Marianne Moore is a flight attendant with US Air. She has had more than 16 years of service as a flight attendant.
"Very intensive training is necessary to become a flight attendant. First of all, over the years, it's become a lot more popular job, and the airline companies go through a big screening process in selecting the applicants who will go through training school.
"Different airlines have different educational requirements. Their physical requirements are not as strict as they used to be, mostly due to legal battles and union representation. We now have mothers who can fly, and weight restrictions are much more lenient.
"The training schools are run by the airlines according to FAA requirements. You spend most of your time studying, learning the Federal Aviation Regulations inside and out. You must know the aircraft that you're going to be flying. You have to know how to evacuate an airplane under many different conditions, and you go through all the scenarios that might be countered in an emergency. We are taught first aid.
"Once a year we have to go through recurrent training and learn anything new that's come out. It's sad to say, but every time an airplane crashes we learn a lot from it. Also, we have to practice emergency procedures, including a mock exercise in evacuating an airplane. You get into the simulator and go to your exit and sometimes the exit will be blocked by fire and you have to know what to do in that situation.
"After the TWA incident in Beirut, we were required to go through eight hours of hijack training because the government and the airlines felt the crews needed more background in that area.
"In order to make an informed choice as to an airline career, I would most definitely research the airline that I was giving my application to. The airlines can be selective, but you can be selective, too. Contact the FAA or the Department of Transportation and try to find out if the airline of your choice is financially stable and has a good operating record.
"Apply to several airlines; don't put all your eggs into one basket. I think it's very important to realize that it's a transient job, especially with mergers and acquisitions and the way that the airline industry is growing. But you have to be flexible. That's the name of the game. You might be told one day-or you might just pick up a newspaper and find out-that your airline was bought by somebody else, which more than likely means you'll have a move on your hands. You have to go to where the flying is.
"You have to realize that it's not all a glamour job. You do get to work with the public and you can get a lot of fulfillment by the things you do for your passengers, but it's hard and tedious work, and it's very uncertain these days."
The History of Flight Attendants