For someone who loves to fly, especially by plane, being a flight attendant might seem like a dream job. They get paid to fly around the country — or the world. The question is: how well they are compensated? Read below to learn more about a flight attendant’s salary.
How Much Do Flight Attendants Make Per Year?
The median annual salary for a flight attendant as of late October 2022 was $81,157, according to Salary.com. The top 90% of flight attendants make over $118,347 per year, and the lowest 10% make about $50,557 per year.
What Factors Impact a Flight Attendant’s Pay?
Several factors affect a flight attendant’s salary. Some of the main factors are listed below.
Qualifications and Skills
Most airlines require only a high school diploma to become a flight attendant, but they must be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration. The certification covers things like emergency landings, evacuations and medical emergencies.
Additionally, flight attendants must have training specific to each type of aircraft they work on. The more types they are trained in, the more valuable they are considered. This can lead to increased pay and more opportunities.
Experience and Seniority
Being a flight attendant involves providing customer service to passengers. Therefore, most airlines require that applicants have previous experience in some level of customer service. This can be a year or more working in something like retail, restaurants or sales. Even if it’s not required, such experience can lead to higher starting pay.
The length of time you work as a flight attendant can also impact pay. The longer you work in the industry, the more raises and bonuses you should receive.
Airline and Location
Generally, working from a major city means a higher salary. For example, a flight attendant based in New York City will typically make more than one based in Alabama.
The airline itself will also play a role in how much a flight attendant makes. Glassdoor provides estimated salary information for several airlines, including:
- American Airlines: $41,000 to $66,000 per year
- SkyWest Airlines: $37,000 to $87,000 per year
- Ravn Alaska: $37,000 to $81,000 per year
- Endeavor Air: $33,000 to $77,000 per year
- United Airlines: $39,000 to $88,000 per year
- Delta Airlines: $45,000 to $112,000 per year
Are There Any Additional Perks?
Flight attendants do receive additional perks, but they vary by airline. The most common perks are the following:
Free or Discounted Flights
Most flight attendants get to travel for free or get discounts on flights for personal travel. Often, this extends to family members as well.
Insurance and 401(k)
Many airlines provide retirement plans and health benefits for the flight attendant and their family. The specifics will depend on the airline.
Reimbursement for Expenses
Most airlines reimburse food costs that flight attendants incur in between flights. This can be nice as it gives the attendants a chance to explore local food as they wait to go back to work.
Often, flight attendants stay in hotels between flights. Fortunately, the cost of the room doesn’t have to come out of their checks, since the airline covers it.
Good To Know
Many flight attendants have learned to be strategic so they can utilize reimbursements and hotel compensation to visit cities they’ve always dreamed of. By planning ahead, a flight attendant can explore the country or the world without spending their entire salary.
Is Being a Flight Attendant Worth It?
For many, being a flight attendant is a rewarding job, but it can come with some downsides. One of the biggest is the schedule. Generally, flight attendants work varying hours that include holidays, nights and weekends. For people searching for a regular work schedule, being a flight attendant is probably not the answer.
There are also other factors to consider, such as being away from home for long stretches of time. Even when not on a flight, attendants might find themselves stuck in another state for days, waiting to go back to work. This can be exciting for those who love to travel and explore, but it can be difficult if you have a family you long to be home with.
One more thing to consider is the changing world. There are times when travel bans can impact the airline industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 21% growth in demand for flight attendants between 2021 and 2031, but the demand could always change.
Overall, if you love to travel, enjoy working with people, and don’t mind being away from home, being a flight attendant can be a great job. The compensation and benefits make it a worthy career.
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Cameron Cole contributed to the reporting for this article.
Information is accurate as of Nov. 8, 2022.