At first glance, a career as part of an air crew seems to be pretty glamorous, traveling all over the world, meeting interesting people, and being at work where many people go for vacation. There is a trade-off, however, and air crews also face a lot of unique challenges in their work. If your dream is to join an air crew, whether that means being a pilot, flight officer, or a flight attendant, be aware of the challenges ahead and be prepared to handle them to keep the satisfaction level higher than the stress level to avoid burnout.
Stress comes from many angles as an air crew employee. You will have unusual hours, eternal jet lag from constantly changing time zones, and limited time at home that all amplify personal stress that might exist. Even when the crew is off duty, they may be stuck in a hotel in the middle of nowhere with little to do. Even when you are not at work, you are going to feel like you are because of the innate restrictions that come from the job and travel. Each of these factors can compound and wear down on a person, causing a higher level of job stress than an average worker in other industries. Shift workers are known to have difficulty with sleep schedules, and as an air crew member, you not only face the most unusual work hours, but the added inconsistency from day to day that make it even more significant.
Fortunately, there are some methods to help mitigate these challenges and help maintain mental stability in an ever-changing work environment. Anxiety and stress can be reduced with exercise, making it easier to sleep and offering a good distraction. This is convenient because even most hotels have a small fitness center, giving the option to exercise at least most of the time. Naturally, you will tend to socialize with your coworkers because it is easier than trying to make new friends every single night. This is a great way to build team spirit and blow off steam after a hard day because they truly do understand the issues you have. They have the same issues! If you consume alcohol, be careful not to drink too much if you do not have a long recovery time before your next scheduled work, as alcohol does create higher stress on the body that translates to less energy and more mental exhaustion as well. Just consider it like any regular job and plan accordingly based on what you know you have to do the next day. A final tactic to eliminate stress is to help your coworkers as much as possible and they will return the favor. If everyone does a little bit, then nobody gets stuck with an unfair amount of work, keeping the playing field level and morale higher.
All jobs have their challenges, but some are more unique. Being a member of a flight crew can give you many experiences that the average person will not get to have, but you must be prepared for the understandably unique working environment. Come in with the right mindset, and you will set yourself up for success.