This is a list of 11 worries I compiled from all the questions and emails I get daily from my readers.
Some of these questions and worries may be things in the mind of the vast majority of people, while others may be something you are considering for the first time when reading this article. As with every worry, it all comes down to confidence and how we perceive ourselves.
The age requirement published by the airlines only covers the minimum age. You must be at least 21 for the application to be valid. This is regarded as the age of the majority in the Middle East.
What about the upper age limit?
In some countries where recruitment agencies handle the pre-screening, an upper age limit is published. In many countries, this is an illegal requirement. Readers worry they are too old at 25, 32, or 38. They all ask, "What age is too old?"
This has nothing to do with their actual date of birth but more with how they perceive this matter and, more importantly, how they perceive themselves. If you think being older means having more experience and maturity, this question doesn't even pop into your mind. You might start worrying if you think of this job strictly from the "looks" perspective.
So let me ask you this:
Where are you in your life? Are you trying to reinvent yourself? Are you planning to change your career path altogether? Would this be a reasonable plan if you were aiming at a different industry?
What if you worked all your life in IT, and now you want to become an interior designer? Or are you a florist who wants to be a civil engineer? What are the odds? Extend the same thinking process to the cabin crew career.
For airlines in the Middle East, you can be hired as a cabin crew in your late 20s, early 30s, late 30s, and even early 40s. During the interview, you must demonstrate the ability to deliver extraordinary customer service, willingness to learn, and wisdom to know when to apply your skills and talents. But the most pressing issues for the airlines when considering older candidates are:
How will you cope with the reality that your in-flight manager is probably younger than you? Would you resist or contribute?
Are you able to physically cope with the long hours, irregular schedules, and demanding conditions? Would you remain in good health or become a medical insurance liability?
How would it feel for you to have a flatmate with the energy, hobbies, and passions of a 21-year-old? Would you have conflicts, ask to be moved, and continuously complain or get along together?
These are valid issues, and an employer wants to take all precautions to minimize the probability of complications for their staff later on.
2. Weight and height
You must be at least 160cm tall to apply, with a vertical arm reach of 212 cm (you can be on your tiptoes, without shoes)
You must be at least 161cm tall to apply.
Your vertical arm reach must be 212cm(on your tiptoes, without shoes).
All three airlines use BMI to calculate weight and height proportions. You will be fine if your BMI falls between the normal ranges.
This topic comes up a lot, and it is masked by particular questions related to the body parts that make the person feel less secure: teeth, hair, skin, etc.
Everybody asks: "Do I have to look like a supermodel to get this job?" The underlying question is actually, "Am I good enough?"
To answer more specific questions in the beauty realm:
Teeth – Your teeth must be clean and cavity-free, and your smile pleasant. Dental perfection is not a requirement. Crowns and implants are allowed as long as the visible ones look natural. Braces are not allowed. Visible gold teeth and dental tattoos are not permitted. Your smile must be pleasant, and this is the only requirement.
Hair – Any hair length is acceptable if you can style it neatly and business-like for the interview.
Braids and weaves are allowed, but they must be neatly styled and adequately kept.
The grooming regulations are different for each airline, and you will learn about them once you are hired, but these are the expectations for the interview.
For men, a completely bald head is not acceptable as a choice of hairstyle. If you have a medical condition that causes you to lose hair, that is fine; otherwise, it must be neatly cut and styled. Facial hair is not accepted.
Skin – You must first seek a specialist's opinion for any medical issues related to your skin, such as excessive dryness, acne, or redness. Makeup can do wonders for covering what needs to be covered up, but porcelain skin is not one of the minimum requirements.
Wherever you are in the world, if your passport allows you to travel freely to all the airline destinations (with or without visas), airlines can hire you.
Interviews, however, are not organized in all countries. The following factors dictate the decision for the airline to recruit in a particular country:
Current number of cabin crew from the country
All airlines pride themselves on the diversity of their crew. If there are large numbers of cabin crew from your country already employed with the airline, they will be less likely to look to add even more staff from that location.
Each airline aims to have at least one native language speaker for each destination they fly to. For example, if a new destination is launched in Taiwan, they will be looking to hire cabin crew who speak Mandarin Chinese.
The general level of English
Some countries have large numbers of people studying and speaking English fluently. This makes the location more likely to be visited for interviews.
So if your country is not visited often, or at all, here are your options:
The airline organizes two types of recruitment events.
Invitation-only Assessments are events for which you must pre-register online and obtain an invitation.
Open Days are events for which you don't have to pre-register online or be shortlisted to participate. You must be willing and able to travel to these locations at your own cost, as you must submit your application in person.
You can apply online for an assessment day. If your online application is shortlisted, you will be offered a list of locations in your country or nearby places. All the expenses incurred by participating in any recruitment event should be supported solely by you. None of the airlines will reimburse your costs.
The airline organizes recruitment events where you must pre-register online and obtain a registration number. You must be willing and able to travel to these locations at your own cost, as you must participate in an in-person meet and greet.
5. Medical Issues
A long list of medical conditions might prevent candidates from successfully passing the medical test. Once again, each airline is different, but the common sense rule is:
- you must be free of any transmittable disease and
- whatever condition you have must not interfere with your daily life.
This is a broad description, but it pretty much covers the basics.
For example, if you have chronic back pain, it interferes with your daily life, and it will affect your job performance.
Also, severe motion sickness is an example of a condition not accepted by airlines.
This part of the article should not be used as an example or medical advice. Discussing your health concerns with a qualified aviation doctor would be best.
6. Tattoos and Piercings
Tattoos have become very common. However, body art is not appreciated in this industry. If you want to be a flight attendant, you must be ink-free in these areas of your body: arms, legs, neck, and face. If you are considering laser treatment to remove your tattoos, they must be entirely removed before participating in a recruitment event.
The only visible piercings allowed are ear piercings (one in each ear) and earrings for ladies. For male candidates, no piercings and jewelry wearing are permitted.
If you have piercings in your nose, lip, or eyebrows and there is no visible hole when you remove the jewelry, it is all fine. You must be willing to remove the jewelry from your facial piercings.
It is not required for you to have pierced ears to get the job.
7. Scars and Birthmarks
Scars can be from chicken pox marks, stitches, cuts, or burns.
If you have any marks on your face, neck, arms, or legs, you need to see if they can be concealed with makeup, masked by your hair, or hidden under pantyhose.
If you can do that, the scars should not be a problem.
For male candidates, you only have to worry about your face, neck, and hands, as the uniform consists of a long-sleeved shirt and long pants. Men are not allowed to wear makeup while wearing the uniform, so the standards are more rigid here.
Scars can fade in time with laser treatments or by using ointments such as BioOil.
Small birthmarks are fine. Larger or darker ones must not be visible while wearing the uniform.
Some airlines have stricter grooming regulations and prefer to hire candidates strictly without any scars or birthmarks. It is a subjective area.
The only language requirement is fluency in English. If you can converse in any other language, it is a great advantage. This is the case mainly if the airlines operate flights to destinations where the language is used.
You are not required to speak Arabic; however, it is considered an advantage if you do.
9. Marital status and kids
There are many rumors and preconceptions regarding this topic, and it mainly has to do with the contract offered. It is called a single-status contract because the benefits provided by the airline, such as free accommodation and transport, medical insurance, life insurance, annual leave ticket, and much more, are being offered only to you, the employee. Your spouse or children are not part of this contract. Hence, they can't live in company-provided accommodation or have life insurance paid by the airline.
This, however, doesn't mean the airline will not hire you if you have a spouse or children. It only means that if you want your spouse and children to relocate, you will be responsible for all the arrangements that need to be made. Applying for housing allowance and sponsoring their residence visa might not be possible in the first six months of probation.
Being married shouldn't interfere with how you perform at your work, regardless of the type of job you are hired to do.
10. Previous Experience
Emirates requires at least one year of experience in the hospitality or customer service sectors.
For Etihad and Qatar Airways, you do not need any airline experience or prior work experience.
Customer service experience is considered an advantage because, during the interview, you can provide answers and demonstrate that you have already practiced some of the skills required for the job.
The airlines can hire you straight out of school. In this case, the recruiter will focus the interview questions on your experience with colleagues at school, exam pressure, professors, or conflict management.
11. Flight Attendant Certificate
To become a qualified flight attendant for any of the airlines in the Middle East, you must be trained in their aviation academies and pass all the required exams to obtain a Flight Attendant License from the local Civil Aviation Authority.
A flight attendant license obtained in your country is not required, and it can't be considered a valid document to operate flights in another country.
Don't waste your resources on private cabin crew courses. Unless the course teaches you how to be successful at the interview with the specific airline you want to work for, it will not be relevant information.
Get the step-by-step application process for each airline in "How to Become a Flight Attendant for airlines in the Middle East."