3 Things You Didn't Know About Being a Flight Attendant
There are many misconceptions about a career as a flight attendant. Popular culture has created a mythology around this career that gives an impression of an easy job with luxurious perks. Although becoming a flight attendant can be a good career decision, it is a much more strenuous and stressful job than most people are aware of. If you are interested in this high-flying career, here are a few things you should know before you finalize your decision.
The Hours Are Crazy
It is very rare for a flight attendant to have a schedule that allows them to have consistent evenings at home. Frequently they will work for two to three days in a row with mandated rest periods between flights. On some overseas flights, they may get to spend some time in the destination country, but typically they will help passengers deplane, take a shuttle to a hotel, catch a few hours of sleep and then be up and back at the airport for their next flight early the next morning.
Only the most senior attendants have a high level of control over their schedule with new attendants often being placed on an on-call status that can have them flying out to various destinations with very little notice. Airlines don't ever close and until engineers perfect autonomous flight that means that flight attendants don't have regular days off or set holidays off either.
The Job Can Be Dangerous
Many people make the correct assumption that being a flight attendant can be physically challenging. Attendants that crew lengthy flights often work 10 to 12-hour shifts. They spend much of their time on their feet and need to lift heavy luggage over their heads frequently. What many don't know is that the job is not only challenging but can actually be quite dangerous.
The illness and injury rates for flight attendants are higher than average here in the U.S. Attendants regularly experience more sickness and injuries than long-haul truck drivers or loggers. Attendants come into close contact with hundreds of people every day. When you think about it, it isn't surprising that they contract viruses frequently. Injuries occur due to the stress of repeated lifting as well as from the results of turbulence in the air which can cause loss of balance and falls as well as creating the danger of items falling from the storage compartments.
The Pay Is Average But the Perks are Cool
Considering the essential nature of their job, you might assume that flight attendants are paid very well. The fact is that the average salary for a flight attendant sits right at the national average of around $50,000 a year. It is true that with time and experience an attendant can work their way into a low six-figure income, but that is not common. Attendants that work for mainline companies make significantly more than those working for smaller airlines, and those that work long-haul flights will also earn more than those that run day trips such as commuter flights.
The perks that come with a flight attendant career can help make up for the average salary, however. They vary with each airline, but attendants can typically count on getting deeply discounted flights for their personal use, and some airlines will even allow them to fly for free on standby. Not only do the attendants get these perks, but they can also share them with close family as well. Additionally, some layovers between international flights can offer them the opportunity to experience cultures all over the world while they wait for their next scheduled assignment.
A career as a flight attendant can be exciting and offer opportunities to see the world that many people simply cannot afford. But the job is physically exhausting and can even be dangerous at times. The pay is good, but it's not great. Only with seniority do you stand the chance of growing your paycheck into the six-figure range. On the other hand, this career is projected to grow at a greater than average rate and job security is outstanding. This can be a great career choice but go into it aware of the challenges.