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Bilingual F/A's On US International Flights  
User currently offlineWDBRR From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 611 posts, RR: 0
Posted (6 years 6 months 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 5347 times:

I know with all the US airlines expanding globally today, that most
of the F/A's are bilingual in the language of the country they are
flying to. What about in the 1960's and 1970's when most of the
passengers were Americans, were most of the F/A's bilingual too?
Was everything at that time announced in both languages?

38 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineMats From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 632 posts, RR: 1
Reply 1, posted (6 years 6 months 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 5332 times:

I can only speak for the early 1980s aboard Pan Am and TWA. Yes, those flights had "speakers" on board, and announcements were in both languages.

I wouldn't say that most passengers were Americans. Although the "home" market predominated, passengers from overseas certainly flew Pan Am and TWA.

In the early 1990s, Pan Am even had Japanese announcements between Los Angeles and Honolulu. I don't know if that was my particular crew, or if they did that every time.

Earlier this year, I flew Northwest from Detroit to Paris/CDG. Those flights did not carry any speakers. Recorded announcements and the food menu were bilingual; everything else was English only.


User currently offlineMayaviaERJ190 From Mexico, joined Jan 2008, 314 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (6 years 6 months 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 5335 times:

Are you dreaming? Hardly ever. At least not out of MEX or ACA, on WA, BN, EA, PA, AA and TI which I got to fly on back then. Maybe because of the proximity, Mexico was not considered SUCH a foreign destination and to the best of my memory, only one F/A per crew was required to speak Spanish, from which all, I hardly ever recall hearing one or two going on the PAS.

That is Western, Braniff, Eastern, Panam, American and Texas International (edited for adding the airlines matching the old IATA codes).

[Edited 2008-03-29 05:51:02]


My other plane is an A380.
User currently offlinePanHAM From Germany, joined May 2005, 9436 posts, RR: 29
Reply 3, posted (6 years 6 months 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 5191 times:

I cannot remember a single T/A flight with PA or TW which did not have at least one German speaking F/A, usually there were 3-4 around. PanAm had a good number of German flight attendants as did TWA. Many remember Uli Derrickson who did an outstanding job during that hi-jacking.

I have good memory of a TWA F/A greeting passengers boarding a FRA bound 747 at JFK. I was sitting close by in the last row of F, she was standing there,looking at the names and switching from English to German and vv, even Arabic, when an Arab family named of Habib entered the a/c, telling them that she lived for a while in the Middle East.



.



E's passed on! That parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker!
User currently offlineSW733 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 6330 posts, RR: 9
Reply 4, posted (6 years 6 months 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 5142 times:

From my experience, there us often one person who can at least make the announcements and answer basic questions, and I have seen this in many cases - UA from MUC, AA to/from FCO and BRU, DL from CDG and even US from FRA. However, only once or twice have I come across a truly fluent F/A, and that was UA to DUS back when they did that route to/from ORD on the 767's.

User currently offlineDocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 19786 posts, RR: 59
Reply 5, posted (6 years 6 months 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 5074 times:



Quoting Mats (Reply 1):
Earlier this year, I flew Northwest from Detroit to Paris/CDG. Those flights did not carry any speakers. Recorded announcements and the food menu were bilingual; everything else was English only.

Well, yes, but that's French. That's not an important language. They all should learn to speak English, anyway.  Wink  duck 


User currently offlineL1011Lover From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 989 posts, RR: 14
Reply 6, posted (6 years 6 months 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 4823 times:

I've never been on a transatlantic flight without any language qualified FA on a US carrier. Even on my UA flights I took between LHR and JFK (which are not language flights of course) there were language speakers. Naturally because many European nationals are based out of LHR.

Actually many of the language qualified FA's we find today on US carriers were hired back in the 60's and 70's.

Both Pan Am and TWA hired tons of foreign nationals in order to have multicultural, cosmopolitan and multi language qualified crews.

PA and TW held interviews in major European and Asian cities.

TWA for instance opened up a crew base in Paris in the 1960's and Pan Am hired foreign nationals then sponsored them a US work permit and transferred them to their US crew bases. All of these FA's then easily qualified for green cards.

Both TWA and Pan Am flew so many international routes to so many foreign, exotic places that they desperately needed language qualified FA's and back in the 60's and 70's they would have never been able to hire that many language speakers solely in the United States. So they hired abroad.

While TWA abandoned their Paris base, Pan Am set up a FA base in LHR in 1970 and many of the former US based FA's transferred there to be closer to home for an easy commute. Others stayed in the US.

Pan Am hired FA's in and from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands... etc.

Many of these FA's continue to work for DL and UA.

Then in the 1980's PA also began hiring FA's in Poland and India and set up crew bases there.

Shortly before Pan Am went bust the majority of their LHR based FA's got on with United with the transfer of LHR route authorities, while their JFK based crews and the foreign FA's in India and Poland were taken over by Delta in 1991.

This is how DL and UA gained many of their language speakers. However others were original Delta or United hires and either Americans who spoke a foreign language or already in possession of a valid green card.

United during the 1990's also began hiring in Europe as they set up new bases in CDG and FRA. These are mostly non green card FA's and they're all based out of Europe.

Northwest for a while had inflight interpreters based in Europe... they were FA qualified but did not have a FA contract... they were called IFSR In-Flight Service Representatives. They got rid of them after 9/11.

Other carriers such as US and CO solely hire in the US (as all other carriers do now) and you need a valid US passport or green card in order to apply.

Delta just recently hired a lot of language speakers for their international expansion.

Best regards

L1011Lover


User currently offlineDocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 19786 posts, RR: 59
Reply 7, posted (6 years 6 months 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 4803 times:

Anyone know what is the certification process for becoming language-certified?

User currently offlineXtoler From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 953 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (6 years 6 months 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 4755 times:

It does depend on the carrier if you have to speak more than one language. I've always wondered this too, why it seems if I'm on a foreign carrier seems like the entire cabin crew knows English, but here in the US, especially this day and age, good luck on getting a bilingual other than Spanish. I was just a regional F/A so all I had to know was Southern and Yankee. Luckily my mom's originally from upstate NY, so I could translate for some of my Southern peers. Just kidding.

While I was in high school back in the '80's we were required to take a second language. Most people took Spanish, I had to be different and took German. I didn't learn crap until I actually got to Germany 3 years later and lived there for a while. Believe me, as an F/A I've come across a lot of German travellers, especially on some of my flights in the midwest. Most speak English anyway, but it's great to converse auf Deutcsh once in a while. The biggest language barrier I had was with some of our Asian pax. I actually had an in-flight emergency dealing with an elderly Chinese passenger flying alone and he could not speak English. I didn't have too much of a clue what was going on, but had to bust out the O2 and all the medical supplies we had on board, including the "jumper cables". Luckily it happened on take-off, and we were able to land back at STL pretty quick. Scared me sh!tless, and I just wonder, would it have gone even better if I could speak Chinese? The dude lived as far as I know. On that note, emergency medical training every year does com in handy!



EMB145 F/A, F/E, J41 F/A, F/E, because my wife clipped my wings, armchair captain
User currently offlineUN_B732 From United States of America, joined Jul 2001, 4289 posts, RR: 4
Reply 9, posted (6 years 6 months 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 4751 times:

I flew NW on DTW-CDG. It was interesting. The GAs at DTW spoke French, however I didn't notice any F/As in Coach speaking French.

On DL JFK-SVO it seems they always carry 2 or 3 Russian speaking FAs, in both coach and up front and make Russian announcements. Same with FRA, they had German speakers and german announcements. AA on JFK-ZRH was in English / French / German, though some announcements were just made in English and German.

-A



What now?
User currently offlineMats From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 632 posts, RR: 1
Reply 10, posted (6 years 6 months 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 4731 times:

Yes, I should have pointed out that the gate agent in Detroit was a native French-speaker.

The multilingual flights are interesting. I have flown Delta and Sabena from JFK to Brussels. Announcements were in English, French, and Flemish (the safety video on Delta--at that time--was announced in Spanish and English.)

On Continental and Delta, announcements for flights to Israel are made in English, Arabic, and Hebrew. On Continental, the safety video is presented in all three languages. There are Hebrew-speaking cabin crew on both airlines.


User currently offlineXtoler From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 953 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (6 years 6 months 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 4697 times:



Quoting UN_B732 (Reply 9):
The GAs at DTW spoke French,

Well, Windsor, Canada is right across the way, so it makes sense for someone to speak French. Then again, Windsor isn't Quebec, is it? I did a lot of PIT-DTW-PIT flights, with my overnights in DTW and now that I think aboot it most of the Kanuks I met spoke English. Now that I think about it, why not have French speaking F/A's on the way to MSY for our Cajun folks. My Redneck goes only so far.



EMB145 F/A, F/E, J41 F/A, F/E, because my wife clipped my wings, armchair captain
User currently offlineUSFlyer MSP From United States of America, joined May 2000, 2125 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (6 years 6 months 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 4664 times:

I recently flew NW DTW-MEX and their were no spanish-speaking FA's although there were spanish-speaking GA's. Maybe its a NW thing.

User currently offlineL1011Lover From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 989 posts, RR: 14
Reply 13, posted (6 years 6 months 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 4533 times:



Quoting USFlyer MSP (Reply 12):
I recently flew NW DTW-MEX and their were no spanish-speaking FA's although there were spanish-speaking GA's. Maybe its a NW thing.

I know I'll get flamed for this, but US to Mexico is not really an "international" flight. Sure it crosses the border and therefore it's technically international... but still think of the high daily frequency af the rather short flights from the US to Mexico. It would be nearly impossible to assign one Spanish speaking FA to every US to Mexico flight. So I highly doubt this is a NW thing.

It's the same thing with let's say LH's flights from FRA to CDG or SVO... sometimes passenges board the flight and seem to be surprised, sometimes even disappointed or even worse angry because there is no French or Russian speaking FA... but come on people... how should that work... it can't!!! It's not possible to assign one language qualified FA on every single flight an airline operates to a foreign language destination... particularly when said destination is only a short hop from the airlines home country.

So the focus is definitely on LONGHAUL INTERNATIONAL flights. And actually this is where language speakers are much more needed than on a 2 hour flight down to Mexico... plus English is the world language and I'm sure the majority of people on such routes understand at least a bit... if not, then they are to blame and not the airline.

I once told a young French couple that I expect them to speak at least a little bit of English (not even German) when travelling with LH from Germany to the US. I definitely don't expect the 80 year old French or German lady visiting family in the US to speak English, but people in their mid 20's??? Absolutely! That said, I don't expect anybody to speak fluent English, but at least try to communicate basically... it's the world language! It's mostly a question of "do I want to" not "am I able to do it", and still if you really feel you don't wanna learn or speak at least some English you always have the option of taking your own airline.

Germans may fly LH, the French may take AF and Mexicans can fly on Mexicana or AeroMexico... RIGHT???  Wink

Again, the focus is rightfully on longhaul flights, not the short hops.

Best regards

L1011Lover


User currently offlineUAL747 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (6 years 6 months 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 4522 times:

I believe that Airlines require that there be at least ONE flight attendant speaking the language of the origin AND destination. Announcements have always been made in both languages on all of my international flights.

You aren't going to find that many domestic bi-lingual staff on US airlines simply because English, while not the official language of the US (we don't have one), but it's spoken so widely across the US that it really isn't necessary. But you often see airlines from Europe and Asia that speak English because like it or not, it IS the "World" language of choice in the grand scheme of things.

BTW, I flew on Korean Air from DFW-ICN-PEK and on the ICN-PEK flight, the flight announcements were made in Korean, Mandarin, and English. Out of the entire 777-300 on that flight, I think I was the only white person, the rest Asian.

UAL


User currently offlineSW733 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 6330 posts, RR: 9
Reply 15, posted (6 years 6 months 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 4462 times:



Quoting Mats (Reply 10):
The multilingual flights are interesting. I have flown Delta and Sabena from JFK to Brussels. Announcements were in English, French, and Flemish (the safety video on Delta--at that time--was announced in Spanish and English.)

I think my favorite thing is when I take Eurostar between London and Brussels...English, French, Dutch and German. Not a plane, but pretty cool to hear.


User currently offlineLO231 From Belgium, joined Sep 2004, 2392 posts, RR: 23
Reply 16, posted (6 years 6 months 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 4447 times:



Quoting WDBRR (Thread starter):
What about in the 1960's and 1970's when most of the
passengers were Americans,

I don't think MOST of the passengers were American.

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 5):
Well, yes, but that's French. That's not an important language. They all should learn to speak English, anyway

I know and hope you are joking, but still... SIGH.  Smile



Got both LO 788 frames already, next LO E95 and 734 BRU-WAW-BRU
User currently offlineLudavid777 From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 206 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (6 years 6 months 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 4412 times:



Quoting L1011Lover (Reply 13):
but come on people... how should that work... it can't!!! It's not possible to assign one language qualified FA on every single flight an airline operates to a foreign language destination... particularly when said destination is only a short hop from the airlines home country.

Continental has a speaker on all it's international flights... All Mexico flights (which out of IAH are sometimes less than an hour flight) are required to have one speaker, except for Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos, Cancun, and Acapulco; which are predominantly American vacation spots... then all flighs south of Mexico are required to have 2 speakers min, and any widebody has to have a minimum of 3 language speakers.

FYI Northwest does not have language speakers for any routes with the exception of Asia flights; this decision is mostly due to cost.


User currently offlineLO231 From Belgium, joined Sep 2004, 2392 posts, RR: 23
Reply 18, posted (6 years 6 months 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 4360 times:

Most of the European airlines havz foreign speakers on board, but then , some of Europen countries are multilingual.. (Belgium, Switzerland..) I know that on LOT you're required: Polish, English, (German or French), one extra EU-language additional will be a plus for a job interview......


Got both LO 788 frames already, next LO E95 and 734 BRU-WAW-BRU
User currently offlineCentrair From Japan, joined Jan 2005, 3598 posts, RR: 20
Reply 19, posted (6 years 6 months 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 4249 times:

I have never had Japanese speaking American F/A on NW between the US and Japan. I have never had any Japanese F/A either. But there are Japanese "In-flight service staff". They do not serve meals or work a section of the plane but deal with Japanese nationals onboard. There were two on my last flight (DTW-NGO). When I flew NGO-NRT back in December there were no Japanese national staff on board but there was a Japanese speaking F/A. I wonder if they were GUM, SPN, or US based.

Back in the 1990s when I flew UA on ORD-CDG, there were a few French speaking F/A. They were speaking french with other pax and serving food and drink.



Yes...I am not a KIX fan. Let's Japanese Aviation!
User currently offlineBartonsayswhat From Canada, joined Oct 2007, 434 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (6 years 6 months 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 4128 times:

Surprised no one has mentioned Canada yet, being bilingual. Everything is by federal law required to be in both english and french, everything from the safety announcement to the nutritional value data on the package of pretzels. even say between Calgary (YYC) and Edmonton (YEG) (probably the two least french cities in the country?) every sign on the plane and every sign at the airport will be both in english and french

User currently offlineOrion737 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (6 years 6 months 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 4124 times:

Do any US carriers employ cabin staff who can speak proper English, like the Queen?

User currently offlinePanamair From United States of America, joined Oct 2001, 4913 posts, RR: 25
Reply 22, posted (6 years 6 months 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 3931 times:
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Quoting Orion737 (Reply 21):
Do any US carriers employ cabin staff who can speak proper English, like the Queen?

Yes, some former Pan Amers now at either Delta or United - Pan Am had quite a few who spoke the uppity starchy English you're asking about.

Quoting SW733 (Reply 15):
think my favorite thing is when I take Eurostar between London and Brussels...English, French, Dutch and German. Not a plane, but pretty cool to hear.

Then you should probably try LX's flight from ZRH to GRU and SCL: German, French, English, Spanish, and Portuguese!


User currently offlineConcordeBoy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (6 years 6 months 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 3750 times:



Quoting Xtoler (Reply 11):
Now that I think about it, why not have French speaking F/A's on the way to MSY for our Cajun folks.

Probably because the state's French/Cajun culture is centered around its southwest (LFT) not southeast (MSY).

Quoting Xtoler (Reply 11):
My Redneck goes only so far.

...but your ignorance apparently knows no bounds.


User currently offlineHZ747300 From Hong Kong, joined Mar 2004, 1680 posts, RR: 1
Reply 24, posted (6 years 6 months 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 3731 times:
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I was on a UA from LHR to JFK a few years ago and the announcement was made in American English. However, during the announcement, they mentioned that of the 12 or so FAs they spoke 17 languages among them. I like UA, because they wear the flags of the primary countries for which languages they speak. For example, on the HKG/SIN run, the FAs wear the China flag, not Singaporean.

When I was an airline brat, years ago, based in Saudi Arabia, Pan Am flew from Daharan to JFK. I remember thinking it was odd to not have the announcements in Arabic. Funny enough though, the flight crew for Saudia then(now Saudi Ararabian), much like the flight crew on Cathay & Dragonair today, do not speak the local language of their home base.



Keep on truckin'...
25 L1011Lover : United operates a FA base in LHR and they have quite a large number of British FA's based there.
26 Viscount724 : That probably dates from UA's purchase of Pan Am's LHR routes as PA also had a LHR FA base. The minimum requirement for LX flight attendants is Germa
27 Post contains images Mpoellot : I remember a flight from Guatemala City to Los Angeles in the late 1980s on Pan Am. You didn't see too many Europeans on this route -- in fact, I was
28 Ogre727 : I remember flying American from JFK to CCS in 1993, and the flight attendants spoke no Spanish and were very rude to the passengers who didn't speak a
29 Luv2fly : Yes you can usually spot them right away as the only duty they have to perform is the handing out of the boiled sweets.
30 WorldTraveler : That will change when DL and NW merge. Speaking the language of your passengers - or even your potential passengers - is a huge sign of respect.... a
31 Cubsrule : The level of language competence, however, is often quite low on DL. Maybe it's just my experience, but I hear far, far worse attempts at foreign lan
32 L1011Lover : Well on almost every flight between Germany and the US, DL has German speakers on board... the majority speaks the language quite well and they're of
33 Cubsrule : The old PA base no doubt helps with German; my bad experiences are with French and Spanish.
34 AAJFKSJUBKLYN : Flight Attendents period hate to fly to CCS..especially American ones....When they get them on their bid awards they do everything to dump them or tr
35 Post contains images EWRCabincrew : Not with CO. CCS tends to be a popular trip. Nice hotel, productive trip, commutable on both ends. CO sends at least one Spanish speaker to most of i
36 Crs6482 : I've flown COEx from IAH-BJX and IAH-MTY. Both outbound and return flights had blingual FAs. Not sure if this is indicative of all COEx flights to Mex
37 L1011Lover : It's good that CO sends one Spanish speaker to most of it's Latin destinations... Spanish speakers however are not that hard to come by in the US...
38 Cubsrule : NW has a surprising number of NYC-based native Spanish speakers (mostly, though not exclusively, Mexicans in my experience).
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