The 5 WORST things about being a flight attendant you must know before applying

As a former flight attendant I can tell you that being a flight attendant is a pretty sweet gig (to find out why, read here).  I think the best proof of it being a great job is that many flight attendants work their jobs for 30+ years. Even though it’s a job I actually recommend, there are definitely drawbacks.

Before applying here are 5 of the worst things that you need to know…

It is really hard to get hired!

The biggest reason it is hard to get a job as a flight attendant is that there are TONS of people applying for just a few openings. Literally thousands of people will apply for 20 open spots.

A recent NY Post article claimed it was harder to get a flight attendant job than to get into Harvard.

Many people try and try to get one, but are never successful. There really is a formula.  Recently I helped my brother and sister in law each get jobs at great airlines within a few months.

You might also enjoy: 7 Tips to Becoming a Flight Attendant

First year pay is terrible!

A flight attendant often only makes about $25,000 in their first year.  Salaries can ultimately go up pretty high, but you do have to start so low! Many flight attendants have to have other part time jobs to get by at first.

Flight attendants get paid “per block hour,” which means that you are only getting paid for the time that plane is not at the gate, i.e. taxiing or flying.

Want to find the best airlines to work for as a flight attendant? See average salary of a flight attendant for each airline on Glassdoor.

Seniority based scheduling

Managers don’t just assign shifts, almost all airlines let flight attendants with the most seniority pick the shifts they want first, which leaves the least desirable shifts for the new people.

Who do you think is doing the overnight in Scottsbulff, Nebraska in the middle of winter, that’s right, you if you are new.

Also remember, with you being paid per block hour longer flights are more valuable since you don’t have to spend as much of your time boarding and deplaning with passengers.  When you are new, expect to be on more short flights.

Having to be on reserve/on call and work holidays

Who likes having to be ready to go to work, but not actually getting paid?  Absolutely no one, but this is what you have to do a lot of as a flight attendant (especially new).  If someone calls in sick, or if a plane gets delayed, you may have to get dressed and be at the airport quick.  This really puts a damper on plans if you have to spend the whole weekend within 45 minutes of the airport.

Don’t worry, when you do arrive at the plane you will often be greeted by a bunch of grouchy passengers who think you are at fault for their delay.

When do most people fly? Yup, right around holidays.  When are the most flight attendants needed? Yup, when there are the most flights. Expect to be working holidays!

FAA (airline government) sets rules that you have to enforce, and passengers blame you for it

It’s annoying to have to tell every to put their laptops away and their tray tables up, but guess what, if you don’t, you can get fired.  The FAA sets a lot of rules that are for everyone’s safety, but there are definitely a few that seem to do nothing but make people angry at you.

Now that you have read all the bad, be sure to check out the good things about being a flight attendant as well!

Read Next: 7 Benefits of Being a Flight Attendant


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