SA flight attendants could learn a few tips from their international counterparts. Picture: Pixabay.
SA flight attendants could learn a few tips from their international counterparts. Picture: Pixabay.

5 things SA flight attendants can learn from their international counterparts

By Clinton Moodley Time of article published Nov 20, 2019

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Flight attendants: you either love them or hate them.

Some are the sweetest human beings you would ever meet others are quite the opposite. I noticed that some of the crew on a domestic flight I went on recently were rude and not attentive.

On another flight, the crew spent more time chatting with each other than doing their job. If this is the standard on some of our domestic carriers, I struggle to fathom how these attendants would be on a long haul flight.

Here are 5 things South African flight attendants can learn from their international counterparts:

Friendly and politeness goes a long way 

It's refreshing to see cabin crew being friendly and polite. I know it's their job, but some of them take it to the next level. 

South African crew should adopt the same characteristics. I find that some of them don't take their jobs seriously. Judging by their demeanour, it feels like they don't want to be there. Their body language paints a different picture of what their wide smile showcases.

Local attendants should adopt the basic level of politeness, even if it is a smile. 

Respect the passenger even if they are unruly 

Some passengers feel entitled and can be troublesome on a flight attendant. However, every passenger, irrespective of their bad behaviour, should be treated with respect and dignity. 

I found that some international flight attendants go beyond the call of duty to ensure that their passenger is well-taken care off, even if they had one too many glasses of wine. Most of the time, passengers react negatively due to the tone of the flight attendant.  

Moral of the story: treat every passenger like royalty. 

Exceed expectations 

When a passenger steps out of a flight, they should be blown away by the airline’s service. I remember leaving many domestic flights unsatisfied with the level of service I received. 

It was more “I am never flying this airline again” rather than “I will be back.”

Flight attendants should exceed expectations- even if it is asking passengers if they want a glass of water or any other item to make their flight comfortable. The passengers will thank you for it. 

Excellent communication skills 

Most international airline staff know more than one language, which comes in handy when dealing with people who speak other languages. While South African airline staff communicate in English, having excellent communication skills enhances the experience. 

It also works with interactions with guests. For example, a good flight attendant would be able to calm a nervous flyer or turn a sad passenger into a happy one. 


Being attentive is a trait every flight attendant should possess. Many international flight attendants research the type of guests that will fly with them. They use that details to personalise services. 

For example, one passenger may have an anxiety issue, while another may be pregnant. While guests need to communicate that to the airline, flight attendants need to also pick up on it by being attentive to their passengers. Small gestures make a big difference. 

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