What is a Flight Attendant Salary in the U.S Right Now
What is a Flight Attendant Salary in the U.S Right Now

To many people, being a flight attendant looks like a great job. You get to meet and interact with new people, travel to new places and are well respected in your field. If you’ve ever considered a career as a flight attendant, you’ve probably wondered how much the job pays.

Here is a breakdown of how much a flight attendant makes as well as some other much-needed information that goes into that salary number.

Who is a Flight Attendants?

Flight attendants are in charge of an aircraft’s cabin and handle the passengers’ safety and comfort. They spend more time with passengers than any other airline employee, and they strive to provide the most customized service to ‌every passenger throughout the journey.

Flight attendants can work in either first-class or economy class, providing more complex service to a smaller number of passengers. Service entails attending to a wide range of demands and requests, and flights only give attendants a limited amount of time throughout the trip to provide the most personalized service to ‌every passenger.

What is the role of a Flight Attendant?

Almost most of a flight attendant’s responsibilities revolve around safety, however, customer service is also crucial.

The captain briefs the flight attendants about an hour before each trip. The weather, potential turbulence, flight duration, and other factors that may affect the upcoming flight is all discussed in depth.

They also give them information about the aircraft’s safety features and emergency equipment supplies. A passenger list is checked, and flight attendants are alerted if any special needs passengers, young children, or VIPs will be on board.

Flight attendants assist passengers with the boarding process once they have been called to board. They assist any passengers with special needs, minors, or VIPs to ensure that it properly cared for while boarding.

Attendants check for accuracy and possibly for fake or stolen tickets and seating positions. They also assist passengers with loading carry-on luggage, ensuring that it complies with the aircraft’s or airline’s size and weight restrictions.

In a safety demonstration, flight attendants are also responsible for advising passengers on specific aircraft safety requirements. They teach passengers how to find the nearest emergency exit, how to correctly tighten their seatbelts, what to do if there is turbulence, how to use safety vests or flotation devices, and how to use the drop-down oxygen masks. They may show passengers a short movie covering this information while the flight attendant monitors them.

Following the safety demonstration, attendants secure the cabin by turning off electronic devices and mobile phones, properly stowing carry-ons, ensuring that seats are in an upright posture, and stowing tray tables.

Is Being a Flight Attendant Worth It?

For many, being a flight attendant is a rewarding job, but it can come with some downsides. One of the biggest is the schedule. Generally, flight attendants work varying hours that include holidays, nights, and weekends. For people searching for a regular work schedule, the flight attendant is probably not the answer.

There are also other factors to consider, such as being away from home for long stretches of time. Even when not on a flight, attendants might find themselves stuck in another state for days, waiting to go back to work. This can be exciting for those who love to travel and explore, but it can be difficult if you have a family you long to be home with.

One more thing to consider is the changing world. There are times when travel bans can impact the airline industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts up to a 17% growth in demand for flight attendants, but the demand could always change.

Overall, if you love to travel, enjoy working with people, and don’t mind being away from home, being a flight attendant can be a great job. The compensation and benefits make it a worthy career.

What is the Average Flight Attendants Salary?

The annual flight attendant salary can be difficult to calculate because it varies based on multiple factors. They normally pay flight attendants:

  • A guaranteed base rate
  • Flying hours
  • Layover allowances or expenses
  • Sales commissions (depending on the airline) (depending on the airline)

This means your monthly salary will depend on how many hours you spend flying as well as how many products, such as coffee or perfume, you sell to customers. As you can imagine, the amount you successfully sell is also likely to vary depending on the route and time of day.

For example, Indeed calculates that the average base rate for flight attendants in the US is $32,704, but that doesn’t consider flying hours, commission, or layovers. Plus, you may also get other benefits with financial value, such as free accommodation or flights.

Although these won’t affect your salary, they can help you save money by lowering your outgoings and giving you more disposable income.

So, how much money can you expect to make as a flight attendant in total per year?

Despite the many variables, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that in 2020, 80% of flight attendants will earn between $30,930 and $84,790, with a median annual pay of $59,050. You’ll need to look at what specific airlines are giving for more precise estimations.

How Much Do Flight Attendants Make: Salary vs Hourly

Photo: KnowInsiders
Photo: KnowInsiders

Most flight attendants in the U.S. are not paid a traditional salary. Instead, they are usually paid an hourly rate. This rate is paid from the time the cabin door of the airplane closes until it opens. The term for this is “block time” and it’s standard in the industry.

The reason this is important is there is work that is done (and time spent at work) outside of the time the cabin door is closed. This includes getting the plane ready for the flight, seating passengers, and more.

Keep in mind that although this is a common form of payment, there are more variations based on airline. Some airlines pay per flight based on distance (miles flown) and there are even some airlines outside of the United States that pay a salary.

Additional Pay (Per Diem)

Since flight attendants often have to travel to other cities and countries for work, they are also paid an additional amount of money to cover their food and other expenses while traveling. This is called a per-diem. This also depends on the airline but is typically $1.50 to $2 per hour for domestic flights. For international flights, it can be even more.

This amount of money is typically more than enough to cover the added expense of being away from home. Also, since this per diem is meant to cover expenses while working, it is not taxed.

What is Beginner Flight Attendant Salary?

Experience is the biggest factor in how much you are paid as a flight attendant.

When first starting out, you can expect to earn in the range of $24-$29 per hour of flight time. Depending on the airline you work for, this will start to increase after your first 6 months, or after your first year.

As you start to build up more experience you’ll not only make more per hour of flight time, you’ll also have a better selection of flights/destination and can earn more with longer flights.

As you continue to get more experience, you can expect to be earning in the range of $35-40 per hour of flight time by the time you are 5 years into your career.

What is Experienced Flight Attendant Salary?

As your experience level continues to increase, you can expect to become of the higher earning flight attendants in the industry. For many airlines, this means that you can earn as much as $60 per hour of flight time. That’s more than double what you make in your first year.

According to recent surveys in the industry, the top 10% of flight attendants can expect to make in the range of $90,000 per year. This assumes 13 years of experience. Not only is that more than most jobs with a similar time in the field, that doesn’t even take into account the other benefits and additional pay mentioned earlier.

Factors that Influence a Flight Attendants’ Salary in the Us

The average flight attendant’s income may not reflect the earnings of all flight attendants. Flight attendants, like many other professions, have varying earning potential based on four major factors.

1. Airline Type:

The sort of airline for which a flight attendant works determines his or her salary. Mainline airlines, such as Delta, American, or United Airlines, typically pay greater starting salaries to flight attendants. Regional airlines, such as Mesa, PSA, or GoJet, pay slightly less.

2. The Number of Guaranteed Hours:

The term “guaranteed hours/month” is used to describe the pay of flight attendants. Guaranteed hours per month range from 70 to 80 hours, with starting salary ranging from $17 to $26 per hour, depending on the airline and other criteria.

They pay flight attendants for the complete amount of guaranteed hours even if they are on call (reserve status) or do not reach the guaranteed flight hours for the month.

3. Level of Experience:

Advancement as a flight attendant is largely determined by seniority in terms of both career growth and salary. Flight attendants who have been in the industry for a long time, especially if they have worked for the same company, are given more responsibilities.

Overseeing other flight attendants, scheduling, and recruiting are just a few of them. As a result, wages are generally higher.

4. Location:

A flight attendant’s salary, like that of many other occupations, is influenced by where they work.

Flight attendants working in major metropolitan areas, such as New York City or Los Angeles, may earn more than those working in smaller, less busy areas.

What Is the Average Flight Attendant Salary by State?

Photo: KnowInsiders
Photo: KnowInsiders

Unfortunately, the BLS wage data for flight attendants does not cover all 50 states. For 2021, the BLS has the average flight attendant salary for 20 states. For previous years, the data varies in availability. Below you’ll find the average annual wage for flight attendants in as many states as there is data available for from 2016 to 2021.

State Annual Salary Monthly Pay Weekly Pay Hourly Wage
Washington $66,781 $5,565 $1,284 $32.11
Maryland $65,931 $5,494 $1,268 $31.70
Nebraska $64,556 $5,380 $1,241 $31.04
Virginia $63,708 $5,309 $1,225 $30.63
New York $63,634 $5,303 $1,224 $30.59
Delaware $61,721 $5,143 $1,187 $29.67
New Hampshire $61,561 $5,130 $1,184 $29.60
Oklahoma $59,999 $5,000 $1,154 $28.85
California $59,780 $4,982 $1,150 $28.74
Massachusetts $58,971 $4,914 $1,134 $28.35
Vermont $58,052 $4,838 $1,116 $27.91
Hawaii $57,088 $4,757 $1,098 $27.45
Wyoming $56,929 $4,744 $1,095 $27.37
Idaho $56,189 $4,682 $1,081 $27.01
Connecticut $55,514 $4,626 $1,068 $26.69
Maine $55,450 $4,621 $1,066 $26.66
West Virginia $55,303 $4,609 $1,064 $26.59
Rhode Island $54,720 $4,560 $1,052 $26.31
Texas $54,435 $4,536 $1,047 $26.17
Alaska $54,397 $4,533 $1,046 $26.15
Pennsylvania $54,367 $4,531 $1,046 $26.14
New Jersey $54,059 $4,505 $1,040 $25.99
Montana $53,995 $4,500 $1,038 $25.96
Nevada $53,969 $4,497 $1,038 $25.95
North Dakota $53,953 $4,496 $1,038 $25.94
Arizona $53,439 $4,453 $1,028 $25.69
Indiana $53,097 $4,425 $1,021 $25.53
Minnesota $52,666 $4,389 $1,013 $25.32
Tennessee $52,616 $4,385 $1,012 $25.30
Wisconsin $52,387 $4,366 $1,007 $25.19
South Dakota $52,376 $4,365 $1,007 $25.18
Ohio $52,234 $4,353 $1,005 $25.11
Oregon $51,566 $4,297 $992 $24.79
Utah $51,561 $4,297 $992 $24.79
Georgia $51,551 $4,296 $991 $24.78
Louisiana $51,077 $4,256 $982 $24.56
South Carolina $50,999 $4,250 $981 $24.52
Colorado $50,805 $4,234 $977 $24.43
Kansas $50,793 $4,233 $977 $24.42
Alabama $50,346 $4,195 $968 $24.20
Iowa $50,291 $4,191 $967 $24.18
New Mexico $49,773 $4,148 $957 $23.93
Florida $48,588 $4,049 $934 $23.36
Kentucky $48,558 $4,046 $934 $23.35
Arkansas $47,700 $3,975 $917 $22.93
Michigan $47,679 $3,973 $917 $22.92
Mississippi $47,583 $3,965 $915 $22.88
Illinois $47,441 $3,953 $912 $22.81
Missouri $46,683 $3,890 $898 $22.44
North Carolina $43,458 $3,622 $836 $20.89

Which Airlines Pay Flight Attendants the Most?

American Airlines

The average annual salary for a flight attendant at American Airlines is $43,460. The most experienced flight attendants (top 10%) can expect to make an average of $86,000 annually while beginners can expect to average under $30,000 per year.

American Airlines does also have programs in place to pay their flight attendants bonuses, commissions, and profit-sharing. These additional forms of pay average $2,825 per year.

Delta Airlines

The average annual salary for a flight attendant at Delta Airlines is $40,236. The most experienced flight attendants (top 10%) can expect to make an average of $91,000 annually while beginners can expect to average around $24,000 per year. Something you’ll notice on this list is that the larger carriers tend to pay more than the smaller regional-sized airlines. Delta is no exception.

Delta Airlines does also have a very generous program in place to pay their flight attendants bonuses, commissions, and profit-sharing. These additional forms of pay average $6,400 per year. This is among the highest of the airlines we looked at.

Southwest Airlines

The average annual salary for a flight attendant at Southwest Airlines is $42,000. The most experienced flight attendants (top 10%) can expect to make an average of $65,000 annually while beginners can expect to average under $30,000 per year. In addition to having one of the highest average salaries, Southwest is considered to have among the happiest employees of any airline.

Southwest Airlines does also have programs in place to pay their flight attendants bonuses, commissions, and profit-sharing. These additional forms of pay average $4,800 per year. This is also one of the better programs for additional pay in the industry.

United Airlines

The average annual salary for a flight attendant at United Airlines is $44,219. The most experienced flight attendants (top 10%) can expect to make an average of $100,000 annually while beginners can expect to average under $28,000 per year. United pays their most senior flight attendants better than any other airlines on our list. If you have a lot of experience and love your job as a flight attendant, this is a great place to consider working.

United Airlines does also have programs in place to pay their flight attendants bonuses, commissions, and profit-sharing. These additional forms of pay average $5,200 per year. This is also one of the better programs for flight attendants to earn money in addition to their regular pay.

Is there a future for flight attendants?

Indeed there is! Most studies have projected the employment of these professionals to grow by 30% from 2020 to 2030. There are roughly 17,600 openings for these professionals each year, on average.

The average flight attendant salary in the USA has been estimated to be $79,869 as of April 26, 2022. The pay falls between $64,109 and $99,028. It is influenced by factors such as education, experience, and certifications.

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