Friday, April 20, 2007

The Air hostess dream

An air hostess job - on ground - is like being a waitress. And yet that simple prefix makes it so much more. A job with glamour, money and a chance to 'see the world'. At least that's how it used to be.

I grew up in a colony of scientists where every kid became a doctor, engineer of PhD. But there was one notable exception. A girl called Pushpa who joined Cathay Pacific.

The aunties might have gossiped and whispered but Pushpa couldn't care less. She was good looking - in an arrogant and casual sort of way. And she had perfect skin, which we were told was the essential requirement for an air hostess job.

Cathay was good for Pushpa. She travelled the world, enjoyed free tickets for the family and last heard, had married a Greek and settled down abroad somewhere.

An average-at-studies girl used her looks to her advantage. And got to see do things she could never have, stuck on ground.

But this story is not about Pushpa. It's about the dream of being an air hostess.

Today there are numerous 'air hostess training' institutes. One uses a celebrity brand ambassador, the other boasts of a UK certification and yet another says 'life long placements'.

Fine. But placements where? Mostly low budget domestic airlines. Frankfinn goes so far as to advertise an 'exclusive tie up' with Air Deccan - meaning that airline recruits only Frankfinn students.

Not sure if that's such a wise thing to advertise!

Sure, being an air hostess on Spicejet or Deccan is a decent 'job' but most of the elements of the dream are missing. No foreign travel, or paycheck with 5 zeros. No duty free shopping and no fancy 5 star hotels stays.

You are on your toes for 10-12 hours, almost continuously as a low budget aircraft has a quick turnaround time and makes 5-6 flights a day. Plus, you have nothing much to do or 'serve'. Just hand out bottles of water, or sell sandwiches.

And, there are irate passengers to constantly deal with!

Of course someone has to do this job - and there's always hope that you may move on to something 'better'. However, as far as I can see the new airlines apply less stringent standards...

And the likes of Kingfisher and Jet still place regular ads to recruit their own candidates - instead of relying solely on training institutes.

The point I am making is that people who join these institutes should be clear that they may have joined to pursue a 'dream'. But be prepared to end up with what is merely a job.

So don't expect automatic aahs and ooohs when you say "I'm an air hostess"! Which airline you fly determines your place in the pecking order.

So if you do have perfect skin - aim high!


  1. Rashmi,

    Yes, the cheque may not be one with 5 zeros... but even a budget air line hostess gets paid in the region of 30k+, which if you are not a top professional, would be extremely difficult, with only a graduate degree, for a girl [or for a guy too, for that matter!!]

    These jobs pay very well, compared to the educational skill set required, and this means that the people who have the looks, but not the brains to make it big, can earn a very handsome pay packet from these jobs.

  2. I couldn't agree with you more. Just a few months ago, a neice, in her 10th Std then, expressed her intention of joining some air hostess training academy after her XII. What horrified me was the fact that it was her parents who wanted her to do it. I told her then to hold on to the decision until she had graduated - such decision should not be taken at the age of 16/17 while blocking out other possibilities.
    She's finished her XIth now, and I'm glad to say that she now talks of chartered accountancy.

  3. A job with glamour, money and a chance to 'see the world', also comes with other things. Sexual assult being the most prominent Others being, lewd remarks by passengers, staff and even police man on airports. This being the very reason, Kingfisher scrapped the skirts for their airhostesses on board and otherwise.

    Read this:

    There also another hitch as far as i can see, the age factor. The younger and beautiful are prefered. The time you start ageing your shown the door or you go on to become ground staff.

    Also, Rashmi do you know whats retirement age for airhostess? Or what job do they do after being an airhostess? (if they retire or are being thrown out?)

  4. Rashmi, underhand dissing? similar to the one aimed at the bpo industry (what the media subjects the bpo industry to). Dignity of Labour does not exactly exist in India, are you trying to justify just that? perhaps? Fact is, people in the business of customer service are the ones constantly thinking on their feet and exude confidence like none other, customer service is a real-time business unlike old economy jobs i.e. law, engg and more. Someone has to service the ego's and the rants of our fellow brethren, and there's a whole lot of dignity in doing that : )

  5. Come on.. that's just downright mean.. why look down upon the budget airlines of the world ? To the women who work with the Air Deccan's of the world - their jobs are typically their dream jobs - most of them come from smaller cities or towns and this is their claim to fame..

    Just because they're not making the big bucks or traveling abroad, doesn't mean they've got shit jobs.....

  6. I don't think its something to look down upon really. Its mean to put it this way that not-so-good at studies Pushpa opted for it.So what if girls not doing good academically would want to join this profession? They are earning a very good living for themselves. It should be appreciated that low budget airlines are helping realise many a dreams, which would not have been possible at all for many of the airhostess job aspirants!

  7. Gautam, Gafguru & Snehal have mentioned what I wanted to write...

    CUSTOMER SERVICE is not an easy task...I pity ppl who misbehave in front of hospitality staff...

    These 'budget airlines' are ATLEAST giving their air hostesses 30k+...which these girls from (small) cities would have never imagined their bank acc credited on the 1st of every month...

    Its better than getting a BA Degree from your city's local college & then get married...

    Though all of sudden too many training instis have mushroomed..but then its all cuz of the DEMAND.

  8. i have a cousin who is very much interested in becoming an airhostess.. will surely tell her ur point..

  9. Ditto Gautam. There are many ways of pointing out the gap between reality and expectations as, I suppose, must have been your primary intention in writing this post. Condescencion is not one of them.

  10. even the airhostesses have to study ya know...

    do you know how many kinds of fire are there ? or what to do in case of emergency ? no! you think her job that of a waiter! you couldnt be more wrong.

    an airhostess student was sitting next to me that day in the bus and i peeped into her notes and it had all types of fires , emergencies etc etc. so not exactly a waiter you see. they can actually save lives when the need be! but no...things for you should be as obvious as they seem. have you done any research on what they actually teach at these institutes? hospitality is just one of the things...others like passenger safety are also there...and god knows what else they are taught...

    and you are the biggest egoist around . everything had got to do with you ! my colony had all PhDs , engineers blah blah...
    you have some major issues and you better consult a pysch . luckily no traces of iim in this post.

    no wonder the readers of your blog are decreasing over the months.

    unsolicitied advice: stop blogging please!

  11. The reality is that there are distinctions within any industry, any profession, any degree. In medicine, it is more prestigious to study at a govt hospitals, in engineering at IIT/ NIT/ DCE etc, in MBA at IIMs. This does not mean doctors, engineers and MBAs from other institutes have no standing but yes, some of the prestigious jobs may be denied to them.

    My point is that in the airline industry the most prestigious employers who offer the jobs with better perks, pay and glamour are not yet recruiting from 'air hostess training institutes'. That is the reality today.

    Secondly what % of the students of these academies get placed in airlines is a bif question. Many have branches across 8-10 cities. Are all 400-500 of their students joining as air hostesses?

    Lastly, I am well aware that air hostesses are trained to tackle emergencies and safety procedures. However, given modern flight safety standards 99% of their job remains hospitality related.

    This ain't my ego but simply the way it is. Stating it does not equal condescension.

  12. Dignity of Labour does not exactly exist in India
    and oyu post proves the same

  13. Would you consider Kingfisher glamorous enough? They're recruiting from academies in Lucknow!!!!! And of course, individual capabilities matter. You can'be a duh who thinks paying a fat fee at one of the airhostess training institutes will ensure a job with a high flying airlines. Like any person who enrols at an MBA coaching institute doesn't get admission in the IIMs. And believe me, not all these academies promise the skies to undeserving candidates! They also train students for fall-back jobs in the hospitality & travel n tourism industries.

  14. yes its nice to know, bt becoming an air hostess is quit difficult task for a women they might be uner strees, and have to face customer like and dislike

  15. Rashmi,

    your explantuon of the point your stating among you comments actually was not at all mentioned in the post..

    If your point is "in the airline industry the most .... air hostess training institutes'". Then i think it is a little harsh on the institutes.

    Though I am not exactly sure of these mushroomed up institutes but even some of the older ones among them are not really very old as of now. I am pretty sure when IIT KGP opened up in 1950 and IIM cal opened up in 1961 they did not get the best companies around the globe lining up fro recruitment during the first 3-5 years.

    I understand the same is the case here as well. The bigger airlines do not recruit from these institues as of now because they would not be having confidence because in them but if these institutes can produce better candidates for a few years consistently then i m sure even the bigger airlines will prefer to recruit from these institutes for the following reasons:

    1. That will help them outsource the training.
    2. They would always prefer an Indian airshostess for the same reasons as BPO(low cost).

    Thus for you point i think it will have to be observed for some more time how much can they improve quality and try to convince the global airlines starting their operations in India that these Institutes can take do the training stuff for them.

    Getting back to your example of Pushpa having gone places and not much similar chances for other girls today, I would isnt the case same with other so called high profile jobs like engg., doctor, MBA. Being an engg. or doctor 25 years would have meant the bext in town, so would have been the case with an MBA 10 years back. But many engg, doctors, MBA join BPOS(considered to be low profile jobs) today.

  16. In the above comment the line "Though I am not exactly sure of these mushroomed up institutes but even some of the older ones among them are not really very old as of now"
    should be read as

    "Though I am not exactly sure how old these mushroomed up institutes are but even some of the older ones among them are not really very old as of now"

  17. Reshmi,

    A different perspective. Leave the fact that you are talking about Air Hostess institutes and air hostessess.

    Isn't this applicable to every profession? You will get dis enchanted with what you do if you are there for a long time...Unless and until you will find a way to evolve and challenge yourself, any job is boring and un-interesting. Isn't it?

  18. Somehow I tend to agree with Rashmi's perspective. I was horrified at the job Air Hostesses do when I traveled by air for the first time few years back. But then, this is the same attitude we have for people working with BPOs. But no job- we all know- is small and we shud respect them all.
    I feel that any job should give you the opportunity to develop yourself as time passes. These jobs with lot of money and little scope for development make people smug and they tend to bask in the glory of their profession and money. This is where people should be careful.
    An acquaintance of mine - just 22 years old is a pilot with a domestic airline and earns 2 lakhs per month. Even after slogging for 10 years, people won't be able to make so much of money. however, I have observed that he is over satisfied. He compares himself with all the people around and believes that he is the best. He refuses to read and learn or think bigger than what he has achieved.

    I guess this is something which people should be aware of. Other wise there is no harm in doing these jobs. And I DO NOT think Rashmi is looking down upon these jobs or these people. Its just a question of perspective.

  19. well....i guess the old charm isnt there...but then ..i guess many still dream of it especially in certain parts of the ocuntry like the north east where this is one of the main job ambitions for girls. however yeah i guess the paycheck is lesser than before alrigth....but certainly not less...all the same....sometimes when i see many of my friends wasting their talents to be an air hostess.,...i dont get the craze behind the dream....its certainly not a bed of roses....

  20. i heard about the magazine....could you give me your e i could converse with you on the same....

  21. It may sound too good from far distance, but I feel its a job tht may pay well, but make u do work ,tht is so shabby.
    Serving food, liquors, being at the beck n order of irate ppl, n then go thro the X-Ray scan of perverts is one hell of a job.

    Regarding the institutes, they r just cashing in on the aviation boom in India. Its for the ppl 2 decide whether to go for it or not.They r just grooming schools, and not placement agents.

    Anshul Seth

  22. a job is job no matter what it is all have teir own dignity and every1 has their wishes of flyin in sucess if flyin is what they wish y not good post though well compiled

  23. If the point of the post was about validity and usefulness of the mushrooming airhostess training institutes, it did not come through well. There was condescension about the job and definitely a touch of the old IIM-Engineer superiority. For someone in the communication business, it's a pretty bad case of mis-communication.

  24. Hi, some of you have mentioned the tough environment the hostesses work in, and the skill sets required fror the same. It is for that very reason that they will be in demand even outside the profession, as these skills are really valued today. be it in the BPO industry, or the training industry. You will be surprised if you imagine the lakhs of people slated to join retail are going to be graduates, of any college whatsoever. A lot of these people will be coming from small towns and villages, people who a few years back might have looked for a job as a driver/lift operator whatever. You will need some pretty thick skinned trainers to polish up this lot to scratch. I think Air Hostesses will do a fantastic job in these areas.
    Not to metion opportunities in the hospitality industry, another one due for a massive upgrade and boom, besides healthcare etc..

    And BTW, even air hostesses know that all the safety training they get is bosh, when a plane really decides to catch fire or drop into the ocean especially. In almost 50 years of jet civil aviation now, no instance has been recorded where a plane successfully landed in the sea, as they show you on the cards.. Forget about the lifejackets et al coming in useful.

  25. isnt this dream similar to the dream of becoming a bollywood star? i would tend to agree with gafguru and snehal.

    also rashmi why not compare this air hostess training business with the IT training industry? do you think that an NIIT certification is in the same league as an engineering degree? its probably not. if one was to analyse the placement figures of NIIT then one would know that the figures are not that good but at the same time getting these basic skills does help.

    also, why is any job demeaning as long as the person who is taking up the job knows what he/she is getting into?

  26. Being an airhostess would surely give somebody an opportunity to be in the clouds ....But at what cost ?

    Will the airline industry compensate for girls who have not even completed their graduation with a job later ?

    The looks,the skin fade away with age...What after that ?

    What you do at ur job, whether at all it is dignified are things best left unanswered in India.

    Breakfast in India, Dinner in Kuala Lumpur and Lunch in Paris ? Is this what air-hostesses really want at the end ?

  27. For you guys who wants to know further details about Puspha, here it is:

    Full Name: Pushpa Krishnan Konsta
    Tel No: + 852 29888225

    She works for Cathay Pacific Airways as a grade higher than a Supervisor. She is based and lives in Hong Kong while her husband and child lives in Cyprus. Profesionally she must have achieved what she set out to but personally due to the false ego, and her own assumption that her's is the best job in the world etc,and look downs at others job and the other self created egos that tag alongs with the job, her personal life is ??? with the child & husband living in Cyprus while she in HK.

  28. hi iam sruthi from kerala
    can you help me to become an Airhostess?if can, mail me to

  29. This comment has been removed by the author.

  30. can someone please tell me what exactly an air hostess get..i mean what is the starting salary,does she travels overseas,etc etc actually i have just finished class 12th and i want to know more about this air hostess thing...before i go for it..someone please help me by telling the merits and demerits

  31. i read the comment written by oasis abt what happened to pushpa in the end . i believe that most of u will agree with me that could happen to a girl in any profession .on the story of one girl u can not say that every airhostess ends up staying away from her husband and child. i m working in one of the best airlines in the world and my annual income is much more than what an normal individual would earn in 10 years . i m happily married for last 3 years. and most of my fellow friends have kids as well. in india i believe people have so many misconceptions abt this job.and i read somebody was feeling sorry for what is the job of an airhostess . i would like to tell that apart from serving food and drinks there r so many other things also . like medical emergencies , personally on my flights so many times we saved the lifes of people on my recent one we had a passenger with heart problem, me and my team saved his life .his entire family was so thankful.And last but not least an airhostess is not a dumb person she has to clear 2 to 3 months training and every year we guys go for our refresher airhostess can progress to the level of manager also its not an dead end job .so plz stop sending these stupid posts plz.

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  35. Hello mam my name is preeti iam from utthrakhand and i want to become an airhostess of international airlines but mam my skin is not clear ther is some old nails scar on my face, so mam please guide that what should i have to do, for this iam from a middle class family.

  36. Plenty of companies are hiring fresher & experienced Air-Hostess Jobs in Pune.So Rush to grab your job with attractive salary now.


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