How to Survive Flight Attendant Training

Two years ago right now, I had just received the exciting news that I had been chosen to start Flight Attendant Training with the world's largest airline. 

I was excited, nervous, and I had almost no idea what to expect.

The airline I work for has a training facility where you live, eat, and study for the six and a half weeks that you're in training. You don't get paid, but they do feed you and house you for the duration of your training. It reminded me of college or summer camp- we lived together and worked together and learned so much. 

Training can be very stressful. 
You're living in close quarters with strangers, you have to score above 90% on every test in order to be able to stay in the program, and some parts of training can be a little scary
I'm really scared of heights, and I had to throw myself down a a really tall evacuation slide. 
I hate putting my head under water, but I had to jump into a pool wearing a lifejacket, swim across it, and climb into a life raft. 
I had to put out fires (literally) and demonstrate physical defense techniques. 

And on top of all of that, you still have a life back home that's going on without you. There are bills that need to be paid, loved ones facing challenges, and just general homesickness. 
While I was in training I was going through the beginning of a divorce and my grandmother had a massive heart attack. Your real life doesn't stop just because you need to learn the difference between a Boeing 757 and a 787, but don't worry, this is worth it and you can handle it.

You know what though? Looking back I had so much fun. 
I made lifelong friends, I ate some really good breakfast burritos, and I fell in love with an exciting new career. 

So for those of you preparing to start the journey of a lifetime, here are a few tips so that you will be one of the lucky ones who survives flight attendant training. 

How To: Survive Flight Attendant Training

1. Memorize your airport codes BEFORE you leave for training.
I used an app called Quizlet, which has a lot of airport code flashcard sets made by other trainee flight attendants. Double check to make sure that the codes you're memorizing match up with the list provided by your airline. Start as early as possible- literally the DAY you get your training materials.

2. Use whatever tactics YOU need to study.
Some of my classmates studied in groups. Some of them used ironing boards to diagram airplane equipment locations. Some of them took large pieces of paper and put mock ups of airplane doors on the walls of their bedrooms so that they could practice door opening and closing. 
My roommate and I studied best by quizzing each other in our room, with just the two of us. Don't feel pressured into studying in a way that doesn't make sense for you. If you need a group, make that group. If you need to study quietly alone, do it. 

3. Take copious notes.
When your instructors give you information, write it all down by hand. Studies have shown that your brain memorizes information better if you record it manually rather than electronically. 
This applies particularly during lesson or section recaps. If they're reiterating it, it's probably on the test. Pay attention to acronyms and specific phrasing. They matter.

4. Practice your commands out loud.
Evacuation commands are some of the most important things you'll learn while in training. You hope you'll never need to use them in real life, but when that moment comes you'd better know them deeply in your soul.
Yell them out. Do the physical movements that go with them. Ingrain them into your muscle memory.  You'll need to do these every year at your annual recurrent training anyway, so get them down precisely NOW. 

5. Use moderation when putting things into your body.
Whether it's food or alcohol, don't overdo it. When your snazzy new uniforms come in, you're going to want them to fit, and memorizing the location of the portable oxygen is going to be a lot harder with a merciless hangover. 
Don't get me wrong, I still have a love affair happening with the training center's chorizo breakfast burritos and I enjoyed a mug or two of vinho verde with my roomie, but just be smart about your choices. 

6. Go to sleep, but not in class.
There will be times when the lectures you're in get a little bit....tedious. One particular powerpoint on how to operate a coffee maker comes to mind for me. Be a responsible grown up and get enough sleep so that you don't drift off during class time.

7. Look sharp.
Dress professionally and follow every single attire guideline you are given, both in and out of uniform. Don't forget that you haven't actually been hired yet. To some extent, training is one long extended job interview.

8. Make friends.
There are some jobs where it doesn't matter if you're friends with your co-workers. 
Being a Flight Attendant is not one of those jobs. 
Your life could literally depend on the people around you one day soon. If nothing else, you're going to need at least a few of them to rely on as your new support network when you get sent to your base. You'll be in a new city navigating a new and intricate job. The stakes are high. You need friends you can text things to like "Where's the crew room at DFW?" or "Where can I find the max duty day chart in the tablet?" 
You also need friends you can hang out with while you're on Reserve and waiting for the phone to ring.
Being a Flight Attendant is so much more than just a job- it's a way of life. 
You're going to use jargon that makes no sense to ground dwellers. 
You're going to have amazing experiences that your friends back home simply can't understand. Hopping on a last minute flight to Paris for the weekend? Don't expect your high school BFF to get it. 
You're about to start a completely new lifestyle and you're going to need a crew who will have your back.

Congratulations on making it this far and good luck on this next leg of your journey! 

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