What should I expect on my cabin crew training course?

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By cabincrew.com on Thursday 20th Sep, 2012 at 11:30

By Patricia Green

It’s exciting and it’s a bit scary – but what really happens on your first airline training course? Here, I hope to give all potential cabin crew, the chance to see what really happens behind the scenes and what they should expect to do on their training course.

Some airlines may send you workbooks or an online course to study, a few weeks before your course starts. This will include things like aircraft terminology and airport codes as well as the phonetic alphabet. This will save some time on your airline training course as well as showing your commitment to the course, so it’s best to study! Once you arrive at your new base or training school, you will attend a 4-6 week course that will meet the safety standards of the airline and of the aviation authorities.

This course will cover everything you need to know from first aid and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) to how to evacuate an aircraft and how to fight a fire. You learn about all the things that may go wrong onboard an aircraft and how to deal with all kinds of emergency and how to use all the equipment of board. Service is just a small element of your training, which is surprising as that is what our passengers see – they would never believe the things we have to do on our training! Here is a quick run down of just some of the things you will do:

- Safety and Emergency Procedures: This is where you learn emergency drills, jump down the aircraft slides and practice door operation. This is just for starters! This is the most important and the most difficult part of the course and normally covers at least 2 weeks.

- Safety Equipment: This is where you learn about all the safety equipment on each aircraft including smoke hoods, fire extinguishers, life rafts, oxygen systems etc

- Fire Fighting: Probably for the first time in your life, you will practice putting out fires and simulate different scenarios. There is also a smoke filled chamber where you may practice finding ‘people’ trapped inside.
- Wet drill: This is often the most dreaded… You must swim, practice survival techniques in the water and climb onto the life raft!

- Aviation Medicine: Here you will learn about first aid onboard, how to use the medical kit and medicines and also most importantly CPR and use of the defibrillator.

- Aircraft Specific: You learn about the aircraft types you are working on eg. Boeing 737, Airbus 320 etc. You have to know the door operation, layout and emergency equipment locations onboard. You also have to visit the aircraft and practice using the doors.

- Survival: Learning about surviving on water, land, desert and snow with your passengers.

- Crew Resource Management: This is an element often forgotten about. It concerns crew communication and studying scenarios to understand what went wrong during an emergency and how we can stop the potential for accidents.

- Service Style: Here you may learn how the service is performed and different types (sometimes you will learn economy and business for example).

- Inflight Retail: How to promote sales onboard.

- Grooming: How to represent the company by having good appearance and wearing your uniform correctly.

- Other topics studied include: Security, Dangerous Goods, Conflict Management, Manual Handling and sometimes Self Defence!

During your first week of training, there will be lots of administration to do and you will attend presentations by the airline that will give you detailed information about the company and your role – so make sure you take plenty of notes! You will also have a uniform fitting and probably a medical.

After this, that is when it starts to get tough! You will be taking on masses of information in a short space of time as well as taking part in practical exercises. You will be tested on a regular basis and the pass mark is high – it can be as high as 98% with some airlines! If you fail, you normally get one more chance and then you will be asked to leave, so do your homework…If you don’t understand something, ask your instructor or ask a colleague who has flown before as it is crucial you know what you are doing.

Hard work will pay off

Some people will drop out of the course and decide it isn’t right for them or some people do not make the grade with the exams. You have to look after yourself and your colleagues, get plenty of sleep and study hard. The days are long, it is tough, you will feel exhausted and there will be plenty of tears during training – I promise! That is normal during this stressful time… but in the end it is all worth it!

After the training course (and you get you first roster!) you will work on two supervised flights to complete your training, before becoming fully fledged Cabin Crew and getting your wings… Every 12 months, you will have to return to training for 2-3 days to do a refresher course, just to keep your knowledge and training up to date. Again you will be tested and have to prove to the authorities that you are safe to fly as Cabin Crew.

Joining another airline

If you decide to join another airline in the future, unfortunately you still have to take the initial training course of the new airline as not all safety procedures are exactly the same with each airline. Within Europe, there is now the ‘attestation’ which is a ‘passport’ for Cabin Crew that shows all the previous courses completed. This can be very useful in the future, for example in the case of a short contract it may be possible to be exempt from some of the initial training and you may only need to take a refresher or aircraft specific course beforehand.

Just as a side note, in Asia, sometimes the airline training courses are longer and can last up to 4 months. This is down to the fact that airlines such as Singapore Airlines concentrate a lot on their extensive customer service style and Japan Airlines for example, include Japanese language and culture classes in their training course.

I hope you have found this introduction to your Cabin Crew training course useful and informative. Of course, not all airlines are the same and there maybe some elements here that you may or may not study. This outline is based on courses that I have studied and instructed with airlines in Europe, UK and the Middle East.

About the author: Patricia Green
I have been Cabin Crew for major airlines in the UK and Middle East for six years and also a SCCM. For the last 6 years I have worked as a VIP Flight Attendant working for very high profile clients and world leaders on their private jets. Last year I moved to flying on a freelance basis in order to concentrate on working as a freelance instructor as well as setting up as a Cabin Crew Consultant, so that I could advise potential crew how to get their dream job and help experienced crew move from commercial to corporate flying. In response to many requests from fellow crew and students, I have written a series of E-books to help guide new crew with lots of insider advice and useful hints and tips.

For more information please visit www.cabincrewconsultant.weebly.com

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