Imagine this: You get to travel the world and get paid for it!
Sounds too good to be true? Well, not for a flight attendant!
A flight attendant is a trained airline employee who serves passengers and takes care of their safety & well-being on an aircraft.
A flight attendant is a representative of the airline on board an aircraft and handles all passenger requests, grievances, and needs.
With the revival of air travel post-COVID-19 and people opting for air travel over other modes of transport, the demand for flight attendants is high.
This brings us to the question:
What is the job of a flight attendant like? What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a flight attendant?
If these questions cross your mind, don’t be overwhelmed!
In this blog, we shall discuss all the major pros and cons of a flight attendant job.
By the end of this blog, you will have a fair understanding of the various facets and aspects of being a flight attendant.
What Are the Advantages of a Flight Attendant Job?
Did you know?
A flight attendant’s median pay was $61,640 per year in May 2021, according to U.S. government data.
Ever wondered why a flight attendant’s job is always in high demand?
Don’t worry – we have you covered!
Read on to know the major advantages of being a flight attendant (and, mind you, there are many) that make it one of the most sought-after jobs globally.
Being A Flight Attendant Improves One's World View
Undoubtedly, the most attractive aspect of being a flight attendant is the opportunity to travel the world.
Flight attendants don’t just enjoy momentary visuals or experiences through travel.
These experiences and interactions broaden their world view and give them a chance to have new and evolved perspectives.
Interacting with different cultures and ways of living helps flight attendants’ mental, spiritual, and intellectual growth.
It also improves their understanding of things and enriches their thought process, overall enabling them to become better human beings.
Flight Attendants Earn a Respectable Salary
Flight attendants enjoy a respectable starting salary that comes with several perks and benefits.
While the starting salary of flight attendants is low, they earn a substantial monthly salary over the years for their services.
Let us look at the average salary of flight attendants in two countries – the United States, a developed country, and India, a developing country.
The average starting salary annually for flight attendants in the US averages $82,917 as of 2023.
In India, the average starting salary annually for flight attendants is around Rs.3,00,000.
This, of course, varies depending on the airline, domestic/international route, and several other factors.
You Don’t Need a College Degree to Be a Flight Attendant
We have all heard this often-used phrase:
Education is the key to success.
Being a flight attendant is an anomaly to this rule. Many airlines require aspiring flight attendants to have only a 10+2 education, while an undergraduate degree in aviation is a bonus.
The age eligibility for aspiring flight attendants is 17 to 25 years across most airlines. This indicates that basic school education should suffice.
Having said that, aspiring flight attendants are required to meet certain vision, height, and weight requirements in addition to undergoing training in accredited air hostess academies.
Flight Attendants Enjoy Good Career Advancement Opportunities
Contrary to popular belief, there is a hierarchy and career path in a flight attendant’s job profile.
As flight attendants become more seasoned and experienced, they move up the ladder by becoming the head of the in-flight crew and leading the team of attendants on any given day.
Career advancement can also be in the form of moving from domestic to international routes and even serving on chartered flights with high net-worth individuals or public figures.
Needless to say, with both forms of career advancements come higher pay, higher perks, and respect in professional circles.
Flight Attendants Face New Situations Everyday & Learn on the Job
Flight attendants are faced with challenging situations every day.
From handling passenger distress to managing medical emergencies and even overcoming personal or physical limitations, being a flight attendant is no mean feat.
Through all of these sensitive situations, flight attendants are required to maintain their composure and offer the best service to passengers.
Endeavoring to do this despite all the challenges makes flight attendants better at their job every day.
They learn something new from every situation that improves their performance & service over time.
The Family Enjoys Travel Perks Too
The family and dependents of flight attendants enjoy a host of travel perks from the airline.
Spouses, parents, and children of flight attendants can board a certain number of flights every year for free.
While there are terms & conditions to this arrangement, such as time of flight, number of seats, destination & class of travel, this benefit is enjoyed by the family & dependents across all airlines.
It gives access to flights for regular middle-class families and boosts the culture of travel & exploration among families of flight attendants.
Flight Attendants Hefty Employee Benefits
Flight attendants not only take home a neat salary but also enjoy several employee benefits.
Medical insurance, dental insurance, long-term disability coverage, paid vacations, life insurance, and retirement plans are some of the many employment benefits flight attendants enjoy.
While an airline may not offer all of these benefits, flight attendants enjoy most of these benefits through their careers working with different airlines across the industry.
Trading Trips or Rosters Is a Possibility for Flight Attendants
Many airlines allow their flight attendants to trade rosters or swap flights to cater to any personal emergencies or sudden sickness.
As long as there is another flight attendant of the same job category who is mutually ready to swap flights with an attendant in need, airlines do not object to such understandings.
This advantage is lacking in other conventional jobs where employees are in charge of individual projects or deliverables and cannot swap responsibilities with other employees.
Flexible Work Schedules Are a Boon
Let’s face it – The 9 to 5 work life isn’t for everyone.
Being a flight attendant allows a great degree of flexibility in terms of the hours involved and frequency of work.
While flight attendants must clock in a certain number of hours monthly or weekly to earn their full salary, the placement and timing of these hours are quite negotiable.
One can request for an extended lay-off at a particular destination to explore the region or even take up consecutive flights over a few days to accumulate time off and spend it at home.
This flexibility makes the job of a flight attendant well-suited to many women who do not enjoy a regular desk job.
There Is A Possibility of Extra Hours For Extra Pay
Financial emergencies never come announced.
Often, employees in conventional jobs cannot earn extra income by working overtime or offering extra services in exchange for extra income.
The good news is that flight attendants enjoy this unique benefit!
Flight attendants can take up extra flights or extra hours of work in exchange for extra pay. They can also swap rosters to earn additional income with other flight attendants who are busy or simply volunteer to take up more work.
Either way, this flexibility allows flight attendants to earn extra pay for extra work hours.
Flight Attendants Develop Good Social & Networking Skills
Flight attendants interact with anywhere between 200 to 500 people on one single flight.
Compounding this figure numbers with the number of flights per week, it is evident that flight attendants meet thousands of people throughout their professional lives.
This exposure to people from different geographies and cultures helps flight attendants develop and strengthen social connections and build a network of associations all over the world that they often take out of their professional lives too.
This Job Gives You a Chance to Make Connections Across the World
Every airline aims to achieve diversity in its team of cabin staff.
Hence, every single team usually has flight attendants from different geographies who speak different languages.
Working with people from different cultures helps flight attendants make connections across the globe.
It gives them a chance to improve their networking skills and establish lasting friendships and associations with people from all over the world.
It Improves the Ability to Manage High-Stress Situations
Customer distress situations such as sickness, conflict between passengers, and misconduct by flyers are common in the modern aviation era.
Flight attendants must be prompt to manage and diffuse these tense situations.
Additionally, flight attendants also have physical job stressors such as noise, vibration, and limited working space. These factors also add to overall work stress.
Over time, flight attendants become adept at managing these stress points and navigating through them effortlessly, thereby greatly improving their ability to manage stressful situations.
These life skills come in handy not just in their professional endeavors in the future but also in everyday life.
It Improves Communication & Negotiation Skills
Working as a flight attendant involves a lot of communication, negotiation, and persuasion.
A large chunk of any flight attendant’s job involves verbal communication with passengers to cater to their requests and needs or get them to adhere to cabin conduct.
A flight attendant must be adept at navigating through various in-flight situations using persuasion and assertiveness skills.
Being on the job and communicating with pilots, passengers, and the ground crew improves a flight attendant’s communication skills greatly, which is useful in everyday life and other job opportunities in the future.
It Is Indeed a Glamourous Job
Traveling the world, experiencing different cultures, rubbing shoulders with celebrities – what’s not to love?
There is no denying that being a flight attendant is a glamorous job.
Flight attendants must look and feel their best on every flight. They are required to dress and groom themselves well, which in turn increases the glamour quotient of their job.
Additionally, they are in new cities or countries every other day, living in the best hotels and enjoying a luxurious lifestyle with access to global cuisines and state-of-the-art amenities.
These factors contribute to the glamour of a flight attendant’s job, which is often the main desire for aspiring flight attendants.
You Rub Shoulders With the Who’s Who of the World
Flight attendants interact with public personalities and celebrities from across the world. Sportspersons, politicians, artists, influencers, and several other individuals in the limelight are frequent flyers.
Flight attendants spend hours interacting with and serving famous personalities, sometimes even getting pictures together or sharing some memorable moments or anecdotes.
The job of a flight attendant is often envied due to the proximity they enjoy with public personalities worldwide.
Some flight attendants also embark on a modeling career or acting opportunity due to their frequent interactions with people from the fashion and film industries.
Hefty Discounts Are Extended to Flight Attendants
Think of flight attendants as frequent flyers of airlines – all the benefits and more that are extended to frequent flyers are also enjoyed by flight attendants.
Flight attendants avail several benefits ranging from hotel discounts, spa discounts, complimentary meals, free hotel to airport transfers & vice versa, among several others.
These benefits are rolled out not just by the airlines but also by hotels and resorts they have an association with.
What’s more, flight attendants also enjoy similar benefits within the airport while awaiting their flight or post-landing.
The Retirement Age for Flight Attendants Is a Minimum of 55 Years
Flight attendants starting their professional journey early enjoy a long and illustrious career ahead of them.
As mentioned earlier, aspiring flight attendants can seek employment with airlines as early as 17 years of age.
Countries have a retirement age for flight attendants anywhere between 55 years to 65 years, provided they meet the required criteria for excellent vision, prescribed weight, and fitness levels.
In fact, the average age of an employed flight attendant is 49 years, which proves that flight attendants do enjoy a long and illustrious career.
This means flight attendants can enjoy a long professional life spanning at least 35 years, which translates to handsome earnings and substantial employment benefits.
Flight Attendants Enjoy Several Job Opportunities After Their Stint in the Air
The sky is not the limit for flight attendants.
On the ground, too, there are several employment opportunities for flight attendants who have clocked a few years in the air.
Due to their experience in hospitality, well-groomed personalities, and strong soft skills, experienced flight attendants find many takers for their skill sets in other industries.
Training institutes, hotels & resorts, event management companies, spectator sports, and entertainment are some of the many industries that employ ex-flight attendants.
Flight attendants can also turn to travel blogging, grooming, customer service, and several other vocations that leverage the skills they have developed while being employed in aviation.
Truly, being a flight attendant opens up several doors for employment.
What Are the Disadvantages of a Flight Attendant Job?
There are two sides to every coin.
Now that we know the several advantages of being a flight attendant let’s acknowledge that this job comes with its fair share of disadvantages as well.
Being a flight attendant isn’t an easy job, no matter how glamorous and simple it may seem.
Read on to discover the drawbacks of a flight attendant job.
Being a Flight Attendant Is a Tiresome Job
There’s no denying it:
Not having a fixed schedule can get tiresome. Constantly being on the move, living out of a suitcase, and eating irregular meals is no mean feat.
The job profile of a flight attendant involves a lot of standing, walking, and talking, which can take a toll on them physically.
More so, flight attendants can often feel jet-lagged and experience irregular sleep cycles, which can cause mental fatigue.
All in all, being a flight attendant is tiresome on several fronts.
What’s more, there are statistics to corroborate.
According to a study conducted by the National Library of Medicine in the United States, 63.5% of pilots and cabin crew experienced abnormal levels of fatigue.
This proves that being a flight attendant is a tiresome job.
Flight Attendants Often Miss Important Events Back Home
This is fairly straightforward – flight attendants miss several landmark events, dates, and festivals back home.
There is no denying that flights run all 365 days of the year – may it be Christmas, Diwali, Thanksgiving, or Ramadan.
In such an industry where employees are required to show up come rain or shine, personal commitments are often pushed on the back burner.
Landmark days such as anniversaries, birthdays, festivals, annual days at school, and even medical emergencies in the family often come and go with flight attendants still on the job.
Based on rosters, schedule swaps, and sudden stand-by calls, there is no saying what a flight attendant may be doing 24 hours from now.
While flight attendants may request to work around certain dates and events and be available, there is no possibility of a 100% guarantee that they really will be on land on those given dates.
Flight Attendants Do Not Have a Fixed Routine
Many professionals and achievers thrive on routine.
Having a fixed time for every task can inculcate discipline, punctuality, and perfection.
Unfortunately, flight attendants cannot enjoy the benefits of a fixed routine thanks to the nature of their job! Flight attendants are put on weekly rosters for different flights that change week after week.
This variability doesn’t allow them to set a fixed routine for themselves, even for basic everyday tasks such as mealtime, exercise, and sleep.
Lack of a proper routine affects mental alertness, sleep quality, mood, and overall productivity.
It also hinders flight attendants from planning personal commitments or meetings, often leaving them feeling unfulfilled.
The Schedule of a Flight Attendant Can Take a Toll on Relationships
It’s not just the health of flight attendants that face the brunt of their routine but also their relationships.
Flight attendants are away from home for several days at a stretch.
Flight attendants also have responsibilities before and after take-off that occupy them for hours.
Add to this the time they spend 30,000 ft above without connectivity or communication possibilities.
All these factors work together to lay stress on their relationships with friends and family possibly.
It Is Easy for Flight Attendants to Develop Eating Disorders & Poor Mental Health
One of the most significant occupational hazards of being a flight attendant is the high chance of developing eating disorders.
Due to irregular meal timings, consuming in-flight food, and poor digestion/metabolism due to irregular sleep patterns, flight attendants fall easy prey to eating disorders.
Obesity, anorexia, rumination disorder, and binge eating are some of the many common conditions found in people with high-stress jobs.
Additionally, flight attendants tend to have poor mental health with issues such as insomnia, depression, and peer pressure/fear of missing out, among others.
These issues are largely due to irregular sleep patterns, high-stress environments, and lack of work-life balance, all of which are prominent features of a flight attendant job.
Junior Flight Attendants Are Often Always On Stand-by
Personal emergencies do not come announced.
Flight attendants often can’t get on board a flight due to sudden sickness, family emergencies, or other unforeseen situations.
In such cases, other flight attendants are summoned to step in and deliver – often, these are the junior flight attendants.
Junior flight attendants are often placed on stand-by to replace senior cabin crew if and when needed. This uncertainty of whether or not they are required on the job on a given day can be quite a hindrance.
Planning personal meetings, commitments, or even casual family outings can be difficult for junior flight attendants, as one never knows when they can be summoned to fill someone else’s shoes.
Being a Flight Attendant Is a High-Stress Job
Being a flight attendant is no mean feat.
The hours between take-off and landing are a high-stress period for flight attendants.
Even though the aircraft controls are in the hands of the pilot, flight attendants are also responsible for the well-being and safety of the passengers.
Flight attendants must promptly handle medical emergencies – sometimes, their quick action makes all the difference between the life and death of a passenger.
Flight attendants are also responsible for passenger well-being in situations such as turbulence, emergency evacuations, oxygen support, etc.
Additionally, any passenger conflicts, grievances, or requests are all the onus of flight attendants.
Flight attendants also must execute some routine yet extremely important tasks, such as closing the aircraft doors, ensuring all seat belts are fastened, and managing excess pieces of cabin luggage promptly.
Flight attendants carry the airline’s image and reputation on every flight. Their actions influence the overall experience of the passengers.
Hence, there is no denying that being a flight attendant is a high-stress job.
Flight Attendants Work Even on Public Holidays
You read that right.
Flight attendants find themselves working even on public holidays such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, Labour Day, New Year’s Eve, and more.
It is no surprise – as flights operate 365 days a year, and every flight requires at least 3-4 flight attendants.
This arrangement leaves flight attendants missing important celebratory days and working high-stress jobs while friends and family spend quality time together.
The Glamour of the Job Can Get Overwhelming
Someone rightly said – Glamour never takes even a single day off.
There is no denying that the glamour and glitz of being a flight attendant can sometimes become too much to handle.
Flight attendants are required to look impeccable, be energetic & vivacious, and have an amiable attitude every single day – and that’s not easy!
A regular office job goer can underdress or take the day easy every once in a while, but not a flight attendant!
They must be at the top of their game every day and wear a radiant smile whether they’re unwell, aching, or simply just out of sync.
Looking and behaving at the top of your game every single day can get overwhelming after a point.
Travel Delays Are Frequent
Here is the truth:
Flights are seldom on time.
While this delay affects the passengers’ schedules, let’s not forget it also defers the pilots’ and the cabin crews’ plans for the day.
Flight attendants bear the brunt of travel delays as much as the passengers, if not more.
Additionally, flight attendants also have a slew of responsibilities to complete after landing, which further delays their end of day’s work.
These travel delays can eat into a flight attendant’s schedule for the rest of the day and make it difficult for them to attend to any personal commitments.
Working Remotely Is Never an Option
There can only be one positive from the COVID-19 pandemic:
We all discovered the possibility and the several benefits of working from home.
In fact, working from home has become the preferred set-up for several companies post-COVID because of reduced operational costs and improved efficiency.
Unfortunately, the aviation workforce can never enjoy a work-from-home arrangement.
Working remotely is never an option for flight attendants, as they cannot possibly stay home and serve passengers on board a flight.
A flight attendant must go to work every day to clock in her necessary hours. This is indeed a major drawback at a time when the global workforce is appreciating and leveraging the benefits of working from home.
Flight Attendants Must Always Stay in Shape
We are all guilty of it – binge eating every once in a while!
Who doesn’t look overindulging in food? The holiday season is a culprit of all fitness regimens, resulting in people of all ages piling on some holiday weight.
But not for flight attendants!
Flight attendants must watch their weight and stay in shape throughout the year. Any weight gain or change in their appearance, for the worse, can affect their employability.
For this reason, it is imperative for flight attendants to constantly watch their weight without letting their guard down.
This pressure of staying in shape can often get overwhelming for those who struggle with poor metabolism and the tendency to put on weight.
It Is a High-Responsibility Job
A flight attendant is responsible for the entire aircraft’s health, well-being, and safety from take-off to landing.
From minor medical requirements to full-blown medical emergencies, flight attendants must be quick on their feet to attend to the passengers.
Flight attendants are also in charge of the safety of their passengers in times of turbulence, emergency landings, bird strikes, etc.
Any conflict or friction between passengers is the responsibility of a flight attendant to diffuse tactfully.
A flight attendant is responsible for the harmony and peace in the aircraft.
Every minute on the aircraft, flight attendants have some responsibility to execute. It is indeed a high-responsibility job.
The Starting Salary of a Flight Attendant Is Low
A significant disadvantage of a flight attendant job is that the starting salary is low.
Flight attendants can climb the ladder, gain experience and demand a higher salary over the years.
Their experience also gives them the confidence to handle contingencies mid-air and execute their responsibilities effectively.
Until they cut a few years in the job, flight attendants aren’t paid handsomely.
The Job Involves Dealing With a Lot of Trash/Waste
Cleanliness is next to godliness – this phrase couldn’t be more fitting than to the travel & hospitality industry.
Unfortunately, the onus of this cleanliness in aircraft lies largely with flight attendants.
Part of the job profile of flight attendants is to collect and take out trash, disposables, and food waste from the passenger trays.
They are also required to help passengers who may feel travel sickness.
Bathroom cleanliness in-flight is also the responsibility of flight attendants, who must check to ensure the lavatories are in clean and useable condition.
These job requirements can be a big turn-off for an individual who isn’t comfortable executing these jobs and may feel sick themselves while handling trash & food waste or helping passengers with travel sickness.
Did You Know?
Ellen Church, a 25-year-old registered nurse, was the first-ever female flight attendant hired in 1930 by United Airlines.
Soon after, other airlines also began hiring nurses to serve as flight attendants. These attendants soon donned the name of “air hostesses” or “stewardesses” on flights.
Back in the 1930s, being a flight attendant was one of the few jobs wherein women were preferred.
With the Great Depression striking in the same decade, several applicants sought out the few flight attendant job available back then.
A whopping two thousand women applied for just 43 flight attendant jobs offered by Transcontinental and Western Airlines in December 1935.
Here's Where We Take Off
After understanding the advantages and disadvantages of a flight attendant’s job, there’s no denying that it is a mixed bag of emotions.
Some aspects of being a flight attendant, such as traveling, networking, and flexibility, are indeed rewarding and covetable.
On the other hand, aspects such as stress and a haphazard routine are occupational hazards that one must reckon with if they are on the path to becoming a successful flight attendant.
We would like to know your take on the advantages and disadvantages of being a flight attendant.
Leave us a comment and tell us what you think are the biggest takeaways of a flight attendant’s job.