Can medical conditions prevent people from being cabin crew?

Unlike many jobs, the candidate must pass (and pass) a medical examination before becoming a cabin crew member. This is usually before joining a new airline, working in another country or renewing a current medical certificate. The rules are set by the aviation authorities and some countries have a five-year validity period for each crew member’s medical certificate. The medical examination must prove that the crew member is free from physical or mental illness that may affect their ability to carry out their safety duties and responsibilities.


First steps

The candidate will complete a medical form informing him of any medical history, medications taken or any surgery. The aero-medical examiner will then assess the candidate for “fit to fly” status. Things such as posture, movement, height, and weight are observed. Pulse and blood pressure are checked as well as lung function and neurology. The abdomen is checked for any abnormalities. The examination also takes into account the medical history.

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cabin crew

Photo: TUI

More testing

A urine sample is taken to check for any undiagnosed conditions. Vision and hearing tests are carried out. Dental records are also often requested. ECG tests to monitor heart rhythm are often also part of the medical. Vaccination records will be reviewed and the candidate may need to take more before flying.

Conditions

In general, it is quite difficult to get a cabin crew role if you are medically unfit in any way. It is however the case. more acceptable in Western countries to play a role if a condition is well managed, such as migraine, asthma or high blood pressure. You must report at any time during your career if you have an illness or injury, surgery, prescribed/non-prescribed medication and a decline in your physical or mental fitness. Pregnancy, vision correction and hospital admission should also be reported, as the “fit to fly” status may have changed.

qatar airways cabin crew

Photo: Qatar Airways

Middle East

Rules regarding medical examinations are even stricter in the Middle East, often due to the fact that cabin crew must apply for a residency visa. This involves a blood test that checks for various diseases, including HIV and hepatitis B. A chest x-ray is also needed to check for any signs of tuberculosis.

Any history of mental illness and use of antidepressants is not accepted for cabin crew. Scoliosis >30 is not accepted by most Middle Eastern airlines, nor are skin conditions or scars. Aspiring cabin crew members are also subjected to drug testing and sometimes alcohol testing to discover any drug addiction issues. Speech defects are not accepted. Any candidate suffering from anemia, epilepsy, diabetes or otherwise will not be considered fit to fly.

Security environment

In general, being “fit to fly” is the most important thing, especially in a safety-critical environment. Working at altitude has an effect on the body, as does lifting heavy equipment. Therefore, you need to be quite physically fit. Additionally, work pressure, irregular sleeping patterns, and jet lag can cause problems if someone is not mentally and physically fit. Since cabin crew are responsible for the safety of passengers in an emergency situation, it is important that the crew member be medically assessed to verify their capabilities for such actions.