Challenges in airline cabin crew training

My recent trip to India had me spending more than 21 hours in the confines of a crammed economy seat. I had all the time to observe the challenges cabin crew faced in dealing with passengers. Here are some quirky behavior and demands that the cabin crew are expected to handle without lighting a rather short fuse (temper!) in a long-haul flight.

1. Someone asked, “I need hot drink.” The air hostess promptly gave the passenger a cup of hot water. He actually wanted an alcoholic drink. 

2. People don’t seem to flush the toilets after use. It’s either they did not even try to find the flush or couldn’t  read. On second thought, it could well be the fact that they do not have the habit of flushing after use.

3. Rules become mere suggestions in countries like India. Passengers tend to get up before the seat belt sign goes off and the cabin crew had the thankless job of making every one get back to their seats while the plane was taxiing towards the gate.

4. People change their minds about their meal preferences and have special requests. I don’t think airlines are equipped to deal with such situations. I found some of the cabin crew handled such requests very well and some others were totally dismissive. One of the stewards wanted someone to share the toothbrush! yew!

5. Hopefully, passengers shouldn’t need training in using the inflight entertainment system. However, cabin crew should be well versed in using them as most of the inflight entertainment systems are from the dinosaur era.

The bottomline is the fact that cabin crew training is much more than just process training. It’s not just about greeting people, serving meals or safety drills. The most important training that comes into play a majority of the time, especially in long distance flights, is cultural training and the ability to handle exceptions. The ability to handle exceptions presents itself to scenario based or case study based training. All said and done, nothing prepares a cabin crew than to actually deal with passengers on a long distance flight.

Enjoy this BA commercial.

Srinivas Krishnaswamy


I love to read and share thoughts on technology, enterprise learning, mobile and any thing cool that impacts enterprises.

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2 comments on “Challenges in airline cabin crew training
  1. […] 3 Challenges in airline cabin crew training […]

  2. […] moments could potentially help us rethink training needs. This week I decided to take the same airline passenger example used in the paper published by Gartner and have projected possible training needs or […]

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