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You passed the interview, you packed your bags, said good bye to your loved ones and are relocating half way across the world to a new country, which will become your new home away from home.

You’ve been through a lot of challenges to get this far, and you are now one of the few who made it. Time to relax and enjoy the glory, right? Not so fast!

For the next six to seven weeks you will undergo an intensive 6 day- a-week training that will include different modules packed with safety, first aid and inflight service knowledge. In some airlines (like Singapore Airlines), the training is as long as 4 months, so brace yourself!

We hope you remain one step ahead and get familiar with some basic aviation and aircraft specific terms. This will come in very handy once your start the training and the new information overwhelms you.

If you have no previous flying/aviation experience, this can be a real challenge as much as it will be exciting.

Visit the “Airport Codes, Aircraft Familiarisation and Time Zones” toolkit, it covers the essential basics.

The information relayed in this section is mainly based on our experience but extends to the practices of the other airlines based in the Middle East, like Saudi Airlines, FlyDubai, Etihad or Emirates Airlines.

As these airlines are constantly developing and growing, their processes tend to change slightly from year to year, which is why we will not go into detail, but rather give you the basics on what to expect and how to be a step ahead everybody else.

When you arrive in the Middle East (whether it is Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Doha, Bahrain or Abu Dhabi), a company representative will meet you and guide you to your assigned company accommodation or temporary hotel.

Before starting the training, you might have 2 or 3 days free of any duties so you can adapt to the new home, new flat mates, new lifestyle.

Some airlines are very committed to making your relocation very smooth and would go as far as giving you an amount of money upon arrival or a “welcome basket” containing essentials to last for a few days (like water, milk, tea, bathroom amenities and so much more). 

The training schedule stretches for 7-8 hours every day and the information will be plentiful so we encourage you, once again, to take time to get familiar with the aviation and aircraft specific terms well in advance.

You will most probably have only one day off per week (Friday) and your main focus will be getting enough rest to be able to study and pass all your exams.

The first few days of training will be dedicated to administrative formalities like:

  • Filling-in medical insurance or bank account paperwork
  • Receiving you crew ID
  • Meeting all the instructors from the departments that you will interact with on a regular basis
  • Fitting of your uniform (this part also be conducted at a later stage during your training)
  • Receiving your manuals or performing the governmental medical checks

You will also get to go through a brief company intro course that will cover information about your contractual agreements, general company rules, housing rules, discounted tickets, salary, meal allowances and everything else related to your job.

The company will retain your passport for a short period of time until your local residence permit is obtained and stamped in.

Every company has its own training model, however the essential parts are common to all.

The course is split in a safety & first aid part and a cabin services part, with strong emphasis on customer focus.

Safety Training Insight

As you already know, safety is the most important part of your job which is why all airlines take this part of the training very seriously.

Your initial safety course will include the following topics:

Company general procedures where you will learn about legal training requirements, crew responsibilities, crew regulations, health requirements, flight time limitations and so much more.

Standard operating procedures will include topics like door operating procedures (opening/ closing / arming /disarming), passenger-related regulations (smoking, fuelling, seating policy, regulations regarding special assistance passengers like wheelchairs, blind passengers, stretchers) or flight deck policy. You will learn everything you need to know about the day-to-day operation.

Make sure you read through these procedures often until you get to know them by heart because they will govern your daily work activities.

Removable safety equipment is the course part where you will learn everything about the safety equipment on board (like fire extinguisher, smoke hood, portable oxygen, emergency locator transmitter, flashlight, fire axe) its location in each aircraft type, depending on how many different aircrafts the airline has in its fleet, and usage procedure in case of emergency.

Emergencies Procedures Insight

Emergency procedures are part of the most important chapter of your training and it involves practical exams. You will have to memorise a series of emergency drills and practice them in an aircraft-like environment, also known as a simulator.

You will have the chance to use all the equipment available on board during the practical sessions of the training.

The practical training is very dynamic and the instructors will ask you to imagine you are in an emergency situation and act accordingly.

Be prepared to SCREAM as much as you can when you are demonstrating in front of your classmates and instructors that, in an emergency, you can evacuate all your passengers as soon as possible.

As part of the certification process, aircraft manufacturers are expected to demonstrate that an aircraft, in maximum density configuration (full load of passengers), can be completely evacuated within 90 seconds using only half of the total number of emergency exits.

The use of only half of the exits simulates the potential for failed evacuation devices or exits blocked due to fire or structural damage.

You will also have to fight a real fire in yet another simulated environment, and make full use of the fire extinguisher, fire axe, smoke hood or asbestos gloves. 

The ditching drill is the one that everybody is challenged by, as you have to swim, board the raft and practice survival techniques in the water, with your clothes on. The exercise happens in the swimming pool of a designated training centre (some airlines have their own, some don’t).

Security, Survival & First Aid Insight

This chapter involves standard security measures, procedures regarding unruly passengers, bomb threat and hijacking, tools to recognise any items that when transported by air, they can pose a risk to the crew, passengers or the aircraft itself.

The Dangerous Goods Regulation section is the only chapter that has an open-book exam.

The Survival section will teach you about principles of survival in the most extreme environments (on land, sea, in the dessert, in the jungle, in the arctic).

Some of the knowledge that you will gain in this section will prove itself helpful in many areas of your life so make sure you pay attention to every single topic during your training.

In First Aid you will be learning how to give first aid to passengers and fellow colleagues, how to recognise signs and symptoms of some life threatening conditions like heart attack or stroke, but also how to deal with minor inflight emergencies (like nose bleed, motion sickness, toothache and many others).

You will also be trained on the use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and how to perform an effective cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

You will learn what are the most common medical conditions that you or your passengers may suffer from during flight (dehydration, dry skin, food poisoning) along with all the precautions you can take to prevent it.

The first aid exam will be both written and practical and you will have to demonstrate the use of an AED as well as give CPR to a real size test dummy.

Crew Resource Management (CRM)

CRM is a vital tool meant to teach all airline staff (operating crew, ground personnel, etc.) to utilise all the available resources and employ effective ways of communication in order to contribute to a safe operation.

Topics such as: communication, leadership, teamwork, situational awareness, problem solving, decision making, etc. will be discussed between the instructors, yourselves and flight deck crew members throughout the day.

It is a discipline meant to bring all team members together and promote consistent effective communication with the aim of achieving a safe flight every single day.

A series of past incidents and accidents that resulted from communication errors will be presented, among other topics, through very interactive media.

Exams

Depending on the airline, most exams are multiple-choice question-based.

The passing percentage varies between 85 to 90%, again depending on the airline.

The practical exams are marked with “Pass” or “Fail” and all the results are recorded into your personal file for future reference.

Most companies will understand if you fail one written exam and will give you another chance, however, the practical exam is very important and failure is not an option.

Strive to be the best in everything you do! Your entire performance, from day one, will be recorded into your personal file and referred to by your supervisors for any future promotion.

Service Training Insights

This module can take one week to ten days, depending on each company.

You will be given (and expected to learn by heart) all the details relevant to the airline’s inflight product (from food and beverage to amenities, frequent flyer program and much more).

This section also includes practical training conducted in the mock up where you will have the chance to demonstrate everything learnt during the theory classes.

The instructors will give you and your class mates many service-related possible scenarios and you will have to take turns in playing the role of the cabin crew or the passenger and deal with each situation.

Catering will be an important part of your service training, as you will be dealing with food every single flight, irrespective of the working position allocated. 

A series of hygiene food handling safety precautions will be emphasised at this stage by all airlines.

If you, like us when we first started, don’t have any hospitality industry experience, you will find the information plentiful and a bit hard to memorise at first.

The training is quite repetitive though and the instructor will go through everything in enough detail for you to internalise it all before the end of the course.

One of the most challenging working positions every cabin crew fears when they start flying is the “galley operator” position.

As a galley operator, you will be responsible with receiving the food from the catering provider, checking all food is according to the flight menu, organising it, heating and distributing it into the many food carts that will be rolled into the cabin for inflight service after take off.

The galley is the core of the aircraft and a successful service depends greatly on how organised and efficient the galley operator is.

Although you will most likely be assigned the galley operator position once you will have gained some experience (depending on each airline), there could be situations where you have to take on the role during the early stages of your career.

During the training, the galley operator responsibilities are covered in one of the topics.

However, when you step on board you are faced with a different perspective than that in the classroom; everything happens extremely fast and you will most likely feel a little overwhelmed.

Whether you have previous service experience or not, you will leave this course with a very strong base of customer service knowledge.

As you will progress in your career and go on to becoming a premium (Business or First) class cabin crew, this is the base you will be adding further knowledge to.

Grooming

This part of your service training is surely the most relaxed, fun part of it all, especially for the ladies.

It is time for you to put on your new uniform and learn how each item must be worn, what type of make up to apply depending on your face features, how to do your nails and so much more.

The service manual of each airline will have an entire section dedicated to grooming, appearance and uniform regulations.

As with all the information you receive during training, pay just as much attention to this module as the uniform regulations are quite strict and disrespecting it can easily lead to you being offloaded from a flight.

When it comes to make up, follow the company guidelines, as acceptable colours may be different for each airline.

The general standard is natural colours with a minimum make-up of foundation, blusher, lipstick and mascara while excessive make-up is strictly not permitted. 

The grooming regulations are different from company to company and tend to be very strict. You might have to use a lipstick you wouldn’t choose if it was up to you, or wear your hair in a way you feel doesn’t compliment your appearance.

For those of you who don’t fancy wearing make-up at all, having to put on even the basic requirement will be a bit difficult.

You need to remember it is all part of our job and standards are very important in maintaining the airline’s image and giving a set of 8, 16 or even 24 crew, a uniform look.

You are now aware of the bigger picture of what the cabin crew profession and lifestyle mean.

We hope you will wear your uniform with pride and will make the most of the journey ahead.

Blue skies!