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It’s been said getting invited to the Delta flight-attendant training center is more difficult than getting into Harvard University.
Making it through flight-attendant training is no picnic either, and flunking out results in not getting hired, Annette Long, a flight attendant with 13 years of experience, tells Business Insider.
During the 2006 Travel Channel show “Flight Attendant School,” Frontier’s then vice-president of in-flight services and instructor Pam Gardner noted that one in three trainees never make it through Frontier training, either because they drop out or are removed for not maintaining academic requirements or meeting the standards of conduct. Throughout the docu-series, you see students ejected for showing up late to class or failing more than two exams.
“It’s pretty stressful, and I think it’s designed to be that way,” Long says of flight-attendant training.
Here are three things she says most people don’t know about flight-attendant training school:
You’ll learn more than you thought you’d ever need to know, including how to deliver a baby
- Courtesy of Annette Long
For many airlines, training lasts around six weeks. During this time, students have a huge amount of information to learn, which Long considers a challenge given the time.
“It’s really stressful. And you can’t study ahead – you have to stay right where you are at all times, so you can’t even try to get ahead,” she says.
Among other things, students learn federal aviation regulations, how to defend themselves and passengers, how to evacuate on water and land, how to handle medical emergencies, and how to use all the equipment including an automated external defibrillator. “I could deliver a baby if I have to,” Long says.
“The whole training is devoted to – with very few exceptions – learning the aircraft and the safety aspects of it,” she says.
Long recalls a time when her training was put to the test during a 747 flight to Frankfurt. “I was brand spanking new on this plane – and the cockpit had an alarm that told them there was smoke up in the crew rest.
“So here I go running through the airplane with my fire extinguisher and another flight attendant and pulling out panels to where the pilot told us to go. Fortunately it was just a faulty alarm. But when you’re thinking about fire over the Atlantic in a 747, it’ll get that training out. It’s down to you. It’s not like they can land in the nearest airport.”
But you won’t spend much time on how to serve food and drinks — you’ll have to learn most of that on the job
Airlines look for customer service experience, so it’s expected that service skills should come naturally and quickly. Long says during her training, she only spent a day and a half learning about the beverage and meal services.
“We spend very little time on that,” she says. “In fact, you can be given the position of, say, business galley, and have never worked it and have never seen the service before. We have it in our manuals, but it’s not like we go and practice this stuff. We learn it on the job.
“Luckily, we take care of each other; we show each other how to do things – and i think the company depends on you for that. They know you’re going to do that,” Long says.
“We’re all in this together,” she says.
For about 6 weeks, you’ll have to live and get along with complete strangers
- Courtesy of Annette Long
Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of training is living for about six weeks with strangers with an array of lifestyles, Long says.
“When I went to training, I was in training with two 20-year-olds and I was in my forties. That’s just different lifestyles right there. Now, they’re the best of friends with me, but there were a few moments where we were like, ‘argghhh.'”