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Best airlines for flight attendants to work for

Let’s do a deep dive into the best airlines for flight attendants. What may be the perfect airline for one person may not be for another. 

If you want to know what the best airlines for flight attendants are read on, as we review the list of the top five best airlines for flight attendants.

This post will answer some questions about reserve, pay, and the bases of the top five best airlines for flight attendants to for work in the United States

Essential Factors to Consider

Flight attendant pay is a crucial factor, and these top 5 airlines are known for their compensation, making these airlines the highest-paid for flight attendants.

You can better understand the expected starting salary for a new flight attendant by keeping in mind that you won’t be working 40 hours a week but something more like 20 paid hours a week.

Reserve, often a part of a new flight attendant’s journey, can be seen as an opportunity to explore new destinations, as you’re ‘on call’ without a lot of control over where you fly.

You may also like Flight Attendant Reserve – What it is and What Important Things You Need to Know.

line holder or line of flying is the schedule you bid for. Unlike a reserve flight attendant who is ‘on call ‘, a line holder has a fixed schedule (that they can change if they choose) and knows their flights in advance. This can provide more stability and predictability in your work schedule.

base, in the context of flight attendants, is where you will fly from, where you are based, where your trips will originate, and where they will end.

The top five airlines have bases in various locations across the United States, including New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, and More.

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Alaska Airlines

One of the best airlines to work for as a flight attendant is Alaska Airlines.

Before you get hired at Alaska Airlines as a flight attendant you will go to unpaid training for five weeks.

Alaska Airlines accepts flight attendants starting at age 21.

Alaska Airlines takes longer to top out in pay than the other larger airlines,  Alaska Airlines starts their flight attendants at $24.95 per hour and they top out after 16 years at $60.31. 

However, Alaska Airlines is in flight attendant contract negotiations, so hopefully the pay will be significantly higher once their new contract is passed.

One of the things that makes Alaska one of the best airlines to work for is that just like Southwest they have TFP, or trips for pay. That means all of their trips have extra pay padded into them which is an excellent benefit.

Alaska airlines has a straight reserve system which means as a new flight attendant you will be on reserve until you have acquired enough seniority to not be on reserve anymore.

As an Alaska Airlines flight attendant you may be based in:

  • SEA (Seattle, WA)
  • PDX (Portland, OR)
  • SAN (San Diego, CA)
  • ANC (Anchorage, AK)
  • LAX (Los Angeles, CA)
  • SFO (San Francisco, CA)

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American Airlines

Another one of the best airlines for flight attendants is American Airlines.

Before you get hired at American Airlines as a flight attendant, you will head off to unpaid training for 6.5 weeks. 

American Airlines accepts flight attendants starting at age 20.

American Airlines is one of the best airlines to work for as a flight attendant because it is one of the largest carriers in the country and has fantastic domestic and international destinations.

American Airlines Flight Attendant Pay is competitive, and they are in flight attendant contract negotiations to raise the pay so it will be better. 

Starting pay as an American Airlines Flight Attendant is $30.35, topping out at $68.25 after 13 years.

Your first year as an American Airlines Flight Attendant will be on straight reserve. If needed, you will rotate one month on reserve and one month of holding a line for three years. 

If required, you will rotate one month on reserve and three months of holding a line after four years.

At any time during your career, if your seniority allows you to hold a line, regardless of the time you have been on any type of reserve,  you will hold a line.

As an American Airlines Flight Attendant, you may be based in: 

  • BOS (Boston, MA)
  • ORD (Chicago, IL)
  • DFW (Dallas-Fort Worth, TX)
  • LAX (Los Angeles, CA)
  • MIA (Miami, FL)
  • CLT (Charlotte, NC)
  • SFO (San Francisco, CA)
  • JFK/LGA (New York City, NY)
  • DCA (Washington, DC)
  • PHL (Philadelphia, PA)
  • PHX (Phoenix, AZ)

You may also like: The American Airlines Flight Attendant Hiring Process – What You Need To Know.

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Delta Air Lines

best airlines for flight attendants to work for

Delta Air Lines tops the list as one of the best airlines for flight attendants to work for.

One of the “big three” legacy airlines, Delta Air Lines flight Attendants enjoy flying worldwide.

Delta has a reserve system called ADAYS, and even brand-new flight attendants don’t have to sit for an entire reserve month, just six days per month.

Delta doesn’t have a union, so they don’t have the job or pay protection that a union gives an employee. 

Delta Air Lines is one of the only airlines (besides SkyWest) that pays flight attendants for boarding, which gives it a big gold star as one of the top airlines for flight attendants. 

Flight Attendants only get half of their pay for boarding, but it’s better than zero, which you get with most other airlines.

Delta Air Lines offers six weeks of paid training for flight attendants. (This is not the regular starting pay but minimum wage.)

Delta’s Flight Attendant starting pay is $35.50, and the top-out pay is $79.80 after 13 years.

As a Delta Air Lines flight attendant, you may be based in:

  • ATL (Atlanta, GA)
  • BOS (Boston, MA)
  • DTW (Detroit, MI)
  • LAX (Los Angeles, CA)
  • MSP (Minneapolis, MN)
  • JFK/LGA (New York, NY)
  • SLC (Salt Lake City, UT)
  • SEA (Seattle, WA)

You may also like: The Delta Flight Attendant Hiring Process In A Way That Is Easy To Understand

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United Airlines

best airlines to be a flight attendant for

One of the largest US Airlines, United Airlines is one of the best airlines to be a flight attendant for.

With more destinations than any other carrier in the world, United Airlines rounds out the list as one having some of the best flight attendant jobs. You must be 20 years of age to apply as a United Airlines flight attendant.

United Airlines not only provides a $140 week per diem for flight attendant training and two meals per day.

However, United has a reserve override of $2 per hour. So that $28.88 is $30.88 if you are on reserve. (The reserve override is for any reserve so it’s always $2 over the base pay.)

United has a straight reserve system, and it’s the most brutal reserve system on this list of airlines.

As a United Airlines flight attendant you may be based in:

  • BOS (Boston, MA)
  • CLE (Cleveland, OH)
  • AUS (Austin, TX) Satellite Base
  • DEN (Denver, CO)
  • EWR (Newark, NJ)
  • FLL (Fort Lauderdale, FL) Satellite Base
  • GUM (Guam)
  • HNL (Honolulu, HI)
  • IAD (Washington, DC)
  • IAH (Houston, TX)
  • LAS (Las Vegas, Nevada) Satellite Base
  • LAX (Los Angeles, CA)
  • LHR (London, Heathrow) closed to new transfers
  • MCO (Orlando, FL) Satellite Base
  • ORD (Chicago, IL)
  • PHX (Phoenix, AZ) Satellite Base
  • SAN (San Diego, CA) Satellite Base
  • SFO (San Francisco, CA)
  • TPA (Tampa, FL) Satellite Base 

You may also like: United Airlines Hiring Process In A Nutshell

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    Southwest Airlines

    Our list of the best airlines for flight attendants would only be complete with Southwest Airlines.

    Southwest Airlines boasts a truly unique culture, setting it apart from other airlines. 

    Its vision is not just to be an efficient and profitable airline, but to be the world’s most loved airline. This vision is not just a statement, but a reality that employees at Southwest Airlines proudly live and breathe, making it a workplace like no other.

    Before becoming a Southwest Airlines flight attendant, you will spend four weeks in training. Training is unpaid, but within five working days after graduation, you will receive a $1200 bonus of initial training pay. During training, you receive a $425 pre-paid Visa card for meals.

    Southwest Airlines Has Great Pay 

    When it comes to pay, Southwest Airlines leads the way. It offers the highest published hourly flight attendant rate on the pay scale. While it’s not easy to calculate flight attendant pay by block hour due to Southwest’s unique TFP (Trips For Pay) system, rest assured that you’ll be well-compensated.

    There is block time, which is how many flight hours the trip is blocked for, and credit time, so all your trips get extra time into them for credit time, which is AWESOME.

    Most flight attendants at other airlines are only paid for block time with the occasional extra credit time here and there for certain trips. At Southwest (and Alaska as was mentioned earlier), that extra pay is for ALL of your trips.

    Plus, on the last day and the first three days of every month, you are paid time and a half as a Southwest flight attendant.

    At Southwest Airlines, your career progression is based on seniority. You’ll start on reserve until you reach the top 35% of the base, which can take some time. However, once you’re off probation, you’ll have the opportunity to hold a line as a Southwest Airlines flight attendant every other month. 

    However, once you are off probation, you can hold a line as a Southwest Airlines flight attendant every other month.

    Rotating Reserve

    The problem with rotating reserve(every other month of reserve) is that you can’t make as much money as you want when you are on reserve. It cuts your flexibility compared to having a line every month, however at most airlines (including Southwest Airlines) you can pick up on top of your reserve schedule making much more money.

    It depends on how much you want to work, for some flight attendants who want to work a lot, the rotating reserve will cut into their pay. For other flight attendants, working less is perfect.

    Southwest Airlines Destinations

    As a Southwest Airlines flight attendant, you will do some “international flying, but it is limited to Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.

    Southwest Airlines flight attendants “tidy the cabin by picking up trash and crossing seat belts once customers have deplaned, something flight attendants at the other airlines on the list never have to do.

    highest paid flight attendant airlines southwest


    So there you have it, the best airlines to work for as a flight attendant in the US. They also happen to be the best paying airlines for flight attendants.

    Did that help you get a better understanding of what airline is the best to work for?

    Check out Future Flight Attendant’s job board, and find out Who’s Hiring Flight Attendants right now.

    What’s your favorite airline on the list?

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