As the number of flights between China and the US increases, US airlines are looking to hire more Chinese speaking flight attendants to better serve their customers. American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and United Airlines are among the US carriers seeking flight attendants fluent in Chinese.
Some of the airlines have held hiring events or recruited Chinese-speaking attendants. ”Recruitment continues for flight attendant candidates who speak Chinese Mandarin and Cantonese,” said Paul Flaningan, the senior manager of corporate communications at American Airlines. “In 2013, we brought on board 33 candidates who speak these languages and in support of our recent service expansion, we have hired an additional 73 flight attendants in 2014 who speak Chinese Mandarin or Cantonese.”
Delta Airlines created the Language of Destination (LOD) program, which includes flight attendants who speak a foreign language so they can communicate with customers in their preferred language, said Kate Modolo, a representative from corporate communications at Delta. ”It’s unique because it gives us the flexibility of having one or three native language speakers on board on our international flights,” said Modolo. “The destination, capacity of the aircraft, and passport holder data for our customers determines the number of LOD speakers on board. For example, if there are a large number of Chinese passport holders, then we would have three LOD attendants on board. In some leisure markets in the US if the majority of passport holders are American, then we would have maybe one LOD speaker on board.” Modolo said that when Delta has a hiring program, they take a look at where they’re flying and the number of LOD flight attendants. If the company experiences an increase in flights to China, then it may need to add more Mandarin speakers during the hiring process.
Karen May, spokesperson for United Airlines, said that as a global airline, the carrier looks for flight attendants who speak the languages that reflect their customer base to offer the best in-flight experience. United has hosted three recruiting events that targeted hiring Chinese speaking flight attendants this past year and it required the candidates be fluent in English and Chinese, according to the World Journal. The requirements to be a flight attendant differ for each airline, however most airlines require a high school diploma or GED equivalent, US citizenship, a specific height requirement, fluency in English, and are at least 21 years old. The majority of the flight attendants do not speak a second language, said Curt Armstrong, the president of the Flight Academy, a flight attendant training school.
“It’s a plus if the flight attendants are able to speak a second language,” said Armstrong. “98 percent of our flight attendants don’t speak a second language. If they can speak another language, then we can play up on that for when they apply.” Armstrong also said that his school trained a Chinese speaking flight attendant who was recently hired by American Airlines and will begin training in October.
For China Daily