Becoming a flight attendant for Korean Air or Asiana

I wanted to share a story I heard recently. I heard it from a friend who I trust but he heard it from someone I’ve never met so it may not be true.

Anyway, the story goes like this: becoming a flight attendant is a big competition in Korea (I believe this part since many English majors I know personally want to become flight attendants) and they attend a special school affiliated with a university and one of the two major Korean airlines where only a certain percentage of them can graduate to become flight attendants.

The main part of the story though is that to get into this school they have an interview in which they are required to scrub all makeup off their faces in front of the interviewers (presumably so they can make sure they hire beautiful young women as flight attendants).

Again, I don’t know that this is true but it is believable as many people who have flown Korean Air and Asiana have commented on how attractive the flight attendants are (especially compared to western airlines).

If you’ve never flown Korean Air or Asiana, here is a little demonstration of the type of flight attendants they choose. I didn’t watch the whole thing as it’s pretty long:

I just want to confirm that these women are probably not just models in the airline uniform. The women you see on the plane are equally attractive.

The fact that they are pretty much all young reminds me of another story a former student told me a long time ago. She said that she would only work for Korean Air (assuming she passed the interview and graduated from the competitive school) until she was 26 because after that the airline would want to move her to ticketing or something to make room for a younger woman on the plane.

Now I don’t know if this is true and on each flight you see at least one woman who is clearly over 26, but it is easy to believe that most of the flight attendants are 26 or less.

It would be easy to say that this is unfair and something should be done. I’m sure some people would suggest not flying an airline until it became clear that hiring practices were fair. However there is a reason my wife and I like flying Korean Air, Asiana, JAL (which seems to hire attractive women as well though more of them seem over 26 if I had to guess). The service is much much better than we get on American Airlines, Continental, Northwest, etc.

So fair or unfair, we’re flying with one of the Asian airlines whenever we get the chance.

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Comments (16)

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  1. Anne says:

    I flew in different airlines, most of them have good appearance to be presentable atleast! not only Korean airlines, as long as they speak English to understand. for thier International Costumer.

  2. Vincent says:

    I’ve heard of several Asian airlines that restrict their hiring policies based on appearance and age.

    I understand the mentality that there should be equal access to opportunities. On the other hand, I question whether the North American perspective is appropriate to impose. These Asian airlines (i.e. Singapore, Korean) seem to be doing something right. On the whole, they are highly profitable, and customer service orientated.

    In other hands, if customers don’t support an airline’s hiring practice, they may opt to use an aliternative supplier!

    Happy flying!

  3. mei mei says:

    i was a flight attendant for asian airlines (not revealing which one!) i was asked to retire at early age and then shifted to ground attendant.

  4. milkshake says:

    i flew korean airlines last year. the flight attendants are attractive (certainly more attractive than the usual attendants i’ve seen in other airlines) and very attentive. after a 20 hour flight, their attitude and appearance was still polished and professional.

    so yes, they are THAT attractive.

  5. James Trotta says:

    Actually one of my students today said he had a cousin who applied to become a flight attendant but I forgot to ask which airline – Korean Air or Asiana I guess. She wasn’t allowed to wear any make up to the interview so there was no need to scrub in front of the interviewers.

    My student didn’t know the exact details but he did say that they judged his cousin’s appearance first.

  6. casey says:

    i think singapore airlines has one of the most attractive flight attendants among all the asian airlines.. very polite and attentive as well. thumbs up!

  7. International Traveler says:

    I flew Korean Airlines from Tokyo to LA today and I was smitten by the beautiful Korean Airline Attendants. They ARE SO BEAUTIFUL and SO ATTENTIVE that I thought I was in heaven. Not only that, but I had to fly coach but they made me feel as though I was flying Business Class — I loved every minute of it and will continue to fly Korean Airlines as often as I can!


  8. James Trotta says:

    I remember going to Korea for the first time when I was 23. I was waiting for my Korean Air flight in JFK and when the flight attendants walked by I was shocked. I thought to myself, “Korea is going to be awesome!”

  9. Dabb says:

    I’ve flown with korean air once from ICN-SIN changi airport and yes i was amazed by their beauty!, it’s not only about appearance but there’s something about them… the way they behave and walk. It was just amazing! They are very customer oriented and make you feel like you’re home…. i loved it even though i had some prob with communication 🙁 otherwise it’s a great airline with gorgeous flight attendants…. i’m a girl by the way haha.

  10. Hongdae says:

    My Girlfriend is extremely beautiful and she happens to be a Korean Air stewardess. First off, you do not have to graduate from a prestigious University or attend a Stewardess College. Women from all kinds of schools are flight attendants at Korean Air. Some who graduate from these flight attendant colleges are hired, but generally speaking, it all depends on your level of English fluency and overall intelligence. When my girlfriend was hired in January of last year, 20,000 girls applied. Only 50 were chosen. From what my girlfriend has told me, only 5 girls in her class graduated from one of these “Stewardess Colleges” and only 6 total were from Seoul National and Yonsei University respectably. So, No, prestige of university does not matter.

    Second. Korean Air wants to hire stewardesses from the ages of 22-25 because they want them to be in the cabin during the peak years of their attractiveness. After which, the idea is that they will all be veterans of the cabin and have a lot of experience working throughout different planes. They then advance to higher positions in the cabin and work in the Galley, the prestige class, and the First class parts of the plane. The younger (22-26) year old stewardesses are regarded to (along with beauty) have more stamina to handle a larger amount of passengers in Economy or business class. So they have a method to their madness. So Yes, they don’t usually hire much older than that unless the applicant has an advanced set of skills and experience to work the cabin because it is not the way they like to do things. It’s their business model..plain and simple..

    Yes, Korean society can be vain, but Korean Air is one of the most (if not the most) desired jobs in Korea. So OF COURSE, Korean Air can be incredibly selective when it comes to their hiring practices, you have to widdle down 20,000 girls somehow!

    And the thing about the makeup is a pretty ridiculous girlfriend laughed when I asked her about it. True, they are all supposed to wear their hair and makeup a certain way, but she never heard of anyone having to scrub their makeup off in the interview. (She thought that was pretty hilarious)

    There you have it…the true story behind Korean Air from a guy who is lucky enough to have an awesome girlfriend. Korean Air is very very complex and hierarchical, I might write a book on how messed up the society is someday…

  11. David says:

    I traveled to and from Korea on Asiana airlines and I was impressed by the quality of the flight attendants and how polite and gregarious they were. That they were all very attractive young women who took their jobs seriously only made it more enjoyable. The lack of political correctness and the focus on appearance and quality of service was a huge plus. By comparison, the average flight attendant on a US airline is surly and disinterested. That they are unionized in the US is very obvious and as a result they simply don’t care how their job performance is perceived by the consumers.

  12. James Trotta says:

    @Hongdae – so your girlfriend was told to wear makeup to the interview, just to wear it a certain way?

    I’ve had many people tell me that makeup is not allowed at these interviews but we may be talking about two different things (the one to get into the school and the one to actually get hired by the airline could have different rules).

  13. Michelle says:

    Hi all,

    Do you any flight attendant’s training or school?

    If it is in Korea it would be great.

    It can be also in US.

    plase help my cousin to fulfill her dream!!

  14. danny kim says:

    i’m flying asiana to dubai from ICN. i never realized that the attendants are that beautiful. maybe because i dont pay much attention to them. i will take a better look when i board the plane in a few days.

  15. Robert Barron says:

    I work in the International terminal at Vancouver airport and see the Korean Air ladies all the time. Not only is their skin absolutely flawless, they are all pretty much the same height. It’s just a measure of how carefully Korean Air manages the face it presents to the public.

  16. […] for women to wear trousers on the job to how important looking good is to work for Asiana (an issue discussed at some length in the comments section on this blog): Lim, who was 23 when she applied for the job, initially was told she too old. […]

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