Aviation 101: Being a cabin steward is not all glitz and glam

2017-04-19 15:30 - Unathi Nkanjeni
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Cape Town - You see them every time you board a flight to your choice destination and you've probably assumed that their job title revolves around helping you choose your on-air snack or basically instructing you on how to fasten your safety belt.

But guess what, you are dead wrong. It's more than just entertainment, so much more than what meets the eye.  

As the issue of cabin safety enters the spotlight, ranging from the offloading of passengers on overbooked flights to the need to diffuse racist and possibly violent situations, we contacted the Civil Aviation Authority of South Africa to find out what it takes to be a Cabin Stewart.  

SEE: What SA travellers need to know about offloading and overbooking policies

According to South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) spokesperson, Kabelo Ledwaba, the primary role of cabin crew is not to only to serve refreshments or to ensure passengers’ comfort whilst on board the aircraft but safety.

South Africa is one of the few countries in the world where Cabin Crew are required to be licensed. 

As Cabin Safety Officers, the primary duty of a cabin crew member is to ensure the safety of passengers as per the airline or air operator’s approved cabin safety procedures," says Ledwaba. "These procedures are presented to and approved by the SACAA as part of an air operator’s operational procedures. In our country this requirement is outlined in Part 64 of the Civil Aviation Regulations."

WATCH: Man taken off FlySafair flight after alleged racial threats

For cabin crew to be able to perform the work prescribed by the civil aviation, they require a license from a reputable establishment approved by SACAA with the requisite approval to provide the training.

Ledwaba warns there are many fly-by-night establishments, but advises it is be to check the prescribed civil aviation requirements.

"Cabin Crew training must include, among others, a theoretical knowledge course, a practical training course, as well as an aviation security, and first aid courses. Once a Cabin Crew member has received his/her licence and is employed by an air operator, they will, prior to flying as a Crew Member for that particular airline or air operator, also receive additional and specific training pertaining to the operator’s approved procedures." 

SEE: SAA warns of recruitment scam

Requirements to getting a license

SACAA requirements state you will need a valid Class 2 medical certificate to apply for a cabin crew licence as this requires you to be physically and mentally fit and also you need to be of a certain height.

"The reason for these requirements is that you will need to, among others, be able to reach those overhead luggage compartments without any hassle as well as also need to go up and down that aisle without any difficulty," says Ledwaba

 SEE: WATCH: LOL! Flight attendant's 'Toxic' Britney Spears performance is a must-see

"Not all glitz and glamour"

Although travelling may seem like more of a dream job for many, according to Ledwaba many young people are in awe of the glamour associated with being a cabin crew member.

"Working for an international or regional operations airline does guarantees the opportunity to travel to many interesting destinations across the world as well as be able to meet many diverse people in the course of a working day, but it is not all glitz and glamour," says Ledwaba.

"Cabin crew member have to be courteous yet firm when necessary and need to be able to handle difficult situations if needed be, as not all passengers will behave in an appropriate manner and also ending up working awkward hours when many of your loved ones are on holiday or celebrating a special event," says Ledwaba.

SEE: Aviation Innovation: 6 Things making flying sexy

Characteristics suitable to becoming a cabin crew member:

be physically and mentally fit; 
be assertive but polite;
enjoy working with people 
be well groomed.

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