How to improve your communication skills as a cabin crew member

How to improve your communication skills as a cabin crew member

Working as a cabin crew member or flight attendant means that you need to interact with your passengers. There’s no way around it, you must be able to make positive impressions on your passengers by having the right social and communication skills. This article will cover the basic information you need to know to be an excellent flight attendant. 

There are two different types of communication when it comes to dealing with people in general, but for our context dealing with passengers: verbal and non-verbal. In the customer service world, face to face interactions all come down to these two types of communication and knowing how to handle both will make or break your career as a cabin crew member. 

 

Verbal Communication

There are two main components of verbal communication which you need to always be aware of, and these are your tone of voice and your choice of words. People will interpret a lot from the tone of your voice, and it’s completely different when you speak to different people in your life like your family, friends, colleagues, or your boss. You need to be able to use the right tone to convey what you’re saying to your passengers to leave them with the right impression, whether you need to be friendly (almost always) or firm (sometimes necessary). Even if the passenger in 24A is rude and frustrating, think about the tone you’re using in your replies. 

In terms of your word choice, this is also important, because coming off as flippant or not serious will not go over well with your passengers. Also, sarcasm is very rarely well-received in the customer service world, so leave that one at home. Pamela Knight, a communication manager at Write My X and 1Day2Write, tells her readers to “make sure you’re not interrupting your passengers or trying to finish their sentences for them. It’s important to avoid coming off as too bossy or assertive when dealing with passengers, so think about passive turns of phrase, and choose the words carefully. Try different pitches and intonations to see how they come across.”

 

Non Verbal Communication

Non verbal communication is just as important, if not more, as verbal communication. This includes how you look and dress, whether your uniform is in good condition, and your hair is in place. This reflects on the company and your professionalism so you want to make a good impression. Also be mindful of your smell; obviously, body odour is extremely unpleasant, but you can also do too much and be wearing an overpowering perfume. In a crowded airplane, a strong perfume can be very off-putting for passengers, not to mention some might be allergic to scents.  

You should also be aware of the eye contact you make when you interact with passengers. It’s important to make eye contact to show you’re listening and interested in what they’re saying, but don’t keep it for too long because it’ll seem like you’re staring. In fact, body language is very important as a cabin crew member. According to Greta Vandercourt, a recruiter at Next Coursework and Brit Student, “gestures like folding your arms or leaning against the cabin door can appear too casual or off-putting, not the impression you want to be projecting. You also don’t want to be seen slouching or slumping as this does not look professional and makes you appear disengaged. You also want to avoid too many hand-gestures when you’re speaking because this can be interpreted as nervousness, similarly to fidgeting or constantly readjusting your hair or clothes.” 

When the passenger is speaking, lean forward to engage them and show your interest, nodding occasionally to show you’re paying attention and you understand what they’re saying, especially if there’s a language barrier. You should be turning your entire body to face them when they’re talking to you, and not just turn your head towards them. Under no circumstances should you be rolling your eyes or even frowning; try to keep a genuine smile on your face during your passenger interactions.  

Good communication, both verbal and non verbal, is at the base of every positive customer interaction, and it’s essential to master them to become a great cabin crew member. 

April Smith, a multimedia journalist at Academic Brits and PhD Kingdom, is dedicated to sharing her communication and interview tips with her readers. She has written her whole life and now she is using her skills as a writer to share helpful insights with her readers at Origin Writings.

Step 4…the online application

Following on from our article from last month Step three – How do I target my CV to Specific Airlines? we look this month at the process of applying online.As I’ve said before, I would always advise first taking a look at the requirements for the airline...

Flight engineer job description

Flight engineer job description

A flight engineer is a vital team member in ensuring the safety of passengers and a fully working aircraft, engineers conduct crucial checks and testing before the aircraft is deemed worthy for travel. The role of a flight engineer is a rewarding and challenging career and can offer a lucrative salary.

Below you will find a description of the responsibilities of a trained flight engineer, as well as details including; working environment, expected wages, progression opportunities and required skills & qualifications.

 

What does a flight engineer do?

A flight engineer’s responsibilities range from detailed checks, to on the spot maintenance and providing assistance to the pilots.

The general duties of a flight engineer include:

  • Responsible for component checks, ensuring everything is in working order.
  • Completing repair work if any mechanical issues are identified.
  • Assists in interpreting flight-related gauges and instruments.
  • Assists with pre-flight navigation preparations.

What qualifications do you need to become a flight engineer?

A bachelor’s degree is typically required to become a flight engineer, with subjects such as; Aircraft Engineering with Pilot Studies, Aviation Engineering & Aeronautical Technology the most applicable to the role. Although it is not a foregone conclusion that you will be overlooked without having a degree which is directly related to the industry, candidates who have degrees in a relevant discipline are likely to stand a better chance when submitting an application.

In addition to this, candidates who hold a professional pilot’s license will be more sought after than those without.

Individuals who can display a high level of mathematical and technical ability will also strengthen their application.

 

What skills do you need to become a flight engineer?

Flight engineers must be capable of working under pressure and be able to make quick & accurate decisions, with extremely high attention to detail. Strong communication skills are also vital within this fast-paced working environment, with the ability to lead a team and work as part of one.

Experience of flying an airplane is also very advantageous, as this shows capability in reading instruments and dials, as well as a familiarity with the tools used on an aircraft.

A high level of fitness will also be needed for the role as carrying out duties will entail lots of walking from site to site, climbing of ladders and heavy lifting.

Working conditions

There is no set working schedule for this role and applicants must be willing to work any day of the year, including nights, weekends, bank holidays and Christmas. Long shifts are to be expected when working on long haul flights and engineers can sometimes spend lengthy periods away from home.

Jet lag could be an issue for some engineers and in extreme cases, health issues such as depression have been known. Exposure to radiation is also common which can increase the risk of cancer and lead to fertility problems.

How much does a flight engineer earn?

The average salary for a flight engineer based in the UK can range between £45,000 – £97,000 per year. The average salary recorded by Aviation Job Search in 2018, was £51,563. 

Engineer salaries can be similar to those of pilots and rank amongst the best paying jobs in the UK, with an average salary of £90,000 a year.
Salaries can differ from region to region with the higher salaries typically found in and around London. Experience and seniority will also generally result in pay rises and open up opportunities.

What are your career prospects as a flight engineer?

Many flight engineers are employed by the military and companies which use larger aircrafts which use new technology. The introduction of computerised assistance on aircrafts has limited opportunities on small, commercial airlines but more advanced aircrafts use different systems and are more prone to problems, requiring the expertise of trained engineers.

Some countries also state that planes with three or four engines must carry a licensed flight engineer, by law.

 

What now?

If you feel you are suitably qualified to become a flight engineer and are not phased by the working hours and environment then you can find the latest flight engineer vacancies here.

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Helicopter Engineer: Job Description

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Making a great first impression at an interview

Making a great first impression at an interview

If you’re heading for a job interview, you’ll want to make a great first impression. Why? Because great first impressions have a lasting effect on an employer when considering who suits the job.

When preparing for a job interview, you should think about everything that could work in your favour from the point of meeting the employer – not just the interview questions. If you’re not sure what else you should be preparing ahead of the big day, here are a few tips that may help you to impress your interviewer.

 

Dress for the job you want 

Dressing smart for work matters. For a job interview, you would dress professionally. A suit, a long fitted dress or smart pants are appropriate, however, your clothes should not be too tight, too revealing or too baggy as it can give the employer the impression that you don’t look after your appearance.

Choose your outfit the night before so you are prepared, and on the day of your interview, take a good look at yourself in the mirror – do you look smart? Are there any marks or rips in your clothing which can be easily noticed? If you are unsure, ask a friend or family member. 

 

Arrive on time!

This is probably one of the main points for ensuring you make a good first impression – be on time! 

If you are travelling to your interview by public transport, allow extra time your journey, in the event of delays. Aim to get to the place of the interview 10-15 minutes beforehand. If you arrive much earlier, it can be inconvenient for the person interviewing you. The employer may feel pressured to meet you earlier as a result of your arrival, so be considerate about meeting them on time. 

Running late? Most people are fine with this as long as you make them aware. However, if you simply show up late it could give off the impression that you aren’t taking the interview seriously. This can really affect your first impression, so you should do everything in your power to ensure you aren’t late.

 

Smile!

Smiling is the easiest and quickest way to make a great first impression. Smile naturally, and make a point of coming across friendly. As they say, a smile goes a long way!

 

Make eye contact 

Failing to make eye contact seems like such a simple mistake – but it could suggest to an employer that you’re not engaging in conversation and you may not come across as confident – something many employers like to see.

Eye contact shows that you are paying attention and is a vital tactic you should use whenever you meet someone new. Strike a balance though – you don’t want to come across as intense.

 

Give a firm handshake

A firm handshake suggests confidence, so start as you mean to go on when meeting the person interviewing you. Additionally, if you are not already standing up when your employer walks in the room, make sure you do and always offer them a handshake.

 

And here’s a bonus tip…

 

Act interested

Eye contact certainly comes into play here, but the main thing to remember is to always appear interested in what the person across from you has to say. Avoid coming across as disengaged or bored. Instead, nod your head as you listen, and try to take in as much information as you can. A key tactic to use in order to improve your listening skills is to always convince yourself that the person has something very interesting to say. 

Showing that you are interested rubs off well on your audience, suggesting you are a good listener and we’ll engaged. Making notes can also make a good first impression as it shows that you are willing to learn about the business. This will make a good first impression.

If all goes well, and you make the effort to impress from the start, the job should be yours in no time! 

 

Need more help with your interview? Download our helpful guide below:

 

Flight engineer job description

A flight engineer is a vital team member in ensuring the safety of passengers and a fully working aircraft, engineers conduct crucial checks and testing before the aircraft is deemed worthy for travel. The role of a flight engineer is a rewarding and...

First officer job description

First officer job description

The role of a first officer is to be the second pilot (also referred to as the co-pilot) to the captain of an aircraft. On hand to assist the captain in flight preparation and operation of the aircraft, the first officer is present to fly the plane, should anything happen to the captain. The captain will delegate tasks to the first officer, and it is assumed that the first officer will fulfill these routine duties.     

 

What does a first officer do?

Some aspects of the job as a first officer include:

  • Assisting the captain in flight preparation and operations
  • Notifying the captain of any variations in standard flight operations
  • Support the captain with take-offs and landings
  • Maintaining navigation manuals and charts
  • Preparing the weight and balance forms for each flight
  • Assist captain in flight operations and tasks
  • Supervise fuelling, ground power unit, baggage loading and appropriate servicing of aircraft
  • Liaise with cabin crew and ground crew regularly to ensure all operations and procedures are in place pre-flight 
  • Communicate with air traffic control during flight, take-off and landing
  • Update aircraft logbook
  • Inspect aircraft for operational and technical performance
  • Act and control operations and procedures in the event of an emergency 

 

Watch this video and see how this new first officer fares on his first flight with passengers!

What qualifications do you need to become a first officer?

When you qualify as a pilot, your role will be a first officer.

To qualify as an airline pilot, you first need to gain an Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL), which you can get through any relevant Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) approved course you have completed. Before you start a course, a series of steps must be completed:

  • You will need 4 GCSEs at grade A*-C (9-4) – preferably Englidh, Maths and Science. Gaining a GCSE in another language will also be beneficial. You’ll also need at least 2 A-levels in similar subjects.
  • Then, you must pass several checks carried out by the CAA, which will determine whether you are suitable for flying. You will have a background check, security check and an Authority Class 1 Medical. These checks identify whether you have a criminal record, are physically fit for the role, and if your vision and hearing are to the required standard for a pilot.

 

NOTE: There are advanced courses you can take which could boost your skills pre-ATPL, which could improve your employability for the profession. Some universities offer a degree in Aviation, which could make you a very strong candidate. These are however, notoriously expensive on top of an ATPL course.

Another option to gain experience is through a Professional Aviation Pilot Practice apprenticeship. This can be of little cost if you are still in education, and is a great way to familiarise yourself with key areas of the role before enrolling onto a course.

If you’re thinking about becoming a pilot but aren’t sure, The Honourable Company of Air Pilots offers tests to inexperienced people, which aim to determine whether you are the ideal candidate. 

Once you have the necessary background to begin an ATPL, it’s time to choose what type of course you’ll tackle. 

Note: You must be at least 21 years of age to achieve a license. 

The course can be completed in an ‘Integrated’ or ‘Modular’ format. 

  • Integrated course: This is a sustained period of training that lasts for 18 months. This is a combination of practical elements and theory work, and requires no prior flying experience, as it is an inclusive scheme that aims to give participants the necessary flying time to warrant an ATPL. It’s an expensive option, with most courses costing around £87,000 – £89,000.
  • Modular course: This method gives you the option to complete your training in chunks, so that you can achieve specific modules at chosen times, giving you the freedom to train when you want to. This is a popular method as it allows you to earn in between modules, reducing the overall stress of the course. As an intermittent course, you might need to have a private pilot’s license with 100-200 hours flying experience to allow you to complete the practical modules.

 

Airlines might offer sponsorship to participants in order to complete their course. This is a helpful way to fund your training, which can be offered if pilots are in serious demand by airlines. Look into this early on, preferably before starting any courses, as the competition is high to gain sponsorship, for obvious reasons.

If you are a qualified pilot in the armed forces, you can complete a civil aviation course to become a commercial pilot.

Once you’ve achieved your ATPL, you will need to undergo regular training to maintain your license. 

 

What skills do you need to become a first officer?

Skills that will be beneficial to a job as a first officer include:

  • Technical and engineering competency
  • Knowledge and understanding of maths and physics
  • Exceptional communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Teamwork
  • Excellent coordination
  • Spatial awareness
  • The ability to problem solve
  • The ability to make decisions under pressure
  • The ability to remain calm under pressure

 

Working conditions

Working as a pilot is both physically and mentally demanding. You’ll be required to work long hours, live close to the airport, and you’ll be away from home very frequently. Jet lag will play a huge part in your job due to constantly crossing time zones during flights.

 

How much does a first officer earn?

A range of aspects will affect the salary you’ll be paid during your time as a first officer, the most common including: Flying time, flying experience, aircraft type and the airline itself.

 

Starting salary: £20,000 – £30,000

Experienced first officer: £38,000 – £90,000

 

What are your career prospects as a first officer?

As a first officer, you will work under a captain’s orders to gain more experience in your career, which will eventually see you working your way towards becoming a captain yourself. It can take around 15 years however, although for some it doesn’t take this long at all. Career progression will depend on your level of experience and the airline you work for.   

 

Flight engineer job description

A flight engineer is a vital team member in ensuring the safety of passengers and a fully working aircraft, engineers conduct crucial checks and testing before the aircraft is deemed worthy for travel. The role of a flight engineer is a rewarding and...

First officer job description

The role of a first officer is to be the second pilot (also referred to as the co-pilot) to the captain of an aircraft. On hand to assist the captain in flight preparation and operation of the aircraft, the first officer is present to fly the plane, should...

Helicopter Engineer: Job Description

A helicopter engineer is responsible for the maintenance and repair of helicopters. These roles are usually based at airports or flight service centres. You’ll need to be practical and have technical understanding. Our guide tells you everything you need to know about becoming a helicopter engineer.

Mental health care for a happy flying career

Mental health care for a happy flying career

The freedom and excitement of travelling the world is a pleasure you want to keep and enjoy for as long as you fly. To do that, a little bit of housekeeping is in order to make sure you get the best out of your time in the air. Physical and mental health matter in this respect, so let’s look at how you can make sure the only blues you see are blue skies.

Mental health in the workplace often comes up in conversation nowadays, because it is costing the workplace a lot. More than just money, it costs workers their livelihood if not taken care of. To avoid the perils of bad mental health, you have to understand the signs, and be able to see them in your colleagues and those you hold dear, and more importantly, yourself.

The World Health Organisation W.H.O. has this to say about mental health:

  • Mental health is more than the absence of mental disorders.
  • Mental health is an integral part of health; indeed, there is no health without mental health.
  • Mental health is determined by a range of factors, including environmental ones.

 

 

What has that got to do with me you might ask? 

Just because you swap an office in the sky for an office on the ground doesn’t mean you escape the stresses of the regular workplace. Oftentimes juggling home life and travel-heavy work life can be equally taxing. It is about knowing how the lifestyle you now lead can get out of balance if you let it, what to do to bring balance back, and where to get help if you need it. Let’s begin with a common misconception about the flying lifestyle.

As glamorous as flying is from the outside, people tend to get the impression that things are 100 percent fantastic all the time for a glamorous crew! Scratch the surface and you find that cabin crew are normal people too, even if they have a ready smile and go beyond the normal customer service expectations. As such, people don’t always check in with their glamorous crew friend and family member because they are having the time of their life, right? Well, not every day. 

 

Speak up and to the right people

This is where communication is important. Communication is a two-way street and you need to be comfortable speaking up when you are not having a good day and when you need that little extra support from those around you. As a group of people, crew get into the habit of putting others before themselves. While this can be a valuable trait for teamwork, there is often nothing to give others if you don’t take care of your health first. 

 

Do you know what the starting signs are?

Mental health has an association with stress, anxiety, and depression, which in turn are reflected in hormonal health. The constant change in travel conditions, environments and circumstances beyond your control all feature in a flier’s lifestyle and can make some, more sensitive than most. Be mindful of how you do and don’t manage stresses that come with the job. One top tip besides sharing your feelings and being heard is to make sure you get regular exercise. This raises the feel-good factors your body produces known as endorphins. They literally change your biochemistry and help banish stress, anxiety and depression.

 

Good tips to stay balanced

What self-help steps can you take to keep everything ticking over? I briefly mentioned regular exercise, but it is worth repeating again for emphasis. Something as simple as going for a brisk walk has the ability to clear your head and lift your spirit, making it harder to be in the doldrums. Checking-in with yourself mentally is a good thing to do to every once in a while to create awareness of how you feel emotionally. One of the most valuable tools has to be the ability to turn to a fellow crew member who really understands the lifestyle you lead, so make friends easily so you can support them and be supported in return.

Another tip is to be mindful of the effect of the seasons on your hormonal health. Seasonal Affected Disorder otherwise known as SAD, is when you don’t get enough daylight in winter and the long winter months negatively influence your hormones, usually from autumn till the start of spring. If you are affected by SAD, recognising it, and nipping it in the bud can halt a spiral into unwanted mental health symptoms started by disrupted hormone patterns.

Having someone to call to talk to in any eventuality should always be an option, be it crew, friend, family or even a friendly ear from a professional organisation like the Samaritans. You may be pleased to know that some airlines have similar in-house services or arrangements with such organisations. If all else fails there is nothing like a wee galley chat in the small hours over a hot beverage to put the world to right and lift the spirits. Happy Landings!

About Christopher

Christopher Babayode is a former flight attendant of 20 years with British Airways, a specialist in Travel Wellness and healthy jet lag solutions for those who travel often. He is the author of Farewell Jet Lag, Cures from a Flight Attendant (on Amazon UK & US). Chris has been featured in the Sunday Telegraph and is a most -read author on Quora the questions and answers platform.

Christopher will also be guest speaking at our event later on this year, at the Aviation Job Expo!

Flight engineer job description

A flight engineer is a vital team member in ensuring the safety of passengers and a fully working aircraft, engineers conduct crucial checks and testing before the aircraft is deemed worthy for travel. The role of a flight engineer is a rewarding and...

First officer job description

The role of a first officer is to be the second pilot (also referred to as the co-pilot) to the captain of an aircraft. On hand to assist the captain in flight preparation and operation of the aircraft, the first officer is present to fly the plane, should...