A Cabin Crew to Pilot story

If you ask a group of trainee pilots what they did before embarking upon their pilot journey it wouldn’t take long before you came across someone who used to work as cabin crew. This is by no means is a new concept, however, why is it that now more so than ever we are seeing more cabin crew follow the route to the flight deck? We’ve spoken to some former cabin crew who are now pilots to find out more about their journey!


Starting my pilot training was going to be (as it is for many) a huge investment for me. It was something I had always wanted to do but as I hadn’t had any exposure to the aviation industry, I wanted to be sure that I would enjoy the industry lifestyle as much as I would enjoy the flying. One way I saw to do this was to join the industry as cabin crew, travelling around the world but also gaining experience within an airline. 

Looking back at my time as cabin crew I can say that it has helped in so many more ways than just checking to see if I liked the lifestyle. From giving me great examples to use in competency-based interviews to enhancing my understanding of the roles involved in the day-to-day operation of an aircraft (which helped in my APS MCC training). I loved my year and a half as cabin crew and feel that it has left me more prepared and ready to re-enter the industry as an airline pilot!


I’ve known I wanted to be a pilot since I was 15 so when I finished college at 18 I wanted to find a job within the aviation industry to gain some experience whilst I researched my training options. Cabin crew was a path I was extremely interested in as I felt it would provide me with fantastic exposure to the day-to-day running of the operation and also allow me the opportunity to talk to the pilots and visit the flight deck.

I absolutely adored my year working as cabin crew and would recommend it to anyone who is unsure where to begin their pilot journey. The job gave me the amazing opportunity to travel the world, all whilst gaining invaluable knowledge in my future career field and I found the experiences I had as crew lead to enhancing my ability to succeed at a pilot interview as I had a better understanding of the intricacies of the industry.


When you start flying on the line as Cabin Crew, you get to hear the most wonderful stories about people promising themselves ‘I’ll only do it for a year!’, and then the next thing they know they’ve been travelling as Crew for over a decade. Aviation is an addictive industry; who wouldn’t love the thrill of breakfast, lunch and dinner in 3 different international cities? I think this is why it’s not uncommon for Cabin Crew to stay longer than expected, or, even apply to flight school to train as pilots. Getting some exposure to the flight deck, how airline ops work, and a feel for the industry was key for my progression from Cabin Crew to Pilot. It is an absolutely ginormous financial commitment to make, so taking that time to experience the aviation sector gave me the reassurance I needed to make the jump.

I spent 2 years travelling the world as Cabin Crew before I landed my sponsored flight programme, and so many competency and motivational interview questions experienced during my days assessing for flight schools involved my time as Crew. Coming from not a particularly aviation-orientated family, my time taking tea and coffee into the flight deck in the early hours over the Atlantic, or performing the walk-around in a freezing cold Oslo with the First Officer, were my opportunities to gain an insight into becoming a Pilot. 

Besides making the most amazing friends at 37,000ft, being paid to climb Table Mountain, and learning so many life lessons on a jump seat at 3AM, Cabin Crew was completely instrumental in getting me to where I am today; holding a Frozen ATPL license and ready for the Commercial Pilot jobs to get going again!


As Cabin Crew I had one of the most exciting and enjoyable careers in the world, meeting different people and seeing parts of the globe I didn’t even know existed are all memories and experiences that I have brought with me into my training and massively helped with airline preparation.

During my time training as an airline pilot the skills I gained as Cabin Crew were invaluable. From having an awareness of the operational aspects of airline work to being mindful of what your team on ‘both sides of the door’ are up to (Great for CRM!), has all been of benefit to my training giving me some working knowledge of the industry I’m going into.

Sharing my experiences with cadets who had little previous aviation experience has been great fun and hopefully enlightened others as to what the industry is like. I’ve also found that during periods of the intense workload pilot training brings, having an understanding of the fun, enjoyable and friendly career you’re going into is a gentle reminder to yourself of what the end goal is all for helping you push through the difficult times!