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So You Want To Be A Trolley Dolly – Part Three – Surviving Training And Those First Few Weeks In The Air

CONGRATULATIONS you’ve made it through the initial application process, survived the assessment day and been successful in getting a job as cabin crew.

Now there’s just one final but big hurdle to overcome – surviving your initial training and those first few weeks in the air.


You might be feeling pretty confident about your training now you’ve passed the initial selection process. But a word of warning, don’t be too cocky. Many wannabe crew fall at this hurdle, be it from poor time keeping or failing those dreaded exams.

Cabin crew training usually lasts anywhere from three to eight weeks, depending on the airline. You may have to complete some of the course at home before you start. This will include things like aircraft terminology, airport codes etc – be sure to check out our ‘Aviation and Cabin Crew Jargon Explained’ for a little help. Pre-course study saves time on your actual course and shows your commitment to the role, so make sure you complete everything. It will also ease you in to the actual hard bit at the training academy and gives you an idea of what to expect.

New entrant training will be fun, stressful, scary, memorable, difficult and everything else in between. High standards and pass rates are expected and while this time will be tough, it will also be incredibly rewarding.

Some airlines training centers may be away from your actual base, so be prepared to spend a considerable amount of time away from home, family, friends and loved ones. Some airlines may provide accommodation at this time. However, this is usually shared accommodation, so you may find yourself sharing a small hotel room with one of your new colleagues for a number of weeks.

Your course will cover everything from firefighting to First Aid, safety, emergency and standard operating procedures and of course customer service. You’ll learn about the various pieces of safety equipment, how to operate them and their specific locations onboard.

In basic terms, cabin crew initial training covers everything that could go wrong on a flight and how to deal with the various day-to-day situations.

You’ll make life-long friends, friends you may not see until months later running through the airport, or onboard, or in your crew report centre. You’ll quickly catch up relaying stories of the ups and downs you’ve encountered and it’ll be like no time has passed. The camaraderie between cabin crew is amazing. There’s no other industry like it. You’ll form very strong bonds because the only people who can fully understand being cabin crew is cabin crew.

The life of a flight attendant has many ups and downs (pardon the pun), and so does training. Some days you will think how lucky you are to have been blessed with this wonderful job, while others you will wonder why you ever thought becoming crew sounded like a good idea!

A few points about your training to remember –

Take it one day at a time – You will be tired and frustrated and this is totally normal. Breathe, it’s only a few weeks. Don’t be too hard on yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re struggling.

Don’t Take It Lightly – There’s literally thousands of other wannabe trolley dollies ready to replace you if you fail so do your best and give it your all.

Follow the rules – The aviation world is full of rules and regulations, so if you think you’re a bit of a rebel and don’t like following the rules then this probably isn’t the profession for you.

Make friends – Training is intense. You’ll be spending a lot of time with these people so I cannot stress enough how important it is to connect with them. Be supportive through the ups and downs and try to not let yourself be so overwhelmed with studying that you forget to make these important connections.

Avoid drama – Be friendly to everyone. Don’t be cliquey and avoid any drama. Do not be the trouble maker on your course – there’s usually always one. Airlines have no problem getting rid of people they believe will not get along with other flight attendants and passengers once on the line.

Trust the process – You’re not the first and you won’t be the last new crew member to walk through those academy doors and your instructors want to see you succeed, so they will do all they can to help you earn your wings.

Study hard – Whether you’ve been a flight attendant before or just starting out, you need to keep the end goal in mind. Ignore the distractions. Stay focused on what your end result will be – getting your wings and taking to the skies!

Lean on your loved ones – You’ll miss your family and friends like you can’t imagine. But be aware that most of your class probably feels the same way so lean on them for support.

Take it all in – Those days may seem long now, but they will fly past and when it’s all over and done with and you’ve gained your wings and are ready to fly you will look back with great fondness on your training – I know I do, even after all these years.

Most initial cabin crew courses are broken down in to the following sections –

Safety and Emergency Procedures

This is where you learn those all important emergency drills, get to jump down aircraft slides and practice your door operation. This along with first aid is one of the most important and therefore one of the biggest parts of the training.

Safety Equipment

From life rafts to oxygen systems; fire extinguishers, smoke hoods, survival equipment and first aid kits. You will learn how they work, how to use them and where they are located on each aircraft.


Understanding how and why fires start also helps prevention. You will use the firefighting equipment to put out fires and also ‘rescue’ people trapped in a mock cabin filled with smoke.

Wet Drill

This is often the most hated part of your initial training – but it’s also a great time to have a perv on the hot boys in your class in their swim shorts! This is to simulate an emergency landing on water. You must swim with a life jacket and climb into a life raft. Survival techniques in the water will also be covered.

Aviation First Aid

This is an advanced first aid course covering everything from nose bleeds and air sickness to stroke and heart attack. This part of the course is very thorough and you will learn CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), how to use a defibrillator, as well as the medicines and first aid kits available onboard and their usage.

Aircraft Specific

Knowing the layout and locations of equipment and the door operation on each aircraft is crucial. You may have to operate 3 or 4 types of aircraft so it is essential to learn the fine details for each one e.g. Boeing 737, 747, 787 or Airbus A320, A330, A380. There will be an aircraft visit for each type, so that you can be tested on door operation and locate equipment on an actual aircraft.


This covers survival techniques in snow, desert, jungle and sea, for both crew and passengers until rescued.

Crew Resource Management

You will learn about human factors in aviation and how communication and teamwork are so important. Examples of serious incidents will be given and researched, so you can understand how and why accidents happen.

Service Style

Here you will find out how your airline runs their in-flight services and standards in premium cabins such as business or first class. You may also get to enjoy a wine and meal tasting, experiencing for yourself what you’ll be serving your passengers and looking at any cultural differences.

In-flight Retail

You will be learning how to sell products onboard and promote them for maximum profit.


You are now a representative of the airline so have to achieve perfect set grooming standards at all times. In this class, you will find out all the tricks of the trade and how to look your best in uniform.

Other Subjects

Some other areas of the cabin crew role you may cover include manual handling, security, dangerous goods, conflict management and even self-defence!

Some people may drop out of the course and decide it isn’t right for them, some don’t make the grade with exams. Make sure you look after yourself and your colleagues, get plenty of sleep and study hard. The days are long, it is tough and you will feel exhausted. There will be plenty of tears believe me. That’s completely normal at this stressful time and it’ll all be worth it in the end.

And after all those tense and grueling weeks it’s time for your wing ceremony!

Surviving Your First Flight

You’ve earned those shiny wings and are ready to take to the skies. Just one things stands between you and a career in the clouds, your initial supernumerary and check flights.

You’ll probably be feeling a mix of nerves and excitement all rolled in to one as you put on your uniform ready to take your first ever flight.

Supernumerary flights are where you work as an extra crew member onboard an operational flight. It’s when everything you’ve been taught in the classroom finally starts to make sense and it’s being out on-line where you really learn the ropes of being crew. You’ll get to open and close doors, do the safety demo, complete a service – everything you’ll soon be doing without supervision.

Once this is done, many airlines require that you carry out a check-flight where a member of the training department is onboard to ensure that you carry out everything to standard. Don’t worry, the trainer/supervisor will be there to help you.

Every 12 months, you will have to return to training for 2-3 days to do a refresher course, just to keep your knowledge and training up to date. Again you will be tested with both practical and written exams to prove that you are still safe to fly as Cabin Crew.

And there we have it. You’ve made it CONGRATULATIONS you’re a fully fledged Trolley Dolly.

If being cabin crew is your dream follow it, always follow your dreams. You can do it!

Good luck and…..

Be sure to check out our other ‘So You Want To Be A Trolley Dolly’ guides Part One –  Applying and Part Two – The Assessment Day.

And for all the latest cabin crew jobs and even more hints and tips on how to bag your dream job head over to

© by Dan Air

About Confessions of a Trolley Dolly (80 Articles) brought to you by International Gay Trolley Dolly, Dan Air ! Come & join us onboard as we take a peek behind the galley curtain with all your cabin crew & aviation news, galley gossip, glamour & humerous tales of life at 39,000 feet!

3 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. So You Want To Be A Trolley Dolly – Part Two – Assessment Day – Confessions of a Trolley Dolly
  2. 50 Things That Make Cabin Crew Happy! – Confessions of a Trolley Dolly
  3. The Worst Things People Can Do On A Plane – Confessions of a Trolley Dolly

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