Flight attendants have been around ever since passenger airline travel began back in the 1920s. The job was usually handled by sons of businessmen financing the airline and they were not called flight attendants then, but couriers. They have been working together with the copilot until the stock market went down in the middles of the 1920s. Because of cost reduction, there was no one who sees to the needs of the passengers but the copilot. The copilot assists the pilot in the cockpit and at the same time he also serves food and beverages to the passengers. The situation remained this way until airline companies began to realize their responsibility towards improving passenger care. It was in the early 1930s when an airline company began to hire couriers again, but this time they were called stewards or male helpers. They were responsible in taking care of the passengers like in helping board the aircraft, reminding them of protocols while the aircraft is in-flight, serving them refreshments and assisting them with their baggage.
It was in the late 1930s when the same airline hired female helpers or stewardess. They were mostly registered nurses and the aim was to make passengers feel that they are safer knowing there is a medical crew onboard. They were responsible in attending to travelers who become air sick since back then, it was not as comfortable as today riding an aircraft. They also help the stewards in handing out snacks. A few more years after, during the World War II, most of the nurses working for the airline left to join the military. This was the time when airline companies started employing women who were not nurses. And the rest is history.
From couriers, stewards, stewardess, they are now called flight attendants. The reason for this is to do away with gender reference. Male and female are placed in equal footing, although some airlines stipulates in their contract that female flight attendants must be single and should not get married or have any children. Once this happens, it would mean automatic termination of their employment. With the help of people fighting against discrimination and equal rights, most airline companies today amended this and have been more lenient on marriage and children especially in women.
They say that being a flight attendant is a glamorous job, yes it’s true. They are seen smiling while walking through the alley of an aircraft attending to every passenger’s needs and making sure that everyone is comfortable all throughout the flight. This is one important prerequisite for flight attendant wannabes – you have to maintain glamour and composure even when you are at 35,000 feet or more above the ground.
At least an hour before the scheduled flight, attendants are gathered in a meeting with the pilot in command. A briefing on what to expect during the flight happens which includes the length of flight, the weather condition, altitude, route, crew coordination in cases of emergency evacuation and in handling some concerns on passengers that needs special attention.
Flight attendants make a pre-flight check, making sure emergency equipments including oxygen bottles and fire extinguishers are in order, aisles are clean, first aid kits are complete; the cabin in good condition and refreshments and blankets are adequate. Once the passengers goes on board, they are greeted with some welcoming words, they check the ticket details, direct them to their seats and give instruction on where to place their carry-on items. A few minutes before taking off, flight attendants are also responsible in verifying that passengers have observed with federal regulations like hand carries should be properly stored, seats are in an upright position and seatbelts are fastened. They make announcements and do the demonstration in emergency and safety procedures like in using oxygen masks, life jackets and directing emergency exits.
A greater responsibility of flight attendants is in making every passenger comfortable and relaxed, and making sure that apprehensions are settled. They make sure that queries and questions are dealt with satisfactorily. When the plane in-flight, this is the time when reading materials are distributed, food and beverages are offered, pillows and blankets are recommended and if truly needed, assisting small children, person with disability and the elderly. A small conversation with passengers is encouraged, to make them feel at home. It is also one way to establish goodwill with them and the airline company. There are travelers who identify the quality of customer care of a company through the people working with it. When passengers are satisfied with the comfort and care given to them during the flight, they make a way to give back, which is to fly with the airline again in their future travels.
Flight attendants, together with the captain of the aircraft, make the announcement, when there is flight delay or turbulence, assuring everyone not to be alarmed. In this case, additional refreshments can be offered, to calm any worries going through the minds of the passengers. They have to be alert in assessing the situation because some passengers may become panicky and aggressive. There are travelers who get so emotional and agitated which can irritate the rest of the passengers or worse, influence them. This may lead to a more troubling situation which can get out of hand. It is the flight attendant’s role to keep everyone in their seats and to remain still because they are in good hands. This is also the best time to show them that you are cool, too, and they can trust you in handling everything.
Before the final touchdown, flight attendants make the inventory of the food and drinks, headsets, pillows and blankets, and counts the money collected. This will be included in their flight report which is done after the flight. The report contains everything that transpired during the flight such as the passenger ticket numbers, place of departure and destination, the condition of equipments, and so many others, including problems or complaints by passengers and any untoward incident that might have happen during the flight.