Flight Attendant Stories

Wages and Benefits

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wages of flight attendants in May 2009 were $40,010.  The middle 50 percent earned between $31,070 and $51,470.  The lowest 10 percent earned approximately $25,420, and the highest 10 percent earned $71,280.  New hires usually begin at the same level of pay, regardless of experience. 

Beginning pay scales for flight attendants vary by carrier, with the larger carriers usually paying higher wages.  Typically, carriers pay new hires while they are in training.  For instance, Delta Airlines currently pays new hires about $1,746 a month during flight attendant training. 

Some airlines offer incentive pay for working holidays, night and international flights, or taking positions that require additional responsibility or paperwork.  Flight attendants also receive a “per diem” allowance for meal expenses while on duty away from home. The per diem rate differs with each carrier. 

Flight attendants and their immediate families are entitled to free or discounted air fares on their own airline and reduced fares on most other airlines.  Some airlines require the flight attendant be with an airline for 3 to 6 months before taking advantage of this flight benefit.  Other benefits may include medical, dental, life insurance, 401K, sick leave, paid holidays, paid vacations, and sometimes tuition reimbursement. Flight attendants are required to purchase uniforms and wear them while on duty. The airlines usually pay for uniform replacement items.

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