Salary information and job description for a flight attendant
As an entry level flight attendant, you can expect to make about $19/hour. There are some additional cash earnings in the form of bonuses and profit sharing as well, depending on your personal performance. However, the determining factor in your pay as a new flight attendant is often based on the employer or airline you work for and where you’re located. Geography plays a big role in your starting salary. Here are some highlights from the recent PayScale Salary Survey of flight attendants in the United States.
Hourly Pay and Benefits - The majority of flight attendants in this survey by PaysScale are female (72%) and most everyone (both male and female) reported high job satisfaction. You can expect to receive medical benefits, and many get dental and/or vision as well. Benefits vary across different airlines.
Flight attendant pay increases with experience and seniority. Those with less than 5 years of experience make on average approximately $38,000 while those with 5-10 years have a median salary of $47,000. Over 10 years of experience will increase your salary to roughly $51,000, and at 20 years, the median salary is $61,000. Some of these totals include bonuses and profit sharing, depending on your airline and geographic location.
Per Diems make up a big part of your compensation. This is the amount paid for meals when you stay overnight at a destination. These payments vary with the length of your “layover” and whether you’re on a domestic or international flight. For more information on per diem schedules, click here.
Working Extra Shifts, called “drafting,” is also a source of extra income. Flight attendants typically work 75-85 hours/month (up to a maximum of 100 hours). In the case of bad weather, illness or employees running up against the maximum allowable hours, it can be easy for flight attendants to pick up extra shifts, especially at the end of the month.
Airlines and Locations also make a significant difference in your salary. For example, Newark airport flight attendants are some of the highest paid in the country at nearly 80% above standard industry salaries. Other cities such as San Francisco, Dallas and New York are also higher on the pay scale, while others are lower than average, like Atlanta, Miami and Denver, for example.
United, American, Delta, US Airways and Southwest Airlines hire the most flight attendants, and among those Southwest is often found to offer higher salaries. American, JetBlue and Skywest are also in the top tier of income. However, even at airlines where the average pay is lower, there is often still a strong upside for experienced employees.
Languages also play a role in your compensation. Speaking another language can put you in line for more lucrative overseas flights, even over more senior employees. Airlines put a premium on being able to communicate with passengers in their native language. Do your homework and determine which carriers fly to destinations where your second or third language is spoken. The more languages you know, the higher your pay.
Job description & requirements for flight attendant
Duties and Education Much of what a flight attendant does is obvious to any air traveler. They welcome guests aboard the plane, assist with storing luggage and finding seats. They perform a safety demonstration before takeoff, answer questions, handle food/beverage orders and fulfill a customer service role by locating gate and connecting flight information. They also serve in a security role by monitoring passenger behavior and reporting any problems that may occur.
Flexible Schedules and Vacations are perks of the job. You’ll often have access to deep discounts on hotels, car rentals and flights, and you have a lot of time off. Because your work schedules are flexible, you can compress your hours into a shorter period and have more time off at the end of the month.
Adventure and Travel are also part of the job. No two days are alike, and you’ll experience new people (some famous), cultures and food you might never come across otherwise.
You’re away from home for long periods of time and living a bit of a “vagabond” lifestyle. That doesn’t work for everyone, so if you don’t enjoy living out of a suitcase, this might not be the profession for you. Also, it may be difficult to eat well when you’re always travelling, especially if you’re on a special or restricted diet.
Jet Lag is a constant companion, along with dehydration that comes with flying in a pressurized cabin. If you have trouble adjusting to different time zones, working at the airport or in other customer service roles in the hospitality industry may be a better choice for you.
Smoking and Small Spaces might be something you need to consider if you’re a regular smoker or you don’t like small, confined spaces.
Working on Holidays is another aspect of the job you need to consider, at least until you build up some seniority. You should not expect to have time off at Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter, or Thanksgiving for a number of years.
Patience for Children and Special Attention Passengers (SPATS) are a must. When a child is traveling alone or someone requires wheelchair transport you have to be able to shift gears and do whatever it takes. It’s all in a day’s work for flight attendants.
Take time to really evaluate your strengths against the possible difficulties of the job day-to-day. Of course there are some terrific perks and benefits to being a flight attendant and then there are the challenges of dealing with a high volume of people every day, especially in today’s heightened security environment. Investigate what training is available in your area and what the prospects are for working in your preferred location.