By Marianela Cartagena

It was 2008, in Viña del Mar, Chile. I had been asked to give an interview at the request by a local newspaper, which was launching its first edition. I walked very confident with the support of my company, MCM Silva consultores -created in June 2005- and my brand new psychologist degree, obtained from the Diego Portales University in September 2003. All this after having worked seven years as a Flight Attendant and another ten years on the ground -the first six years, as secretary of the Operations Management Unit, another as secretary of the Presidency- and three years as head of the Training Department at Lan Chile Airlines.

My answer to one of the questions I was asked was “Reflection and self-knowledge is what helps to be successful.” I said that phrase without imagining that it would be the one that the journalist would choose as the title of the interview and that was an important part, from then on, of the tools that I would emphasize, more and more, in my Business Training workshops and in coaching towards career development and labor reintegration.

Today, thirteen years later, given the crisis due to the Pandemic that Chile and the world are experiencing, I still think the same and when asked to write about “The reason for reflection and self-knowledge is what helps to be successful, for the benefit of caring for the passenger and also the ability to face emergencies”, I could add some strengths and competencies in the cabin crew selection process such as:

  • Assertiveness: Social and communicative ability to express opinions, feelings and wishes to the right person, in the right way, with the right words and at the right time.
  • Effective Communication skills: which include Active Listening and recognition of verbal and non-verbal signals, in the interaction with managers, peers and subordinates, passengers and support personnel on the ground.
  • Resilience to face the challenges of different cultural environments.
  • Recursion: This implies that a person with a developed sense of recursion, when exposed to a series of stimulation-driven or chaotic information, is able to combine the elements and generate a structure between them, to produce a value.
  • Languages: English and other.
  • Good interpersonal and intercultural relationships: Important on international flights to other continents.
  • Leadership and Teamwork: This is because depending on the flight and the experience of the crews, at the last minute when leaving to replace another crew member, it could correspond to assume the role of Head of Cabin and should have the ability to adapt to that position.
  • Physically active person: With physical and mental health above average
  • Proactive: To face emergencies that may arise in flight.

But all of the above a Passion for Commercial Aviation. This motivation is the most important for this profession, because it is a 24/7 job. That is, the Passenger Cabin Crew (TCP) has to be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, strictly complying with the Flight Role, delivered by the company and in the case of Shifts, ready to leave at any time of the day, to any part, for as many days as necessary. This is very physically and mentally demanding position.

All these skills and competencies result in an attention to the passenger who deserves to receive Safety, Well-being and Comfort and that, at the same time, with a lot of dedication and pride in his or her work, so that traveling for free, getting to know the rest of the world and staying in 5 Star hotels, feel like a reward for the work carried out with responsibility and commitment.

Many of these skills and competencies result from a good selection of cabin crew applicants and others can be developed in initial training, in flight experiences or in intermediate training provided by the company.

(*) Marianela Cartagena, is a Psychologist from the Diego Portales University in Santiago de Chile and has had an extensive career in commercial aviation in her country. She can be contacted at