Flight Attendant Salary Overview

flight attendantMajor airlines are required by law to provide flight attendants for the safety and security of the traveling public. Although the primary job of the flight attendants is to ensure that security and safety regulations are followed, attendants also try to make flights comfortable and enjoyable for passengers (BLS).

Starting salary range

Starting flight attendant salaries range from $23,897 (Nevada) to $45,781 (North Carolina)*.

Average salary

A flight attendant's median salary is $56,145 and maximum flight attendant salaries top out at over $75,000**. Interestingly, smaller companies tend to pay more than large companies, according to Payscale's Median Salary by Company Size Charts. The smaller companies likely refer to private jets and timeshare aircraft.

Opportunities for advancement

Flight attendants start out as substitutes, on reserve status and remain on call to fill in for vacancies. Flight attendants advance by having more choice over their schedule and routes, typically based on seniority. Some advance to lead, supervisory or managerial roles through experience. Others may move to different positions dealing with the public such as ticket windows, or reservations. Flight attendants gain additional education, such as a bachelor's degree in order to qualify for administrative or operations office roles.

Benefits and perks

Paid time off, health care, pension, education reimbursement, sick days, insurance, bonus, and taxes increase the total compensation package by an average 30.1%**, bringing the median flight attendant compensation to $81,043.

Salary negotiation tips

Negotiating salary can be tricky. Large airlines typically set up a salary range (or salary band), so the organization will have a little room to move on salaries (about 5-10%). Smaller private jets or time share companies may actually have a little more wiggle room on salary. Either way, don't expect an employer to give you a higher salary just because you ask. Instead, prepare a well documented justification and stay within the organization's salary range for the specific position so you'll have a good chance at getting the salary increase you're targeting.

Your greatest ability to negotiate salary is when you have options. Interview with a number of airlines, time-share jet companies, and private companies. In addition, do your homework – get salary information online with AOL Jobs Salary Center or from staffing and recruiting firms in your industry. Sometimes just having research on average salaries for your local market may provide rationale for a higher salary.

-- Find flight attendant jobs


* According to www.payscale.com.

** According to www.salary.com

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Trackstar...I don't think anyone is really complaining about how much they make, but about how the media gets their facts so wrong. My husband worked for GM for over 30 years, and while I wouldn't complain about his salary, it did make me mad when the media reported that GM employees made twice what he was making. I felt like all our friends were looking at us, wondering why we weren't living a lot better than we were...like we just weren't managing our finances too well.

Also, there are a lot of reasons to stay in a job you are not happy with. People with families and/or bills need a steady income. College degrees aren't magic keys to success, and managerial positions can be shaky.

April 24 2010 at 3:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Oteria Jackson

I am a Flight Attendant for a Major Southern Based Airline. I have almost 30 years on the job. The Salary Range Is correct For the Past Four Years, I have been earning 6 Figures or close to it. My Advise to other Flight Attendants, making less. Dump the Union. Place those Monthly Union dues in a Money Market Fund, so that one day you can retire wealthy.

April 23 2010 at 11:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Oteria Jackson's comment

happy for you! but some people work to live not live to work, you are never home, it's just not possible unless you are counting your per deim as salary. Six figures for a FA, wish it were true for y our sake anyway, but not believable.

April 25 2010 at 12:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It is quite CLEAR to most of the readers that you DID NOT go to college....at least a real one. Shall I begin with your poor grammar? Or shall I point out the poor punctuation? Or shall I simply point out your poor sentence structure?

I have worked for a major airline for 21 years and I know most of the information in this article is completely inaccurate for the majority of flight attendants! If what you write is true and accurate...count yourself lucky and amongst the MINORITY. Keep up the good work!

April 23 2010 at 10:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Paul, if those like you have those degrees but can't use them, you obviously didn't didn't do well enough as a student to be able to compete in the marketplace or you chose "philosophical" majors that just don't translate well in the marketplace. There are plenty of career fields that pay extremely well - it's just a matter of strategically choosing the right direction and being so competitive that you get what you want out there. Otherwise you just end up being another helpless whiner making posts on sites like this instead of empowering yourself. Your job is becoming obsolete. Time to get busy, my friend!

April 23 2010 at 8:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What I'd like to know from posters who are flight attendants and complain after years of receiving low pay and benefits, why haven't you tried to improve your situation by going to college as distance learners online, earning degrees in better-paying career fields? Others are out there doing it every day. I've done it myself. Rather than sit and complain, wouldn't it make more sense to channel that dissatisfied energy into furthering your own education? Hard to feel sorry for you when you could do so much more with your lives. It tends to scream "loser" when you put 20 years into something that so obviously puts you on the "losing" end, day after day, when others around you are doing so much more for themselves. Just my opinion.

April 23 2010 at 8:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

At that point it really is a personal choice, I'd think with 10+ years at a place, why not try to be eval'ed for an instructor position, or better yet move elsewhere within the company. None of the choices are easy pickings, but there are options.

April 23 2010 at 8:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't know where this person received there information, but i'v been with a major airline for 38 yr and we do not make any where near the amount that was stated. We have also lost our pension after we were told that the company could not use it for anything. The job does have it's benefits as far as but pay is not one of them.

April 23 2010 at 8:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I've been flying for 9 years. Our salary is no where near those amounts. My company starts around $18K and tops around $40K. We are making the same wages as 1994. It's a great job, but we don't do it for the money, to be sure!!!

April 23 2010 at 8:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

On what planet are these pay-scales reported...certainly not Earth? 37 years with NWA, now Delta, I have lost most of what I've worked hard to build over the years. My pay has been cut 50%, pension has been trashed,not to mention the radiation and muscle pulls and bruises over the years. Glamorous?...maybe 25 years ago...now it's just a real air bus full of self-centered and rude passengers. I'd get out but who would hire this 58 year-old lady who has dedicated her whole life to the safety and comfort of others. My advice?...find a real job in a career where there is respect and a chance for advancement. All airlines are in a race to the bottom, built on the backs of flight crews. Stay away!!!!!!!

April 23 2010 at 7:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The airlines usually only pay around 15.00$ an hour. Plus they pay for per diem (money for layovers or basically trip expense). The pay is so low because they figure they are giving you excellent benefits on their airline and perhaps low cost flights on other carriers. Private jets pay higher because they do not give you flight benefits only medical. So you have to decide which is best for you, more flying with a major airline vs more money with a private jet or company.

April 23 2010 at 7:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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