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Flight Attendant Salaries?

Thu Oct 24, 2002 9:28 pm

Read in another thread here that flight attendants at Continental working trans-atlantic flights make about 70k annually. I assume that this is the upper tier of flight attendant salaries, still though I'm surprised that they make that much, not that 70k makes you rich these days. Sure in an emergency situation their jobs become ultra-critical, but day-in and day-out, how do their duties command a salary of 70k???? As a basis of comparison a veteran teacher or police officer in my hometown makes about 50k...granted we all know these professions are historically underpaid. This isn't meant as a slam at flight attendants. I have a lot of respect for you guys, and as a flier appreciate the good ones out there.

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RE: Flight Attendant Salaries?

Thu Oct 24, 2002 10:16 pm

Wait......We get paid!?!?!?!?!?!?! I got to go see my manager about this.

If that figure is true that must be one super senior F/A, with one hell of a union and contract. Your avarage F/A like myself gets paid nowhere that much. I think at my company (which even thought is a regional, but it's the largest one out there) We top out on pay in the mid 20's per hour. So at the end of the year if you earn 35,000 your damm luck.
I reject your reality and subsitute my own
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RE: Flight Attendant Salaries?

Thu Oct 24, 2002 11:53 pm

I was just about to post this very question in this forum but you beat me to it. Anyway, I'm curious about F/A salaraies myslef and an looking forward to your answers as well.
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RE: Flight Attendant Salaries?

Thu Oct 24, 2002 11:55 pm

Hey there,
I know that at Air Canada the flight attendants there are making good money. I have a couple of friends that work over that way and make at least 70 a year. Mind you this person has been flying now for 14 years. Loves it just as much as the day they started.
At Skyservice starting pay is Low 20's per hour. But the people that have been working there since inception are making a nice dollar.  Smile

Safety is Everyones Responsibility.
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RE: Flight Attendant Salaries?

Fri Oct 25, 2002 12:45 am

70K Canadian equals roughly 46K US, which sounds reasoable to me. I would like to hear some other FA's or those with info on their pay scale chime in.

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RE: Flight Attendant Salaries?

Fri Oct 25, 2002 12:51 am

My ex fiance, an F/A for UAL had been there about 6 years, and made around 36K with a mix of international and domestic flying if I remember correctly. I could see a fairly senior F/A flying all international, and picking up max hours making around 70K, but that is the upper end of the pay scale I am sure. F/As at UAL, and I am sure the other majors with A and B scales typically get a big bump at the end of th 5th year of service. There are many factors that go into an F/As total annual income, number of hours flown, internation vs. Domestic, etc, etc...
It also of course depends on their contracts, hourly rates, etc...

I hope that sheds some light on it. I am no F/A, but that is what I know.
A woman drove me to drink and I didn't have the decency to thank her. - W.C. Fields
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RE: Flight Attendant Salaries?

Fri Oct 25, 2002 1:00 am

In Canada, Airman99o is correct. To put it into perspective, a teacher in Ontario tops out in the low $70,000 range per year. I was a flight attendant, and I appreciate the difficulties of the job, and feel that flight attendants deserve to be compensated fairly. However, I do not feel that a flight attendant who works roughly 80 hours per month deserves as much money as many professionals who require years of schooling and work much longer hours. So either flight attendants make too much, or teachers and others make too little. In any case, the starting salary is very low for flight attendants in Canada, who make roughly $20,000 per year.
"it's kind of like an Airbus, it's an engineering marvel, but there's no sense of passion" -- J. Clarkson re: Coxster

RE: Flight Attendant Salaries?

Fri Oct 25, 2002 1:30 am

When I started as a flight attendant at Worldways back in the 80's, my starting salary was $19.87 per hour (1985 dollars, by the way). By the time WG folded in 1990, my hourly rate was up to $32.75 per hour. We were guaranteed 75 hours per month, and the per diem was excellent. The shock is, today, some FA's start out at LESS than what I started with at WG in 1985! While some payscales may be high at some carriers, one must bear in mind that in a lot of cases today, starting FA salaries, once taxes, CPP,
union fees and EI are deducted, net amount to an amount that borders on
the poverty line. And yet, carriers want "the best" in terms of cabin
company representation? Hmmmm.

WG FA's had an excellent union collective agreement (CUPE). So much so, that Air Canada FA's studied out agreement in 1989 for their own bargaining (new collective agreement) with management. WG FA's were, at some points on the pay scale, earning more per hour than their AC counterparts.

While I have to agree with Captaingomes to a point re his views on FA payscales, I have to state that after a decade or so with a carrier, an
FA more than earns their wings, per se. 80 hours may not seem like a lot to ground-job holders, but in the air, an FA can be literally exhausted by the end of his/her monthly block. It is very physically demanding on the system, especially with overseas blocks. At WG, there were more than a few times where my monthly block went as high as 92-95 hours, and trust me, it may not seem like a lot, but I was clinically exhausted.

Plus, an 80 hour monthly block, in all fairness, must be pro-rated with
a salaried ground job.

By the way, does anyone know what garbage (starting hourly wage) Leblanc is paying the starting FA's at Jetsgo?

RE: Flight Attendant Salaries?

Fri Oct 25, 2002 1:46 am

I'm reminded of something here. In 1991, myself and several other ex-WG
FA's went to FA interviews at Canadi>n Regional. Now, of course we beared in mind this was a regional carrier, as opposed to CP mainline, but, in my second interview with them, I asked the starting salary. They hesitated,
then one of them literally whispered to me, "$14,000" per year"! I just sat there, staring at them. After two interviews, after hearing they were quite selective in terms of new-hire FA's, and to hear that my annual net pay would amount to approximately $9,000 - $10,000 per year! I got up and walked out.

Perhaps we were somewhat "spoiled" by WG, but this? At that point in time,
FA starting salaries started reducing, as the recession and cutbacks were
kicking in big-time at carriers. I decided then and there to hang up my wings for good. No regrets.
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RE: Flight Attendant Salaries?

Fri Oct 25, 2002 2:11 am

CB, Jetsgo starts at $19 per hour. In comparison, SkyService starts at just over $20 per hour. What will make a huge difference is that SSV gets a nice boost after one or two years, while I doubt that will happen at Jetsgo. Also, at SSV there are different methods by which your pay will increase, such as duty time, per diem, etc etc, which is hardly present at Jetsgo. I wonder what the turnover at Jetsgo is, and how happy they are with their union so far.
"it's kind of like an Airbus, it's an engineering marvel, but there's no sense of passion" -- J. Clarkson re: Coxster

RE: Flight Attendant Salaries?

Fri Oct 25, 2002 2:19 am

Captaingomes, Jetsgo has a union? I didn't know that. Good for them. I just hope they can band together and remain a unified force. God knows what
Leblanc would have in store for them had they not certified, not so much in terms of payscale, but rather the MMG and other issues.

Now, mind you, in all fairness, Jetsgo IS a low cost no-frills carrier. Therefore,
FA applicants should be prepared for the fact that the yeilds are far from
exceptional here. One would hardly expect a collective agreement that would mirror AC or SSV. Still, better to have the added protection against management. And no, I am not a radical anti-airline management individual.
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RE: Flight Attendant Salaries?

Fri Oct 25, 2002 2:38 am

Yes CB, Jetsgo has a union for flight attendants. The union is the Teamsters, which was recommended to them by the Jetsgo management. The Teamsters were the union at Royal before they switched to CUPE.

I'll let you put two and two together on that one.  Smile
"it's kind of like an Airbus, it's an engineering marvel, but there's no sense of passion" -- J. Clarkson re: Coxster

RE: Flight Attendant Salaries?

Fri Oct 25, 2002 3:16 am

Wait a minute, Captaingomes, are you trying to tell me that the FA's accepted a management recommendation for union representation? Oooookaaay.

By the way, this is NOT to state that all airline management are
"out" to one-up their employees.

Hmmm, The Teamsters, huh? Well, what can I say.
Teamsters - Leblanc; Leblanc-Teamsters. Nice equation.

At the other end of the spectrum, I hear from friends at SSV that
their company agreement with Russ Payson is working out very well.
If you ask me, Russ Payson represents what would be the ideal working
relationship at any carrier. He is a gentleman, and he actually
listens to, and respects the opinions of his cabin crew. All articles
and issues in this Company - Flight Attendant Body contract are
fairminded, and on par with other carriers where the FA body is certified.

I tip my hat to Mr. Payson.

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RE: Flight Attendant Salaries?

Fri Oct 25, 2002 3:24 am

I agree with you CB. I think it is the ideal situation where the agreement is fair for both parties and a union does not need to be involved. This is the case with both SkyService and Westjet in Canada, and hopefully it will remain that way. Both of these companies could teach a thing or two to other companies with respect to human resources.
"it's kind of like an Airbus, it's an engineering marvel, but there's no sense of passion" -- J. Clarkson re: Coxster
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RE: Flight Attendant Salaries?

Fri Oct 25, 2002 3:26 am

Well as I was the one being refered to at the beginning of this thread, I would say that 15 years seniority is NOT very senior at all, although it is topped out as far as base wage goes. There will be no more annula raises after this year (under the current contract, that most are happy with despite the grumblings you hear otherwise). The only increases are for various overrides and such. To confirm

15 years service
Flying International
Language speaker

21 days off per month and 70k USD

I can assure you that there are many FA's at CO making more than this, and plenty at other US carriers making a lot more than this.


RE: Flight Attendant Salaries?

Fri Oct 25, 2002 3:40 am

Ah yes, Captaingomes, how right of you to bring up Westjet. I had omitted that. And you are absolutely right, where there is fair-minded and rational
management, and above all, respect and acknowledgement for the employee body, then in my opinion, unions are not required to show their presence.
As a matter of fact, from past experience, I can honestly say that unions can, at times, be more of a detriment than a benefit. However, if the situation
(management) calls for it, then that body of employees are much better off
with some legal/workplace protection. In short, it's all relative.

Artsyman, seniority/length of service is rather subjective, as one must look at each carrier separately. At the former Canadi>n Airlines International, for example, the average YVR FA base seniority was, on average, 26-35 years.
However, at my former carrier, which was formed in 1980, an FA with 10 years seniority was at the high end of the totem pole, per se.

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RE: Flight Attendant Salaries?

Fri Oct 25, 2002 3:45 am

Most US airlines will post the salary rate in their career section of their web site. As as has been noted, there's usually a minimum monthly guarantee, and as a new hire that it pretty much what you'll earn for a while. The FA workforce is "coming of age" and yes, some folks are getting paid a huge salary for an easy schedule, but they worked for that benefit; however, with all the new start up carriers, those times are vanishing.

One should also remember that FAs often get layovers in countries where the cost of living is high. Hotel food is very expensive and sometimes the only food that is available, as is entertainment. Foreign places are a perk, but an expense. It's quite shocking how much a FA can spend in the course of duty. I shudder to think what I spent.

I have many friends with Southwest Airlines.

1st 6 Months - $14.67/Trip*
2nd 6 Months - $14.90/Trip*
2nd Year - $17.34/Trip*
*one trip = 243 miles

Southwest only pays what you actually work. If you drop trips, you don't get paid, no minimum guarantee. Some people opt to work the maximum amount of hours and "can" amass +/-190 hours a month with only four or five days off a month. If you want a regular 5 work, 2 off schedule, it's closer to +/-100 hours. Plus a dollar 'something perdiem.

Yes, I think the US $30-40K pay is average to normal for a FA with a few years on the job. It's not a profession to enter to expect a huge salary. The first year is very hard, as can be the nomadic life - unpaid training, relocation, crash pads, reserve, field standby. Plus, when your airline folds, your experience is worth the starting salary at another airline, AND, most of the world has as a maximum age cap.

For a good laugh read:
Around the World in a Bad Mood! : Confessions of a Flight Attendant
by Rene Foss
Publisher: Theia; ISBN: 0786890118; (March 2002)

A Northwest Airlines gal.

Have I just rambled, or made any sense?

RE: Flight Attendant Salaries?

Fri Oct 25, 2002 3:47 am

In my opinion, and I believe Captaingomes as well made reference to this above, realistically, there has to be logical wage caps placed on the FA position. Many carriers (such as AC) have actively campaigned to recommend to top-line senior FA's to take early retirement packages, in order to reduce costs. Well, that's all fine, however, if the respective carrier had implemented
logical/fair salary caps to begin with, perhaps this would not be an issue.

So, I rather suppose the question is, does a senior FA warrant earning a top-line salary of, for example, CAD$75,000 - CAD$82,000 per year?
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RE: Flight Attendant Salaries?

Fri Oct 25, 2002 3:50 am

Canadi>nboy, to give the seniority some perspective:

15 years seniority without having a language would not be sufficient to hold any transatlantic flight from IAH. Some months you may be able to get lucky and hold a Saturday London or something, but as a general rule London is running about 23 years seniority. A 15 year FA would comfortably hold HNL and most domestic turns such as IAH>LAX>IAH or IAH>SEA>IAH. If you are NTA (Newark based) then you could hold most of the transatlantics, but probably not the good ones. The reason for this is the at the end of the day, an FA at CO needs to work 80 flight hours per month under the current contract in order to get various benefits and salary etc. The sooner you get to the 80 hours the better.

IAH>CDG is 4 trips of 20 hours
IAH>NRT is 3 trips of roughly 26 hours
IAH>LGW is 4 trips of 20 hours

The the flights with the most hours go the most senior. If you are really junior, you could find yourself doing IAH>LUB turns and be flying 6 days aweek to try and get to your 80 hours


RE: Flight Attendant Salaries?

Fri Oct 25, 2002 4:20 am

Artsyman, I quite concur with your above posting. I do not dispute anything your wrote there. However, it is applicable to a carrier such as
CO or perhaps DL and UA, per se. Again, it is all subjective. And please bear in mind that as your carrier is sked, my former one was an international
charter carrier. Apples and Oranges!  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

WARNING: I may be rambling here with what is written below!!  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

To a degree, however, this same "structure" existed at my own former carrier.
Language blocks offered, on average, a 2% increase to the MMG. WG FA language qualified FA's found themselves "locked in" with their respective language block, alas, many tried to disqualify themselves as a language-qualified FA, as it affected their monthly flying hours. An Anglo FA would hold U.K. blocks calculating at approx 87-90 hours per month, whereas, for example, a Dutch qualified WG FA would clock in at approx 72-80 hours per month.

Also, per diem rates at WG varied from destination to destination. U.K. destinations offered CAD$3.75 per hour away from home base, while
FRA/AMS/CDG offered CAD$4.10 per hour away from home base. In short,
an FA with 1-4 years seniority would rarely be awarded a Euro-continent
pairing in their block. It took me 3 1/2 years to hold my first AMS/FRA

Reserve FA blocks were held by those FA's whose seniority fell into the
last 25 on the list. And after that, the next "plateau" had FA's holding
only domestic turns or Caribbean overnighters (turns). As well, this
plateau would hold YYZ-LGW/PIK/GLA/SNN 12 hour minimum crew rest pairings.

After that, the next plateau would be U.K. 24-48 hour pairings; then
U.K - YVR/YYC 48-72 hour pairings.

Then we move on to Anglo FA pairings for 4-6 years seniority, who would
wither hold U.K. 24/48/72/96 hour pairings, plus 24/48 continental Euro and/or
Hawaii pairings. After that, we saw FA's with approx 5-7 years seniority holding their choice of: domestic turns; 24/48/72/96 U.K. OR 48/72 continental Euro or 48/72 Hawaii pairings.

After that, the sky was the limit! These FA's could, and did, hold 48/72
Western Canada-Mexico pairings, as well as the 48/72hr South America pairings. The only exception was Cont-Euro routes, where they were restricted (as Anglos) as these flight s carried a minimum of 4-5 language qualified cabin crew per flight (FRA/AMS/CPH/CDG/DUS, etc.).

THEN, there were the Portuguese FA's, who were in a world of their own!
LOL  Smile/happy/getting dizzy They were more or less "locked in" to LIS/OPO/TER both summer and winter (the junior "Porkchop" FA's, that is). Intermediate and senior Portuguese FA's had limited access to full length cont Euro layovers, full
access to U.K. pairings (all lengths), of course, South America, and Hawaii.

I was fortunate to, by 1989, hold 48/72 Euro; any U.K. pairing; domestic turns; 24 hr Hawaii; TWO S. America pairings; and, surprisingly, tons of fun-filled LIS/OPO/TER pairings. I could write a steamy book about the Portuguese pairings alone! LOL. By late '89/90, my blocks were excellent, as in reality they were for 3 of the 5 years.

LOL.....err, I am rambling here now!  Smile/happy/getting dizzy I can just imagine people reading this,
and stating to themselves..."What the........!!" Sorry!!
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RE: Flight Attendant Salaries?

Sat Oct 26, 2002 6:16 pm

I fly as a No1 (Senior) crew member for a European charter airline, who in general are not renowned for their excellent rates of pay - however in the UK, scheduled carriers are relatively few and far between so the majority of cabin crew fly for the charter airlines, of which there are many. In the UK, most airlines generally pay their crew a basic salary, flight duty pay for every hour actually on flying duty (or away from home base) and also (minimal) commission on drinks and duty frees sold, the commission being split equally between all crew on a flight. New starters (who would be on a seasonal contract, typically from Feb/Mar - 31st Oct) have a basic salary of £9900 (before tax), the hourly flight pay rate is around £2.20 per hour, which runs from check-in time until one hour after landing back at base. Commission only makes up a small part of a crew members wage, so really whether or not a crew member receives a good monthly wage depends largely on how many flights they have operated, and unlike many scheduled airlines we are not allowed to 'bid' for trips - the company will give you a monthly roster over which you don't really have any way of changing. Some new starters may find themselves operating purely short-haul (European) flights, where they will fly to the destination and back to base each working day. Others are lucky enough to be allocated long-haul only rosters, which means a lot of time away from home, flying to the USA, Canada, Caribbean, Middle East & Far East. Stopovers vary from 48 hours to a full week in many destinations, and in the past we flew some routes that meant a full month away! Of course, the hourly rate of £2.20 is paid during all long-haul stopovers to cover food and other expenses - our airline provides the crew with their allowances for long-haul trips in hand at the start of the trip, but when flying short haul return flights, this money is paid monthly with a crew members salary.
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RE: Flight Attendant Salaries?

Sat Oct 26, 2002 6:26 pm

Kestrel, is the bid period seriously as random as you suggest, where you have Zero control over what your schedule is for the month ? Or do the company schedulers acknowledge that the senior ones would prefer the long hauls etc. It would be pretty hard to get on with life, pay bills and save while not knowing whether your salary will be at one end or other of the pay scale

Ps, if it is totally random, is there a reason they give for this ? is it beneficial in any ways ?
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RE: Flight Attendant Salaries?

Sat Oct 26, 2002 8:18 pm

In Indonesia, F/As earn between US$150 - US$1000 a month... depending on seniority and routes, most are at the low end. It includes car pickup and drop at home base.

But then again, it looks low, but their peers in other jobs would earn them similar amounts. Such a salary though, would translate to living standards of US$9000 - 60,000 p.a. (very few are on the top end... VERY FEW). (just for comparison, a Gold credit card benchmark here is US$6000 per annum salary only)

When losing situational awareness, pray Cumulus Granitus isn't nearby !
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RE: Flight Attendant Salaries?

Sat Oct 26, 2002 9:16 pm

I am in my 6th year, I get 4 weeks vacation (I am in my 14th year with the company) this year that translated into 2 full months off, I only work my schedule, I have only had one month above guarantee and I will make 30K this year. A great job and pretty good pay for the amount of time off, I checked my schedule this year and as of Dec 1st I will have had 214 days off so far. It is great if you have other income or a second job.

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RE: Flight Attendant Salaries?

Sat Oct 26, 2002 9:22 pm

Hi Jeremy

Yes, our rostering system is totally random and we as crew really do have no control over what we get. The fact that I have 10 years seniority carries no more 'clout' than if I were a temporary junior crew member who had been flying for three months! As most of us work on upto five different a/c types (officially classed as three types as some are 'variants') and fly short and long haul, the company maintains that it is the most productive way to utilise the crew, but as you mention one months wages are often half the previous months if you haven't been rostered as many flights. Another common occurrence is rostering Senior Cabin Crew to fly 'lower' as standard rank cabin crew if needed; obviously a junior crew member could not be called from standby and asked to fly as a No1 crew member, but there is nothing to prevent the company from calling out No1 & No2 crew members to fly at a lower rank - sometimes you can check in for a flight and discover that out of ten crew, six of them are actually No1's/No2's flying lower rank - Normally the crew would consist of No1 (in overall charge of the flight/safety/service) who generally works from the Fwd/Mid galley, a No2 (senior crew member in charge of rear of the aircraft,but also responsible for bars/customs procedures/paperwork etc) who will work from the Aft galley and eight 'C3' rank crew members, who are all equal on a seniority basis but will have different responsibilities depending on their working position (eg Lower Galley/Mid Galley/Stocking Lavs/Looking after Flight Deck crew etc).
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RE: Flight Attendant Salaries?

Sat Oct 26, 2002 9:23 pm

Just curious, do a lot of FAs have second jobs to supplement their income?
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RE: Flight Attendant Salaries?

Sun Oct 27, 2002 3:18 am


In the USA, absolutely yes and a plethora of roommates too; however, it depends upon the age of the person and their financial situation before becoming a FA. A huge percentage of FAs become realtors, it fits ideally into the schedule. The only "no" is working for another airline, but I'm sure that some do.

The UK is a very different matter. As kestrel noted, you cannot select your schedule and from my experience four days off in a row was a rarity. Plus, charter flights have a habit of appearing, so even your days off aren't guaranteed for specific days.

kestrel, is Gillian [Gilly] Bailey still with you, and does she still do that DC10 galley thing? Years back, Laker days . . . I know you still have some of our dinosaurs, and probably still wearing those Laker issue shoes. Is she still telling the Oklahoma story?