Flight Attendants Transitioning from Commercial to Business Aviation


by Susan C. Friedenberg – President & CEO – Corporate Flight Attendant Training & Global Consulting Services. Opinions expressed are solely her own and do not express the views or opinions of BizJetJobs.com.

Becoming a corporate flight attendant is a wonderful transition from commercial aviation to an exciting and ever-growing industry called Business Aviation. It is a fabulous new career for you in aviation. It is a sophisticated and savvy environment that can provide one with a wonderful opportunity to travel all over the world with the people that
make the world go around and contribute at high levels to the global markets.

At times it might “feel” like being a corporate flight attendant is a paid vacation, but trust me, it is not. It is very hard work, and each trip offers new and exciting challenges. Being a corporate flight attendant is a process of continually reinventing oneself. I have been in the business aviation industry for 34 years, and I can honestly say that there is not a trip that I fly, that I have not learned something new about my passengers, service, catering, and managing the back of a $35-$65 million-dollar aircraft. Being a corporate flight attendant is a profound and rewarding experience.

The commercial flight attendant experience that you have is something you will never forget and will always cherish. But trust me, being a corporate flight attendant is very different. It is literally apples to oranges! As a child it was probably your dream to become a flight attendant. I can remember when I was accepted to fly for American Airlines and how excited I was. My dream had come to fruition. I was flying all over the world and I literally “grew up” on airplanes with profound interactions with my passengers and great dialogue with people from all over the world. It was a dream come true!

When the second airline that I flew for, (Capitol Air) went out of business, I discovered Business Aviation immediately, and made the transition with many mistakes, and learned by trial and error. In today’s world, there is no time for errors from the moment you are called to cover a trip and step onto that aircraft until it blocks back in. Not knowing
what to do and how to do it is not an option. Chief F/A’s and Aviation Managers do not have the time to train people.

It is out of my experience of “breaking” into an industry that had no training classes except for one company back then (FACTS) that only taught “corporate specific” emergency and first aid training that I created this training program, Corporate Flight Attendant Training, in 1999. It is a training that will provide you with all the answers to
all of the questions that I, and my many colleagues that are now Chief Flight Attendants, full time flight attendants and contract flight attendants for Fortune 500 Companies and Charter Operations had no answers to many years ago. We all learned the hard way. As I tell my students continually, BEING BANISHED IS NOT AN OPTION. You must get it
right! You must “know” the job and how to do it expeditiously.

It is very important for you to know that commercial and corporate flying hold nothing in common other than safety is first and foremost. Most corporate flight departments will not put people on their aircraft without corporate specific egress training.

There is a need for really good contract flight attendants in our industry. There are also full time corporate flight attendant positions that open up on a regular basis when flight departments expand or purchase new equipment that would facilitate a third crew member or one of their full time flight attendants leaves. The salaries differ depending on where you live in the United States. That applies to full time and contract pay and benefits.

So, if you are serious about this industry, do it in an educated, informed and professional manner. You only get one chance to break into this industry right, and your first time on a corporate aircraft might be the last chance and impression you create in terms of our specific job related duties and being asked back. Believe me, this is an industry totally unlike commercial aviation.

In our training I always say, “You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know.” ~~ You Only Get One Chance To Make A Great First Impression! ~~ In Life You Are Only As Good As The Chances You Take!

If you’re thinking about transitioning to a career as a corporate flight attendant, I wish you the best of luck. If you are a person that has been furloughed or downsized by a commercial airline or flew for a Part 91/135 operation and lost your position, just know that everything happens for a reason. Trust the process.