Stewardess and Steward

Published: Wednesday, 09 December 2015 12:34


Helen LOUNGAM is a flight attendant and instructor. She has reached the summit in her field of work and here talks of the wealth embedded in the cabin crew profession CCP also known as hostess or steward.

Can you tell us about the profession of air-flight attendant, what it is exactly?

Hélène LOUNGAM: The air hostess or steward(when it’s a male) is a staff member whose presence on board an aircraft linked to the transportation of passengers. In the cargo planes, there are neither hostesses nor stewards.

In fact, the International Civil Aviation Organization ICAO requires that all airlines carrying passengers to have on board aircraft, Cabin Crew Personnel (CCP), who under the lead of the Captain ensures the safety of passengers during flights. Their numbers vary, depending on the number of passengers and / or the type of flights / aircraft.

Bearing that inmind,airline companies have decided to entrust some  personnel with commercial responsibilities in order to ensure the comfort of passengers on board and to offer them various services,which will eventuallymitigate stress associated withflights, hospitality, entertainment, onboard sales etc.

You Mentioned security / Safety measures earlier?
H. L.: Though invisible at first sight, it is the main function of the (CCP). It is compulsoryto master the rules and procedures  regarding safety / rescue / first aid / safety and implement them on board as soon as possible , especially in the context of the prevention of accident on board , in in case of emergency evacuation (land and sea), to passengers onboard. Their mission is therefore to ensure the survival of passengers on the plane and searching for help. CCP also provides the first aid and medication to sick passengers within the limits of their ability.CCP is even known to have delivered a pregnant woman on board

What about the sale function?
H. L.: Regarding sales, CCP is the last link in the passenger processing chain. Being in direct contact with passengers sometimes for long hours, the CCP is the staff on which the edge of the Commander on board relies on behalf of the company to retain customers and possibly compensate the various inconveniences that the passengersmight have undergone on ground (delays, difficulties of all kinds for registration, boarding etc.).
As security matters are governed internationally by the ICAO in a manner similar or comparableto all companies; it is often during onboard services that most companies concentrate to make the difference.
Safety, rescue and sales services are therefore the main function of theCCP. It’s essentially about   teamworkin a relatively small plane cabin. The main quality required when it comes to passenger relations includes the fact that coworkers are rigorous, sense of organization, sense of contact and communication.

What are the Steps to follow in order to become an air hostess?

H. L.: Recruitment criteria differ from one company to the other. With Cameroon is, the selection conducted in several eliminatory steps.

Eligible candidates:

- Be 26 years or more;

- Hold a bachelor's degree in a related field;

- Meet up with some physical standard appearance;

- Be in good physical and mental health;

- Know how to swim;

-Pass a written test in general knowledge

- Succeed in an interview before a jury.

After this selection, the candidates undergo the following training process:

- A commercial ground training;

- A Technical training on ground to prepare for the examination onCertificate of Safety/ Rescue (C.S.S.);this is a state diploma which grants permission to exercise the profession in Cameroon and which is defined international standards;

- A National theory exam on C.S.S.

- Practical training to prepare for the CSS practical exam;

- CSS practical examination in an authorized center (thatis currently being certified by the CCAA);

- 60 hours of flight to validate the C.S.S. (Without any links to issues related to security tasks).

The CCPis certified, before being allowed to operateon a plane, once certified he/she must undergo a prior training called type rating, in which he/she will learn to know and master the safety equipments of the airplane in which he/she is called to work. This course will be repeated when there is any new airplane. In general, a CCPdoes not longer fly more than three different types of aircraft.

Are there training schools in Cameroon?

H. L.: In Cameroon, the training center in Douala is being certified. It trains the Cabin Crewcandidate’sright up to theC.S.S theoretical exams. Theoretical examination is organized by the Cameroon Civil Aviation Authority (CCAA). Practical training for trainees of Cameroon Airlines is usually done in France with Air France or at the ISFA (Institute of Aeronautical Training, partner of Air France) specialized center, or at UNIFORM'PN.

Are there other training centers for young people who would like a career in this field?
H. L.: For sure, there are schools in France and around the worldthat prepare the theoretical and practical examinations of C.S.S. However, care must be taken to ensure that these centers are recognized by the Cameroon Civil Aviation Authority.

What are the advantages and constraints of this profession?
H. L.: The benefits of this profession often go together with constraints. One being the flip side of the other. The job will build your personality to be strong, give you a sense of responsibility and inculcate a spirit of initiative making you want to do all tasks.You will finish up by acquiring that autonomy, an independencewhich pushes you to act without considering the opinion of those around you, thereby creating a source of frustration. This professioncauses you to develop rigorous disposition so much so that, if you are not careful, you will tend to be convinced that perfection can be attained in this world.

You mentioned travel; it is undeniably one of the best schools of life. The profession permits you to meet different types of people, different cultures and different social strata. Your travels around the world are organized by the company, you lodge in hotels with accredited safety.

Yet the frequency of these trips also weakens your family ties. You need to feel that closeness towards your loved ones, but they suffer from your regular absence. Things are often easier for one who leaves than for the one who waits. You gain abroad mind, a versatility training, especially when you have climbed the professional ladder as you can then work easily in any other profession provided you change. The CCP is a staff that airlines find difficult to partwith for as they saying often goes, "a good player never lacks a team”.

What advice would you give to those who want to becomesteward or stewardess?
H. L.:To first of all forget about the preconceived negative ideas about the profession. Youmake of your life what you want it to become. This is a very structured profession in which one can easily build a career.Are you dynamic, brave, andhave a healthy lifestyle, friendly and you trust people if they were your guests?, then you will do a good CCP.

 Can you tell us about your personal experience?

H. L.: I raninto this profession by chance in 1973, just after my “A” levels. Cameroon had just left the Air Afrique and we saw our friends from high school who were working in this young national company, Cameroon Airlines that had been created a year earlier. As a child, I had already been dreaming of adventure, travel and conquering the world, but I noticed that such tendencies to leave school would not please my parents; so I wrote the exams and passed the test without their knowledge. They were informed only a few days before I left for my training at Air France in Paris. I don’t think they were disappointed with the career path I chose. Neither am I.

I discovered a job that leads to a lot of things, a profession in which one carries out meaningful tasks. That is how after my promotion as senior cabin crew, and main cabin crew manager; I reached the peak of my career as an instructor, a function I held since 1994. It is a position that gives me great joyas I transmit my experience to younger colleagues, a job in which I had the privilege of participating in the development of national legislation on the profession of CCP under the auspices of the CCAA.

Josué Manfred NGOM