A personable, welcoming flight attendant can make or break a flight.
They must maintain a smile and good manners, with people who aren’t always polite, as well unusual hours and often long shifts.
Visiting the Malaysia Airlines Academy, where cabin crew are trained, Business Insider had a first-hand look at what it takes to be a flight attendant.
And if you think it’s all about wheeling drinks trolleys down the aisle, you’ll be surprised at how many hours are spent preparing for a flight.
From hair and makeup to weight and speech, flight attendants have to have all aspects polished and in line with airline expectations.
Chang Chin Kwang, Malaysia Airlines manager of In-flight Services Training and Standard Operations, said preparation helps create a great flight, and consistent service.
To give you an insight, here are seven things flight attendants do before they even get on the plane.
1. Stay slim
Twice a year crew members have their Body Mass Index tested. For Malaysia Airlines, the acceptable range required for flight attendants is 22-25 for women and 25-28 for men. Should a crew member slip outside these limits they must be tested on a monthly basis until they fall within the required range for two consecutive months. If they still can’t shed the kilo’s they are put on two weeks leave to lose the weight before being tested again. Chang did not specifically say whether an employee would be dismissed should they be unable to get in shape.
2. Walk like a model
Crew members must learn to “walk the walk” when in uniform as they pass through the airport. The training centre has a catwalk, surrounded by mirrors, so that the crew can practice and watch themselves get their walk right.
The men and women have a designated room called the grooming room where they prepare their hair and make up for the flight. Both genders must have hair above the collar, and only in the approved styles. Men should have facial hair trimmed in a manner that is tidy and well kept. According to MAS that means short side burns and trimmed nose hair.
4. Looking good
When it comes to makeup, the airline leaves some discretion, but suggests female attendants wear colours to match their colouring.
They must wear a minimum of three colours on their eyes(!)
Cover up should be worn if you have pimples.
5. Please pass the salt
Crew members are taught proper eating and table etiquette, not for the flight, but for when in transit, dining out in hotels or restaurants.
6. Wearing accessories
A watch can be worn, but the diameter of the face must not exceed 1.5cm for women and 1.8cm for men.
You can only wear two rings and they must not be on the same finger or consecutive fingers. For women, that means your wedding and engagement rings must be separated.
7. Speak normally
Malaysia Airlines flight attendants are encouraged to speak with their natural accent, rather than trying to imitate what they think English should sound like. This is to prevent sounding fake or forced when making on-board announcements.
8. Pass muster
Finally, before they can board the flight the crew is checked off by a grooming official.
*The writer was a guest on a trip from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur with Malaysia Airlines.
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