Steward and stewardesses


Stewards/stewardesses perform food and beverage service activities on all land, sea and air travel services.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to steward/stewardess:

flight attendant
cabin crew member

Minimum qualifications

A high school diploma is generally required to work as a steward/stewardess.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Steward/stewardess is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Steward/stewardess career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to steward/stewardess.

flight attendant
ship steward/ship stewardess
train attendant
cabin crew manager
hotel butler

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of steward/stewardess. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of steward/stewardess with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

aviation data communications manager
air traffic controller
aviation safety officer
international forwarding operations coordinator

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of steward/stewardess.

  • Comply with food safety and hygiene: Respect optimal food safety and hygiene during preparation, manufacturing, processing, storage, distribution and delivery of food products.
  • Greet guests: Welcome guests in a friendly manner in a certain place.
  • Handle customer complaints: Administer complaints and negative feedback from customers in order to address concerns and where applicable provide a quick service recovery.
  • Serve food in table service: Provide food at the table whilst maintaining high level of customer service and food safety standards.
  • Maintain customer service: Keep the highest possible customer service and make sure that the customer service is at all times performed in a professional way. Help customers or participants feel at ease and support special requirements.
  • Handle financial transactions: Administer currencies, financial exchange activities, deposits as well as company and voucher payments. Prepare and manage guest accounts and take payments by cash, credit card and debit card.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of steward/stewardess. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Physical parts of the vessel: Detailed knowledge of the different physical components of the vessel. Provide maintenance and care to ensure optimal operations.
  • Airport planning: Know airport planning for different types of aircrafts; use that information to mobilise resources and people in order to handle the aircrafts while they are in the airport.
  • Health and safety measures in transportation: The body of rules, procedures and regulations related to health and safety measures intended to prevent accidents or incidents in transportation.
  • On board hazards: Prevent on board (electrical) hazards and effectively deal with them should they occur; ensure safe embarkation and disembarkation of the vessel.
  • Vessel safety equipment: Gain theoretical and practical knowledge of safety equipment used in vessels, including devices such as lifeboats, life rings, splash doors and fire doors, sprinkler systems, etc. Operate equipment during emergency situations.
  • Air transport law: Know air transport laws and regulations. Due to the nature of aviation, knowledge of air transport laws partially overlaps with knowledge of international law.
  • Common aviation safety regulations: The body of legislation and regulations that apply to the field of civil aviation at regional, national, European and International levels. Understand that regulations aimed at protecting citizens at all times in civil aviation; ensure that operators, citizens, and organisations comply with these rules.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of steward/stewardess. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Check carriages: Check train carriages to ensure cleanliness before the start of a train journey. Ensure that on-board services and entertainment (if any) are functioning as required.
  • Distribute local information materials: Hand out leaflets, maps and tour brochures to visitors with information and tips about local sites, attractions and events.
  • Assist passengers with timetable information: Listen to railway travellers and respond to their inquiries related to train times; read timetables to assist travellers with the planning of a trip. Identify in a timetable when a particular train service is scheduled to depart and arrive at its destination.
  • Communicate verbal instructions: Communicate transparent instructions. Ensure that messages are understood and followed correctly.
  • Oversee guest laundry service: Ensure that guest laundry is collected, cleaned and returned to a high standard and in a timely fashion.
  • Implement marketing strategies: Implement strategies which aim to promote a specific product or service, using the developed marketing strategies.
  • Help to control passenger behaviour during emergency situations: Know how to use life-saving equipment in emergency situations. Provide assistance if leakages, collisions or fires should occur, and support the evacuation of passengers. Know crisis and crowd management, and administer first aid on board.
  • Facilitate safe disembarkation of passengers: Assist passengers when they leave the vessel, aircraft, train, or other mode of transport. Keep the safety measures and procedures in mind.
  • Provide first aid: Administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation or first aid in order to provide help to a sick or injured person until they receive more complete medical treatment.
  • Give instructions to staff: Give instructions to subordinates by employing various communication techniques. Adjust communication style to the target audience in order to convey instructions as intended.
  • Maintain relationship with customers: Build a lasting and meaningful relationship with customers in order to ensure satisfaction and fidelity by providing accurate and friendly advice and support, by delivering quality products and services and by supplying after-sales information and service.
  • Act reliably: Proceed in a way that one can be relied on or depended on.
  • Deal with challenging work conditions: Deal with challenging circumstances in which to perform work, such as night work, shift work, and atypical working conditions.
  • Upsell products: Persuade customers to buy additional or more expensive products.
  • Execute flight plans: Listen to the briefing given by the captain or the crew manager; understand service requirements and apply the commissioned tasks in an appropriate manner.
  • Use riverspeak to communicate: Use Riverspeak to communicate in technical and nautical terms.
  • Use different communication channels: Make use of various types of communication channels such as verbal, handwritten, digital and telephonic communication with the purpose of constructing and sharing ideas or information.
  • Manage the customer experience: Monitor, create and oversee customer experience and perception of brand and service. Ensure pleasant customer experience, treat customers in a cordial and courteous manner.
  • Assist passengers in emergency situations: Assist train passengers in emergency situations, following specific procedures to ensure their safety; minimise the damage that unexpected situations may cause.
  • Service rooms: Offer room service and, where appropriate, service public areas, including cleaning surfaces, bathrooms, replacing linen and towels and restocking guest items.
  • Communicate reports provided by passengers: Transmit information provided by passengers to superiors. Interpret passenger claims and follow up requests.
  • Identify customer’s needs: Use appropriate questions and active listening in order to identify customer expectations, desires and requirements according to product and services.
  • Check passenger tickets: Check passenger tickets and boarding passes upon entrance. Greet passengers and direct them to their seats or cabins.
  • Perform small vessel safety procedures: Implement emergency measures of health care to sick and injured on board, according to established procedures to minimise potential injuries or illnesses.
  • Apply transportation management concepts: Apply transport industry management concepts in order to improve transportation processes, reduce waste, increase efficiency, and improve schedule preparation.
  • Show intercultural awareness: Show sensibility towards cultural differences by taking actions which facilitate positive interaction between international organisations, between groups or individuals of different cultures, and to promote integration in a community.
  • Deliver outstanding service: Provide outstanding customer service by exceeding customer expectations; establish reputation as an exceptional service provider.
  • Manage lost and found articles: Make sure that all articles or objects lost are identified and that the owners get them back in their possession.
  • Prepare mixed beverages: Make a range of mixed alcoholic drinks, such as cocktails and long drinks and non-alcoholic drinks according to the recipes.
  • Provide information to passengers: Provide passengers with correct information in a polite and efficient manner; use proper etiquette to assist physically challenged travellers.
  • Inspect cabin service equipment: Inspect cabin service equipment, such as trolleys and catering equipment, and safety equipment such as life jackets, inflatable life rafts, first-aid kits, skiff emergency packs, emergency flashlights, and hand-held radios. Record inspections in logbooks.
  • Conduct full-scale emergency plan exercises: Conduct and mobilise all efforts, support organisations, resources, and communications within the airport, to carry out prevention plan exercises in order to prepare and train airport personnel for real-life emergency situations.
  • Handle stressful situations: Deal with and manage highly stressful situations in the workplace by following adequate procedures, communicating in a quiet and effective manner, and remaining level-headed when taking decisions.
  • Demonstrate emergency procedures: Provide information on and demonstrate emergency procedures to passengers. Explain the use of emergency equipment and direct passengers to the nearest emergency exits.
  • Assist clients with special needs: Aid clients with special needs following relevant guidelines and special standards. Recognise their needs and accurately respond to them if needed.
  • Sell souvenirs: Exchange souvenirs for money by displaying them in an attractive way and communicating with customers.
  • Implement sales strategies: Carry out the plan to gain competitive advantage on the market by positioning the company’s brand or product and by targeting the right audience to sell this brand or product to.
  • Prepare simple meals on board: Prepare simple meals using healthy ingredients; work hygienically.
  • Prepare flight reports: Prepare reports showing flight departure and arrival locations, passenger ticket numbers, food and drink inventories, condition of cabin equipment, and potential problems encountered by passengers.
  • Read stowage plans: Read and comprehend content of stowage plans; basic knowledge of how to stow various types of cargo.
  • Handle veterinary emergencies: Handle unforeseen incidents concerning animals and circumstances which call for urgent action in an appropriate professional manner.
  • Have computer literacy: Utilise computers, IT equipment and modern day technology in an efficient way.
  • Tolerate stress: Maintain a temperate mental state and effective performance under pressure or adverse circumstances.
  • Carry out pre-flight duties: Check on-board safety equipment; ensure that the plane is clean; ensure that documents in the seat pockets are up to date; check if all meals and other required stock are on board.
  • Be friendly to passengers: Engage with passengers according to the expectations of contemporary social behaviour, the specific situation, and the code of conduct of the organisation. Communicate in a polite and clear way.
  • Assist passenger embarkation: Assist passengers when they embark vessels, aircraft, trains and other modes of transport. Keep safety measures and procedures in mind.
  • Answer questions about the train transport service: Respond to all questions customers may have about the transportation services on a train. The conductor should posses a broad range of knowledge on fares, schedules, train services, passwords or web services, etc.
  • Maintain stock supplies for guest cabin: Keep supplies of toiletries, towels, bedding, linens and manage supplies meant for guest cabins.
  • Perform services in a flexible manner: Adapt service approach when circumstances change.
  • Process customer orders: Handle orders placed by customers. Receive the customer order and define a list of requirements, a working process, and a time frame. Execute the work as planned.
  • Provide food and beverages: Provide people with food and drink during trip, a flight, an event, or any other occurrence.
  • Maintain vessel safety and emergency equipment: Maintain and inspect all safety and emergency equipment such as life jackets, inflatable life rafts, flares, EPIRB, first-aid kits, AED, skiff emergency packs, emergency flashlights, and hand-held radios. Ensure that safety equipment is organised, available for emergency use, and re-stocked as necessary. Record inspection of the equipment in appropriate logbooks.
  • Handle guest luggage: Manage, pack, unpack and store guest luggage on request.
  • Perform routine flight operations checks: Perform checks before and during flight: conduct pre-flight and in-flight inspections of aircraft performance, route and fuel usage, runway availability, airspace restrictions, etc.
  • Follow verbal instructions: Have the ability to follow spoken instructions received from colleagues. Strive to understand and clarify what is being requested.
  • Analyse work-related written reports: Read and comprehend job-related reports, analyse the content of reports and apply findings to daily work operations.

ISCO group and title

5111 – Travel attendants and travel stewards

  1. Steward/stewardess – ESCO
  2. Featured image: Photo by Mohammad Arrahmanur on Unsplash
Last updated on November 3, 2022

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