Do you fly frequently? Have you noticed that very young flight attendants are not the norm anymore? That’s because airlines are hiring and training brand new flight attendants in their 40s, 50s, and even 60s! Many flight attendants who started at a younger age keep working sometimes even into their 80s.
This wasn’t always the case. In the early days of commercial air travel, flight attendants were almost exclusively young women. With age discrimination and sexism under attack, it is now easier for workers over 50 to find jobs in the airline industry.
Have you ever dreamed of becoming a flight attendant and traveling the world? Ronwyn Ingraham nurtured a long-held dream from her childhood to become a flight attendant while she instead worked her way up in a large non-profit corporation.
After a 31-year career in that industry, she took an early retirement. Soon bored with retirement life, Ronwyn dusted off her old dream and went to work for United Airlines. The self-described ‘gypsy’ has never looked back.
Airlines hire people who demonstrate they can make decisions quickly and calmly. Maturity and experience are valued qualities in older flight attendants. Level-headedness and coolness under pressure are good qualities for a flight attendant to have.
So, it is no surprise that retired firefighters and police officers are a sought-after commodity by some airlines, in particular JetBlue. Former first responders know how to handle people in stressful situations and can take command of an aircraft cabin in an emergency.
“Past experiences are predictive of future behavior,” one airline executive has said.
Passenger safety is the number one responsibility of flight attendants. They are there to keep passengers safe while hurtling through the air inside a giant 175,000 pound flying tube. They keep us comfortable as well, but their main job is safety and security.
Flight attendants are trained in CPR, AED (automatic electric defibrillator) use, door-handling, emergency procedures and how to deal with dangerous, sick, frail, or unruly passengers. Weeks of rigorous training under extreme conditions is required to become a flight attendant.
Standards are high, and many fail out during the training phase. Flight attendants are required to complete annual refresher courses to keep skills current.
Most flight attendants will tell you they love the job for the travel, perks, flexibility, and the people. Bette Nash, one of the oldest working flight attendant at age 87, describes each flight “like having a party in your house,”
The people make the job interesting, challenging and fun. “It’s good to have a project,” Ronwyn says.
With longevity in the industry comes seniority which has its own perks. Senior flight attendants get first crack at long-haul assignments. The long hauls, 14-19 hours on overseas flights, allow flight attendants to rack up enough flying time that they only need a few of those flights each month to satisfy their quota.
The rest of the month they can enjoy their free time to pursue hobbies, travel, spend time with family or even run a side business they enjoy.
Becoming a flight attendant in your 60s just might be something to consider! For those who love people and love to fly, the job never gets old.
What do you think makes mature women more qualified to serve as flight attendants? Is this something you would consider for yourself? Have you traveled on a flight with older cabin crew? What was the experience like? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
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