Working at Austrian Airlines as a flight attendant is not just an exciting job – it’s also hugely varied. You’re not just the company’s most important brand ambassador and safety expert, but also responsible for providing passengers with an unforgettable flight experience. We asked Daniela Friml a few questions about the training aspiring flight attendants are required to attend, which lasts around eight weeks.
What exactly does the flight attendant training course look like?
The training course for flight attendants at Austrian Airlines has a very modern feel to it. E-learning modules, classroom training and customer profiling are alternated with practice sessions in the mock-up (a replica aircraft cabin), group work, role plays and guest speakers.
The goal of this basic training, which lasts about eight weeks, is to provide our new colleagues with the optimal preparation for every aspect of the job. During the one-week ‘pre-course stage’, which takes place on an e-learning, self-study basis, course participants are taught the so-called ‘hard facts’ – theoretical principles providing trainees with the best-possible foundation of knowledge for the highly practice-oriented ‘presence stage’ which comes after it. This is when trainees try on the uniform for the first time, which is then adjusted accordingly within four weeks.
What does the classroom learning look like?
Once the trainee has passed the entrance test, the week-long service training begins. Then comes the highly intensive and demanding safety, security and first aid training, which lasts four weeks. Once participants have completed this part of the training successfully, they are on the home stretch. In the final two weeks, everything goes by the motto ‘Austrian Airlines Brand Ambassador’. The ‘take-off event’ then concludes the basic training to be a flight attendant. Here, the course participants present what it means to put the customer experience into practice, both to people within the company and to external guests, friends, relatives and acquaintances.
What’s the most important thing Austrian Airlines flight attendants need to be able to do?
The message we’re aiming to get across is that our flight attendants on board make the difference, and are the decisive competitive factor. For that reason, the central elements of the training are living the customer experience, implementing and offering outstanding service at all times, and passing a wide-ranging flight safety and first aid training course.
When can you start translating everything you’ve learnt into practice?
The ‘Training on the Job’ section starts immediately afterwards. The trainee is accompanied by an induction flight attendant on their first four flights. Once these flights have been completed successfully, new colleagues are allowed to travel on board, as part of the ‘Minimum Crew’. After between six and eight months, they attend a two-day ‘Completion Training’ session. This is the conclusion of the basic training to be a flight attendant.
Is the training easy to get through? What examinations will I need to pass?
When training to be a flight attendant, the big challenge is to master the wide-ranging theoretical subject matter within a very short time, and to use what you’ve learnt in the practical exercises which build on this. As they learn, their progress is supported by numerous repetition rounds, group work and role plays.
Course participants have to pass a number of written tests, both in the area of flight safety and service. If they don’t pass these tests the first time around, it’s possible to repeat them one more time. If they then fail again, the training can’t be continued, and the employment relationship is terminated.
What skills are especially important when dealing with passengers?
The area of responsibility of the flight attendant is designed to be very wide-ranging and diverse. As a result, many different competencies are required, particularly in the field of ‘soft skills’. These include empathy, flexibility, openness, friendliness, language communication skills, the ability to deal professionally with conflict situations, team spirit and the basic approach of wanting to be there for people and offer them an unforgettable travel experience on board. These are all success factors, and consequently central elements of basic and further training to be a flight attendant.
What specific subject areas are dealt with during training?
Training is divided into two major subject areas: firstly, service training, with its special focus on the customer experience, cultural awareness, uniform and styling, analysis of different customer groups, feedback, conflict solution and communication, group dynamics, on-board product, service principles, service standards and health; and secondly, training in the field of flight safety and first aid. It’s important to prepare course participants for any situations and issues relevant to flight safety, and create appropriate awareness in case of unforeseen events.
What about experienced flight attendants? Do they continue to attend training too?
Basic and further training are of key importance to us. Our ‘Find Your Way’ further training programme, which we conceived ourselves for flight attendants, lets participants choose from 35 seminars in five categories and around 500 seminar places every six months. This means participants can learn about other sections of the company, the on-board product and cooperation partners, and continue to train in areas such as personal development, health and other issues relevant to flight safety. Flight attendants can design their own career path individually as part of our ‘Cabin New’ career model. This programme is structured in a modular way. Participants who pass the programme can take on extra functions, such as the role of an induction flight attendant or trainer. Staff can also use the qualification to apply for managerial positions on board, in which case there’s another, special further training programme for managers.
What makes the job so special for you?
Being a flight attendant is so unique because every day and every flight offers a new challenge and is structured differently. It’s varied, and working in changing teams is exciting. Always having the chance to get to know lots of people – including those with a different cultural background – and making the time they spend on board an unforgettable experience is incredibly motivating. Staying in interesting and exotic destinations is a special highlight, of course!
What’s the best moment for you when you train new members of staff?
The most enjoyable part of it for me is following the personal development, inspiration and motivation of new members of staff, and feeling just how proud they are to be part of Austrian Airlines, and to have achieved such an incredible amount in so short a time.
Has Daniela awoken your interest? If you want to apply to be a flight attendant with Austrian Airlines, then please click here.