Do you dream of becoming a pilot? Or perhaps you are currently working as cabin crew and are wondering if it is possible to make the switch to become an airline pilot. Can ex-cabin crew members make good pilots? Are there easily transferable skills?
In this blog post, with help from our resident cabin crew manager Alissa, alongside Captain Josh, we will take a look at how to make the transition from cabin crew to pilot.
We will also explore how frequently people switch careers, whether there are any airline schemes designed to help with the transition, and what are the benefits of being cabin crew before becoming a pilot?
So, if you are thinking of making the switch from cabin crew to pilot, read on for everything you need to know!
Do many people make the switch from Cabin Crew to Pilot?
Unfortunately, the short answer is no. There are hardly any people who make the switch from cabin crew to pilot.
It’s usually the opposite. In my experience, more pilots end up working as cabin crew, when they have finished their training and are between jobs, than the other way around. Every so often this is actually encouraged by the airlines — BA Cityflyer made headlines after suffering a severe flight attendant shortage after Covid-19, and asking pilots to temporarily retrain to become cabin crew!
Flight attendants switching to become pilots mid-career is such a rare occurrence, crew members making the switch are highly publicised!
However, that doesn’t mean that making the switch is impossible. Cabin crew have successfully switched to become pilots, and there are arguably some advantages to having started your pilot career as a flight attendant first.
Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages…
Crew to pilot: Pros and Cons
So, there are some advantages of being cabin crew before becoming a pilot. But what are the disadvantages?
We hope this overview has given you a better understanding about making the switch from cabin crew to pilot.
The bottom line: Can cabin crew become pilots? It is certainly possible, but it is not easy. There are a few advantages that those who have formerly worked as cabin crew have when applying for pilot jobs, but there are equally many pitfalls.
While the two job roles involve working on the same aircraft, for the same company, very few airlines offer managed pathways, or discounted training schemes to transition from cabin crew to pilot. So, if you are thinking of making the switch, make sure you do your research and understand what is involved before taking the plunge!
This limited pathway between the careers may change in the future. There is a renewed focus on improving the aviation industries gender imbalance, where in 2020 less than 5% of global pilots were female. To address this imbalance, encouraging more cabin crew — where the gender imbalance is completely reversed, and male cabin crew are in the minority — makes sense.
Making it easier for cabin crew to become pilots also makes sense from an airline perspective in general. Flight attendants are motivated: familiar with the industry and lifestyle, aware of aircraft procedures, CRM, and the crew dynamic onboard, and also are a known quantity. Airlines already have an HR file, alongside sickness and training records.
Despite this, the large differences in skill set, alongside the enormous training costs, means that making the switch is not currently a well-established path. It is possible, but it is unusual. However, if you are up for a challenge and have your heart set on becoming a pilot, then go for it!