An airline steward is a male in charge of providing assistance and service to passengers on commercial airlines. The female equivalent of this position is called a stewardess. The safety and security of the customers are typically considered his most important responsibilities. He may work for a small or large airline and fly either domestically or internationally. Since the 1970s, the sexually oriented terms airline steward or stewardess have not been commonly used, as they were replaced by the industry and general population by the asexual term flight attendant.
An hour or two before a flight departs, an airline steward and his co-workers are normally given an overview of the trip by the pilot or captain of the plane. This summary typically includes information on any passengers with special needs, the anticipated weather patterns and flight length. Crew responsibilities and emergency procedures are also customarily reviewed before takeoff.
As the passengers board the aircraft, the airline steward normally stands at the entrance door and greets each traveler. He is usually expected to assist customers with physical challenges or those with small children. Helping with luggage and packages is generally part of his job.
Once all passengers have properly settled into their seats and buckled their seat belts, the airline steward and his associates customarily review the use of emergency equipment with the travelers. During this time, the in-flight crew normally announces the amenities offered on the flight. These typically include food and beverage service and audio and video entertainment options. Passengers are normally reminded of the airline’s restrictions on the use of electronic devices during this time.
Once the craft is airborne, an airline steward is normally expected to keep an eye on the passengers and expediently respond to their needs for refreshments or comfort items, such as blankets or pillows. If a passenger becomes ill, he is regularly required to offer remedies. In the event of a major medical emergency, he may ask for the assistance of medical professionals on board. He may also inform the captain of the emergency.
When the plane reaches its destination, the airline steward usually assists passengers in retrieving overhead baggage. He also typically ensures they take all of their personal belongings with them. As the travelers exit the plane, he frequently provides each of them with thanks for their patronage and warm wishes for their day or evening.
The minimum educational requirement for this position is a high school diploma, although a bachelor’s degree is often preferred. Most airlines require newly hired employees to complete a training program as well. Certification by an airline regulatory commission is often required. Background in customer service or public relations is normally considered an asset for an aspiring airline steward.