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We know that flight attendants, on top of serving passengers (which is what they do 99% of the time), are there to ensure the safety of passengers on board. For example, they are trained to operate emergency equipment in the event it is necessary.

What is the legal requirement to become a flight attendant? I am not asking how one can get hired (which may involve speaking different languages, being friendly to customers etc.), but how one can serve as a flight attendant on a commercial flight recognized by aviation authority.

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  • $\begingroup$ Flight attendants get a bad rap, but they are important required crew members on passenger flights. Flight attendants are trained for various emergencies. I've actually seen them doing emergency water training at a university pool where they were training on the proper procedure for entering a life boat and pulling people into the lifeboat. It looked like some serious training to me. They each took turns being in the water and in the life boat. $\endgroup$ – Devil07 Nov 17 '17 at 20:50
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There is a (relatively) new requirement for Flight Attendants (on aircraft with more than 20 passenger seats) to be certified as per the FAA. This was done in the "VISION 100—CENTURY OF AVIATION REAUTHORIZATION ACT", in section 814 if you want to read it.

The applicable CFR is 49 U.S. Code § 44728 - Flight attendant certification. In summary it says:

  • You have to have a certificate of demonstrated proficiency, this looks like a pilots license.
  • Demonstrated compliance with the air carrier approved training program.
  • Proficiency to read, speak, and write English
  • Comprehend written material in English
  • Ability to write incident reports and log entries/statements
  • Carry out written and oral instructions

Now, the actual physical requirements are up to the airline, as long as the individual can complete the training program, they are physically allowed to become a flight attendant (physical appearance requirements aside). As for "legally" allowed, they need to be able to pass the same TSA background checks that pilots are subject to. So legally, almost all airlines require:

  • U.S. Citizen or appropriate work visa
  • Be able to enter/exit the United States without any issues (no visa problems with other countries, although for regionals this may not apply)
  • Be able to pass a TSA/FBI background check
  • No DUI or felony convictions within the past 10 years

There isn't a lot more "legal" to it than that, they don't have to demonstrate the use of safety equipment if the airline's training program doesn't require it.

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These requirements can vary significantly depending on different airlines in different countries. Since you added , I'll assume you are only interested in US based airlines.

According to TheTravelAcademy, the requirements are:

PHYSICAL

  • NO VISIBLE TATTOOS
  • 4’11″-6’4” tall- These numbers are based on various airline requirements.
  • Excellent overall health
  • Five senses- hearing/sight/touch/smell/taste
  • Weight and height proportionate
  • An overall pleasing and well groomed appearance
  • Vision that is correctable by contacts or glasses
  • No facial piercing or gauges- 1 earring per ear (lobe only)
  • At least 19 years old*

EDUCATION/LANGUAGE/EXPERIENCE

  • Minimum high school diploma or GED- Any additional education is a plus!
  • Customer service experience – At least 2 years is preferable and in some cases required.
  • Fluent in English (reading, writing, listening, and speaking)- Bilingual people must read, write, understand, and speak English and an additional language fluently. Second language proficiency will be tested.

CITIZENSHIP/IDENTIFICATION/BACKGROUND

  • A United States citizen- When applying to a US-based airline, applicants must have full legal ability to work in the US and be able to exit and reenter US without incident.
  • Identification- This includes a valid passport, social security card, and/or government issued picture ID
  • A clean background- Flight attendants may not have any felony convictions, DUI convictions within the last 10 years. They must also pass an FBI background check.

FlightAttendantCareer also listed similar requirements in their FAQs.

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  • $\begingroup$ Why would the FAA care about tattoos (in capital letters, even)? $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Nov 15 '17 at 23:29
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    $\begingroup$ @HenningMakholm These requirements (other than the citizenship/background/language) are a composite of different airline requirements, not regulatory. Those other requirements are put together by the "The Travel Academy". $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Nov 15 '17 at 23:36

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