Average Salary of Flight Attendants

By Jay White

June 7, 2015   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

The median annual salary of flight attendants who work for major commercial airlines in the United States was nearly $40,000 in 2015. As in many other jobs within the commercial aviation industry, there is a broad range in terms of salary for this specific profession. The top ten percent of flight attendants assigned to American passenger air carriers can earn more than $67,000 per year, but this would require experience, qualification, and a considerable number of flight hours.

Flight attendant candidates who seek positions at the airlines that offer greater pay and benefits can expect considerable competition. In general the largest air carriers tend to pay more, although flight attendants who work aboard executive flights can earn quite a bit as long as they are constantly in the air. To this effect, the permanent residence of flight crews will work in their favor if their address is near a major international airport or airline hub.

Flying for regional airlines could mean less pay but more free time for flight attendants. Beginners can expect to make about $24,000 in their first-year base salary. Employees in the airline industry of the U.S. can expect pay incentives such as bonuses and profit sharing schemes, which could boost annual cash earnings by more than $3,000.

Flight attendants stand to earn the most when they are flying away from their home base. Making $25 per hour in the air is not unheard of, and this hourly rate can be further boosted by two or more dollars of per diem pay, which can be even higher when they work aboard international flights. Nonetheless, it is important to remember that flight attendants get about 75 hours of flight time per month on average, and thus it is crucial that they earn other forms of pay such as per diem, bonuses, profit sharing, etc.

It is estimated that flight attendants working for the major airlines in the U.S. will reach a maximum hourly pay of about $40 after more than 15 years in service. Senior flight attendants earn considerably more than their junior flight crew members, but they tend to get less flight hours each month.

Jay White

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