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How Much Do Flight Attendants Make? 

how much money do flight attendants make

I get that question a lot, “How much is the flight attendant salary?” I always shake my head when I see all that misinformation floating around on the internet, so I decide to tell the REAL truth about how much flight attendants make.

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

How Do Flight Attendants Get Paid?

Many factors go into how much a flight attendant gets paid, so I need to pull back the curtain and tell you how flight attendants get paid.
In the aviation industry, flight attendants get paid by the hour. However, the clock only starts ticking on that hourly rate when the airplane door is closed, or the brake is released. That means flight attendants spend a lot of time on duty and the clock without getting paid!
Boarding is one of the most stressful times for flight attendants, and except for per diem (but more on that later), they are working for free.

Boarding is one of the most stressful times for flight attendants, and they are working for free.

Flight attendants are not paid an hourly wage for their time walking through the airport, changing planes, or during passenger boarding

Flight attendants get paid by flight hours sometimes. Airlines pad in a little extra time into the flight hours, so a flight attendant’s hourly rate can be more than the actual hours flown.

How Much Do Flight Attendants Make Per Hour?

One of the lowest hourly rates for a regional airline flight attendant is around $16.50; regional airlines tend to pay less.
However, that $16.50 is only the starting salary. Flight attendants get an annual raise for a contracted number of years, so a flight attendant working at any airline will not stay at the starting salary for very long.
At one of the Best Airlines For Flight Attendants, a senior flight attendant can make over $70 per hour, and starting pay can be around $30 an hour at some of those best airlines for flight attendants.
Flight attendant pay varies from airline to airline. 

How Much Does The Average Flight Attendant Make?


A flight attendant can easily make a six-figure annual salary at one airline, and for another airline, they may be barely above the poverty level. Or even at the same airline because it’s all about how much you want to work and the trips you fly.

If you want to know the average flight attendant salary, there are so many factors that come into play:

  • – Which airline the flight attendant works for
  • – How many hours does the flight attendant work?
  • – How many years of service has the flight attendant put into their career?
  • – & more…

The flight attendant’s salary at one airline can be $150,000 a year, while for another, it may be $15,000. 

Do Flight Attendants Get Per Diem?

Per Diem is a low hourly rate paid (usually tax-free) to compensate for any meal expenses a flight attendant may incur during their trip.

Flight attendants get paid Per Diem for the domestic and international trips they work.

However, even Per Diem amounts vary from airline to airline.

If a flight attendant works for a great airline, likes to put in hours, has some accrued seniority, and is savvy at creating a schedule, they can earn a lot of money.

Starting at the bottom of the flight attendant pay scale, new flight attendants can sometimes struggle to make ends meet. However, that doesn’t last long, and they are soon enjoying a lucrative flight attendant salary.

How much money do flight attendants make an hour?

How much do flight attendants make in per diem?

Per diem is a low hourly rate paid (usually tax-free) to compensate for any meal expenses a flight attendant may incur during their trip. 

Flight attendants are paid Per Diem from the moment they check-in for their trip until debrief, which occurs after the trip ends.

Flight attendants are paid per diem for every hour away from their base for a multi-day trip until the trip ends.

International Per Diem is usually a higher rate than domestic per diem. So even the amount of money a flight attendant makes from per diem varies too.

There are so many variables and how much money a flight attendant makes, and it has a lot to do with what kind of trips they want to do and how much seniority they have, and how savvy they are at creating a schedule that makes money.

Even if two flight attendants make the same hourly rate, one can make a lot of money flying productive trips, and the other can work trips that have short flight time (but a lot of time lying on the beach on some exotic layover ;).

There are also long duty days with low flight times and layovers at airport hotels that are not very exciting. 

New flight attendants who are just starting on the pay scale end up with those unproductive, tedious trips so that the salary range can be vast between flight attendants even at the same airline.

Do Flight Attendants Get Raises?

Flight attendants get raises yearly for a certain number of years contractually. What that means is you don’t have to wait and hope you can get a raise. You don’t have to negotiate any salary, and you don’t have to grovel for pennies from your employer. This is all worked out ahead of time regardless of your performance.

Depending on the airline you choose, you can get a yearly raise for 9-28 years. So at one airline, your 12-year pay can be double what you got waiting for 28 years at another airline.

Flight attendant unions update their flight attendant contracts every few years, giving flight attendants additional raises that coincide with the cost of living increase.

Do Flight Attendants Get Holiday Pay?

Flight Attendant Salary

Some airlines pay holiday pay. This allows flight attendants to make even more money. A holiday can mean double or even triple pay. For example, a senior flight attendant can make over $60 an hour, then some trips that fall on a holiday would triple the pay to make it over $180 an hour, then if they work a good 11-hour trip, you can see those flight attendants are making great money.

But a more junior new flight attendant would make only half of that for the same trip if they were lucky enough to even get the trip in the first place.

Not all airlines pay holiday pay, and there are very few holidays that count toward holiday pay, but it all adds up to a lucrative career.

How Much Do Flight Attendants Make In Bonuses?

Bonuses are paid for several reasons. First, not all airlines have the same bonuses and incentives. 

A flight attendant can receive on-time performance bonuses, customer satisfaction bonuses, credit card sales, on-board commissions, reserve pay over-rides, starlight pay, commission for food and alcohol sales, and yearly profit sharing.

There are thousands of dollars in bonuses a flight attendant can make in a year.

Some flight attendants make almost as much in bonuses as other flight attendants make from their salary all year.

Incentive pay is a few extra dollars flight attendants get paid when they fly over a certain number of hours, and that’s additional way flight attendants make extra money in their paychecks.

Which Airline Has The Highest Paid Flight Attendants?

Any of the top airlines have great flight attendant pay rates, however, Southwest is most likely the highest paid of them all.

How Southwest has the highest paid flight attendants:

  • – Highest hourly rate
  • – TFP or Trips For Pay – Southwest pads extra time into every trip, so they are paid more than flight hours like most other airlines
  • – Southwest allows flight attendants to “sell their trips” so if there is a trip they don’t want to fly they can add money to it for another flight attendant to pick up the trip (offering $100 to work a short trip is not uncommon)

Other Flight Attendant Salary Considerations

Do flight attendants make good money

Believe it or not, other factors can increase flight attendant pay and add to a basic salary. 

The aircraft type, the flight attendant position they work, and even if they are hired to speak a second language can all affect their hourly wage.

Can Flight Attendants Make Six Figures?

Absolutely! Lots of flight attendants make six figures, including myself. I work for a major airline and I like to fly so making six figures is easy at my level of seniority.

How Much Does A Flight Attendant Make?

So to answer the question, How much do flight attendants make? It varies, but many flight attendants easily make six figures a year. This is because they fly a lot, are topped out in pay, and have great seniority at one of the highest-paying airlines. 

How Much Do Flight Attendants Make A Year Starting Out?

If you want to know how much a flight attendant can make at the beginning of their career? The answer still varies. Hard-working first-year flight attendants can make approximately $30K – $50$ at some major airlines, but much less at some other airlines. After five years, the pay gets better, and then after 10 years fly by, you’re banking major bucks if you stick with the same high-paying airline.

Flight attendants don’t have a retirement age, so the sooner you start flying, the longer you can enjoy making more money.

Flight Attendant Benefits

It’s worth it to note that flight attendants have a lot of benefits that may also be considered part of the flight attendant salary.

Flight benefits – the ability to fly for free for themselves, their family, and even some lucky friends

401K Match – Some airlines have a 401K match, which is basically free money

Paid Sick Time – Another benefit that is awarded to flight attendants

Excellent Medical Benefits – Airlines provide flight attendants with excellent health insurance

So there you have it, how much money flight attendants make. What do you think, poverty or riches?


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