Business aviation is a dynamic endeavor that requires each member of the aviation team to maintain a fit mind, body and spirit that sustains a healthy work-life balance. Each team member also must pursue a continuing education program that keeps pace with evolving processes and technology.
Given their diverse knowledge and skill requirements – from cabin safety and security to food handling – there is no one way for flight attendants to achieve this goal, said Courtney Benson, a Part 91 flight attendant and a member of the NBAA Flight Attendants Committee. “Ultimately, it depends on your flight department, the scope of its operations, its recurrent training requirements and program, and your schedule and interests.”
“No matter how long I’ve been a flight attendant,” said Risako Suzuki, who’s flown for 20 years and is a member of the Flight Attendants Committee’s Education Subcommittee, “I have to evolve because there is always something new to learn.”
Suzuki keeps herself grounded with exercise and meditation. “We are safety professionals and keeping up with it is part of my job. I also look for training opportunities outside the flight department.” One of them was the TSA self-defense class.
“There are many free classes available,” continued Suzuki, “and don’t forget that NBAA offers a lot of wonderful scholarships.”
In that vein, before international flights, Suzuki looks for available “walking food tours so I can learn about a local specialty that I might be able to share with my passengers and crew. It also gives me some background on local food security.” Earning California’s food handling certificate is the foundation on which she builds new knowledge on ingredients, dietary restrictions, and ways of preparing new menu items.
To perform at her best, Elodie Vidal maintains her work-life balance by “making sure I take time for myself and my husband.” This takes planning and sacrifices, as she is a runner in training for the April 2023 Paris marathon. “I have a running coach, and my life is centered on my dietary and training plan to make sure I stay mentally and physically healthy. Menu prep for my passengers is also planning for myself.”
Given her schedule, Vidal’s continuing education is a combination of reading, including all applicable NBAA information, along with online resources like The CFA Connection and FlightAlly.com. She also takes courses in safety and recurrent training and another at Sajet – two of them thanks to winning NBAA scholarships. To expand her comfort zone and to provide better service, she’s completed an emergency medical technician training course, and after running through Paris, she’s looking at a culinary course.
No matter what program of fitness and continuing education they create, “It’s important for flight attendants to realize that we are not one-man bands,” Benson said. “We are part of a team that includes every member of the flight department, from dispatchers and schedulers to pilots and technicians. We should tap into these resources as needed because no one can know it all.”