Seeing the world, having friendly chats with crew and passengers, and wearing a snazzy uniform – it’s little wonder young children dream of working above the clouds. But the realities of being an air steward/stewardess aren’t always that glamorous, and success in the job very much entails being able to take the rough with the smooth. We’ve taken it upon ourselves to separate the facts from the fiction.

Expectation: Cabin crew on flights are always smiling and looking happy – they never seem to get stressed out.
Reality: It’s a flight attendant’s job to remain professional at all times, but underneath it all a lack of sleep, demanding customers, and a crazy time schedule can take their toll. Hilary, a former Singapore Airlines flight attendant, recently quit her job and she says: “I feel like my lifespan has increased by 10 years – no more stress or pekchek-ness (frustration). After I quit, my parents told me that I became myself again. I was less grouchy, less quick to anger & I was nicer again.”

Expectation: You’ll essentially be a waitress above the clouds.

Reality: Hilary knows that aspiring cabin crew who think that will be in for the shock of their lives: “You are not only a waitress in the air, but also a safety officer, baggage porter, bar tender, toilet cleaner, policeman, babysitter, maid etc. The list goes on.”

Expectation: Passengers will have friendly chats with you and never ask for anything weird.

Reality: A 22-year-old flight attendant for a major airline wished to stay anonymous as she answered some tough questions about dealing with passengers. She says: “If it exists, a passenger has asked me for it. They ask for EVERYTHING.” Flight attendants need to be prepared for the weird and wonderful suggestions that inevitably come their way.

Expectation: You’ll have plenty time to spend time with your family and your loved ones.

Reality: Often, you’ll have little choice but to miss important days including birthdays, Christmas at home, New Year’s Eve celebrations etc. This is certainly true if you’re still in your trial period, as you might get called up to spontaneously fly to the other side of the world. While it has many perks, being a flight attended isn’t always fun and social – it can be very lonely.

Expectation: You get to party all over the world and your social life will flourish.

Reality: Often you’ll be much too tired to hit the clubs or do any kind of sight-seeing. Constantly changing time zones can cause bad jet lag and you’ll be more likely to want to hit the hay as soon as you’ve landed.

Due to the rise in the number of airline passengers taking to the skies, the role of a flight attendant is becoming increasingly difficult.

Due to the rise in the number of airline passengers taking to the skies, the role of a flight attendant is becoming increasingly difficult. Cheap comparison sites and budget airlines mean flight attendants are having to work harder and longer than ever before – whilst keeping a smile on their face. Although there are some fantastic perks to being a flight attendant, individuals who are considering entering the industry must be aware that with all the incentives comes a lot of hard work.

You’re expected to smile even through the toughest of trials. However, the rewards can be great: you’ll get to travel the world, see new places and meet new people on a daily basis. The question is, do you have what it takes?