Being a cabin crew is often thought of as a temporary job – indeed many contracts only cover the busy summer period or are set for just one or two years. For some, it’s a chance to temporarily change careers and do something different. Some people find that this is not at all what they expected and decide to give up early. Many stay as they like the lifestyle, and some take on other roles within their airline or move on to another.
Roles on board
On board the aircraft, you can move up the ranks from junior cabin crew. After just one year at some airlines, you can apply for a more supervisory role, usually this is ‘primary cabin crew member’. This role leads a small team of up to five crew members on smaller aircraft types such as the Airbus A320 or Boeing 737. On larger aircraft types, there will often be a “concierge” who directs the team to the back of the plane and sometimes there. is a purser in the central galley. The senior cabin crew member or cabin manager as they are sometimes called has overall responsibility for the cabin and would need years of experience.
Of course, some cabin crew members want to learn how to fly an aircraft and may eventually take the air cadet or first officer route and rise to the ranks of senior first officer and captain. Some major international airlines have other opportunities for development on board with sky nanny or food and drink manager positions.
Some cabin crew members end up becoming pilots. Photo: Eurowings
Many cabin crew members, after a while, prefer to spend more time on the ground and progress as trainers within their airline. This could be in the area of Safety and Emergency Procedures (SEP), Aviation First Aid, Crew Resource Management or Duty Training. These types of roles are mostly combined with certain flight tasks.
Former cabin crew members often go into recruitment to recruit new cabin crew members for their airline. This involves a lot of travel if you work for an international airline, as recruitment days take place in major cities around the world.
Once promoted to Senior Aircrew but looking for a more ground based role, opportunities may arise to work as Base Cabin Crew Manager, Guest Experience Manager passengers or chief cabin crew. Sometimes cabin crew also step aside in safety and compliance roles.
Working on private jets is a career path for former cabin crew members. Photo: bomber
Business aviation is another option for experienced cabin crew who want to work on private jets. This can be for charter flights for sports teams or group tours or wealthy individuals on larger jets. Owner private jets are generally smaller and they select their crew individually, so cabin crew will likely work on board with the owner and their family or fellow flight attendants.
Some aircraft types such as the Global 7500 and the Gulfstream 650 have only one cabin crew on board and may have proprietary or charter flights or both. Governments, royals and celebrities often have private planes too, which may be another option for the distinguished few. Thus, for cabin crew, the private flight route is often an attractive opportunity and a good way to develop their career.