A profession that gives one a chance to experience different cultures and fly across various countries. Sounds exciting, right? However, this job is not an easy task and interested candidates must keep all these requirements in their minds before joining any airlines.
Rules for cabin crew generally followed by various airlines are:
Cabin crew need not possess the figure of a ‘screw’ but should have adequate body weight. They also have to possess a clear face without pimples or prominent marks. However, a few pimples which could be masked with makeup are considered to be fine. No short hair is allowed. Instead, it should be tied neatly after applying hair spray. Hair should also not be oily. Grey hair is a strict ‘no’.
Footwear of cabin crew should be high heels without frills. Women needs to be at least 154 cm tall to work on a domestic flight and men should have a minimum height of 170 cm. On international routes, they should be taller. For women, a BMI (body mass index) of 18-22 is stipulated, while it could be up to 25 for men.
Cabin crews are not allowed to wear ornaments having religious symbols. Similarly, no threads or strings should be present around the neck or wrist. However, tiny earrings studded with pearl are allowed. Some airlines also give exemptions to wear a necklace and sport a small ‘bindi’ (dot in the middle of the forehead) along with saree. In fact, all airlines are strict about avoiding opulence in ornaments.
As cabin crew and flight stewards face passengers always, they should apply makeup that doesn’t hide their smile. Cosmetics such as primer/foundation, mascara/eyeliners, eye shadow, lipstick, blush and nail polish are mandatory. However, the colours used would be different for each airline.
Still, the most important aspect of makeup is highlighting the smile, for which dark shades of red and pink have to be used on the lips. Nail polish also could be either of these colours or nude shade. Meanwhile, blue eyeliner which matches the uniform is allowed by a few airlines.
On international flights, cabin crew should maintain this makeup as well as smile for up to 20 hours. New recruits may need even 45 minutes to put on this appearance. However, they would be able to complete the makeup within 20 minutes on gaining experience.
Tattoos which are visible are banned by all airlines.
Most airlines also require their male staff to be clean-shaven. Some companies instruct men to shave every day and use aftershave cream to prevent reactions. Men have to crop hair in a standard manner so that it does not touch the shirt collar.
A leather or silver watch is allowed, but men cannot pierce their ears. All crew, irrespective of gender, should also apply perfume.
• Regular checks
Cabin crews are subjected to weight checks every month. Suspension and a warning letter follow if there is an increase in weight or more pimples are found on the face. Before duty, grooming checks are carried out to confirm that the crews are dressed as per rule. Health checkups also are mandatory every year.
• Other requirements
Cabin crew should have normal vision without glasses, an attractive face, even teeth and pleasant behaviour. Airlines in India also want their cabin crews to speak English and Hindi fluently. Youngsters having a command also over Arabic, French, Spanish or German have an advantage to be selected for the job.
• Maternity rules
Some airlines based in India do not appoint married women as cabin crew. However, foreign airlines have no such rule. Still, all airlines shift cabin crew from flight duty when they are pregnant as a safety measure for the fetus. Maternity leave of six months too is allowed for carrying women.
Cabin crews are expected to present a pleasant face even in adverse situations. They have to walk hours at a stretch along the corridors of an aircraft, interact with unruly passengers without losing composure, never let their fatigue or mental stress show on the face and deal tactfully with rude fliers.
Being constantly exposed to variations in atmospheric temperature and pressure, cabin crew often face serious health problems. Lack of sleep and jet-lag could make matters worse. Such situations are likely to affect the menstrual cycle of women. Body weight too may go up.
Cabin crew should be prepared to deal with all such challenges and be cheerful always as they could be called for duty any time.
• Crisis situations
As extraordinary events such as hijack of the aircraft, bomb threats and emergency landings could take place any time during the duty hours, the necessary composure and presence of mind have to be displayed by cabin crew.
In fact, cabin crews are trained to evacuate everyone in the aircraft within 90 seconds whenever a crisis occurs. Moreover, during an emergency, cabin crews are allowed to leave the aircraft only the last - even after the pilots. Cabin crews also receive training to manage things when a passenger undergoes labour pains.
(Information Courtesy: Sarangi Rajan, senior cabin crew, and Arathi Edison, ex-cabin crew and cabin crew/grooming trainer at Vision School of Aviation, Kochi)