Flight attendants learn simulators and to remain calm while they deal with crises


The simulators we train in are state-of-the-art and we’re usually trained in groups of 20. They are used to simulate a variety of scenarios and teach us how to handle them properly.

It’s imperative that we remain calm while we deal with crises; during our training sessions, the instructors are watching us closely.

One exercise they put us through is docking a plane at a gate. During the exercise, smoke fills the cabin and we have to evacuate everyone using the emergency slides. It’s really a sight to see!

The simulators are very realistic; when turbulence strikes or something goes wrong on the flight deck, it’s hard not to notice it. You can also feel your heart racing as you go through each crisis scenario.

During my time in the simulator, I lost track of how many times I jumped up from my seat! If you ever find yourself on a flight with me, rest assured that I am qualified for this job!

Flight attendant training is a rigorous process that requires a lot of stamina, patience and a lot of bravery. Flight attendants are taught how to deal with many different types of situations while they are in the air, including dealing with medical emergencies, hijackings, severe turbulence and bomb threats.

In addition to their classroom instruction, flight attendants also learn how to use simulators during their training. There are two types of simulators that they learn on: aircraft evacuation simulators and door trainers (which are used to show how to open the doors of the aircraft).

The aircraft evacuation simulator is used to teach flight attendants how to evacuate an aircraft as quickly as possible when it is under distress. The entire training session lasts approximately 90 seconds, but some parts of the simulation can be quite brutal. For example, one part of the simulation involves a fire next to the exit door of the plane (in real life this would be from an engine fire), which makes it harder for flight attendants to evacuate people from the plane quickly and safely.

In part two of our series about flight attendant training we take you through the emergency simulators. We learn how to evacuate a plane, deal with different types of fires, and what to do if a passenger is unruly.

As individuals, flight attendants are trained on the aircraft they will be flying on. For example, I am trained on the Boeing 737-800 aircraft and that is the only one I can work on. The entire training process takes anywhere from 4-8 weeks depending on the airline you work for and includes classroom time where trainees learn safety regulations, service procedures and company policies. Some airlines use computer based training but at my airline we did everything in a classroom and as a group. There are also many hours spent in the simulator learning emergency procedures.

Emergency simulators are used to train flight attendants how to react to emergencies both on the ground and in-flight. These simulations can be as simple as dealing with an unruly passenger or as complex as having multiple engine failures along with smoke in the cockpit. As a group we were able to experience several different types of scenarios which included evacuations, fires, ditching at sea, decompression, loss of hydraulics and electrical power along with many others. It is through these simulations that we learn

A team of flight attendants and pilots are all gathered around a life-sized doll, practicing how to deal with an emergency situation. The doll is placed on a stretcher and the flight attendants showcase the different ways to move the stretcher down the aisle of a plane.

The training is quite intense and that’s exactly what Cathay Pacific wants, says Tony Rickson, Manager of Cabin Crew Training at Cathay Pacific.

“We’re dealing with people’s lives; we train for the worst so we can be prepared for anything,” he told A Plus. “It’s best to be overtrained than undertrained.”

The airline offers one of the most rigorous training programs for flight attendants in the world — it takes six weeks to complete — and it’s mandatory for every employee. The topics covered range from emergency procedures to language training to customer service.

Flight attendants are trained in emergency situations, first aid, dealing with difficult passengers and how to secure a plane in the event of turbulence. They are also experts in customer service and good public relations.

The safety of the flight is the main priority for a flight attendant. Before take-off, they demonstrate safety instructions to passengers. During the flight, they circulate to ensure that passengers remain calm. In case of an emergency such as turbulence or fire, they assist passengers with life vests, oxygen masks or slide deployment. Flight attendants are well informed about airport organization and airline rules and procedures. They have to respond quickly to passenger needs and must be able to work under pressure. They need communication skills and must be able to deal with upset customers.

This is the first post of a series about flight attendant training. I’ve been getting a lot of emails about it, so here we go!

The first thing that happens when you get hired by an airline is that you attend a five-week training school. For most people this happens in Dallas, TX at the American Airlines Flight Academy. The great part is that it’s free and they give you a stipend to cover your living expenses while you’re there. The bad part is that it’s not paid, so plan on working some other job or doing something else during this time if you have bills to pay.

When I was hired, I attended class from 8:30am to 5:30pm every weekday for the entire five weeks. While my class was in session, there was another class in the same building going through their training (it was an all flight attendant class). While I was on my breaks, I would see them going through their classes and they were always doing something interesting like learning how to put out fires or learning how to use all of our equipment. It made me jealous, but soon enough it would be our turn to learn all of those things too.

The best flight attendants are all improvers. They’re constantly looking for ways to make their job easier, more efficient, and more fun. So they learn where the best food carts are located on the ground, how to get free access to airport lounges, what the least-crowded bathroom is in every airport they fly into, and how to get a free upgrade on those rare personal trips.

They also know how to get the latest office gossip, who’s got a secret crush on whom, who’s about to be promoted or fired or transferred, who’s getting divorced or moving in with his girlfriend.

I have no idea if these things have any relation to productivity. I just know that these are the people who are most likely to be promoted when opportunities arise.


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