Flight Attending Not So Great a Job, Maybe?

You know all that preflight time where we’re cramming bags into overhead bins? None of that shows up in our paychecks. Flight attendants get paid for “flight hours only.” Translation: The clock doesn’t start until the craft pushes away from the gate. Flight delays, cancellations, and layovers affect us just as much as they do passengers—maybe even more.

Airlines aren’t completely heartless, though. From the time we sign in at the airport until the plane slides back into the gate at our home base, we get an expense allowance of $1.50 an hour. It’s not much, but it helps pay the rent.

Did you know this? WOW. Also: Flight attendants start out making between $14,000 and $18,000 a year, and average $30,000 to $40,000 a year.

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7 Comments / Post A Comment

other perks include working with pilots, a notoriously misogynistic and entitled bunch

i have heard so many flight attendant horror stories, i really don’t know what the appeal is. I understand that eventually you get seniority and long flights but how can they make money on the 1.5-3 hr flights that make up a huge chunk of airline schedules?

bookworm (#481)

@redheaded&crazy You do several of those flights a day, sometimes combined into trips that last several days. You get a base salary plus flight time as well.

highjump (#39)

What do you mean? I thought airline unions were out of control and uber powerful?! /sarcasm

I remember reading a story a long time ago (I want to say it was maybe even in VICE?) about how flight attendants all live in these crowded shared apartments in Queens and whatnot. I think people basically do it for the travel and the days off.

bookworm (#481)

@stuffisthings Kew Gardens = Crew Gardens. I lived in Forest Hills while I was doing it, 5 people in a 3 bedroom apartment. Everyone worked different hours so it was never really crowded. It was fine in my 20s, but I don’t think I could do it now.

I was told that if you do it for 5 years, you could essentially have another job and work for the airline 1 flight a month to keep your travel and health benefits. This was a while ago, so I’m not sure if the same rules apply today.

sony_b (#225)

New pilots don’t make squat either – same deal on pay for flight time. I have a friend who flies for one of the regional carriers that picks up flights for United, he’s on call, doesn’t get any kind of reliable shift. Makes $25k per year. He paid for his flight school and training instead of going into the military – over 100k in student loans.

barrackis (#6,201)

You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be really something that I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I�ll try to get the hang of it hotel

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