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How Much Do Flight Attendants Make?

How Much Do Flight Attendants Make?

Are you looking for a Flight Attendant Salary Guide? If you want to know how much flight attendants make, look no further!

I have compiled a comprehensive guide to give insights into a flight attendant’s salary, perks, and benefits.

Being a flight attendant isn’t just a job. It’s a career that can be lucrative if you work for the right airline.

Not all airlines are created equal, so I’ll explain how much flight attendants make.

The Flight Attendant Lifestyle Career

Flight attendants are no ordinary professionals. They are safety experts, customer service representatives, and even brand ambassadors for the airlines they work for.

Their role is crucial, and they are the faces of the airlines they represent. However, many people need to be aware of the sacrifices and challenges of this lifestyle career.

If you’ve ever flown on a plane, you’ve probably seen flight attendants hustling around the cabin, serving drinks and snacks and ensuring passengers are comfortable.

But beyond the friendly smiles and helpful demeanor, these professionals are away from their families for at least half of the month every month, missing holidays, birthdays, and many more events and milestones.

Considering the nature of the job, it’s important to know how much airlines pay flight attendants. After all, they deserve to be compensated fairly for their sacrifices.

Factors Affecting Flight Attendant Pay Rate

Regarding compensation in the airline industry, several factors come into play. These include seniority, airline, location, position, and sometimes even aircraft type.

Each of these factors can have a significant impact on the pay and benefits received by airline employees. Seniority and years of service are two of the most important factors in determining pay and benefits in the airline industry.

The longer an employee has been with an airline, the higher their pay and better their benefits. The higher pay is because years of service determine where a flight attendant falls on the pay scale, and seniority is used to determine scheduling, vacation time, and other benefits.

Another factor that can affect compensation in the airline industry is the airline itself. Airlines offer different pay scales and benefits packages, varying widely between companies.

For example, a flight attendant at a major carrier may earn significantly more than a flight attendant at a regional airline.

Even within the same airline, some bases have better and more productive and lucrative flying than others.

A flight attendant’s position within an airline can also affect their pay and benefits. For example, International Pursers typically earn more than standard flight attendants due to the additional training and responsibility required for the job.

Additionally, some types of aircraft may be bigger and more desirable to work than others, and galley and lead flight attendant positions can also impact compensation, especially on a wide-body aircraft.

A Typical Day As a Flight Attendant

Flight Attendant Salary Flight Attendant Safety Demonstration

When it comes to flight attendant schedules, there are a few different factors to consider.

Flight attendants work trips, which can be long and irregular, with some days up to 16 hours.

Flight attendants have to deal with irregular hours as part of their job.

Sometimes, they may need to be at the airport as early as 4:00 AM. They may also have to work red-eye or overnight flights, which can take a toll on their bodies. 

Flight attendants are expected to maintain a positive attitude and smile despite the challenges, even when working for airlines that don’t pay them for boarding.

Flight attendants work trips that are one to six days long, and sometimes their rest is very short.

They always deal with delays and cancellations, affecting the time they get to rest.

The flight crew may work different schedules or lines depending on the airline, such as reserve or line holder schedules.

Lines & Schedules

Reserve lines or schedules involve being on call and being ready to report to work at a moment’s notice.

Reserve can be challenging for flight attendants, as they may only know when and where they will be working at the last minute.

On the other hand, line holders have a set schedule, which can provide more stability for flight attendants. 

Line holders and reserve flight attendants can often add other trips to their line, increasing the money they make.

Another important factor to consider is base location. Flight attendants are typically assigned to a base, the airport, where they start and end their trips. 

Flight attendants’ schedules and earnings can be considerably affected by their base location.

Those based on the east or west coast tend to have more flight options and higher chances of working than those in the middle of the country.

They earn more on longer flights, making them a better use of time.

Overall, flight attendant schedules can be complex and challenging to navigate.

However, with the proper support and resources, they can successfully manage their schedules and perform their critical role in the aviation industry while maximizing their pay.

Average Salary of Flight Attendants

Flight Attendant Pay Scale Woman Calculating Pay in front of computer

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National average salary for flight attendants was $56,640 in May 2019.

The lowest 10 percent earned less than $29,900, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $80,870.

Regional Differences

Differences In Pay by Region 

While there is rarely different pay for different base cities or regions, sometimes they may pay a little extra for the most expensive cities but don’t count on it.

Comparison to Other Jobs

How Flight Attendant Pay Compares to Other Jobs

Flight attendants earned more than the median wage for all occupations, $39,810, in May 2019.

However, they earn less than other jobs that require a similar level of education and experience, such as registered nurses, who had a median annual wage of $73,300 in May 2019.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the statistics, but they are not accurate. Below, I will map them out with actual airline pay rates.

Airline comparison: Differences in pay by airline type (legacy, regional, low-cost & ultra-low-cost)

Hours can vary, boarding pay can vary, and so can per diem from month to month, so I will do a generic amount of boarding pay and per diem for each airline.

Flight attendants can work more or less than 100 hours on average per month, so that’s really up to the individual, but 100 hours is very doable for almost anyone.

Flight attendants are also paid per diem, so we can calculate per diem on the low end, too, and say it translates to an additional $300 per month.

It’s not unheard of for a flight attendant to make $1000+ a month in per diem, but that’s the exception, not the rule.

Understanding Pay

Now that we got the “statistics” out of the way, let’s talk about how much flight attendants really make at different airlines.

Airlines like Delta, United, and American Airlines are often considered the best to work for due to their competitive pay and comprehensive benefits packages.

Remember that flight attendants receive raises based on the flight attendant pay scale for number of years they work.

It’s important to note that United, Southwest, and American Airlines are in contract negotiations, and hourly pay rates will increase significantly. Delta should then follow suit and raise their hourly rate, too.

Reserve flight attendants can pick up additional hours to increase their monthly guarantee. This comparison is generic, but I kept the pay rates as accurate as possible.

Let’s compare the flight attendant salary average from some of the most popular airlines. I’m going to do a generic comparison. Flight attendants can work fewer or much more hours than I’ve depicted in these comparisons.

There are other factors that I’m not adding that contribute to flight attendant pay, but you can get a good idea of what to expect.

We will start with first-year pay and the reserve guarantee.

Key Terms

Regarding flight attendant pay, there are a few key terms to keep in mind. The first is “First Year Pay,” which refers to the salary scale for a flight attendant in their first year of employment. 

Another important term is “Reserve Guarantee,” which specifies the minimum number of hours a flight attendant is guaranteed to be paid for each month when they are on reserve duty. 

Next, the highest pay level for flight attendants is called “top-out pay”. That is the pay when they reach the top of the pay scale through years of service.

Lastly, there is “Per Diem,” an allowance given to flight attendants to cover expenses such as meals and lodging while on a trip. It’s worth noting that Per Diem is calculated for the entirety of the trip, from check-in to debrief, and not based on flight hours worked but rather time away from base.

Flight Attendant Salary Comparison by Airline

We will start with the top companies to work for, and compare the other most popular airlines.

I’ve included a generic per diem amount for consistency, but actual per diem can vary. Per diem doesn’t count as income, but it’s usually not taxed, so I’m counting it in the total.

Flight Attendant Salary Delta Air Lines

Delta is one of the few airlines that pays flight attendants for boarding. It’s not their full pay, but it’s something.

Delta Air Lines: 2023 Pay Rates

First Year Pay: $33.81

Reserve Guarantee: The reserve system at Delta is only six days per month, so we will skip that and calculate 80 hours per month instead: $2704.80

Boarding Pay: $500

Per Diem: $300

Monthly Total: $3504.80

💸 Yearly Total: $42,057.60

Year 13 Top-Out Pay: $76

100 Flight Hours: $7600

Boarding Pay: $1000

Per Diem: $300

Monthly Total: $8900

💵 Yearly Total: $106,800

You May Also Like: The Delta Flight Attendant Hiring Process

Flight Attendant Salary American Airlines

The flight attendants at American are currently in contract negotiations and have a much higher rate of pay proposed for the workforce.

American Air Lines: Currently in Contract Negotiations

First Year Pay: $30.35

Reserve Guarantee: 75 hours

Boarding Pay: $0

Per Diem: $300

Monthly Total: $2576.25

💸 Yearly Total: $30,915

Top-Out Pay: $68.25

100 Flight Hours: $6825

Boarding Pay: $0

Per Diem: $300

Monthly Total: $7125

💵 Yearly Total: $85,500

You May Also Like: The American Airlines Hiring Process

Flight Attendant Salary United Airlines

United’s flight attendant union is fighting for ground pay in the next contract.

What ground pay means is they want flight attendants to be paid for all of their time, not just for boarding and when the door is closed and the brake is released.

United Air Lines: Currently in Contract Negotiations

First Year Pay: $28.80 + $2 (for reserve hours) = $30.80 

Reserve Guarantee: 78 hours

Boarding Pay: $0

Per Diem: $300

Monthly Total: $2702.40

💸 Yearly Total: $32,428.80

Year 13 Top-Out Pay: $67.11

100 Flight Hours: $6711

Boarding Pay: $0

Per Diem: $300

Monthly Total: $7011

💵 Yearly Total: $84,132

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Low-Cost and Ultra-Low-Cost Airlines

Next, we will compare flight attendant salaries at some of the most popular low-cost and ultra-low-cost airlines.

Flight Attendant Salary Southwest

Southwest allows flight attendants to buy and sell trips, so this number does not include that extra boost in earnings.

Southwest Airlines: Currently in Contract Negotiations

First Year Pay: $26.26

Reserve Guarantee: 75 TPF (Trips for Pay)

Boarding Pay: $0

Per Diem: $300

Monthly Total: $1969.50

💸 Yearly Total: $27,234

Top-Out Pay: $64.41 

100 Flight Hours (including TFP): $66441

Boarding Pay: $0

Per Diem: $300

Monthly Total: $6741

💵 Yearly Total: $80,892

JetBlue Flight Attendant Salary

JetBlue offers various methods to calculate flight attendants’ pay, and you can find all the different numbers on this page.

For this comparison, we will be using the straight-pay method. It can be challenging to calculate these numbers. 

During the first six months, the premium pay scale applies to the first 70 hours, while the reserve guarantee is set at 150% for the remaining hours.

For our purposes, we will average the first-year flight attendant pay at $30, while the top-out pay is $58.68. Flight attendants reach the top-out pay at JetBlue by year 13.

JetBlue Airways: 2024 Contract

First Year Pay: Months 1 – 6: $21.85 for the first 70 hours and $32.77 for the last five hours of the monthly guarantee

Months 7 – 12: $24.66 for the first 70 hours and $36.99 for the last five hours of the monthly guarantee

Reserve Guarantee: 75 hours 

Boarding Pay: $0

Per Diem: $300

Monthly Total: $ Months 1- 6 = $ = $1993.35 Months 7 -12 $2211.15

💸 Yearly Total: $25,161

Top-Out Pay: $58.68 

100 Flight Hours: $5868

Boarding Pay: $0

Per Diem: $300

Monthly Total: $6168

💵 Yearly Total: $74,016

You May Also Like: The JetBlue Flight Attendant Hiring Process

Flight Attendant Salary Spirit

Spirit is working toward merging with JetBlue, changing the airline and pay structure. We have yet to see how that affects both airlines. 

Spirit Airlines: 2024 Contract

First Year Pay: 1st Six Months: $21.85 2nd Six Months: $25.80

Reserve Guarantee: 72 hours 1st six months – 1573.20 months 7-12 – 1857.6 

Boarding Pay: $0

Per Diem: $300

Monthly Total: 1st Six Months = $1873.20 Months 7 – 12 = $2157.60

Yearly Total: 💸 $24,184.80

Top-Out Pay: $58.68 after 13 years

100 Flight Hours: $5868.00

Boarding Pay: $0

Per Diem: $300

Monthly Total: $6168

💵 Yearly Total: $74,016

You May Also Like: Spirit Airlines Flight Attendant Hiring Process

Flight Attendant Salary Frontier

Frontier Airlines has a longer pay scale for their flight attendants compared to other airlines in terms of reaching the highest pay level. It takes 19 years for their flight attendants to reach the top pay level of $60 per hour. For comparison purposes, we will calculate the pay for 13 years (the top-out pay for other airlines) and the top-out pay for Frontier.

Frontier Airlines: 2024 Contract

First Year Pay: $25.50 per hour

Reserve Guarantee: 75 hours

Boarding Pay: $0

Per Diem: $300

Monthly Total: $2212.50

💸 Yearly Total: $26,550

13-Year Pay: $49.97 per hour

100 Flight Hours: $4997,00

Boarding Pay: $0

Per Diem: $300

Monthly Total: $5297.00

💸 Yearly Total: $63,564

Top-Out Pay: $60.00

100 Flight Hours: $6000

Boarding Pay: $0

Per Diem: $300

Monthly Total: $6300

💵 Yearly Total: $75,600

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Flight Attendant Pay at Regional Airlines

I won’t cover all regional airlines here, but let’s add SkyWest to the list.

SkyWest Airlines: 2024 Pay Rates

They take a whopping 25 years to top out in pay, so we will calculate 13-year pay to compare to other airlines and top-out pay.

First Year Pay: $28.86

Reserve Guarantee: 76 hours

Boarding Pay: $115.76 

Per Diem: $300

Monthly Total: $ $2609.08

💸 Yearly Total: $ $31,309

💸 13 Year Pay: $41.87

100 Flight Hours: $4187

Boarding Pay: $172.08

Per Diem: $300

Monthly Total: $4659.08

Yearly Total: $55,909.03

Top-Out Pay: $47.32

100 Flight Hours: $4732

Boarding Pay: $195

Per Diem: $300

Monthly Total: $5227

💵 Yearly Total: $62,724

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Additional Compensation and Benefits

One of the most important benefits that flight attendants typically receive is health insurance. This coverage can help flight attendants manage the costs of medical care, including doctor visits, prescriptions, and hospital stays.

Flight attendants receive retirement plans as part of their benefits package. These plans can include 401(k)s with matching contributions, pension plans, and other options that vary depending on the airline. These plans are designed to help flight attendants save for their future, ensuring a comfortable retirement.

Paid time off is also a critical benefit for flight attendants, as it gives them the time to rest and recharge. Depending on the airline, this can include vacation time, sick leave, and other types of leave.

Flight attendants are also eligible for travel benefits, which allow them to fly on standby for free or at a reduced cost on their airline and partner airlines. This can be a great perk for those who love to travel and explore new places.

Finally, flight attendants can enjoy various non-monetary benefits, such as flexible schedules, the opportunity to meet new people, and the satisfaction of helping others. These perks can make the job of a flight attendant even more rewarding.

Flight Attendant Training Pay

Flight Attendant Salary American Airlines Flight Attendant Training Life raft Ditching

When it comes to flight attendant training, not all airlines offer the same pay structure. While some airlines pay for the entire training period, others may only offer per diem or minimum wage.

Additionally, some airlines may offer hiring bonuses, while others may not pay anything at all.

It’s important to research the pay structure of each airline before applying or accepting a job offer. That way, you can decide which airline is the best fit for you based on your financial needs.

Tips For Getting Higher Pay

How much do flight attendants make an hour? Wide Body Aircraft Interior

If you’re an aspiring flight attendant looking to maximize your income, here are some tips that could help you negotiate for higher pay:

1. Research industry standards: Before you choose your airline, make sure that you do your research on industry pay rates. You can’t “negotiate” for a higher rate at any airline, you can work for an airline that pays the most!

2. Consider additional benefits: In addition to salary, there may be other benefits that add up, such as being based at home, longer leaves of absence, or additional benefits.

3. Be open to compromise: While some pay rates are higher at different airlines, pay isn’t everything when it comes to this lifestyle career.

If you don’t have to commute, you will keep a lot of extra money in your pocket each month.

Industry Trends and Projections

As you grow in your flight attendant career and accrue more seniority, you can easily make a six-figure salary by maximizing your schedule.

It’s important to note that the negotiations between airlines and flight attendants are typically conducted through the flight attendants’ union representatives.

These negotiations are aimed at reaching a mutually beneficial agreement that addresses the needs and concerns of both parties.

In the case of compensation, flight attendants are seeking fair pay that reflects the cost of living, while airlines are looking to balance their budgets while remaining competitive in the industry.

These negotiations can be complex and may take some time to reach a resolution that satisfies both parties.

Ultimately, the goal of these negotiations is to create a positive and collaborative relationship between airlines and their employees.

By working together, both parties can achieve their goals and ensure that the airline industry continues to thrive in the years to come.

How much money do flight attendants make an hour?

FAQs

How much do flight attendants get paid?

The average salary for a flight attendant is around $50,000 per year, but this can vary depending on factors such as the airline, experience, and location.

Do flight attendants get paid hourly or by salary?

Flight attendants are typically paid hourly, with rates varying depending on the airline.

Do flight attendants get paid for training?

It depends; some new flight attendants are paid for their training.

Even seasoned flight attendants don’t get paid their full amount for the hours they spend at training.

How does seniority affect flight attendant pay?

Senior flight attendants with more years of service can earn higher pay rates due to their place on the pay scale and the ability to hold more productive trips.

Do flight attendants get paid for layovers?

Flight attendants get paid per diem during layovers.

Are there opportunities for flight attendants to earn overtime pay?

Flight attendants don’t get overtime, but they can work more hours; there are times when they can make “incentive pay,” and holiday pay can also increase their pay rate.

Conclusion

In conclusion, understanding the pay structure of flight attendants is crucial for career planning and growth. While the basic salary is important, seniority also plays a significant role in pay. 

It’s essential to keep up with industry trends and changes to ensure you’re making informed decisions about your career. With dedication, hard work, and a commitment to excellence, flight attendants can earn a stable income and build a fulfilling career in the aviation industry. 

So, if you’re considering a career as a flight attendant, take the time to understand the pay structure and make informed decisions about your future.

Check out Future Flight Attendant’s Products and Services to help you land your flight attendant career at your dream airline.

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