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There's a lot more to being a flight attendant than serving passengers food and drinks: in fact, airlines look for very specific attributes when hiring flight attendants.

We took a look at a Quora thread that asks, "What are airlines looking for in flight attendants?"

Here's what we learned:

Candidates must be able to keep passengers safe.

According to Marisa Garcia, an aviation industry writer who has worked in the industry for over 20 years, "universally the first priority is to ensure that cabin crew can perform their primary duties as safety personnel."

Garcia refers to flight attendants as "safety professionals," and says that they must be trained in how to save lives, how to handle in-flight medical emergencies and cabin fires, and how to properly evacuate an aircraft.

She also says that this training is continuous, and that in order to keep their jobs, flight attendants must be able to pass regular safety drills.

Physical appearance still plays a big role.

An anonymous Quora user who claims to have been a flight attendant for the past two years says, "'Appearance,' while not as overtly used as a focus at American carriers as at some non-American carriers, is definitely a part of the recruiting process."

The user rates herself a four out of 10 on a scale of attractiveness (10 being the most attractive), and says that while she has multiple college degrees, and customer service and managerial experience, none of the four airlines she interviewed with before receiving her current position offered her a job.

"Once the visual component is thrown into the analysis, this usually ends my interview process," the user says. She says that if airlines are forced to choose between candidates who have the same skills, they'll go with the more conventionally attractive candidate.

How you carry yourself makes a difference.

Nuralia Mazlan, who's been a flight attendant for two major airlines, says that she once had the chance to ask a recruiter why she was hired.

"Unbeknownst to me, the recruiters note how we carry ourselves from the moment we enter the interview room, to the moment they end the interview session. In fact, they asked the guys who took our height and weight measurement to see if we interact well with them," Mazlan says.

She says that flight attendants come into contact with people from all walks of life, and therefore need to exhibit finesse and good people skills.

Also, note the fact that her height and weight were measured, which leads back to the point on appearance.

Some other attributes airlines look for:

Besides the specifics listed above, Garcia says there are a few other general qualities airlines look for in the personalities of their flight attendants:

  • intelligence
  • patience
  • resourcefulness
  • the ability to be gracious, yet assertive
  • resilience