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Hospitality & Tourism careers

Passenger Services: Air, Rail, Cruise & Others

Why work in passenger service?

Passenger service careers are actually quite famous. They have featured in hit TV shows, such as the late nineties BBC documentaries, The Cruise (with Jane McDonald of Loose Women fame) and Airport (with that cuddly, bearded chap called Jeremy Spake). The guitar-toting boy band, Busted, even wrote a song about their appreciation for people who work in these careers.

However, there’s so much more to careers in passenger services than what the media has already shown us.

What traits do passenger service staff need?

Passenger service careers are all about providing passengers with comfort, enjoyment and safety when they are getting from A to B. This may be prior to departure, during the period of travel, and upon arrival at the destination.

Careers in this area span a wide range of different travel services, including: air cabin crews, train staff, limousine drivers, and cruise ship, ferry and hovercraft staff.

The core part of these people’s jobs is providing excellent customer service. People who pursue these careers will be friendly, patient and have excellent teamwork and communication skills.

Furthermore, all passenger service staff will need to develop a sound understanding of safety precautions and procedures. They must also have the ability to remain calm in emergency situations, in order to help provide reassurance to the passengers in their care.

Most of the careers in passenger services don’t require specific academic qualifications. However, people who have customer service experience and language skills may be at an advantage.

What do passenger service staff do?

Air cabin crews are perhaps the most well-known passenger service careers. This lot provide a high level of customer service to passengers during their flight; they offer refreshments, sell duty-free goods, answer passenger questions, check safety equipment and communicate important safety information to travellers.

Careers within air cabin crews are often regarded as fairly glamorous jobs, which allow people to jet off all over the world. However, whilst these jobs can often be great fun, they are also a lot of hard work, involve long hours, and the pay is generally quite low. Constantly being on the move can also get quite stressful.

Air travel passenger services are not only confined to in-flight situations. A wealth of jobs are also available within airport passenger services. A person’s journey really begins in the airport, prior to departure. Therefore, customer service at this point is essential for helping passengers to enjoy their whole travel experience. These people guide passengers through the check-in process, direct people to the right gates, and provide assistance for disabled people, children and foreign nationals.

These jobs can be very rewarding, but also challenging. Airport passenger service professionals are the people responsible for dealing with passengers’ problems, issues and queries. Patience, saintly communication skills and a friendly nature are essential for dealing with people who may be angry and irate due to travel complications, such as delays and cancellations.

A range of careers in rail passenger services are dedicated to making sure people have pleasant and safe train journeys. Railway train conductors are responsible for ensuring the safety and comfort of rail passengers. They are also in charge of making announcements, providing assistance to passengers with mobility difficulties, and checking and selling tickets.

These jobs involve a lot of standing and a lot of walking back and forth through the carriages. These chums need to be friendly and have the ability to remain patient when dealing with difficult customers and fare-dodgers! They also need to be trained in emergency and safety procedures.

Other rail passenger service careers include: ticket sellers, buffet car catering staff, and staff who offer information and advice at stations. These personal train-ers (see what we did there) often have to deal with disgruntled customers and keep people informed about delays, changes and cancellations.

Cruises are basically like big hotels that float on water. Understandably therefore, they require bar, restaurant, cleaning, maintenance, reception and entertainment staff. These careers can be extremely fun and rewarding. However, careers on cruise ships are very different to any other passenger service or hotel career. The main reason for this is that you live and work on a large boat. It’s not like you can just pop down the shops on your lunch break!

It’s not uncommon that people who work on cruise ships are out on the high seas for six months at a time without a break. Consequently, people working in these careers need to be passionate about their job, and above all, they need to be able to live and work with the same team all day every day. On a cruise ship there is rarely an opportunity for escape; even staff accommodation is often shared. So if you’re prone to cabin fever then perhaps this wouldn’t be the job for you!

However, other marine passenger service careers are also available on ferries and hovercrafts. Here, staff tend not to stay on their vessels for as long as cruise staff do. Consequently, the many careers available in this environment (i.e. bar, restaurant, customer service and entertainment staff), may offer a slightly less intense alternative.

Limousine drivers simultaneously provide driving and hospitality services. ‘Jeeves’ may even provide passenger services to celebrities, important business professionals and people looking to party in style. They need to be trained in specialist driving skills, and must remain friendly, courteous and polite at all times.

A limo driver’s responsibilities are more than that of a taxi driver and that’s why they fit into this category. To be successful they need to ensure the comfort, safety and entertainment of their passengers. It’s all about providing rock star service, from the moment they pick people up, to the moment they drop them off. Limo drivers might be carrying bags, opening doors and providing refreshments, all the while ensuring the safety of their passengers.

Literally hundreds of thousands of people travel on planes, trains, cruise ships, ferries, and in limos every day, so you can imagine the scope for careers. So, if you fancy helping them all along on their merry way (and we promise it’s not all singing and playing the ukulele or handing people sick bags) in a position where each day is hugely unlikely to be the same as the last, then this may be the one for you.