There is no doubt about it—working as a flight attendant gives you a unique opportunity to see the world, but it’s damn hard work.

You’ll get the chance to meet new people every day as a flight attendant, serving passengers and meeting locals in destinations around the globe.

Photo: Austrian Airlines

On the flip side, the shifts are long hours and the jetlag can be grueling on the body and mind.

If you want to know more about the life and times of working as a flight attendant on a commercial airline, check out our top tips on what to expect when working in the skies.

Being a flight attendant is a lifestyle rather than a career

Working as a flight attendant is less of a job and more of a way of life. You will be spending most of your time in the skies, working on an airplane and staying over in various different hotels in various different cities around the world.

Photo: SilkAir

You will require strong willpower and spirit to overcome jetlag, while continuing to serve your airline’s passengers with the level of customer service they have come to expect. It’s nothing like a 9-to-5 career, but it is certainly one that will help you go places!

The hiring process is rigorous

According to Travel + Leisure, just 1,000 out of every 100,000 applicants secure positions as full-time flight attendants.

For anyone lacking in the math department, that means there is a 99% chance of you being rejected by a commercial airline.

It takes heart and dedication to make it as a flight attendant. In some cases, it can help if you are bilingual or even trilingual.

Learning a new language and being able to speak more than English can greatly improve your chances.

Ensure prospective airlines take care of their employees in the air and on the ground

Given that you will be thousands of feet in the air every day and moving from country to country, it’s important to double-check that the airline you wish to work for takes good care of its staff. Accidents cost money.

As you will be constantly representing your airline in the big wide world, it is vital that they have general liability insurance. This gives you basic coverage and peace of mind that if accidents occur due to airline error, you will be entitled to compensation.

Appearances matter to commercial airlines

It would be wrong to say that appearances aren’t important when working as a flight attendant for a commercial airline.

Photo: Rigmor Dahl Delphin

Years ago, flight attendants had to fit a specific physical appearance. Although the rules have been relaxed somewhat in more recent times, some airlines are still strict on aspects of your look such as piercings and visible tattoos.

On a physical level, attendants are obviously required to be able to use the overhead lockers and stand and bend for lengthy periods of time during trolley service.

Air travel is often free off-shift

It’s not all doom and gloom, of course. You can make a lot of money, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics claiming the median salary is $48,500.

Arguably the biggest benefit to working as a flight attendant is the free travel off-shift.

Flight attendants wishing to travel are placed on standby for flights with their airline, allowing them to claim a seat whenever there is a spare seat to be had.

These free flights aren’t just reserved for you either; they are available to your loved ones too, allowing you to enjoy free air travel for family holidays. What’s not to like about that?!