Shawn Patrick From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 2608 posts, RR: 16 Posted (13 years 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 1328 times:
When you work in an industry such as the airline industry, which sends people across many international borders, it is obviously a plus for employees to have foreign-languages capabilities. So are there incentives for employees who can break language barriers?
Patroni From Luxembourg, joined Aug 1999, 1403 posts, RR: 13
Reply 1, posted (13 years 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 1312 times:
as far as I know - at least speaking for Europe - the knowledge of at least (!) two languages is mandatory at most if not all airlines, especially if you work in customer contact. So there is not really a "bonus", it is rather expected.
I assume however that in the US this might be totally different.
Flyua From United States of America, joined Mar 2001, 321 posts, RR: 6
Reply 3, posted (13 years 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 1301 times:
My short answer: heck yeah!
My ability to speak a second language was my foot in the door at United. During 1996 it was a requirement that all new Flight Attendant applicants speak enough of a foreign language to pass a Berlitz "level 3" interview (conversational level). This requirement was relaxed during a period in the late '90s when United was on a "hiring binge."
While many new Flight Attendants do speak a foreign language, I do feel more could be done to encourage them to actually -use- it! This has been a sticky issue for both management and the union, though. In a contract proposal back in '96 United had hoped to increase the number of Flight Attendant/Interpreters per widebody jet from 2 to 4, but many senior Flight Attendants who weren't language-qualified did not like this amendment as this would decrease their chances to work on the higher pay international runs. The proposal was removed from our current contract.
United did increase the hourly bonus pay for language speakers, though: it's currently (a measly) $1.75, which can add up to around $1500 per year if the Flight Attendant works exclusively in that "language position." On select domestic flights such as SFO-MCO, LAX-LAS, JFK-MIA, or IAD-MSY we are offered "language incentive pay." While a tiny hourly bonus, it is a perk for any Flight Attendant who speaks, say, Japanese on the LAX-LAS flight that connects to the NRT nonstop. On one SFO-LAS flight a while back we had a 737 with about 95 of 100 seats filled with Japanese tourists. Not a rare sight in SFO or LAX, actually!
I wish United could increase compensation for bilingual Flight Attendants and increase the minimum number of Interpreters per flight, but those changes will be hard-fought, I believe. Also, I wish we could increase the number of bilingual customer service reps in the hub airports (I believe those reps are paid a small bonus, as well) and improve airport signage. I don't think we could ever do enough for either our foreign customer base -or- our bilingual staff, and I fear we never will....
Shawn Patrick From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 2608 posts, RR: 16
Reply 4, posted (13 years 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 1288 times:
Flyua, I agree with everything you have said.
I think AA is doing a great job keeping their staff largely billingual, especially gate agents/customer service reps. When I was in MCO, every agent I saw was billingual (mostly english/spanish). There was even somebody speaking arabic! MCO isn't a huge hub of theirs, either.
I also think that compensation should be higher for billingual employees. Much higher. It is not easy to attain fluency in any language and to get in touch with another culture, especially Asian languages/cultures.
While it may be a stretch, I think that those who are dilligent enough to study another language and attain fluency may be the type of people who are able/willing to put great effort into their work as an airline employee as well. What do you think?
LH423 From Canada, joined Jul 1999, 6501 posts, RR: 53
Reply 8, posted (13 years 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 1262 times:
I do not believe so. I think that since most ATC is done in English, and cabin announcements are not mandatory, and even still, unless it's in the rare country like Switzerland or Canada, that has more than one national language, the pilot usually is already speaking the language of the majority on the plane. I think that in those said exceptions are an added bonus to one's résumé, but in almost no case does it put one in a disqualifying disadvantage for a job in the cockpit.
« On ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux » Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Artsyman From United States of America, joined Feb 2001, 4745 posts, RR: 33
Reply 11, posted (13 years 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 1251 times:
Continental encourages flight attendants to study a second language, and offers various perks to those who do take it up, including various leaves of absence to study.
International flight attendants that work as a french speaker for example get extra pay per hour, and due to the need for speakers on these routes, it also helps the employee ability to hold a line. For example, right now in HTA at Continental, There are 17 year employees on reserve, and speakers with only 8 years holding International lines