What Can You Expect to Make as a Flight Attendant?

flight attendant

If you love traveling, then most likely you have ever thought about becoming a cabin crew member. They get to enjoy different sceneries at no extra cost. Besides, if working 9-5 jobs is not your calling, applying to be a flight attendant has crossed your mind because you can work whichever schedule you please, once you attain a certain level of seniority. Another perk is meeting new people every time, but switching jobs is not always about flexibility and free travel. You have to consider that you will barely see your family and if you are yet to settle down, the different schedules make dating hard. Still, if the pay is lucrative, sometimes you have to compromise. So, let’s see if what you can expect to make as a flight attendant is enough to make you rethink your career choice.

Basis of Flight Attendants Salary

The Points Guy published that the flight attendants are paid on several basis including:

• Hourly Rate

The hourly rate is used by three major United States carriers: Delta, American and united. Some sources reveal that Delta is reputed as having some of the highest-paid flight attendants. Delta Airlines currently has more than 20,000 flight attendants who earn between $33,000 and 118,000, with hourly pay making a significant proportion of this figure. Besides flight hour pay, the salary also includes per diem, holidays, and international flights, among other means of compensation. Usually, in the first year of employment, the salary generally ranges from $33,000 to $45,000. The more you stay with the airlines and climb the ladder, the higher the hourly pay; thus, the $118000 is for senior flight attendants. According to These Gold Wings, the most senior flight attendant at Delta airlines has been with the airline for 56 years. Therefore, she has maxed out the highest pay and has the luxury of picking her schedule. The hourly rate starts at $30.96 and reaches $69.59 after 12 years. It is calculated from the time the plane closes the door to when it opens the door at the gate. With most flight attendants working for at least 75 hours in a month, that would translate to around $2,300 pay for the most junior flight attendant, exclusive of other types of compensation. Luckily, there is no limit to how little or much you can work; therefore, the salary is all dependent on how ambitious you are.

• Trips for Pay (TFP)

Some airlines prefer using the TFP rate, which combines the hourly rate and number of miles flown. Usually, any distance of 243 miles or less earns the flight attendant 1 TFP; then, each extra 40 miles above the 243 miles earns the employee 0.1 TFP. Unlike the hourly rate that limits the earning period to the block time, the TFP includes delays such as longer flights due to bad weather. For Southwest Airlines, a flight attendant earns $22.36 in the first six months; from the second year, the employee receives $24.82 per TFP. However, it is essential to note that most airlines still offer a basic salary dependent on several factors. Combined with the trips for pay or hourly rate, the total compensation of a flight attendant can be an impressive figure.

Are Flight Attendants Underpaid?

In 2019, Forbes published an article explaining that flight attendants are underpaid. The author detailed that despite airlines making billions of profits, they still file for bankruptcy and never reward their employees with lucrative salaries. The article explains that airlines have discovered a trick to keep their salary expenses to the minimum by hiring new employees on different contracts. Some flight attendants from Westjet took to the media to express their frustrations about being paid less than the minimum wage. They claimed that the airline only paid them for hours in the air and not their time at work. Since most airlines also compensate their workers for the time spent in the airports after and before flights, they reasoned that there should be a minimum pay for time spent at the airport from when they put on their uniforms and go to work. They explained if they spend four hours at the airport yet are on a one-hour flight, they earn $26, which translates to only $6.50 per hour. According to CBC, one flight attendant said that the $25 per hour might seem like a reasonable offer, but what a prospective employee fails to understand is that the pay is for block hours, not duty hours. However, not all airlines disregard the time to check emergency equipment, clean planes after a flight, and do such duties. Delta Airlines bragged that their flight attendant compensation structure is such that all work time associated with a flight is compensated. It further revealed it has four methods of calculating a flight attendant’s pay and always goes for the one that results in the highest number to determine the income.

Factors Affecting Flight Attendant Salary

According to The Street, the salary of a flight attendant is mainly dependent on seniority and location. Seniority refers to how long the employee has been with the airline because they can be trusted with more responsibilities. The heavier workload earns them higher pay. The location also plays a significant role in determining how much you make as a flight attendant. Working at a busy airport in the metropolitan area will put more dollars in your pockets than being employed in a small airline that barely has travelers. The per diem (a tax-free allowance to cover basic expenses when away from the base airport) also helps increase the total salary. The local per diem is usually lower than the international one. You can also earn extra from incentive pay; if you are willing to work on holidays and when the airline is understaffed, you will receive more dollars per hour that boost your total compensation.

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