Taking Flight

GCC program prepares students for a travel and service career


Ken Allard

Sharon Lencki holds up a poster from a student thanking her for success in her flight

Could you imagine being paid to travel the world for a living? Going from destination to destination across the globe at an altitude of nearly 30,000 feet and 550 miles per hour, all while learning practical skills and earning a decent living?

There’s no need to imagine, the opportunity is closer than you think.The chance to experience a life of travel and excitement is offered right here at Glendale Community College, through the Flight Attendant and Travel Career program.

This highly coveted program falls under the umbrella of Glendale’s nationally-renowned Aviation Department, which has some of the best professors and access to resources of all colleges in southern California.

“I have international students that come from as far as Japan,” said flight attendant professor Sharon Lencki, who is the head of the program at GCC. About 150 students per year come through the program to get a feel for what the flight attendant profession is like.

The 30-unit certificate program is a series of classes that offers the students in-class instruction, as well as real-world experience in the realm of everything flight attendant-related. This ranges from communication skills, to first-aid techniques, airline reservation systems, and much more.

What makes a program great is typically decided by who is piloting it. The Flight Attendant program at GCC is in the guiding hands of Lencki, a veteran flight attendant who knows exactly what it takes to break into the competitive profession. Lencki is good at what she does, too, earning the Delta Airlines Flight Attendant of the Year award once before.

The former Delta Airlines flight attendant has logged tens of thousands of miles with the company across her career, seeing more of the world during her time with Delta than some people would see across multiple lifetimes. She’s polished, too, adding that a big emphasis of the program is learning about presentation.

All of the classes offered lead up to the internship program portion of the certificate, which is the prized jewel of the department and what ultimately gets Glendale students out of the classroom and into the flight attendant job market.

“Having first-hand knowledge gives you an edge,” said Lencki. “It’s what [airlines] are looking for.”

There are about 120,000 flight attendants currently employed in the United States. The limitless perks and experience gained through the position means that the market sees tens of thousands of applicants per year.

According to Delta Airlines, about 150,000 people applied to be a Delta flight attendant in 2016 alone. Only one percent of those applicants made it through.

“It’s a good living,” Lencki explained, adding that a flight attendant can choose the hours and routes he or she flies. The students in the program, moveover, are “getting internships and jobs,” which makes the Flight Attendant program a great success.


Ken Allard can be reached at [email protected].