southwest Airlines flight attendant typically makes $5,000 a month while a Delta flight attendant gets paid around $3,500 a month. Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines and World Airways pay the best salaries. Perks and bonuses are over and above the salaries.The pay is between 2 – 3 lac rupees per annum for junior flight attendants, between 7 – 8 lac rupees per annum for mid-level attendants and between 10 – 12 lac rupees per annum for senior attendants in regional airlines.  International airline pay is understandably more.

Some of the top airlines currently hiring air hostesses in India are:

Pros & Cons

A presentable appearance, good communication skills, quick thinking, positive attitude and punctuality are some of the basic attributes required to get into this profession. A tattoo inscribed at a moment of madness can lead to rejection in a flight attendant interview. Becoming an air hostess requires preparation and discipline. Here are a few advantages and disadvantages of being an air hostess. 

  • The job of an air hostess is prestigious and well-paid
  • You get to see the world without incurring any personal expense 
  • You experience different cultures and meet interesting people
  • Irregular sleep patterns and stress due to a hectic schedule can lead to medical problems
  • Less time with family particularly during the weekends and holidays
  • Bad diet and odd eating hours will also affect your health

Famous Personalities

Neerja Bhanot

The youngest recipient of India’s highest civilian award for bravery - Ashok Chakra, late Neerja Bhanot was a flight attendant for Pan Am who gave her life while saving passengers from terrorists on board a hijacked Pan Am flight 73 plane in 1986. In 2016, a movie named ‘Neerja’ starring Sonam Kapoor epitomised her brave sacrifice. Neerja’s life as a flight attendant and gruesome death is a reminder of the real risks and responsibilities that air hostesses’ world over are entrusted with.

Carole Elizabeth Middleton

The mother of the Duchess of Cambridge and the grandmother to the third in line of succession to the British throne, Carole Middleton was a former flight attendant. But it isn’t just her daughter’s alliance with the British monarchy that has made her famous. Carole Middleton is a successful businesswoman who established Party Pieces, a company that makes and sells party bags, party supplies and decorations. Here’s a flight attendant with business acumen!

Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir

Here’s another example that air hostesses are more than just pretty faces. A flight attendant with Loftleiðir in her early years, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir is Iceland’s first female Prime Minister. She is a former member of the country’s parliament and also the longest-serving MP in Iceland’s parliamentary history. Being a flight attendant did not stop her from pursuing a political career.


1912Heinrich Kubis becomes the world’s first air steward.

1930Ellen Church becomes the world’s first female attendant on a Boeing air transport flight.

1935All flight attendants are required to be qualified nurses.

1941Flight attendant vacancies open to anyone with a diploma.

1953Physical requirements are established for flight attendants.

1971Year of flight attendant gender inequality fight.

1980Flight attendant’s role is recognized as a profession.

2010Delta airlines receives over 100,000 applications for 1,000 open positions; an acceptance rate lower than that of Harvard University.

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