Well, I wouldn´t say that the age restriction is necessarily the reason that more younger F/A´s are flying the international routes on the Non-US international carriers.
In the case of LH
for instance the F/A´s usually retire at the age of 55, as it is still part of the LH
cabin staff contract that they can get a so called transitional period compensation. How much you´ll get as a compensation or pension depends on how long you´ve been with the company. Easy count, the longer you´ve been around the more you´ve paid into the fund/account, the more you´ll get when entering the transitional period until you reach the legal German retirement age.
But there´s always the opportunity to skip the first 5 years of that period and keep active flying until the age of 60. And just recenly one of our former Pan Am F/A´s won a lawsuit against LH
, and is now allowed to continue to fly until full retirement, which is at the age of 63 in her case. She argued that due to the fact that she came from Pan Am and only got half of her seniority when the former Pan Amers were taken over by LH
the compensation she´d get wouldn´t be adequate and enough for comfortable living.
But back to the topic, I think one reason is that most of our older and more senior F/A´s are less passionate than the majority of the American F/A´s. So many of them just gladly retire at the age of 55 or quit even earlier in favor for another job away from the airline business or another position within the airline. Mostly the pursers stay till the end, but only a very small number of F/A´s... You need to know that unlike with the US carriers with European carriers its a big difference if you´re a simple F/A or a Puser and actually someone who wants to keep flying as long as possible usually works on getting promoted as a Purser sooner or later.
and all the other European carriers simply have a higher fluctuation in F/A staffing than US carriers.
But there are even more contributing factors that result in a younger F/A crowd on European carriers on international flights especially to the US.
First of all our bidding is different. F/A´s have the opportunity to bid for one trip a month and 4 days off in a row, or two trips a month plus the 4 days off if they are language qualified and passed through a test in a second foreign language (beside English which of course is a requirement), the rest of the month F/A´s get assigned to trips by crew scheduling regardless of seniority or position. Also regardless of seniority every F/A has to take a few days of reserve or at least two reseve/stand-by lines a year, so everybody gets a schedule not only the more senior F/A´s. That´s something that is totally different at US airlines.
And while talking about bidding for flights it´s just a fact that US routes aren´t the most desired among our senior F/A´s. You´ll find the oldest crews usually on flights to Asia. Mostly BKK
. I have 8 years of seniority with LH
now and I´m usually not able to get a trip to BKK
... the flight is simply too senior for me. I flew a BKK
trip once out of reserve and the average F/A age on that flight was way higher than on any flight to the US. But since I´m one of a few LH
F/A´s who loves the United States and I don´t really wanna fly anywhere else I´m happy with the way it is...
Give me LAX
over Asia any day... If I´d have to fly to Asia constantly the job would lose much of its attraction to me!
And one more reason is that the European carriers are simply more international airlines than the American carriers. While the majority of the US legacy carriers business is domsetic, the majority of LH
´s business for instance is international flying, logically since the US is so much bigger than all of the European countries! Of course all the big 6 US carriers have become big players in the international market but compared to the European carriers they´re more domestic. The big European carriers are still more Pan Am like with service to almost all continents and many, many international destinations while US carriers are mostly big players in specific markets... like DL
, which is number one across the atlantic but without a worth mentioning service to Asia, or NW
with big Asian networks but a smaller presence in Europe than DL
So I´d say, while 100% of Flight Attendants at American carriers cover like 30-40% (depending on airline) of international flights and 70-60% (or maybe even more) of domestic flights the ratio on European carriers is just the other way around.
So more international than domestic/european flights combined with a slightly higher fluctuation of F/A´s on European carriers and the assignment of flights regardless of seniority to each individual F/A by crew scheduling subsequently results in more younger F/A´s on international flights.
Still the most senior F/A´s at LH
usually don´t fly the short hops, as with higher seniority they have the opportunity to transfer to an inflight service department that solely serves intercontinental flying and only widebody aircrafts while the younger crowd is flying a mixture of short/medium and longhaul flights and usually one widebody and one narrowbody type.
And last but not least, Americans in general have a longer working life than most Europeans... resulting in more grannys in the sky!!!!
By the way, I adore them and when flying privately I take US carriers as I love their performance and I enjoy oveserving the senior mommas work... their routine, enthusiasm and proffesionalism is a pleasure to see! And honestly every now and then I enjoy watching a grumpy, rude, old F/A... LOL!!!