Delta posted that they were hiring flight attendants and the applications started coming in two per minute! Why is a flight attendant career so desirable? Isn’t it low pay and long hours away from home?

It definitely takes a special person who can handle the job; one who enjoys flying, is independent and can handle many different, unique situations. Those that make it past the first six months tend to have it in their blood and become what we refer to as “Lifers.” On a personal note, having worked for an airline for 20 years, I am definitely a “Lifer” and find that being a flight attendant is not as much a job as it is a lifestyle.

Here are seven surprising reasons this career draws so much interest:

  1. You’re not too old! Are you thinking about a midlife career change? Are you retired and looking for something to keep you active and social? Airlines don’t discriminate against older applicants. There is no ageism with the flight attendant career. The airline industry appreciates anyone who has raised a family or has had experience in customer service. Having worked with schedules, people and handling crisis after crisis are just a few of the skill sets needed to be a flight attendant. I had a 63-year-old gentleman in my training class, a retired teacher. Who better to make an airplane full of passengers happy?
  2. Equal pay for equal work. A flight attendant career is one of the few that also doesn’t discriminate against one’s gender. And, contrary to the popular stereotype, male flight attendants are not all gay, but, if they are…
  3. More equality. The airlines were one of the first industries to grant equality to gay people in the form of travel benefits, health insurance and other benefits that may only be afforded to traditional couples at other companies.
  4. Free travel. You’ve probably heard flight attendants complaining that non-reving or “stand by” travel isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I disagree. The flight attendant lifestyle is a flexible one, which allows you to travel anytime you want. Paris in January? Why not? I’ve been all over the world sometimes waiting until the day prior to pick a destination according to where first class was available. Yes, I said first class. Have you looked up fares to Europe from the U.S. in first class? And, it’s not just for me. My parents, spouse or partner and children all have my benefits. My family has joined me on long layovers and my five year old has been to Canada, Europe and traveled the U.S. All for free.
  5. Another common misconception is low pay. Most of the vocalization regarding the low salary of flight attendants comes from new flight attendants (under five years) or regional carrier flight attendants. I’ll agree that you’ll never get rich as a flight attendant, although I know many who make well over100,000 per year. At my airline you can fly through your vacation time and end up with almost 200 flight hours for that month. As pay increases and tops out at about 50 an hour, flying can become very profitable; it all depends on how many hours you choose to pick up. The average schedule is around 80 hours a month. Not bad for what I call a “part time” gig with plenty of flexibility and benefits.
  6. Speaking of flexibility, you probably also heard that seniority is everything at the airlines and that one is true. Once you have what’s called a “line” meaning you are off of “reserve status” (on call) it’s pretty much like running your own business, but without the headaches. You bid your schedule, trade it around so it works for you and your lifestyle, working mostly without supervision. The best part? There’s no work to bring home with you. Once the last passenger has deplaned, you’re done! Bye bye, now!
  7. You have instant family. That means more than 90,000 family members world wide! And with social media we’re even closer. I’ve belonged to a private flight attendant group on Facebook for the past year. Since then I’ve seen flight attendants pull together and raise money for injured or sick flight attendants, and I’ve witnessed an unbelievable amount of support with family issues and work issues. I’ve even seen flight attendants pull together to rescue animals by raising money for vet costs and helping get them to new homes across the country. Flight attendants are amongst the nicest, most giving people I have ever met. Surprised? Don’t be. Just like bad passengers, the bad flight attendants stand out. If you encounter a mean stew move on to another. Chances are they’ll be more helpful.

Are you interested in the flight attendant career? Have you had the chance to check out my flight attendant survival guide? It’s available on Amazon, Nook, Vook and iBooks.

“Ever wonder what the lifestyle of a flight attendant is like? Whether you are newly hired or on the track to becoming a flight attendant this guide will help you navigate through your new adventures. With advice from finding your new crash pad to love relationships to how to pack for your trips and everything in between this is a must read for anyone thinking about a career in the skies.”

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18 comments

  1. I’m sold! I love visiting your blog. Thanks for this interesting piece and a view into your career in the friendly skies.

  2. Wow, Thats a life. Waiting until the day prior to choose a destination in first class. Its like all the best places in the world are at your finger trips….can i have your job please?

  3. You are obviously a senior momma that can hold whatever you want and fly whatever you want. There isn’t much flexibility with a 3 day trip with 4 legs and 9.5 hour overnights that you CAN’T swap off of. Remember your reserve or junior days? Unless you had some sugar daddy paying your way, you wouldn’t be able to afford it unless you had a diet on nothing but ramen noodles. Yes, the career is amazing, but don’t fool the public out there. It’s not as glamorous as you make it sound. Sure we can fly first class all over the world, but we can’t afford a hotel or to even eat a good dinner in some of these places. Get real.

  4. The Flying Pinto @ 2013-06-23 23:48

    Hi Keith! Thanks for stopping by! I do have a little teeny tiny bit of seniority, but still on the bottom half of my airline. I happily have and am paying my dues. I do remember the reserve days quite well! I enjoyed that time in my life just as I am enjoying this phase. Everyone has heard about the poverty level flight attendant. There is another side and many of us that are doing quite well. I think I give a fair description. I do still find the glamor in my job. It’s what you make of it, just like anything else in life. Best to you!

  5. You forgot to tell them that they will be working ALL holidays for approximately the first 8 years… And sure, you are in a new city every night. But most layovers are 9-11 hours. The only tourist traps you’ll see are the airport t-shirt shops. But if you are lucky to get a longer layover, have fun enjoying the beaches or other cities by yourself or a fellow flight attendant that you just met and became instant friends and probably won’t see “on the line” for years.

  6. Sounds like a nice lifestyle you have going for yourself. The world is literally your oyster!

  7. I’m glad I found this post. I’m 45 and at a crossroads in my life….and have just applied for a flight attendant position ! I know it’s not an easy job, but with extensive background in customer service and love for travel I think I would love it. Fingers crossed !
    Thanks for a great blog x

  8. Hey flying Pindo.
    I’v been searching for a flying attendant job for so long but here in greece where i live when you are 28 you are old enough to have an interview and that really sucks.
    If I want to work for an American airline like Delta ,should you be only an American?

  9. I enjoyed this post. It was good insight to a flight attendants position. I’ve considered being a flight attendant for the sole purpose of free travel all around the world :)

  10. Christopher @ 2013-07-17 16:08

    Just got a a message that I am doing the video interview for a major airline….wish me luck

  11. Christopher @ 2013-07-17 16:09

    Just got the message from a major airline asking me to do the video portion of my interview…..wow…that took no time at all….wish I knew more the 80 hour month pay.

  12. Danielle @ 2013-08-13 13:25

    hey i have come to a point where im not sure i want to go to shcool or find a job but it seems like if i become a flight attendant i can do both. do you think you can help me?

  13. It’s nice to know that flight attendants do get paid a good salary (maybe not starting). I think that is one thing I had always heard. The free flying is definitely a perk. Does it get hard for you and your family still with being away so often?

  14. Sara!
    This is a great article! I honestly didn’t realize that once I stepped past the six month mark, I made ‘lifer’ status. And I thought flying was just until I figured out a career, but nope. I say I’m now ruined, because, for now, flying is way too much fun to give up:)

  15. Goes to show that it’s not all about the money! Long hours, not so great pay, but tons of perks that are priceless!

  16. What a great blog post, my friend is a air stewardess and even though she loves it I wonder how she manages the hours!

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  17. Coming someone that has a lot of friends that are flight attendants….they all love the lifestyle even though the pay isn’t that great. It’s good to see people can do what they enjoy not do what pays the most.

  18. I have been asked to go to training for flight attendant. I’m very unsure if I can afford to take this position because of having a mortgage, car payments, etc. and having to live or commute from another state. How easy is it to pick up flights for extra pay? I am in my 50′s and have been working from home for a few years, will I ever get home, lol.

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