Sure, flight attendants bring you pretzels. They can also save your life.
Laughter and squeals (and yes, a few excited screams) erupt in this cavernous building on Decatur Boulevard on a recent Tuesday evening. But this isn’t a playground or parkour gym. It’s a high-tech facility where Allegiant Airlines flight attendant trainees are practicing a plane evacuation. All the giggles aside, airline safety training is serious business; flight attendants are schooled in so much more than passing out bags of pretzels and dispensing pillows. In Allegiant’s intensive, five-week course, trainees learn how to stabilize a heart-attack victim, evacuate an aircraft in 90 seconds, defend against physical threats, and more. “They’re the first responders of the sky,” says Jay Lee, director of in-flight training, standards, and compliance for Allegiant. Allegiant employs 1,200 flight attendants, including the 200 it hired this year. All new hires go through this course; after that, they take an annual refresher.
“It was fun, it was intense!” says trainee Kareena Goodwin after performing the slide-jump drill. But her enthusiasm isn’t just from an adrenaline high. Goodwin and her 34 classmates are set to graduate next week and subsequently receive official certification from the FAA.
“I’m just as ready to put out a fire and evacuate an aircraft as I am to pour a Coke,” Goodwin says. “We’re firefighters, we’re doctors, we’re nurses, we’re babysitters. It’s way more than what people think.”