Six of the best: why do airlines pay flight attendants so well?

Most of us know that flight attendants are the unsung heroes of modern travel. From air conditioning to wayfaring, it is the help that keeps our every flying direction safe and optimal. This week flight attendants are revealing the qualities that truly set them apart from the rest.

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“The ability to adapt and adapt quickly is a strength of our profession,” said Kristine Pritchett, Vice President, Travel Oriented Sales at American Airlines. “But I also like to think that we’re worth it, and deserve recognition for what we do every day. The job is full of positives, but I also worry about the negative aspects: Many people are afraid to fly. It can be stressful. We can’t fully predict what will happen to our customers.”

Pritchett’s team also sees the good in things like “care for another human being”, “anti-social”, “frustration” and “joy.” Now that she is a veteran flight attendant (she’s been around for 12 years), she can tell you what to look for when booking and what makes a great flight attendant. Here’s the top six:

1. Human touch

Whether in connection with technology or other aspects of the job, passengers expect to have human contact when they fly. Passengers are a common character in films like The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Enough Said. A business-class passenger is pictured in a plane seat not reaching for a Kleenex. The job is easy if you know how to make it simple.

2. Likeability

A big part of a flight attendant’s job is communicating with passengers, and being likeable makes a person stand out from other staff. Passengers will be more likely to talk to you if you’re friendly, polite and reliable. A good pilot has the ability to be likeable, too.

3. Directness and honesty

You want someone who is straight up with you. Be brutally honest about your experiences. If you feel like you’re being sold something, don’t be afraid to let them know.

4. Preparation

Being an airline professional is more than opening an hour before a flight: flight attendants prepare before every flight. Read guides, read any bulletin boards and check hotel and bus rates. Planning can save you time on a flight, the hotel and the bus. It can save you money as well.

5. Customer service

In service roles, customers never really get a chance to say thanks. But it’s always better to greet someone well, compliment them, treat them like family – in fact, that’s why you do this job.

6. Succinct but not too quick

Human beings have the capacity to absorb details too quickly and speak too loudly. If the person on the other end of the phone doesn’t understand what you’re saying, you’re annoying and out of control. The kind of feedback that we get from passengers comes from tenacious conversations.

Kristine Pritchett is a modern-day air stewardess, working in the role for the past 12 years. Learn more about how you can become a flight attendant at

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