- Flight attendants don’t get paid when we are not actually flying: That is correct and incorrect at the same time. While it is true that we are getting paid something during ground time, it is generally just our per diem. This money for food generally ranges from $1-$2 per hour. The bulk of flight attendant earnings come from hours of in-the-air flying. So when you are antsy to get to your next destination, just remember, you aren’t the only one who wants that entry door closed quickly.
- It’s best not to film a flight attendant without their permission: Since we live in a world of social media, this can be a tricky one. Most airlines welcome the positive media, and try to deescalate the negative media associated with viral videos. However, while airlines request that you ask for permission to film, not doing so could put you in the hot seat – with individual employees – in court. It is understandable, since most negatively portrayed aviation films start after a situation has already escalated, and tend to show a one sided story. In this ‘sue happy’ country of ours, if a flight attendant tells you that you do not have their permission to film them, it is best to just put that camera away or that could end up being one pricey flight.
- Flight attendants have normal home lives: It’s a common misconception that flight attendants are never home and have boyfriends/girlfriends in every state. Well, some probably do, but contrary to the stigma, many have committed partners, spouses and children and are home more than you think. Some crewmembers are home more than the typical 9-5 employee. This statement, however, may be true for airline hosts who work for private companies, charters and public figures.
- Flight attendants can make more money than you think: There’s a common misconception that flight attendants make a low income. I remember once serving a customer with a child. The child made the comment, “I want to be a flight attendant!” It warmed my heart, which was quickly shattered by the mother saying, “Flight attendants don’t make very much money”. This used to be a true statement, however, today’s flight attendant hourly pay generally ranges between $30 and $45 dollars an hour, but flight attendants can reach higher than $70 per hour based on their longevity and the company. Plus if they play their cards right, attendants can easily reach six figures in one year. In this situation I actually bent down to the little one, and said, “Your mom is correct. I am a new flight attendant, and I don’t make very much, but do you see that lady over there,” pointing to my fellow crew member as I questioned, “She has been working for a long time and is actually a millionaire.” The faces, on both the child and the mother, were priceless.
- Know a flight attendant? YOU can cost them their job: What is one way that your flight attendant friend or acquaintance can help you? You guessed it buddy passes! But did you know that when you’re flying on your pal’s pass, you are a reflection of them in the company’s eyes. Anything you say or do can have a direct effect, up to and including termination, on the airline employee that you scored the pass from. So, if you start to get perturbed because you keep getting bumped from flights, remember to remain calm, poised and professional or you AND your friend may have to start paying full-fares.
- There are thousands of people that want the job: Even with the vomit, stinky lavatories and negative media attention, the flight attendant position is very much sought after. Major carriers only accept applications during a specific window of time – sometimes that time frame only lasts a day or two. Consequently they end up receiving tens of thousands, sometimes over 100k + applications! They end up hiring only a small percentage from those applicants, sometimes as little as 1%! Stats like those actually make it easier to get into Harvard University than to become a flight attendant.
- Flight attendants do not have to put your bags in the overhead bins for you: In today’s time, with airlines charging for checked bags, almost everyone has serious carryon bags now. While it is required for flight attendants to “assist” with your bags, that does not mean that we are expected to lift heavy items above our heads. This can result (and has resulted) in injuries that are not covered by our companies. Remember it like this, you pack it you stack it, you bring it, you sling it. If something is too heavy for you to pick up yourself, we will be happy to “assist” you in checking it to your final destination.
- Flight attendants don’t have to move to their home base: Most people assume that flight attendants drive to work just like anyone else. This is a statement that is both true and false, depending on the flight attendant. One of the perks of working for an airline is that flight attendants don’t have to live where they work. It is true that crewmembers must start and end their trips where they are based, however they don’t have to live where they are based. Not only do they fly in from different states, some crewmembers commute in from different countries. Talk about work flexibility!
- Flight attendants generally do not fly the same route: This is probably the #1 question flight attendants get, and it gets old – fast. While airlines have specific routes, flight attendants generally do not. Many of us have control over our schedules and can choose where we fly strategically based on how long the overnight is or where it is. So instead of asking, “Do you normally fly this route”, try rephrasing the question to, “where do you like to fly when you’re working?”
What questions do you have about the flight life? Comment below or message me if you’d like to see something answered or featured in a future post. Fly Safe! ✈