I would bet most people measure the passing of a year using January to December - culminating in New Year's Eve. For Flight Attendants, our year is measured from the date of our last Recurrent Training to our next year's Recurrent Training. This date is emotionally significant since our expertise as a Flight Attendant is measured and we get to keep our job.
Recently, I completed my 24th Recurrent Training. My 25th SWA Anniversary is this month. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires we requalify each year within the time period of the month before or the month following our date of hire. As confident as we are of our abilities, there is always that thought, "What if I fail my test?"
Have any of you never felt test anxiety? After it is over I am always filled with a feeling of pride in our profession and relief that I am free to move about the country another year! My Flight Attendant Manual is up-to-date; CPR is fresh in my mind;
new FAA mandates, Company policy changes, security checks, new service procedure--committed to memory. I reviewed medical emergencies; operated each piece of equipment; mock evacuated an aircraft. Everything old is new again!
Until this year, we were given a Recurrent Training booklet the month before our training date. We used our F/A Manual as a reference in filling in the blanks, matching, and listing from each chapter in our manual. At the end of each chapter, we would have a review and our big test at the end of our training day came from these questions. Filling out the book took many hours. You didn't want to get caught the night before Recurrent opening it for the first time! During class, we knew in the back of our minds that we had to pass the test with a grade of 90 or above. If we didn't, we had to go through class again and we would be pulled from our trips until we were successful. Simply put, no money.
In the beginning of my career we drove to American Airlines Training Center to practice our evacuation procedures and fight fires. That's where I came off the jump seat shouting my commands, fell and bloodied both knees. I jumped up and kept going. My heart was racing afterward. Now we have our own simulator and everything is done in house.
The computer has replaced filling out a book. Last year we took our test on the computer. This year we went even further by being able to sit in front of our computers at home or on the road, receive instruction and again take our test. Time spent was approximately 6 hours. This was followed by seven hours in the training center. For me this was less stressful.
Thank you Training Department!
When I report for my next trip it will be with renewed confidence and purpose. It is true your Flight Attendants not only care about your comfort but also your lives!