Training for High-Altitude Service

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el-vaquero-staff-writer/" class="creditline">JUDITH GHOUGASSIAN
El Vaquero Staff Writer

Picture traveling around the world, meeting new and unfamiliar faces and entering a field of endless opportunities all in a course of a day. GCC’s Flight Attendant and Travel Careers Program offers just this, by providing certificate flight attendant courses to students interested in pursuing a career in travel. The courses are CSU transferable and provide various job opportunities for students who may not be interested in attending four-year universities.

“It’s kind of a rare program,” said Scott Rubke, chair of the Aviation Department.

In fact, GCC remains one of the few community colleges offering students the program. The courses educate students about the travel industry, teach fundamental travel safety and first aid techniques, communication skills, and airline reservation systems. The certificate program has seven required courses, which students must take along with taking a minimum of 12 other prerequisite courses.

The beginning flight attending and advanced flight attending courses, airline transportation, travel career and in-flight training courses are instructed by Sharon Lencki, an experienced flight attendant of 14 years who has also remained an active professor on campus for 20 years.

“This program has an excellent reputation,” said Lencki, who wrote, developed and created the program. “The training gives you such a new perspective on life.”

After the students complete their certification courses, the top students in the program are offered internships and job interviews with airlines such as United Airlines. Once students are hired, after an extensive interviewing process, they must undergo six to eight weeks of training with the airline.

“There’s certain things they [the airlines] are looking for,” said Lencki. “I want them to go in as prepared as possible.”

The program has many international students who travel from countries such as Japan, Korea and the Philippines to take the courses at GCC and become certified to travel back home and work for international airlines.

When asked what she enjoys most about the field of flight attending, student Sunny Ramos responded, “The opportunity to travel and meet different people and cultures.” She has taken three of the flight attending courses and plans to continue with the program. There are approximately 200 students in the program, and among them, student Hitomi Ishihara will be completing her final course in the program and will be traveling back to Japan in July to pursue a career in flight attending.

“I want to protect the passengers,” said Ishihara. “I also want to meet new people and expand my horizons.”

Flight attendants have various responsibilities, however, their main job is to make sure passengers are informed of safety precautions and know the evacuation process in case of emergency. The courses offered are what give students the special training they need for this particular part of their job, for example, the training in first aid techniques, in case of injuries. The attendants also provide the passengers with the many services they may need, which may include beverages and helping passengers be as comfortable as possible.

“I love the contact with people,” said Lencki. “I find that everyday is different.” Lencki is currently the head flight attendant for Delta Airlines and was also voted Employee of the Month.

Due to the security changes after Sept 11, Lencki’s students are unable to attend the field trips previous students in the program were able to experience. For example, past students took a trip to the Burbank Towers and United Airlines.

Although field trips have been cut drastically, some opportunities still remain available for students in the program. On May 26, students in Lencki’s career class attended a “Dress for Success” event at Glendale Galleria’s Nordstrom. The students were dressed in professional attire to become accustomed with the way they will be dressing as future flight attendants. Also, they had their make-up done by Bobby Brown; a well-known make-up artist.

Along with learning the strict dress code policies for flight attendants, Lencki also emphasizes to students the differences between two types of attendants: corporate and commercial flight attendants. Although, most of her students will move on to receive job opportunities as commercial flight attendants, she responded.

“I want them to understand and know the difference between the two.” Commercial flight attendants interact and serve anywhere from 18 to 20 people. Whereas corporate flight attendants may work for movie stars and private jets and serve anywhere from one to five people.

In the near future, Lencki’s students will be traveling to Seattle, Wash. for the “Boeing Tour” where they will be given the opportunity to tour an aircraft plant and witness how airplanes are created.

“You can never get enough knowledge,” said Lencki. “It’s a very different, but exciting, world and I love it.”