I would love to become a flight attendant. I live close to Fort Lauderdale airport, only about 30 miles from Miami International Airport and 80 miles from West Palm Beach Airport. I also have two teenagers (13 and 16) so that’s where my question begins. If I live in Florida but my base is in New York, will I have to agree to relocate? How does that work if I live in Florida and have kids and a husband? Would the airline pay me to fly out to my base station every time I need to report to work or do I have to pay for that? Or would I just have to move there? This is what I don’t really understand. – Gladys
On the flight attendant job application you’ll probably find the question, “Are you willing to relocate?” Check the box “no” instead of “yes” and it’s safe to assume you probably won’t get called in for an interview. It’s common knowledge that flight attendants must be willing to cut their hair and go anywhere.
After you’ve successfully completed training, you’ll probably be put on probation. At my airline, probation lasts six months and new hires on probation do not receive travel benefits during this time. New flight attendants who choose to live in another city are on their own when it comes to covering the expense of getting to and from work during the first six months. Once off probation, commuters at my airline fly for free by standing by for an open seat. This is called non-reving because you are now a non-revenue passenger. Keep in mind there are very few open seats available on flights today, especially around holidays, during weekends and all through the summer. I’ve actually seen flight attendants come to blows over the jump seat on the last flight out. Which is why you’re lucky you live so close to three airports. You have options when flights are full or when delays and cancellations affect air travel.
Parked on a street in New York…
I’ve been offered a position as a flight attendant. Training hasn’t started yet, but I’m freaking out a little. Should I back out? It seems like a fun and exciting job, but the pay is $20/hour with only a 79-hour guarantee of work per month. The first year I would have to be on reserve and would need to live within 20 minutes of the airport. A one bedroom/studio within 30 minutes of the airport averages $1400-$1800 per month! We were told that during our six weeks of training we will be paid $1400, which will be prorated. Huh? How do flight attendants afford to pay for rent and living expenses? I am trying to calculate it and there is no way to make ends meet…even with a roommate! What do you suggest to those of us who have not started? Should we turn around and run for the hills? – Cold Feet
Dear Cold Feet,
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, no one becomes a flight attendant for the money! This is why the majority of new flight attendants are either right out of college or looking to make a career change after the kids are grown and out of the house. While $20 an hour may look good on paper, the reality is it doesn’t add up to much, not when we’re only paid for flight hours. That’s strictly time spent in the air. And with so many FAA regulations limiting us to the number of hours and days in a row we can work, most of us average between 80-90 hours a month. Keep in mind flight time does not include boarding, deplaning, delays, scheduled sit time between flights and layovers away from home, even though we’re on company time. However we are paid a per diem from sign-in to the time we arrive back to base. It’s less than two-dollars an hour.
You’ve been offered $20 an hour with a 79 hour guarantee. That’s roughly $18,000 a year. It’s more than most first year flight attendants get paid. The average flight attendant makes between $14,000-$18,000 the first year on the job. Each year we’re offered a standard raise. Flight attendants who work international routes, speak a second language, work high time (over 100 hours) and work for a major carrier have the potential to earn up to $80,000 a year, if not more, but this is rare. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Median annual wages of flight attendants were $35,930 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $28,420 and $49,910. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $20,580, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $65,350.”
So how do we do it? Enter the crash pad.