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Why Does Everyone Want To Work For An Airline  
User currently offlineBruce From United States of America, joined May 1999, 5099 posts, RR: 13
Posted (12 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 7290 times:

Ok, I'm not talking about the "glam" jobs like Pilot and Flight Attendant. I'm talking about the low end jobs that here in the USA pay so very little. All the LCC's with their low pay......how the heck can a JetBlue worker stay out of poverty? And......there seems to be an endless supply of them so apparantly they love those jobs (i.e., customer service, ramp, etc)

I'm not singling out JetBlue - all the Regionals, Southwest, AirTran, even some of the majors. There seems to be an enormous demand for those jobs even though people could work somewhere else and get the same $$ or even have less stress. AND, surprise surprise these airport workers (for the most part) seem happy and cheerful! I know people who work at a Burger joint making the same money and many can barely manage a smile!!!!

So, why? Is it only for the flight benefits? Free flights are cool....but you still have to pay the rent. And stock options dont pay bills. Are most people who take those jobs students? And, I wonder how many of those people just do it for a "job" versus doing it as an entry into a future higher paying job in the airline.

For those who do airport work, why do you do it? Since I began seriously scouring job openings and applying I've been wondering what's in it for most people, because it sure ain't $$$$! As for myself, it would be an entry to a future higher pay job.


Bruce Leibowitz - Jackson, MS (KJAN) - Canon 50D/100-400L IS lens
17 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineJmhLUV2fly From United States of America, joined Dec 1999, 559 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (12 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 7243 times:

As for myself, I work with AirTran and yes while the customer service work does sometimes involve stressful situations with working with the flying public..ie. delayed/canceled flights, lost baggage, etc.
I still love my work. My heart, sincere passion and high regard goes into all I do, it really comes naturally for I only want the very best for each and every passenger that board our flights(I even have a high regard for those passengers flying the competition)...yes we do sometimes have bad days but on average I love to go to work...I mean heck its at the airport....there are times where I still cant believe I actually have the job I do....getting paid to work at the airport and work around airplanes...I can remember as a kid begging my parents to take me to the airport...now I work there...its great. They really could pay me nothing (of coarse we do have to eat and this is not possible) but they could pay me nothing and I would still love what I do...
So if you are like me....in working for an airline, pay is really just like iceing on the cake after licking the spoon.

User currently offlineSJCguy From United States of America, joined Apr 2001, 579 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (12 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 7225 times:

I'm a ramp supervisor for Southwest Airlines, and love everything about my job, besides burning my hand on the engine cowlings!  Wink/being sarcastic I started with the company 5 years ago, and have never met a more loving group of people in my life. I love airplanes, like most of us here, and working for an airline (especially out on the AOA), allows you to be in constant phyisical contact with them. The freedom is awesome. Southwest offers employees unlimited free flights, and when you work ground ops for any airline, you normally have what is called "over-the-counter-agreements" with all airlines that serve the airport you work with, therefore you recieve free unlimited flights on them also. I don't know about other airlines, but overtime is endless, you can work as much or as little as you want. If I need a bigger paycheck, I force myself to spend more time out on the ramp with the planes. But you're right...most people do not work for airlines for the money. The travel benefits are extrordinary. We try and tell ourself that the flight benefits pay off. I have, to date, taken over 500 round trips on Southwest, and that's not including my trips abroad. Calculate all of those flights, and you'de have a pretty big bill!  Smile It doesn't pay the rent though, I know!  Sad

It's an great job, it's gotten me through school, and I have seen the world in that 5 year span and probably spent under a grand total doing it. I'm only 23, but I plan on staying with the company for a while. I have a business degree, and will be looking into our Marketing department in the future. For now, I'm having fun!  Big thumbs up


User currently offlineBruce From United States of America, joined May 1999, 5099 posts, RR: 13
Reply 3, posted (12 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 7208 times:

So it would seem that a lot of it is a love of planes/aviation/flying? It's one of those few fields that people get into because they just love it and the heck with the money...maybe sort of like being a Minister or a Teacher? You dont go into those fields to get rich.

this is an interesting topic. So lets' hear y'all....why did you get into it?


Bruce Leibowitz - Jackson, MS (KJAN) - Canon 50D/100-400L IS lens
User currently offlineUnited_Fan From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 7685 posts, RR: 6
Reply 4, posted (12 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 7129 times:

I was wondering the same thing. I would like to work part-time on the ramp or operations,but I wouldn't want to deal with the public. Nor with the way things are,want to depend on it full time.

Champagne For My Real Friends,and Real Pain For My Sham Friends
User currently offlineGoingboeing From United States of America, joined Dec 1999, 4875 posts, RR: 15
Reply 5, posted (12 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 7104 times:

It's pretty common knowledge that the smell of Jet-A lures a lot of people.

User currently offlineMSYtristar From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (12 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 7094 times:

Well, I've been hooked on all things airline-related since I was about 2, so needless to say I was ecstatic when Vanguard hired me as a CSA in May, 2001. I loved every minute of my time there. I have made a few great friends whom I still speak with frequently today. And it just felt good seeing these passengers leave our ticket counter with a smile. I am enjoying it even more with Frontier. And no, I do not plan on remaining a CSA forever....I'm looking into management/marketing in the future...but we all have to start somewhere. For me, working around aircraft and just being at the airport in general is my dream job, even if I do have to put up with disgruntled passengers, cancelled flights, etc.

When I graduated from college last year, I thought I was automatically going to jump right into a high-paying, high-prestige job. But that's not always the case in this day in age, especially with a degree in Travel/Tourism Marketing. I've learned to accept the cards I've been dealt, give everything 110%, and eventually, I'll be where I want to be.

Steve in New Orleans

User currently offlineElwood64151 From United States of America, joined Feb 2002, 2477 posts, RR: 5
Reply 7, posted (12 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 7064 times:

I don't know about what it's like working at JFK in NYC, but back at MCI, $8 an hour was standard starting-pay. In Kansas City, earning $8/hr isn't bad money. You can have an apartment and a nice used car on it (believe me, I did it). And if you're living with someone who's earning at least $6 and hour, you're doing pretty well. You can get a nicer apartment and two nice used cars. Sure, you have to save your money before you can buy a TV or a computer, but it's not so bad.

The lure of the job, to a great extent, really is the flight benefits. At Vanguard, we flew to only 18 cities and people used those beni's frequently for those cities, as well as the interline travel on OALs.

The job on the ramp really isn't all that stressful. Upstairs can be if things don't go well. The operations desk is only stressful when the ramp and/or customer service people aren't paying any attention to what you're telling them. I don't know about MX, but it pays better, anyway.

It really isn't all that bad. And being next to the planes everyday is great. I now work at a grocery store while I'm earning my B.B.A. I find it far more stressful than working at FL's MCI customer service counter. But most people have this perception that airline work is more stressful, and so I'm automatically considered a C/S pro. Ah, well, it helps me with promotions and such...


Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it in summer school.
User currently offlineTango-Bravo From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 3813 posts, RR: 26
Reply 8, posted (12 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 6984 times:

It all comes down to this:

There are a lot of people who don't work for an airline who wish they did; there are also lots of people who work for an airline who wish they didn't.

Part of the reason is, I'm sure, the human inclination to imagine that "the grass is greener on the other side" regardless of on which side one may be.

There are many reasons for the sentiment of airline employees who wish they weren't. Leading reason for this feeling, IMO, is that an industry which once took pride in being synonymous with high quality service has been turned into little more than an airborne bus line which at the same time maintains the world's only remaining lawful caste system among its customers, which its frontline service employees are expected to administer while its inventors hide safely in their ivory towers. Another is excessive customer entitlement attitudes, which again, are pandered to by managers who never deal with the monsters they have created. Still another is that, due to the airlines' practice of packing the planes with low fare non-profit pax, the flight benefits which once meant much to many airline employess have become largely meaningless.

User currently offlineReddevl442 From United States of America, joined Aug 2001, 96 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (12 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 6928 times:

I pretty much echo what SJCguy says about Southwest.
My father works for them at GEG and always tells me what a great company it is.
Imagine my surprise when I got an interview for the ramp in AUS last summer.
Sadly I wasnt hired,but I will be trying again as soon as possible.

I really want to work for an airline because that is what ive wanted since I was 5

Did I have a dream...or did the dream have me??
User currently offlineEA CO AS From United States of America, joined Nov 2001, 15347 posts, RR: 60
Reply 10, posted (12 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 6881 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Another is excessive customer entitlement attitudes, which again, are pandered to by managers who never deal with the monsters they have created.

For that line alone, if I could add you to my respected users list TWICE, I would!  Big grin

"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem - government IS the problem." - Ronald Reagan
User currently offlineLAX From United States of America, joined Dec 2000, 2290 posts, RR: 3
Reply 11, posted (12 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 6870 times:

The main reason would be ........

So that I can lead my wonderful passengers to their comfy "Sleeper Seats" on my brand-spankin'-new Lockheed L-1649A Constellation! Ahhhhh!!  Smile

User currently offlineEA CO AS From United States of America, joined Nov 2001, 15347 posts, RR: 60
Reply 12, posted (12 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 6865 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

A co-worker of mine said it best:

The pay is crap, but at least the hours suck!  Big grin

"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem - government IS the problem." - Ronald Reagan
User currently offlineOzarkD9S From United States of America, joined Oct 2001, 5665 posts, RR: 20
Reply 13, posted (12 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 6810 times:

I was a suumertime part-time res agent for TWA in '89. After 3 months of that I never wanted to be a part of it again. That didn't dampen my enthusiasm for aviation in the slightest.

User currently offlineAcidradio From United States of America, joined Mar 2001, 1880 posts, RR: 10
Reply 14, posted (12 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days ago) and read 6804 times:

The pay is average where I work. But compared to other jobs with similar or even better payscales, there are advantages that you won't find elsewhere.

On the ramp, I don't have to deal with the public 99% of the time. Bags can't complain to me. I get to work with commercial aircraft, which in my normal everyday life I wouldn't have access to other than as a paying passenger. For most people, they get to take a seat inside one once in a while but I get to see the whole machine up close and all around it. I get to meet the people who fly it. And I get to learn bits and pieces about the airline industry from them directly. No amount of journals or publications could make up for seeing how an airline functions up close and in person.

For a 23 yr old college student, free or cheap air travel is an excellent thing to have, especially considering that I have a great likelihood of getting a seat in F when they have them. I can custom pick flights to where I want to go, provided there is space. I can route myself on any routing that I want to do and with many carriers. To do that on the normal market could be quite expensive. And not only can I choose the flights on last-minute notice, it is almost easier to do it that way! Also, we get many travel related discounts that are pretty tremendous too (hotel deals, discount on FedEx, rental car rate that allows renters under age 25 w/o paying a huge surcharge, etc.). I have seen more of the world in the last couple years of being an airline rampie than the rest of my life. And often on short notice too! It is not unreasonable to call people I know in distant cities and ask "hey what are you up to tonight?"

I can work as little as I want or as much as I want. There will always be spare hours needing to be filled where I work and if not, someone is always looking for their shifts to be covered. Where I work, we bid a long-term schedule (like most airlines do) that does not change week-to-week. I know that I always have the same hours every week and nothing else than that. After my first year, I was eligible for many full-time benefits, like health/dental/vision (don't need it yet, still covered under my parents for another year, but nice to have ready), 401(k) (which I do take advantage of, can never plan for retirement too early), etc. Some people pay money to go to a gym and repetitively lift weights, I get paid to lift varying types of weights all day. It has made me stronger while earning a paycheck at the same time. Items that were somewhat heavy a couple years ago are not really all that heavy anymore  Smile

I could go get another job if I really had to. I could probably use more money. But I don't want to. No amount of money that I earn could get me that inside view of the happenings of an airline, you just can't buy that.

Ich haben zwei Platzspielen und ein Microphone
User currently offlineCaptaink From Grenada, joined May 2001, 5119 posts, RR: 10
Reply 15, posted (12 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 6770 times:

I work for the airlines so i can testify that the salary isnt always the greatest. But i get great satisfaction from helping people. I love working on the airport. It was not my first job but it is quite enjoyable. My schedule however allows me to use my other skill (computers) to make money with private customers. So you can say i have two jobs. When you add it up.. I make ends meet.

There is something special about planes....
User currently offlineUA744Flagship From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (12 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 6758 times:

I was, and am still, a lot like SJCguy and AcidRadio (Whatup dudes?!?)

I spent the ages of 19 and 20 interning for United, then working for United Express carrier SkyWest as a Gate Agent (both at SFO). The flight bennies were amazing, as was my access to being around airliners.

Now I'm 21 with my feet planted firmly on the ground. (Well sort of). You see, back then I wanted to work at the airport to get the whole "non-reving/easy access to airliners" desire out of my system. And now I can say I have successfully drained a lot of that 'enthusiast libido'. At the time, I was majoring in general business, and doing just OK in school.

Having the airline job experience made me want to study AIRLINES for my education, and it gave me the motivation to transfer and study what I really love.

Here I am now, doing most of my flying in small aircraft, at the yoke. And I'm also getting first-rate airline management and economics education. I wouldn't be here without my airline job experience. And I don't think I will become as successful an airline manager as I intend to be without that entry-level work.

Thanks to having worked for an airline, I no longer drool at the prospect of free/discounted standby travel or insist on having a window seat; instead, I dread long flights and long for getting back on the ground.

You see, while I have already traveled a lot for my age, in the future I'd rather spend most my time creating new things at an airline, on the ground. Route and fleet planning, designing onboard products and the passenger/customer experience? I am so there....

User currently offlineCloudy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (12 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 6729 times:

I won't work for most airlines, because I know to much about the industry. I do not want to become financialy dependent upon an airline. Not even durring good times. I would love it, but one needs to put food on the table. There are exceptions. I applied a couple times at Southwest when I lived in Saint Louis. I'd work there in a heartbeat. Same goes for JetBlue. I would probably accept a software development (that is what I'm just about done studying) position at any airline just to gain experience, but I would be carefull not to count on keeping it for long. Writing software at Southwest would be a dream job. Heck, I'd move to Texas for that.

Durring the boom I actually did apply at Air Wisconsin (flying as United Express) , SPI station, on a lark. This was at the time of the Comair strike.

Some things that the Air Wisconsin official said durring a speech before a group interview.

"The federal government does not allow airline strikes." ....and then, in a 'yes I know' sort of tone...."Except at Commair."

In a super-confident tone - "The United/UsAir merger WILL be approved and WILL go forward. " We all know how that turned out. Lots of people predicted it to. At the time the person said it, very few thought it was an absolutely sure thing.

" United is having financial problems? I never heard of that...." - yes it was, even at that time, and anyone who bothered to look up the financial statements on the web would have known that. A good employer would have given the person credit for asking. This representative either was being dishonest or was simply in denial. I suspect the latter, but neither is a good sign.

Having heard these things, I got a bit more cynical about the airline industry. and United's system in particular. If this is what you hear even before you are hired, the BS must get incredibly thick once you actually get in. It was bizarre. It was as if they were actually looking to hire nieve and ignorant people. I didn't get the job, but at the end I wasn't to dissapointed. I probably wouldn't have accepted if I did get it.

They were honest about the Ohare congestion problems they were having at the time. They also were upfront about the need to pander 'elites' (even at this early stage, they want you to know how important the caste system is), the many government regulations, and some(but not all) of the uncertainties of the industry. For that I'll give them some credit.

And I'll agree with Tango-Bravo - the higher ups have made things difficult customer service wise for the rank and file employee. I imagine that ALL employees must deal with that in some way. This is because everybody in every job has customers - even if they are "only" internal customers. When the passengers are breathing down the necks of the "front line" people, I would imagine that those people and their bosses start breathing down the necks of the mechanics, rampers and baggage handlers. If customers arn't happy, my guess is that their dissatisfaction filters down to everyone eventually. When the primary cause is brain dead management and government policies, employees start to get mad and no one can really avoid having this effect their work somewhat. For this reason, my guess is that productivity and work relationships in the shop suffers even in places without direct customer contact, when customers are consistently unhappy.

In short - an interesting industry to watch, but not a good place to work. At least not at the network airlines and their regional partners. Working for an airport or FBO...well...that could be a different story...but I don't know much about that......If you're REALLY desperate, you could try the TSA. To bad they won't let you wear a ski mask to work, because you wouldn't want to be SEEN working for the TSA, would you  Smile.

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