A look at the age limits for cabin crew

Maximum Age Limits for Cabin Crew: How Old Can You Be to Work as a Flight Attendant?

With a reputation for glamour, excitement and the ability to travel across the world, it’s no surprise to see that many people considering switching careers later in life to become cabin crew. I have flown with many flight attendants from a diverse range of previous careers — from teachers, police, and even lawyers!

But if you are considering becoming a flight attendant later on in life, you might be wondering if there are any age limits for applying, or retirement age limits?

Interestingly, age limits vary wildly. While colleagues in the cockpit are forced to retire at 65, in some cases, you may be able to find a job as a flight attendant well into your seventies, while in others you may be forced to retire before you turn 40!

It’s a similar story at the other end of the age range. The legal minimum age for becoming cabin crew, set at 18, is often raised by airlines looking for slightly more experience and maturity in this safety critical role.

This short blog post will take a look at the minimum, and maximum age for becoming cabin crew.

Surprisingly, it’s a controversial subject, and attitudes to flight attendants ages vary considerably around the world.

Qatar CEO Akbar Al Baker famously boasted — and then swiftly apologised — that his cabin crew had an average age of 26, and called American Airlines flight attendants grandmothers!

Minimum age to become cabin crew

The minimum legal age requirement for flight attendants is set by individual aviation regulation authorities. Virtually all global aviation authorities, including the FAA in the USA, EASA in Europe, and the UK’s CAA, set the minimum cabin crew age at 18 years old.

This minimum regulatory age doesn’t stop airlines from adding their own higher minimum age requirements. As a result, the typical minimum age range for cabin crew is between 18-21.

Airline minimum age requirements around the world:

Over 18
Over 20
Over 21

Maximum age limit to become cabin crew

Maximum age limits for cabin crew are where things become controversial.

These vary heavily across the globe, but in general, the most relaxed age restrictions are in the USA, with most major airlines not having any upper age limit on applications or retirement ages.

Europe follows closely behind. Some carriers, such as British Airways, don’t have upper age requirements for applicants or retirement ages.

Others, such as Air France, have no age restrictions on applications but a mandatory retirement age of 65 for flight attendants.

Delta flight attendants don’t have a specified age limit for retirement

Flight attendant age limits are normally the most stringent at airlines based in Asia. Some Indian carriers, such as IndiGo, have an upper age limit of 27 for applicants. Equally, Philippine Airlines have a mandatory retirement age of 40.

In the Middle East, age restrictions aren’t formally defined, and are often slightly less strict than some of their Asian counterparts. However, the big three airlines: Emirates, Etihad and Qatar, have an unofficial policy of not hiring new entrant cabin crew above their mid-30s.

Airlines ranked by cabin crew age restrictions

Far East / Asia

  • Typical hiring age <27
  • Typical retirement age <40

Middle Eastern

  • Typical hiring age <35
  • Typical retirement age <50

European

  • Typical hiring age: N/A
  • Typical retirement age: 65

American

  • Typical hiring age: N/A
  • Typical retirement age: N/A

Am I too old? Check out the oldest flight attendants!

I frequently get asked — Am I too old to become a flight attendant? The good news is, for those in the USA or some parts of Europe, you’re almost certainly not too old!

With no upper age limit, some American and European flight attendants have put in decades of service. Despite their advanced years, they continue to pass all the required safety checks, and seemingly retain that initial passion! Kudos.


Bette Nash — now in her late 80s — has flown for over sixty years. And she still has plenty to give.

90 years

The current oldest flight attendant record goes to Robert Reardon, who retired from Delta in 2014, at the age of 90!

Summary

Minimum and maximum age limits for flight attendants vary considerably throughout the world.

Switching careers later in life to become cabin crew might be rewarding, but it isn’t always possible. Unfortunately, it will heavily depend on the individual airline and country specific norms.

Minimums

  • Minimum age limits have less variation, with the highest minimum age requirement we have seen set at 21 years old, and the youngest at 18.
  • The maximum age limit for becoming cabin crew varies hugely by airline depending on the cultural norms and employment laws

Maximums

  • In western focused airlines, maximum age limits for applying are typically around 55-60 years old. And retirement ages vary between 60-65.
  • Some European and American, airlines have no maximum age limit for flight attendants, with many working into their 70s
  • In Asian and Middle Eastern airlines, upper age limits on cabin crew can be significantly more restrictive than their Western counterparts.
  • Several Asian airlines have a maximum hiring age of around 27, and mandatory retirement ages closer to 40.

Older flight attendants often have a considerable wealth of previous experience and knowledge, which is highly valued by some airlines. So, simply meeting the minimum age requirement does not guarantee you a job as cabin crew.

Pressing the call bell, a debate on age vs safety for flight attendant retirement

Equally, at the upper end of the age range, flight attendants need to ensure they are physically fit enough for the roll.

Whilst service experience counts, the primary role of cabin crew is safety related!

Ultimately, airlines receive thousands of applications from who meet the age requirements, and are often free to be selective in their hiring process.

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Alissa
Alissa

Flyingbynumber’s Resident Senior Flight Attendant — Alissa

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