In commercial air transportation, the role of the cabin crew or flight attendants is to ensure the safety and comfort of passengers. Cabin crew workload consists of considerable walking, bending over, heavy lifting and pushing, and dealing with a variety of stressful and sometimes physically dangerous situations in the passenger cabin.
The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) defines a flight attendant serving in Part 121 (air carrier) operations as “an individual, other than a flightcrew member, who is assigned by a certificate holder to duty in an aircraft during flight time and whose duties include activities related to ensuring cabin safety.”
Cabin crew duties include pre-flight, flight and post-flight activities, including the following:
Pre-flight: Participating in a pre-flight briefing, checking emergency and other equipment, monitoring passenger boarding and seating, assisting with the stowage of carry-on luggage, arming doors, and providing the flight crew with appropriate updates and paperwork.
Flight: Providing safety information briefing/demonstration for passengers; enforcing safety rules and other rules and policies; preparing and serving food and drinks; cleaning up and securing the cabin after a meal service; managing in-flight entertainment equipment; answering passenger questions; and communicating as needed with the flight crew.
In addition, flight attendants are responsible for taking action during emergencies, including administering first aid, conducting aircraft evacuations, responding to inflight fires, managing medical emergencies, and handling passengers who threaten the safety of other passengers or who might be unruly or disruptive. They must also be prepared to respond to situations that could threaten the safety of the passengers and the flight, including turbulent air, airplane decompression, and hijackings.
Flight attendants must know the location of emergency exits, fire extinguishers, first aid kits, flotation devices, oxygen masks, and emergency slides, and they must check emergency equipment before flight.
Additionally, they must assess and verify the suitability of passengers who occupy exit seating, brief passengers on safety equipment and evacuation and emergency landing procedures, and ensure compliance with applicable safety and security regulations. (Source: U.S. Federal Aviation Administration Final Rule: Flight Attendant Duty Period Limitations and Rest Requirements)
Post-flight: Disarm doors, aid in passenger disembarkation, checking/preparing cabin for turnaround (depending on operational frequency), reporting discrepancies, reporting to operations.