While the glitz and glamor of being a jet-setting flight attendant is a major draw, not many of us would do it for free. Here we give you the scoop on the flight attendant salaries and other non-monetary benefits that we enjoy.
The Different Pay Structures
Flight attendant salaries and benefits vary wildly around the world, and different airlines have varying pay structures. Some airlines have a fixed pay scale. For example, Turkish Airlines crew are guaranteed to get paid for 80 hours of flying a month. Any hours worked over and above that are paid at an hourly rate.
Other airlines, such as Etihad, have a guaranteed (low) basic salary, but then they supplement that with a high hourly rate. Virgin Atlantic, on the other hand, has a low monthly salary, low hourly pay, but generous outstation allowances. A lot of the crew save their layover money and use that to supplement their salary.
Most airlines offer additional earning opportunities through commission-based selling, for example from the bar cart on low cost carriers, or Duty Free sales for international carriers.
The Actual Money
For ease of comparison, all salaries are converted to US dollars. Bear in mind that exchange rates change and that cost of living in different countries can have a big impact on the ‘real’ value of earnings.
UK based airlines
UK based carriers have a gross base pay of around $1,600 a month. With flying pay and allowances, this can be boosted to somewhere between $2,500 and $3,700 a month. That might sound good, but if you must pay for accommodation in one of the large cities, that money doesn’t go very far after tax.
Middle Eastern based airlines
Middle Eastern carriers pay starting salaries of around $4,000 a month, which increases with time and seniority. Throw in free accommodation and that becomes a pretty sweet deal.
US based airlines
US carriers such as Delta had a median pay of $4,600 in 2018. With starting salaries closer to $2,000 a month though, it takes a while to build up to that level of pay.
The Travel Benefits
Every flight attendant values the benefits of staff travel. Some airlines offer free tickets, or tax only tickets, while others offer a 90% discount on standby tickets or a 50% discount on confirmed full fares. The beauty of ‘ID travel’, as it’s known, is that it is not only on your own airline but on most commercial airlines around the world. Throw in a few ‘buddy passes’ or discounted tickets for family members, and you’re ready for take-off.
Hotels also regularly offer discounted rooms to flight attendants. It’s a pretty smart marketing strategy; they know we talk to customers who also use hotels, so word of mouth is a powerful tool to increase bookings. Hilton and Marriott are some of the big brands that offer up to 50% off regular room rates, while boutique hotels are only likely to offer around 20% discount. Many airlines have also partnered with car rental companies to offer package deals to their passengers, which are often also then extended to the crew.
Basically, if the layovers aren’t enough of a vacation, we take ourselves away.
See you up there!