So, you made it through the interview process, and at the very end you were one of the few and the proud who received the offer of conditional employment. I remember this moment well. There were only 13 of us left in the room, and we didn’t know if being the ones left was good, or if we had been sequestered so we could be let down easy. When our recruiters came into the room, single file, and gave us the good news, I could hardly believe my ears. The rest of the day was spent in a daze of euphoric exhaustion. Naturally, this was only the beginning. As I mentioned earlier, we signed a contract of conditional employment. The condition being, of course, that you successfully complete a grueling 4-6 week training program. Before you even begin to prepare for training, however, you should take a moment to appreciate what you’ve just accomplished.
Out of every 15,ooo applications an airline receives (approximately) each month, only 1000 are selected for an interview. And out of every group of 50 (or so) people who are interviewed in one of those big groups, only a dozen or two are hired. So, go you! You are the minority; the creme de la creme; the best. The fact alone that you’ve made it this far makes you a champ in my book. I vividly remember the euphoric sense of achievement I felt, so savor it.
In a few weeks you’ll receive a packet which basically has everything you need to know about preparing for training, and what to expect during the whole thing. This will cover everything to how much clothes you can bring (2 pieces of luggage weighing no more than 100 lbs), to how you should wear your makeup, to things you’ll need to study and become proficient in before you even arrive at the training destination.
I wrote about my experiences at training here, here and here. It’s different for everyone, but hopefully you can glean some useful information through my triumphs and tribulations out in Phoenix. Overall, it was good times and I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
I will however offer a few quick tips for those of you waiting in the wings, as it were, for training to start.
- Learn those airport codes before you get to training. I cannot stress this enough. There were 204 of them for me to learn, and I made myself study tables, flash cards and online quizzes to get them firmly stuck in my head. You will need them (anywhere you fly) and they will test your proficiency on the first day of training. So, don’t go thinking you can spend your first night there cramming and pass the test. I made a great online study table here on Quizlet. I learn best by immersion and tactile association. Flashcards are a perfect for this. Once something is in my memory banks, it never leaves.
- Get plenty of sleep. I cannot emphasize this enough. The temptation, of course, is to go home and study some more for the constant onslaught of tests. Do not do this. Get some dinner, go to sleep and set your alarm for a couple hours earlier than you need to wake up. Look over your notes then, with fresh consciousness. Trust me.
- Socialize. Get out there and meet people during training. This shouldn’t be the first priority (its not the Winged Fraternity House, after all) but it will help you immensely in the long run. Just for the record, this was the absolute hardest part of training for me. I didn’t go out on our one day off per week with my classmates, and I didn’t party. However, I did get to talk to and bond with most people over the course of the 4.5 weeks, and I’m so glad I did. As a result, I got to know Jasmine, Aurora, and Belle, who became my roommates. I also made wonderful friends and study buddies during the course of training. The good karma just keeps on unfolding from these people!
- Moisturize , SPF and drink water. Out in Phoenix, we were in the middle of the desert. I had never been in “dry heat” before in my native Tennessee, so I had no idea what was going on when my skin dried out, my lips got sunburnt and my mouth was dry and parched.
- Bring enough money with you for food/souvenirs. We were fortunate enough to stay at hotel that provided breakfast and dinner for free, but you’re going to want to have money for the food carts and awesome local restaurants which inevitably wind up near the training centers.
- Save the receipts for your uniform incase you need a different size. I was told to get a size 2 in the dress shirts, and when I got them and tried them on I was nonplussed to find they looked like a tent on me. Unfortunately, I got busy and forgot to send them back for a smaller size, and when I did try to do this, they wouldn’t take them because even though most of the shirts were unopened from their original packaging I had lost the receipt. Keep every piece of paper you get from training. Do it.
- Try to eat balanced meals. I could tell a huge difference in how I felt, and how well my brain functioned when I ate a variety of foods. As much as I appreciated the free breakfast and dinner, it was the same thing every day. After about a week of this, you want to slap a b*tch. If I saw another waffle, or meatballs and penne pasta, I was fixin’ to have a stroke. Your body drags on all the fatty, processed foods. Get you some salads and fresh fruits.
- Get some exercise. Go on walks. Tour the city a little. A change of scenery now and then (as opposed to training center, hotel lobby, hotel dining room, hotel bedroom and then back to training center day in and day out) will work wonders on your tired psyche.
- Take lots of pictures. I did this both before, during and after training. The pictures I took of my friends and family back in Tennessee became treasured keepsakes which helped keep me centered on my goal. The pictures I took during help me remember the process, which in retrospect feels like a blur.
- Bring comfortable shoes. I bought these, which are well within the 3 inch heel rule, and have thanked myself every day since. Your shoes have to be either navy blue or black. They cannot have any buckles, buttons, straps, patent leather, wedges or detailing of any kind. More importantly, you’re going to be walking/running around every day in these shoes. Be prepared. If they pinch your toes after an hour, you’re going to hate the shoes after the first day.
Things to pack:
- a big notepad and plenty of pens. You will be taking notes, and your life (okay, well, your success at training) depends on them being thorough an comprehensive.
- a camera. I have this one and love it. It’s so compact and easy to pack and the battery lasts forever.
- an ipad/tablet of some kind/laptop
- a big bag for carrying all your stuff. You will need this. Trust me.
- enough clothes for approximately 2 weeks of rotation/combinations. Ex: I brought around 10 nice blouses, 2 or 3 dresses, 4 skirts and 3 pairs of dress pants. I also brought some extra clothes for lounging around (sweatpants, comfy shorts and t-shirts will be your new best friends, so load up. Pretty much everything I brought was interchangeable, so I had a lot of options to wear without feeling the need to wear something “new” every single day. Keep things fresh—bring classic, comfortable clothes that flatter your body type. Remember that you’ll be wearing these clothes approximately 12 hours a day, so if it’s too tight or too hot or just plain uncomfortable….keep that in mind. If you can’t move or sit for long periods of time in it; don’t bring it.
There is also a very strict dress code enforced daily. If your skirt is more than 1 inch above your knee, you’ll get approached about it
- sunblock. I said it before, and I’ll say it again. Unless you want to look (and feel) like a leather handbag, bring plenty of high SPF sunscreen/moisturizer. I’m a big fan of a good BB cream, which works as a foundation, sunscreen and moisturizer all in one. I use Clinique.
- sunglasses. I forgot to bring mine from home, so I used some of my precious spending money on a nice pair of Ray Bans. Every time I look at them I think about training and my fresh start.
- spending money (see earlier comments)
- hair products. Wispy flyaway hair is not allowed in uniform. Get some hair spray, and practice putting your hair up in various do’s (as this will also be a requirement.) If your hair falls in front of your face when you lean forward, you will need to put it up. No one wants to get a hair in someone’s food or drink when you’re serving on the plane, right? Right.
- a watch. This is actually a requirement for the uniform—flight attendants must be punctual above all else. I invested in a nice Michael Kors rose gold timepiece. I liked this particular model because it has the time, day of the month and day of the week all in one place. As a flight attendant, you will constantly lose track of what day and day of the week it is, because our schedules really don’t look anything like other peoples. A Mon-Friday work week doesn’t exist anymore. There’s only when you’re on call and when you’re not. Also, if I’m going to be looking at it for years, it might as well be a nice accessory! However, if this is not in your budget, Fossil makes great, durable, attractive watches as well.
- lipstick. Again, I splurged a little and got some Chanel Coco Rouge Shine in Chance. I wanted the chic Chanel label, the high quality cosmetic, and I liked the thought of the lipstick mirroring my new “chance” at a career and travel.
Well I hope this little bit of advice is useful! Good luck and keep your chin up! This will be hard but no worries, just stick with it and it’ll pass by before you know it. When you get those wings pinned on you, it’s 100% worth it.