Flight Attendant Finances

Many believe that the life of a flight attendant is glamour, a true dream. For many reasons it is, but the job does not quite include the dream monetary compensation. If your goal is to get rich quick, or not so- working as cabin crew probably isn’t the profession for you. That being said, I wouldn’t trade being a flight attendant for a job with loads of cash, although that would be nice. I value the experiences of working as a flight attendant so much that I cannot compare dollars to my quality of life. I really do feel as if I have the best job in the world.

Often, I am asked how much flight attendants make, and on average, a flight attendant takes home between $15,000 (£9,000), and $30,000 (£18,000) a year, give or take. The poverty line, for a single individual in the United States, is $11,490 (£7,000), and in Hawaii, that number changes to just over $13,000 (£8,000). From living in Hawaii personally, I know firsthand that this amount doesn’t exactly cover the cost of coffee.

A Flight attendant’s salary isn’t the reason most go into a career with the airlines

Dollar compensation may be lacking for some, but what is included in the flight attendant life, is the invaluable experiences of free travel, different cultures, and meeting new people. These are the reasons why so many well educated, and interesting individuals trade high powered careers to become flight attendants.

As a flight attendant, especially a new hire, one has to learn to live cheaply without looking cheap.

Learning to budget is essential for peace of mind, as well as to take full advantage of the experiences that a job as cabin crew offers. I recently switched airlines, and having been accustomed to “Five year pay,” I have to adjust my spending to match the significant drop in income. Most outside of the airline industry fail to realize that anytime cabin crew make an airline change, they must also go to training with that airline, as well as take a pay-cut.

To make the change in my income level work for my life, I have to change spending habits- saying wait on this, not yet on that, and praying that my silly car won’t break down again. I don’t feel limited by the career changes, as I have made a commitment to myself to never let money be a limiting factor when it comes to making choices that have a longterm benefit, as opposed to an immediate reward. My advice for hopeful cabin crew is to make a plan to live within your income. It’s too easy, living the flight attendant lifestyle to have the mindset of play now, and pay later. This is not a healthy mindset.

It is possible to live on this minimum wage pay, but it requires discipline, and awareness. It’s not always fun, but if you are able to find a balance for yourself between spending, and saving, living independently on what a flight attendant makes, you will give yourself a gift. You will create a belief system that you can take care of yourself, be resourceful, and do what you love, all at the same time. I’m on this flight attendant budgeting path too, and here are some of the things that I have done, or am doing to make my flight attendant finances fly high.

Tips To Live On Flight Attendant Pay

  • Go natural: Do your nails at home, dye your hair back closest to what your were born with, for the least maintenance.
  • Always save: No matter what income, always put away 10%.
  • Look for a second way to make money: For me, having an interest in writing, I have been searching out freelance writing opportunities that will add to my income. Some flight attendants work at hotels, are personal trainers, or bartenders in their airline off days. Find something that you are interested in, and work part-time at it.
  • Pack lunches. Drink at home: going out is one of the most expensive things you can do, so unless you find a rich investor for your social life, take a break.
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Kara Mulder

Kara is an international cabin crew, as well as the creator of theflightattendantlife.com, a website that documents the predictably unpredictable adventures of her life. She loves her job, and the lifestyle that it includes. She currently resides in South Florida, loves Copenhagen in the summer, and can't wait till the day when she can move back to California.

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