A Day In The Life Of A Flight Attendant

Duties of  Flight Attendant / Cabin Crew Member / Air Hostess

Getting Ready

It is the middle of the night, well actually half past 3 in the morning! Your cellphone alarm starts singing off and it is time to start getting ready for your flight to Dar Es Salaam, which is scheduled to depart from Joburg at 7.00am. You complete your bathroom routine, put on your uniform, steal a snack from the fridge, and make sure your appearance is absolutely immaculate (Even at 4.00am in the morning!). Air Crew need to check in up to 2 hours prior to flight departure, especially for over-border flights, so you will need to report for work at the airport by about 5.00am. You arrive at work, and head for the crew briefing room. Dawn is just breaking.


You sign in, check your notices and messages, and review your cabin crew manual to refresh yourself with the emergency procedures and location of emergency equipment for the aircraft you are operating on. You go into the pre-flight briefing and the senior cabin crew member talks you through the flight details. This will normally include the order in which the services will operate for the flight, your responsibilities for the day and if there are any passengers with special needs flying, for example you may be given the responsibility to explain the emergency facilities to a blind passenger on the particular aircraft you are operating on. You should also be prepared to be asked questions regarding safety and emergency procedures.

Now the crew are ready to proceed to the aircraft, and may do so either on foot or by crew shuttle bus. You will need to complete the necessary customs and immigration formalities before boarding. On entering the aircraft you will move to your position and prepare to start work.

Before Your Passengers Board The Aircraft

It’s now time for you and your team of flight attendants to check your emergency equipment, that you have enough meals, drinks and duty free for the passengers, stock all the toilets with the necessary hand towels and tissues. You are told that the passengers are on their way, so this is your final chance to check that your uniform is immaculate and presentable. All that’s left to do is smile and greet the passengers on board (bearing in mind its 6.30am in the morning). Remember you are the face of the airline, so smiles are essential throughout the whole flight.        

In preparation for departure, all the passengers are now seated and the aircraft pushes back and starts to taxi to the runway. It is now time to perform the standard cabin safety demonstration so that passengers can familiarise themselves with all the aircraft's emergency equipment and facilities. This will include pointing out to the available emergency exits and lighting, the use of oxygen masks, seat belts and life jackets. You will complete your demonstration by checking through the entire aircraft cabin, ensuring that all seatbelts are securely fastened and that loose articles are secured for take off. You will now take your own crew seat for the take-off.

During The Flight

Once the aircraft is airborne, and the seat-belt sign has been switched off, you will be able to leave your seat. You will start to perform your duties as discussed in the pre-flight briefing. The order of services varies from one airline to another, and from one route to another. Some services may be charged for. This could include the sale of refreshments, meals, headsets for the in-flight entertainment, drinks and duty free goods.

Typical services which may be offered by the Cabin Crew during the flight could include some or all of the following:

  •     Headsets for the inflight entertainment system
  •     Drinks
  •     Meal service - including special request meals for some passengers
  •     Tea & Coffee
  •     Cold towels offered to passengers to freshen up after their meal
  •     Clearing & collecting the meal trays from the passenger
  •     Sales of Duty free goods
  •     Handing out Immigration cards/forms
  •     Preparing the cabin for landing.

During this time you must also remember to check the toilets every 20 minutes to make sure that they are clean and stocked up.

You might have to deal with a number of questions and queries, but most importantly you need to maintain the safety and comfort for all of the passengers. Some passengers may have more flights under their belt than you do and therefore require careful handling.

Landing At Dar Es Salaam - In Transit

You now take your seat for landing. Once landed you say goodbye to the passengers and then prepare the aircraft for its return journey. (This is referred to as the turnaround). Duties to perform during the stop include restocking the bars for the drinks service, restock and check the catering, restock all the toilets, take out any rubbish from the seat pockets and ensuring all passengers have reading literature i.e. airline magazine, safety card, in-flight sales brochure and a sick bag. On a longer transit stop, you mave have time to visit the airport terminal. Before your new passengers board you will have to complete a security check to ensure no one has left any items on board as this is obviously taken very seriously. Last but not least check your appearance before the new passengers arrive. The passengers arrive so once again you have to greet them and assist where needed. When they are all seated its time to begin the same emergency briefing and cabin service all over again!

Landing Back At Home Base

Once you have landed back at your base airport and the passengers have disembarked, its time to go back to the crew centre to count the money and to make sure that the amount of goods sold throughout the flight balances with the amount of cash you have taken. Once this has been done its time to check your file for any changes to your future flying programme and then you are free to go home. Congratulations - you have completed an almost thirteen-hour work day and you will feel like you have walked to Tanzania and back! GOODNIGHT!


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