Customer service for prospective cabin crew

Reading is of course one of the best passive methods of improving your English. We’re always pleased to see English language books suitable for non-native speakers, particularly when they are directly relevant to airline careers. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Cathay Pacific’s Inflight Services Training & Development had published a book about principles of good service.

Service in the Sky is a nicely presented 267 page paperback, bilingual in English and Chinese, with English on the left and Chinese translation on the right hand page. The language is simple and appropriate for most English learners in Hong Kong.

What’s the book about? CUSTOMER SERVICE!

Of the 267 pages, 233 of them are about customer service, with the remainder being brief insights into Cathay’s training courses and the experiences of trainees. This is a good balance, as Hong Kong desperately needs better standards of service a lot more than it needs a gauge of interview questions for prospective flight attendants to memorise for their upcoming interview.  If you are looking for interview questions you won’t find them in this book but you might develop some insight into the kind of attitude that flight attendants should have.

Through reading the book you will become aware of how important cultural and linguistic awareness is for cabin crew, and see examples of how flight attendants have either got it right, or got it wrong. There are 24 such stories and they are very easy to read and digest. Interestingly CX is rarely mentioned by name, but the stories are accompanied by pictures that make the book seem a little too like a corporate brochure at times.

The sections on training and recruitment are not particularly developed, (and don’t really need to be). One major omission in my opinion is the lack of focus on cabin crew’s role in safety/security. This might be a reflection of cultural differences between US/European and Asian carriers – since 9/11 flight attendants in the United States have had a far more assertive role when it comes to onboard security. In this book the focus is firmly on service.  Perhaps “Safety in the Skies” wil be  the follow up title.

The best way to get hired as a flight attendant

Can reading this book help you get a job as a flight attendant?  Well, it’s a lot more valuable than those tacky “flight attendant interview preparation” courses you might have seen.  My advice is that if you want to get a job as a flight attendant you should improve your service skills and improve your English.  The HR department will want to hear about how you have provided good service and solved unexpected difficulties in the past.  If you think your English level is good enough you might be surprised when you are told that it isn’t up to scratch.  The truth is that a lot of flight attendants have only very basic English when they are hired and they are supposed to improve their English during their career.  If you are not sure about your oral English level take an assessment test with us first and find out what you need to improve.

Further reading for cabin crew careers

If you have good English comprehension skills you should also consider reading the excellent Singapore Airlines “Flying High in a Competitive Industry”, Joseph Michelli’s “The Starbucks Experience” and Patrick Smith’s “Ask the Pilot”. These books will also give you a strong awareness of customer service in an aviation environment, plus the latter teaches a few technical things about flying too.

Cathay also acknowledges the work of customer service guru Ron Kaufman, who has certainly had a great influence on how Aviation English Asia Ltd deliver service to clients. Kaufman’s book “UP Your Service!” is again highly recommended. You can find both of these titles in our online bookshop.

Improve your English and your soft skills

Of course, if you are a prospective flight attendant or a flight attendant wanting to improve your English and soft skills for the kind of situations described in “Service In the Sky” you can take the In-flight English or Social English courses developed by Aviation English Asia. These will give you thorough practice of essential language skills, making you more effective in your job and in your social life. To find out more please visit :

What to do next

For feedback and more information about Aviation English Asia’s courses please visit  We can help you improve your English whether you are an experienced pilot, a cadet entry pilot, a controller, aerospace engineer or flight attendant, with custom courses designed specifically for your needs.  If you haven’t already please join the Aviation English mailing list for instant access to free demonstration units of the ICAO Aviation English Online course, special offers and details of courses in your area.

Of course, feel free to leave a comment or even a suggestion for a future article.  We value all of your feedback.

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