Flight attendants are indispensable figures in the aviation industry, ensuring passenger safety and comfort on every flight.

Beyond their friendly demeanor and impeccable service, they act as first responders during emergencies and play a vital role in an airline’s reputation and customer loyalty.

Understanding the flight attendant salary is crucial for aspiring individuals, and in this article, we provide a range of salary data to help you make informed decisions about your future career path.

Let’s get started!

How Much Does a Flight Attendant Make?

According to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS), the national median salary for flight attendants was $63,760 in 2022. 

This figure represents the middle point of the salary range, with half of the flight attendants earning less than this amount and the other half earning more.

Flight attendant USA

The best-paid 75% made less than $82,410 that year, while the lowest-paid 25% made less than $47,760. A significant 90% of flight attendants earn less than $97,170 annually.

This highlights the variability in earnings within the profession, with only a small percentage reaching higher income levels.

As of July 26, 2023, the average hourly pay for a flight attendant reported by airline employees in the United States was $18.57, according to ZipRecruiter. 

Overall, a flight attendant salary can vary based on various factors such as education, certifications, additional skills, and years of experience in the profession.

The estimated pay for an entry-level flight attendant is $46,782 annually, as noted by Glassdoor which collects self-reported salary rates.

The estimated additional flight attendant pay is $15,872 annually, encompassing cash bonuses, commissions, tips, and profit sharing.

Flight attendants’ salaries are commonly guaranteed a certain amount of hours per month, typically ranging from 70 to 80 hours per calendar month. However, this is only the minimum and most flight attendants work more hours.

The starting pay may vary between $17 to $26 per hour, depending on the airline and other influencing factors. Even if flight attendants are on call (reserve status) or fail to reach the guaranteed flight hours for the month, they still receive payment for at least the total number of guaranteed hours.

Components of Flight Attendant Pay

Flight pay and per diem are the two primary components of flight attendant pay.

Flight pay compensates flight attendants for their hours spent on the plane, while per diem is provided for each hour that they spend away from home.

flight attendant per diem rate

Certain airlines offer supplemental pay based on various factors such as the position worked, language proficiency, international flights, and night flying.

Airline Domestic Per Diem International Per Diem Language of Destination Ground Holding Pay
American $2.20/hr $2.50/hr $2.00/hr $7/hr after 30min
Delta $2.45/hr $2.90/hr $2.25/hr $15/hr after 30min
United $2.20/hr $2.70/hr $2.50/hr 50% hourly rate after 30min

Best Companies for Flight Attendant Salaries

The top companies for flight attendant salaries in the United States can vary based on factors such as company size, route network, and collective bargaining agreements. However, some major airlines are known for offering competitive salaries and benefits for flight attendants.

According to data compiled by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Airline Data Project, in 2020, American Airlines boasted the highest average flight attendant salary among major North American airlines.

American Airlines flight attendants earned a median average salary of $103,646, with Hawaiian Airlines ranking second at $69,899, and Delta coming in third with $69,596.

From 2012 to 2020, American Airlines, Hawaiian, Delta, South West, and United were consistently the top companies offering the highest average flight attendant salaries.

Alaska Airlines and JetBlue are among the other leading airlines recognized for their competitive flight attendant pay.

Airline 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
American $51,383 $51,628 $49,692 $55,201 $58,252 $62,366 $65,188 $69,664 $103,646
Delta $44,156 $47,832 $48,149 $49,356 $54,155 $58,341 $59,053 $61,488 $69,596
United $46,170 $46,946 $47,927 $47,096 $46,483 $62,461 $66,252 $66,363 $66,216
South West $53,787 $56,716 $63,617 $61,796 $59,831 $60,389 $57,086 $56,794 $65,291

Low-Cost vs Premium Airlines

While Southwest Airlines is renowned as the world’s top low-cost carrier, it has reached the top five list for the highest average pay for flight attendants in 2020.

Flight attendants with Southwest Airlines in 2020 earned an average pay of $65,291, surpassing the median annual wage for flight attendants of $61,640 in May 2021.

Aviation industry specialists say working for low-cost airlines often involves employees bearing various expenses before commencing employment. For example, flight attendants may have to cover the cost of uniforms.

In contrast, premium airlines provide many advantages as part of their employment package, surpassing what low-cost airlines typically offer. These benefits can include:

  • Accommodation during travel
  • Transport allowance
  • Discounted travel
  • Premium medical and dental care plans

flight attendant

Some premium airlines offer tax-free salaries to flight attendants. 

For example, a flight attendant from Emirates commented on the key advantages of working for the world’s most luxurious airlines:

“Our accommodation is provided, and our salary is tax-free. Additionally, we have numerous other benefits, including transportation, laundry, and comprehensive medical and dental coverage. We feel incredibly well taken care of.”

A flight attendant with Emirates in Dubai can make $62,618.

Emirates offers flight attendants a competitive tax-free income, furnished accommodations, health and dental coverage, generous leave policies, travel benefits, career growth opportunities, uniforms, and exposure to a diverse work environment.

Do Flight Attendants Get Paid Well?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May 2022, a flight attendant’s salary was 8.45% above the national annual mean wage in the US.

The annual mean wage for all occupations in the US was $61,900, whereas flight attendants had an annual mean wage of $67,020.

Following flight attendants, the top 5 occupations with a similar annual mean wage included:

Occupation Annual Mean Wage
Fabric and apparel pattern makers $66,820
Engineering technologists and technicians, except drafters $66,780
Health education specialists $66,710
Fundraisers $66,670
Electrical and electronics repairers, commercial and industrial equipment $66,650

The five occupations that ranked above flight attendants in terms of salaries were: 

Occupation Annual Mean Wage
Curators $67,490
Interior designers $67,460
Media and communication equipment workers $67,310
Calibration technologists and technicians $67,200
Food service manager $67,130

What Benefits Do Flight Attendants Get?

Airlines in the US are known for offering competitive salaries and benefits for flight attendants.

flight attendant travel benefits

Flight attendants in major airlines typically receive the following benefits:

  • Competitive base salary
  • Health and dental insurance coverage
  • Retirement plans
  • Paid time off and vacation days
  • Travel privileges for themselves and eligible family members
  • Meal and transportation allowances during layovers
  • Uniform and grooming allowances
  • Access to employee assistance programs
  • Opportunities for career advancement and training
  • Discounts on flights and other travel-related services
Airline Financial Wellness & Retirement Health Benefits Travel Perks
American 401(k) plan eligible after one year Medical, dental and vision available upon hire Flights, hotels, cellular plans, and more
Delta 401(k), savings and other financial planning resources HSA/FSA, medical, dental and vision plans, physical and emotional wellness programs Employee pass travel, flights, hotels and more.
United 401(k), short-term and long-term incentive opportunities. Vision, dental, long-term disability and life insurance Unlimited standby travel and discounted airfare
South West 401(k), profit sharing plan, employee stock purchase plan Medical, dental and vision plans, HSA, long and short-term disability plans, life insurance, AD&D Flights, rental car companies, hotels, theme parks, and more

Flight Attendant Average Salary by State

The average flight attendant pay by state exhibits considerable diversity across the US. 

Aspiring flight attendants can consider these differences while planning their careers and selecting potential work locations.

Connecticut has the highest paying salary for flight attendants in the US, offering an annual mean wage of $108,310. 

However, despite the attractive salary, there were only 210 flight attendant positions in the state in 2022.

US State Annual Median Wage Employment Count
Connecticut $108,310 210
Massachusetts $74,780 2,960
Arizona $73,900 3,270
California $73,570 13,060
New York $ 72,690 9,020


Nevada, Minnesota, Ohio, New Jersey, and Virginia are among the US states offering some of the lowest flight attendant salaries.

In these states, a flight attendant salary typically ranges between $50,240 to $56,630.

California offers the highest employment level for flight attendants among all the US states, with an annual median wage of $73,570.

Moreover, the Golden State also provides ample employment opportunities in this profession, with approximately 13,060 flight attendants thriving in the aviation industry in 2022.

Flight Attendant Salaries Around the World

Global differences in flight attendant salaries result from varying living costs, local economy, airline size, and profitability. Government regulations, unionization, and industry competition also play a role.

Cultural norms further contribute to the variations in flight attendant salaries worldwide.

Data from airline company employees on Payscale reveals that Canada offers the highest flight attendant salary in terms of hourly and annual pay.

Flight attendants in South Africa earn the lowest median hourly wage, receiving $3.62 per hour, while those in The Philippines have the lowest median annual salary at $3,645.

Country Median Hourly Wage (USD) Median Annual Salary (USD)
Canada $18.96 $34,111
Australia $18.50 $33,726
UK $18.09 $26,498
India $5.97 $6,700
The Philippines $7.85 $3,645
South Africa $3.62 $8,183

Requirements to be a Flight Attendant

Flight attendant applicants must meet minimum age requirements, usually 18 or 21 years old, and be eligible to work in the United States.

A valid passport, background check, and drug test are also prerequisites for aspiring flight attendants.

Airlines typically conduct background checks and require candidates to undergo a medical examination to ensure they fit the physically demanding role.

They must have correctable vision to at least 20/40 and may need to adhere to height requirements established by the airline.

A Flight Attendant’s Education

Most airlines require a high school diploma or general education development course (GED) to become a flight attendant.

flight attendant requirements

Some airlines may prefer candidates with college degrees, especially in tourism or related fields. Aspiring flight attendants also have the opportunity to attend flight attendant academies, which can enhance their chances of securing a better salary, although it is not a mandatory requirement.

Flight attendants working on international flights may be required to have proficiency in a foreign language. Fluency in English is typically required, and knowledge of other languages can be beneficial.

Becoming a flight attendant often requires 1 or 2 years of work experience in a service occupation, before you can obtain your first job in this profession.

For example, customer service roles in hospitality and retail are highly valued. Additionally, experience in sales or other positions involving direct interaction with the public and a focus on customer service can contribute to developing the essential skills necessary for a successful career as a flight attendant.

Flight Attendant Training & Certifications

After a flight attendant is hired, airlines provide initial training that typically lasts for several weeks or a few months.

The training usually takes place at the airline’s flight training center and is required for Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) certification.

To become certified, flight attendants must complete their employer’s initial training program and pass an exam.

They are certified for specific aircraft types and must take new training for each aircraft type on which they are to work. Moreover, they receive specific instructions on:

  • Aircraft evacuation
  • Operation of emergency equipment
  • First-aid administration
  • Flight regulations
  • Company operations
  • Job responsibilities

TheFAA must certify all flight attendants. Once they have successfully passed the initial training, newly appointed flight attendants receive the FAA Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency and continue receiving further on-the-job training as their employer requires.

Aspiring flight attendants do not have to pay for the FAA certification.

The FAA certification required for flight attendants is typically provided by the airline as part of their initial training program, which is covered by the employer.

The Future of Flight Attendant Jobs

Between 2008 and 2020, the number of active flight attendants in the United States witnessed an impressive growth of approximately 61.2%.

The count increased from 154.67 to over 248,700, showcasing a significant expansion in the workforce dedicated to ensuring safe and comfortable air travel for passengers.


Between 2020 and 2030, the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook predicts an increase in flight attendant jobs, with approximately 31,100 positions expected to be added.

This projection indicates a remarkable 30% growth rate, surpassing the average for other professions.


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