The fact that air traveling was made accessible for the general public brought the need to recruit more and more professionals to help the industry provide a supply that matched the demand, making the flight attendant position not as restricted and glamorous as it used to be.
But this is still a highly praised career, mostly because it allows to travel and collect different experiences around the world. So the competition is tremendous.
And though times may have changed, being a flight attendant continues to be very demanding: there’s the constant jet lag, a high probability of having to deal with rude passengers, the amount of time spent away from loved ones, and the set of rules they must follow.
Some of them, as we’re about to show you, may seem a bit peculiar at first sight. But there’s definitely a reason for their existence. Take a look at some of the things that possibly only flight attendants know.
1. Height and weight
This is one of the few industries legally allowed to discriminate future employees based on height and weight. And that’s because these characteristics are essential for performing their tasks, and could even compromise the passengers’ overall security.
So it ends up making total sense. Let’s see: if the flight attendants are too tall, they’ll struggle to perform some crucial tasks; if they’re too short, they won’t be able to do things like help passengers stow their luggage in the correspondent compartments or reach the onboard medical kits (laws on airplanes also dictate that they can’t operate some instruments present on the kit like syringes and IV tubes unless officially trained).
If they’re too heavy, they won’t be able to quickly and smoothly move along the plane, jeopardizing their mobility and ability to help passengers in case of an emergency.
Flight attendants’ weight should be proportional to their height (ideally between 5’2 and 6’1). Besides, they should be capable of easily lift 50 pounds, as they’ll most likely lift bags that heavy several times during a flight.
2. No visible tattoos
Tattoos have become trendy in the last few years, mostly because they’re now seen as a form of individual expression. But for those who aim for a career as a flight attendant, the decision of getting a tattoo has to be properly weighted.
That’s because most airlines don’t employ candidates with tattoos on body parts that stay visible when the person is in working clothes. That means, for example, that women can’t have feet tattoos, because they’ll be visible in uniform shoes.
3. No smokers
It is understandable that airlines don’t employ smokers because smoking is absolutely not allowed during their work duties, as there are no smoking breaks during a flight.
And with the possibility of shifts longer than 8 hours, as is the case for transatlantic flights, nicotine deprivation could have a visible impact on a smoker’s temperament and overall mood, affecting their performance.
Regarding this matter, Alaska Airlines is one of the most inflexible companies, as they dictate that new applicants must be smoke-free for at least 6 before the submission of their application.
Drinking in uniform isn’t allowed either. Even when the shift is over. If the flight attendant is still wearing the airline’s uniform, they simply can’t drink.
4. Hair, jewelry and makeup
For airline companies, their flight attendant’s appearance is very important and must be consistent with the company’s image, at least during their work shift. For that reason, it is comprehensible that they establish a set of requirements for how flight attendant’s jewelry, hair, and makeup should look like.
Jewelry is generally allowed as long as it’s not “over the top”: rings are fine, as long as they’re not too many; earrings are fine; as long as its just one small and discreet pair. Some companies are more restricting and weirdly specific.
For example, Hawaiian Airlines allows hoop earrings “no larger and 1.5 inches in diameter and/or 1/2-inch-wide on the surface”, while Allegiant Air doesn’t allow males to wear earrings or studs “while on duty or anytime while in uniform”.
As for flight attendant hair requirements, they have to be styled in a certain way. Neat and tidy is the general rule. Flight attendants are also not permitted to have unnaturally colored hair, mohawks or dreadlocks. Some companies like American Airlines go even further and have restrictions about hair volume.
The use of makeup is not only allowed, but encouraged. Some airlines require the use of makeup like lipstick and allow their staff to retouch the makeup. That must be done, of course, away from passengers’ eyes. The makeup must be as simple as possible: nothing “overly expressive” and no “extreme colors”.
There are also some restrictions specific to men. The most common one is related to facial hair. Their beard must always be neatly trimmed to give a highly hygienic look.
United Airlines takes it a step further by stating that “beards can’t extend 1 inch below the chin and mustaches can’t be grown a 1/4 of an inch below the mouth”. Also, “flashy” facial hair isn’t permitted.
Oh, and what about piercings? Can flight attendants have piercings? It depends. If it’s located in a part of your body that stays covered by the uniform, then the answer is naturally yes.
Other than that, then the answer is most likely no. British Airlines, for example, is very specific about the restriction of tongue piercings.
5. Good swimmers
One of the existing security protocols related to emergency situations implies that evacuation in water can occur. For such purpose, flight attendants not only have to be above average swimmers, but they should also be able to help passengers without swimming skills.
The ability to swim 55 yards and tread water for 3 minutes (while helping other people doing so) are mandatory requirements for British Airlines.
Do you want one last strange rule flight attendants must follow? They can’t accept tips. Well, most of them. You can give it a try and see their reaction.