When a flight attendant is called for, only a Part 135 certified flight attendant will do. But if what is needed is a personal assistant–someone who can cook, provide medical assistance, manage trip schedules, sit in as a fourth at bridge, and keep a couple of small children occupied–only a trained cabin assistant from SkyAngels will do, says company founder and president Steffany Kisling.
After spending three years as a corporate flight attendant, Kisling said, “I realized that while business or private jet passengers or owners might request a flight attendant, what they often expect is much more, and many flight attendants are ill prepared to meet that expectation.”
The first SkyAngels training program was held in June 2010 and Kisling immediately began “pounding the pavement and knocking on doors to get the graduates flying as part of the employee placement service.”
Kisling refuses to use the term “flight attendant” for her SkyAngels team, preferring the term cabin hostesses. “The term flight attendant,” she told AIN, “is reserved for people who have completed the specific training curriculum set by the FAA for Part 135 operators. We consider ourselves personal assistants, because we are trained to accommodate the requests of our clients well beyond what a flight attendant would expect.” However, she and some other SkyAngels are also certified flight attendants.
She emphasized, however, “When placing one of our sky hostesses, we do not represent our employees as flight attendants.”
Each candidate goes through a four-part interview process before being invited to attend the SkyAngels training program. A tuition charge, said Kisling, ensures that they have a serious commitment to their own success and dedication as a member of SkyAngels.
One SkyAngel cabin hostess graduate now works for a private jet owner, seeing that the aircraft galley is stocked and the cabin prepped and ready for flight any time. “She knows what the owners and their friends prefer and ensures it’s always available,” Kisling said.
Another cabin hostess recently found herself scheduled on a flight to Hawaii. While there, said Kisling, she visited restaurants and arranged for an authentic Hawaiian meal to be served on the way home. “The passengers loved it and it cost considerably less than the typical order from a business aviation caterer.”
Kisling herself recently had a flight with a family and spent much of her in-flight time keeping the children amused. “When expected, we interact with the passengers in a manner appropriate. Some passengers are traveling and alone and simply enjoy the company; others may want a fourth for bridge.”
Los Angeles-based SkyAngels is currently filling a new training class, which she limits to no more than about six candidates. Those who successfully complete the course become exclusive employees of SkyAngels.
As for salaries, Kisling said, “It’s competitive–more than some flight attendants are paid and less than others.” An advantage is that SkyAngels takes care of all the necessary paperwork, from tax withholding and unemployment insurance to bringing each cabin hostess under the client’s general liability umbrella.
“The business is growing and expanding beyond the West Coast. My employees are happy, my clients are happy, and I’m happy,” said Kisling.