Make friends easily
You are going to spend time with lots of different people, some will be passengers, some will be colleagues and some will be total strangers, being able to communicate effectively with all these people will definitely help things along. The quicker you can connect with people on their wavelength, the easier and more enjoyable your job becomes, even if you have to deliver bad news.
Become a social butterfly. The best way to do this is to develop the skill of making friends outside of the normal type of friend circle you are used to. This will cause you to look for what you have in common with people and help build good feelings both ways. Humour and sincere complements will also make you a nice person to be around and your passengers and colleagues will turn to you because they want to have a good time and memorable experiences when they travel.
Develop your listening skills
We all have something to say but being able to actively listen is a tool worth learning to make all our communications more effective. It can be the difference between a conversation getting out of hand and a person feeling heard, even if there is not a lot you can do about the situation. Becoming a good listener helps you get known as a person who has empathy, and people relate to you as being on their side, which is exactly where you want to be.
Smart presentation matters
When you put on that uniform you are representing your airline and its brand. When you walk through the airport and serve passenger all eyes are on you. You are always in the spotlight and having and maintaining a smart appearance is important. It goes without saying that you should look smart, but attention to detail is even more important – especially so if you want to be selected to work in the premium cabins. Your airline will probably give you a uniform wearer’s guide which will cover the basics of appearance, but personal hygiene and etiquette are also important, getting these right may not be commented on but they won’t go unnoticed.
Watch out for good customer service experiences
Good presentation and great personality allows you to be yourself. When you are at ease it rubs off on the team you work with and your passengers. When you work like this it allows you to be creative and attentive with your customer service. I found myself automatically recognising and appreciating good customer service in my own life and oftentimes I was able to apply some of what I experienced in my role as cabin crew. Make it a habit to notice and appreciate good customer service wherever you find it in your life and apply it appropriately.
Learn a language
Language can be a great icebreaker and it is a good skill to have especially in the travel industry. Even if you are not fluent, having some vocabulary and friendly banter can go a long way in making your audience feel at ease. These days with a little effort and the help of the likes of Google Translate you can impress and break down communication barriers easily. The biggest pay off is that even if you don’t pronounce things word perfect people appreciate the effort you made.
Stay curious about your passengers
Keeping your curiosity fresh and alive adds variety to your workday. You have a constant stream of new faces either going to or coming from work or leisure trips, so it shouldn’t be too hard to connect with people wanting to share their experiences. This helps you in your role as a friendly face and can be personally enriching. I’ve seen crews being invited to James Brown concerts, get backstage passes to shows, get stock market tips that paid off, all from having friendly chats with passengers. You just never know who you might meet.
Work from checklists
In the beginning you will have much to learn and new procedures to follow for the different types of service, aircraft, and ad hoc duties to perform on and off the plane. Having checklists was a very useful tool to have to make sure I learnt quickly and performed as required. I would recommend the same to you. Once you get the hang of things they will become second nature and you can discard the lists. As a team your teammates are relying on you so you all get the job done to a standard.
If you want to really experience variety in the job, step into a leadership role, or make your flying career a fun learning experience, volunteer often and step out of your comfort zone. It doesn’t matter that you might not get it right and do things perfectly every time. You will find yourself acquiring new skills and confidence which reinforces a can do attitude to life even in the face of obstacles and disruptions.There is no better way to position yourself for other opportunities in the airline.
Christopher Babayode is a former flight attendant of 20 years with Briitish 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!
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