Yay! The graduation photo of the newbie class I sat in on!

Yay! The graduation photo of the newbie class I sat in on!

Have I bored you all with my flight attendant training blogs yet? 🙂 I hope not. I have enjoyed writing them and I hope you have enjoyed reading them. I know I learned quite a bit and have changed my perspective on what flight attendants do. They frek’n rock!

On this final post I just wanted to talk about some thoughts I had about the experience that didn’t fit into one of the other blogs.

I was originally set up to sit in on two classes for the first day, but the trainers did a great job of moving me around to a  bunch of different sessions. The cool part was most students didn’t know who I was until the second day, which meant they weren’t behaving just for me.

Unfortunatly I wasn't able to slide down their practice slide during my visit!

Unfortunately I wasn't able to slide down their practice slide during my visit!

The classes and personnel there were all very professional, but also fun. There were some very serious topics discussed, but everyone was able to have a good time and laugh. I personally think building a positive relationship with your co-workers and the company you work for is very vital in the training process.  By the end of the second day I really felt part of the AirTran flight attendant team.

During my life, I have had to sit through way too many boring PowerPoint presentations, but luckily the ones at the training were far from boring. I flew a red-eye from Seattle to Atlanta, got three hours of sleep and went right to the training facility, but I didn’t yawn once since it was interactive (I was yawning the second day, not from lack of interest, but lack of sleep catching up with me).

AirTran's training center in Atlanta, GA.

AirTran's training center in Atlanta, GA.

As I showed you, on earlier blogs, the training is very hands on. You aren’t just sitting in the classroom, but out in the mock setups where flight attendants learn how to open/close doors, use evacuation slides, practice safety procedures, try out their in-flight service and much more.

Something I never thought about were the different aircraft types airlines have. Unlike a pilot, a flight attendant is not assigned to a certain aircraft type. This means that flight attendants must know how every plane in the field works. Even though AirTran has an “All Boeing Fleet,” The Boeing 717 started its life as a McDonald Douglas MD-95 and is not very similar to the Boeing 737-700. It can’t be easy being a flight attendants on larger airlines like Delta or American that  have to know the systems of many different aircraft types.

That's me. Telling the passengers to sit down and shuddup because we are leaving!

That's me. Telling the passengers to sit down and shuddup because we are leaving!

The overall training for new flight attendants lasts about four weeks and is quite intense. About five of the new students that I met were flight attendants from other airlines and wanted to change employers since they heard good things about AirTran. One of the trainees, Alan (Hi Alan!), said this was the best training he had since PanAm. That is a huge compliment since PanAm was known for their amazing training.

Last Friday, April 16th,  all the newbie flight attendants I met graduated and will start completing test flights to hone  their skills before being released into the wild. CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OF YOU! Now they will ride on some flights to be tested and then end up on the bottom of the seniority list for which flights they have.

A nice AirTran Boeing 737-700 drawing in the trainer's break room.

A nice AirTran Boeing 737-700 drawing in the trainer's break room.

Seniority seems to be a pretty big deal in the airline business. The higher up you are, the more benefits you get. Flight attendants will be flying 20 days of the month and off for ten. Those at the bottom of the food chain (ie newbie hires) get last dibs on what days and flights they will fly on. It was interesting that to determine seniority for those in the class, BINGO balls were used.

I went into the training, not quite sure what I was going to get out of it.  I think there are a lot of misconceptions of what flight attendants do and the glamor of traveling the world and just serving drinks. I hope  this blog series has let you see how complex and important the flight attendant’s job really is. Almost every flight attendant I spoke with says it is the best job in the world and they couldn’t imagine doing anything else. To me, that is pretty cool.

A special thanks to AirTran and all the wonderful people that made this blog series possible!

A Day In The Life Of…A Training Flight Attendant
PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3 | PART 4 | PART 5 | ALLPHOTOS

I have updated my Flickr account with some additional photos taken with my iPhone and the flight attendant’s graduation picture.

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EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me: [email protected]

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3 Comments

Thank you for the insight of becoming a flight attendant. My daughter is set to start class in either Feb or March. We are all very excited for her & believe this is just what she needs at this stage in her life. She’s 24 1/2 & has been a server for an Italian retuarant for 7 years, I told her now she needs to take those skills to the sky. Again, thank you for the wonderful blog.

Thanks for the wonderful post. Pat, I’m excited for your daughter. Working in the service industry has definitely prepared her to deal with clients. Just important to keep in mind that Flight Attendants are not simply waiters in the sky. Alot more to it that than, but I’m sure your daughter will be fine:)

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