After accepting an offer of employment, United Airlines flight attendants start a rigorous, seven-week training program. Because all flight attendants must receive Federal Aviation Administration certification before flying, a large portion of this training focuses on meeting government requirements. Training between competing airlines is so similar that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, flight attendants transferring from one airline to another may be able to complete training specific to the airline in one or two days if the plane is the same.
United Airlines conducts training at a corporate flight attendant training center in Chicago, Illinois. Although United does not charge a fee for training and provides free room and board, the company does not consider you an employee unless and until you successfully complete all training program modules as well as an FAA certification exam. Failing any of the training program components or the FAA exam results in disqualification and United will send you home.
United Airlines flight attendant training includes both classroom and hands-on training, with an emphasis on developing practical knowledge. Training is extensive and includes instruction in proper response to on-board medical emergencies, including first aid, the use of an automated external defibrillator and CPR procedures. You also learn how to properly use, and instruct passengers to use safety equipment such as oxygen masks, fire extinguishers, aircraft doors, evacuation slides and life rafts. In addition, training also prepares you to prepare and serve in-flight meals, beverages and snacks, as well as proper passenger interaction methods.
Progress evaluations are an ongoing feature of flight attendant training. Evaluations include daily homework evaluations, evaluation via written examinations and practical evaluations. Weekend training flights provide an additional avenue for practical evaluation.
At the completion of your flight training program you must take and pass an FAA examination that will certify you to fly and work on either a propeller- or turbojet-powered airplane. Although your employer's name will appear on the certificate, the certificate qualifies you to work with any airline flying the same type of plane. This is a hands-on exam that requires you to demonstrate proficiency in evacuation, fire fighting, medical emergency and security procedures according to FAA and the Transportation Security Administration standards. In addition, you must demonstrate proficiency in performing the duties of a cabin crewmember and complete an approved proficiency check.
United Airlines also requires flight attendants to participate in continuing education. The objective of continuing education is to meet requirements for renewing FAA certification and to provide additional training specific to United Airlines.
2016 Salary Information for Flight Attendants
Flight attendants earned a median annual salary of $48,500 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, flight attendants earned a 25th percentile salary of $39,860, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $62,490, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 116,600 people were employed in the U.S. as flight attendants.