One day you’re in New York, the next day you’re in Paris and then you’re jetting off to Tokyo: it’s no wonder that people dream of being a flight attendant.
Although working as a flight attendant may appear to be a glamorous career at first, does it pay well? Let’s learn how much flight attendants’ salary is across the US.
The job of a flight attendant is both exhilarating and hard. They not only get to go to exotic locations throughout the world, but they also have to keep plane passengers happy and safe in a cramped space.
Although the work can be hard, it’s an exciting life full of travel — and the benefits are pretty good, too.
Is their pay commensurate with the difficulties they face?
Of course, your salary as a flight attendant (and your flight routes!) will depend on the company you work for.
Let’s explore how much flight attendants make on average and at some of the US’ biggest airlines.
Who is a Flight Attendants?
Flight attendants are in charge of an aircraft’s cabin and handle the passengers’ safety and comfort. They spend more time with passengers than any other airline employee, and they strive to provide the most customized service to every passenger throughout the journey.
Flight attendants can work in either first-class or economy class, providing more complex service to a smaller number of passengers. Service entails attending to a wide range of demands and requests, and flights only give attendants a limited amount of time throughout the trip to provide the most personalized service to every passenger.
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What is the role of a Flight Attendant?
Almost most of a flight attendant’s responsibilities revolve around safety, however, customer service is also crucial.
The captain briefs the flight attendants about an hour before each trip. The weather, potential turbulence, flight duration, and other factors that may affect the upcoming flight is all discussed in depth.
They also give them information about the aircraft’s safety features and emergency equipment supplies. A passenger list is checked, and flight attendants are alerted if any special needs passengers, young children, or VIPs will be on board.
Flight attendants assist passengers with the boarding process once they have been called to board. They assist any passengers with special needs, minors, or VIPs to ensure that it properly cared for while boarding.
Attendants check for accuracy and possibly for fake or stolen tickets and seating positions. They also assist passengers with loading carry-on luggage, ensuring that it complies with the aircraft’s or airline’s size and weight restrictions.
In a safety demonstration, flight attendants are also responsible for advising passengers on specific aircraft safety requirements. They teach passengers how to find the nearest emergency exit, how to correctly tighten their seatbelts, what to do if there is turbulence, how to use safety vests or flotation devices, and how to use the drop-down oxygen masks. They may show passengers a short movie covering this information while the flight attendant monitors them.
Following the safety demonstration, attendants secure the cabin by turning off electronic devices and mobile phones, properly stowing carry-ons, ensuring that seats are in an upright posture, and stowing tray tables.
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How Much Does a Flight Attendant Make?
Flight attendants earn an average of $56,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The pay ranges from less than $28,000 to more than $80,000, with the lowest 10% earning less than $28,000 and the highest 10% earning more than $80,000. They pay flight attendants a stipend besides their salaries to cover their meals and hotel expenses while on the road. Some positions may come with additional perks, such as free travel or upgrades.
From a monetary standpoint, a flight attendant’s annual salary has increased. Flight attendants made an average of $39,000 a decade ago. When inflation, pension, and other benefits losses, hours spent preparing for flights, and hours spent flying are considered, some may argue that flight attendants are being paid less than they have ever been.
While flight attendants earn more than the average service worker, who earns around $30,000 per year, they earn less than the average professional worker, who earns around $60,000 per year.
Meanwhile, flight attendants earn the most in Washington, DC, with an average total compensation of $72,369, which is 39 percent higher than the national average.
In the United States, the average salary for a flight attendant is $52,153. Flight Attendant’s average bonus is $2,156, or 4% of their annual pay, with 99 percent of employees stating that they receive a bonus every year.
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What is the Average Flight Attendants Salary?
The annual flight attendant salary can be difficult to calculate because it varies based on multiple factors. They normally pay flight attendants:
- A guaranteed base rate
- Flying hours
- Layover allowances or expenses
- Sales commissions (depending on the airline) (depending on the airline)
This means your monthly salary will depend on how many hours you spend flying as well as how many products, such as coffee or perfume, you sell to customers. As you can imagine, the amount you successfully sell is also likely to vary depending on the route and time of day.
For example, Indeed calculates that the average base rate for flight attendants in the US is $32,704, but that doesn’t consider flying hours, commission, or layovers. Plus, you may also get other benefits with financial value, such as free accommodation or flights.
Although these won’t affect your salary, they can help you save money by lowering your outgoings and giving you more disposable income.
So, how much money can you expect to make as a flight attendant in total per year?
Despite the many variables, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that in 2020, 80% of flight attendants will earn between $30,930 and $84,790, with a median annual pay of $59,050. You’ll need to look at what specific airlines are giving for more precise estimations.
Another career path you can choose is being an Air Controller. Hence, you may want to read this article about the Air Traffic Controller’s Salary in the US.
Salaries of Flight Attendants in the Top Industries
Flight attendants earn a median yearly salary of $59,050. Half of the workers in a given occupation earned more than that amount, while the other half earned less. The bottom 10% of earners made less than $30,930, while the top 10% earned more than $84,790.
The following are the median yearly incomes for flight attendants in the top industries in which they work:
- $59,220 for scheduled flight travel
- $57,320 for non-scheduled air travel
- $48,550 for air transportation support activities
While working away from home, they pay flight attendants a stipend for meals and lodging. Although flight attendants must purchase an initial set of uniforms and luggage, replacements and upkeep are usually covered by the airlines.
They usually entitle them to discounted fares or complimentary standby seats through their carrier.
Attendants typically fly 75 to 100 hours per month, with the remaining 50 hours spent on the ground arranging flights, completing reports, and waiting for planes to arrive.
They can stay away from home for many evenings per week. Most people work on a flexible schedule. Part-time flight attendants are available.
How Much Do Major Airlines Pay Their Flight Attendants?
Even in job postings, airlines rarely disclose how much they pay flight attendants. Fortunately, you can look at a lot of anonymous, self-reported data from employees. Indeed, PayScale is two websites that can give you an idea of average salaries over the last year.
They aren’t, of course, a guaranteed rate. Pay varies depending on a variety of factors, including flying hours and sales talents. Furthermore, some airlines have more data that has been self-reported than others. They will, however, offer you a sign of the salaries you could be able to earn.
Salary of an American Airlines Flight Attendant
They do the flight attendant job advertisements on American Airlines to show a wage, instead of guaranteeing “premium pay.” Indeed, based on data from 139 employees over the last year and job listings, estimates that American Airlines pays an average yearly income of $41,848, according to the company.
Meanwhile, Payscale breaks down the average salary of an American Airlines flight attendant by years of service. According to their calculations, a flight attendant with less than a year of experience earns $24 per hour on average.
However, if they have one to four years of experience under their belt, that average jumps to $30.76. Flight attendants with over 20 years of experience earn an average of $68 per hour.
Salary of a Delta Flight Attendant
According to Indeed, Delta flight attendants are paid an average of $46,648 per year, with nearly 50 employees revealing their salary in the previous year.
Payscale, on the other hand, forecasts a $61,000 annual basic salary. Bonuses, profit-sharing, and commissions could bring the total to $152,000.
Keep in mind that Payscale discovered that claimed salaries for mid-career flight attendants climb considerably. The average total compensation for personnel with one to four years of experience is $29.49, but for those with 10 to 19 years of experience, it doubles to $59.71.
Salary of a Southwest Flight Attendant
On Indeed, there are approximately 60 self-reported Southwest Airlines flight attendant salaries from the last 12 months, with an average salary of $49,701. Although there are half as many reported incomes on Payscale, the average base wage is roughly $49,000.
The bad news is that, according to Payscale’s data, until you have over 10 years of experience, your salary is low. The average total salary for flight attendants with five to nine years of service is $26.50 per hour, rising to $57.67 after that. But keep in mind that the sample size is quite small. These data may not reflect the actual average salary at Southwest Airlines.
Salary of a United Airlines Flight Attendant
United Airlines has 30 flight attendants who have posted their salaries on Indeed, with an average annual compensation of $43,644. Furthermore, the benefits, particularly the free flights, are frequently praised in internet reviews.
The average base salary on Payscale is considerably higher, at $50,192. As respondents’ experience grows, so do their hourly wages. Flight attendants with less than a year of experience earn an average of $21.12 per hour, compared to $38 for those with five to nine years of experience. After ten years, the average hourly wage has increased to over $60.
Salary of a JetBlue Flight Attendant
There isn’t a lot of information online regarding how much JetBlue pays its flight attendants, with only 18 salaries listed on Indeed and 15 on Payscale. Salary isn’t included in online job postings, either.
On Indeed, the average yearly salary is $40,153, whereas, on Payscale, the starting salary is $36,172. Payscale doesn’t break down how average pay rates differ by years of experience, but 80 percent of the wages recorded are between $16.11 and $55.62 per hour.
Salary of an Emirates Flight Attendant
Although Emirates is not based in the United States, it frequently attracts American and other international candidates because of the possibility of living in Dubai paying no local taxes. In addition, the company gives free lodging.
On its website, Emirates specifies how much you’ll be paid in detail. You should make roughly $2,660 per month after deducting your base rate and flying hours. You’ll also get cash layover allowances, discounted travel charges, 30 days of annual vacation, and one free return trip to your home country per year, according to internet evaluations.
Are they other benefits of being a Flight Attendant aside from the Salary?
Along with a good wage, being a flight attendant comes with several perks. Most airlines will provide you the following benefits if you work as a flight attendant:
- Benefits for you and your qualifying family members on flights
- YOU ARE GOING TO TRAVEL AND SEE THE WORLD!
- 401(k) or Other Savings Plans Health Insurance Paid Vacation
When selecting a new career, it’s usually a good idea to look into the average compensation. We’ve put together this informative page of flight attendant salary information because the Travel Academy’s flight attendant school is just as concerned about your job after graduation as it is during class.
Factors that Influence a Flight Attendants’ Salary in the Us
The average flight attendant’s income may not reflect the earnings of all flight attendants. Flight attendants, like many other professions, have varying earning potential based on four major factors.
1. Airline Type:
The sort of airline for which a flight attendant works determines his or her salary. Mainline airlines, such as Delta, American, or United Airlines, typically pay greater starting salaries to flight attendants. Regional airlines, such as Mesa, PSA, or GoJet, pay slightly less.
2. The Number of Guaranteed Hours:
The term “guaranteed hours/month” is used to describe the pay of flight attendants. Guaranteed hours per month range from 70 to 80 hours, with starting salary ranging from $17 to $26 per hour, depending on the airline and other criteria.
They pay flight attendants for the complete amount of guaranteed hours even if they are on call (reserve status) or do not reach the guaranteed flight hours for the month.
3. Level of Experience:
Advancement as a flight attendant is largely determined by seniority in terms of both career growth and salary. Flight attendants who have been in the industry for a long time, especially if they have worked for the same company, are given more responsibilities.
Overseeing other flight attendants, scheduling, and recruiting are just a few of them. As a result, wages are generally higher.
A flight attendant’s salary, like that of many other occupations, is influenced by where they work.
Flight attendants working in major metropolitan areas, such as New York City or Los Angeles, may earn more than those working in smaller, less busy areas.
Salary Information For Other Flight Attendants
Additional flight hours may be available to flight attendants, allowing them to dramatically increase their earning potential. When flight attendants work outside of their base station, they pay them a per diem (Latin for “per day”), which is an hourly food allowance. Besides the fixed hourly wage, they pay per diem around the clock (even when you are asleep!).
Depending on the carrier and whether the working aircraft is domestic or international, per diem rates range from $1.50 to $2.60 per hour.
During scheduled non-base layovers, airlines provide crew members with paid hotel rooms as well as ground transportation between the airport and the hotel.
They also provide great medical benefits, 401(k) plans, and travel benefits to all flight attendants, as well as free or discounted airfare to any qualifying family members. You’ll also get discounts on hotels, cars, and cruises!
After gaining a particular level of knowledge and experience, a flight attendant’s performance may qualify them for other positions, which can greatly boost their earning potential.
Lead Flight Attendant, In-flight Support Coordinator, Base Supervisor, and even in the training or recruiting department are examples of these professions.
What Does it Take to Become a Flight Attendant?
Flight attendants are trained by their employers and are required by the Federal Aviation Administration to be qualified (FAA). Flight attendants must have a high school education or its equivalent, as well as a previous customer service experience.
Applicants must be at least 18 years old, eligible to work in the United States, possess a valid passport, and successfully complete a background check and drug test. They must have a vision that can be corrected to at least 20/40 and must often meet the airline’s height standards. A medical examination may also be required of flight attendants.
Flight attendants should have a professional demeanor, with no obvious tattoos, piercings, or odd hairstyles or makeup.
Flight Attendants’ Education
To work as a flight attendant, you usually need a high school diploma. Some airlines may prefer to hire people who have completed some college coursework.
Those who work on international aircraft may be required to speak a foreign language fluently. Those interested in becoming flight attendants can enroll in flight attendant academies.
Flight Attendants must have previous Work Experience in a Related Field
Before receiving their first employment as a flight attendant, flight attendants normally need 1 or 2 years of work experience in a service occupation. Customer service positions in restaurants, hotels, and resorts may qualify you for this role.
Experience in sales or other jobs that require close interaction with the public and a strong focus on customer service may also aid in the development of the abilities needed to be a successful flight attendant.
Training for Flight Attendants
When a flight attendant is employed, the airline provides 3 to 6 weeks of initial training. The FAA requires this training, which normally takes place at the airline’s flight training center.
Emergency measures such as evacuating aircraft, activating emergency equipment, and delivering first aid are all taught to trainees. They are also given detailed training on flight regulations, corporate procedures, and work responsibilities.
Students fly in practice flights at the end of the program. To keep their job with the airline, they must complete the training. New flight attendants obtain the FAA Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency after passing basic training and continue to receive extra on-the-job training as necessary by their employer.
Flight Attendant Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
The FAA requires all flight attendants to be certified. Flight attendants must complete their employer’s initial training program and pass an exam to get certified.
They certify flight attendants for certain aircraft types and must undergo further training for each aircraft type on which they will operate. Attendants also take recurrent training every year in order to keep their accreditation.
Flight Attendants Advancement
Seniority is used to determine career advancement. Senior flight attendants typically supervise the work of other flight attendants on overseas flights.
Senior attendants may advance to management positions, where they are to hire, train, and schedule.
Qualities to Look for in a Flight Attendant
Attentiveness: During the flight, they must inform flight attendants of any security or safety hazards. They must also pay attention to the needs of passengers in order to provide a pleasant travel experience.
Communication abilities: Flight attendants should communicate clearly with passengers and other crew members by speaking clearly, focusing, and interacting successfully.
Skills in customer service: To handle stressful situations and cater to customers’ requirements, flight attendants should have poise, tact, and inventiveness.
Ability to decide: In an emergency, flight attendants must be prepared to make quick decisions.
Physical endurance: Flight attendants stand and walk for long periods of time, pushing, pulling, and carrying service items, opening and closing overhead bins, and pushing, pulling, and carrying service items.
Flight Attendants’ Job Prospects
Over the next ten years, we expect the employment of flight attendants to expand by 30%, substantially faster than the average for all occupations.
Over the next ten years, we expect over 17,600 opportunities for flight attendants. Many of those positions are likely to arise because of the need to replace people who change occupations or leave the workforce for other reasons, such as retirement.
The recovery from the COVID-19 recession, which began in 2020 and we expect to last until the early part of the decade, will account for much of the projected job growth in this occupation.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, typical travel patterns will promote job growth for flight attendants, who will be needed to maintain the safety and comfort of passengers on flights.
Frequently Asked Questions
In the United States, the average salary for a flight attendant is $52,153. A Flight Attendant’s average bonus is $2,156, or 4% of their annual salary, with 99 percent of employees stating that they receive a bonus every year. Flight attendants earn the most in Washington, DC, with an average total compensation of $72,369, which is 39 percent higher than the national average.
Airlines provide basic training to flight attendants after employment, which can run anywhere from six weeks to three months, depending on the country. They often conduct the training at the airline’s flight training facility and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) must approve it.
In 2018, we expect the average federal tax rate for an individual filer in this tax band to be 22 percent. Flight Attendants could expect a take-home pay of $44,740 per year after a federal tax rate deducts about 22%, with each paycheck equaling approximately $1,864*.
The metropolitan areas that pay the highest salary in the flight attendant profession are Austin, San Diego, Orlando, Boston, and Charlotte.
The states and districts that pay Flight Attendants the highest mean salary are Indiana ($63,860), Massachusetts ($63,620), North Carolina ($62,900), Texas ($60,250), and Michigan ($59,050).
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