Being a flight attendant is one of those jobs that seem absolutely glamourous when you think of all of the perks that seem to come with it. After all, flying around the globe visiting destination after destination is a dream for so many people and it’s essentially what flight attendants get paid to do. Why wouldn’t it be the perfect job? The truth is, most flight attendants will tell you it is, in fact, a great job and many of them wouldn’t trade in their careers for anything else.
Like with all things though, there are downsides to every career path, flight attendant included. For every perk they get to enjoy in the sky, there is a setback they have to overcome. Sometimes these setbacks are worse than what you would find with an average job because it is so vastly different. When you board a plane, remember that flight attendants are doing what they love, but they also have to juggle some pretty harsh realities that we tend sometimes to forget.
Here are twelve reasons why, if we were allowed to, we should tip our flight attendants for the stuff they have to put up with and eight why they don’t get a dime because the job is too good to be true!
20 REASON TO TIP THEM: Their Pay
At an average of about $46k a year, flight attendants don’t necessarily make poverty level income, but the reality is they work a lot and are constantly on the go. For the amount of time they spend dedicating their lives to their jobs in airports, hotels and on planes, the pay isn’t exactly lavish.
In order to be comfortable with the amount of money the average flight attendant makes, the lifestyle also has to be something you’re looking forward to. Otherwise, it simply might not be a good fit and not worth the trouble.
19 NOT GETTING A DIME: Flexible Work Schedule
The average full-time worker in the United States is married to the typical nine to five schedule without much room to deviate from the norm. With flight attendants, that’s definitely far from the case.
One of the best perks of the job is the ability to pick your own schedule or at the very least, have some major control over the hours you work. This definitely helps with freeing up time to do other things in their personal life that can be accomplished during the day.
Of course, flight attendants can’t pick every single day and shift they want, as there are other factors that come in to play, but they can move things around which allow them the freedom to focus on other activities in life as well. In fact, full-time attendants can work as few as 40 hours a week while others can sign up for as many hours as they want, really helping them financially as well.
18 REASON TO TIP: They Are On Call
Even though flight attendants get some major say in their work schedules, the one thing they have to be flexible in return for that freedom is the need to be on call. This is especially true for the attendants with very little tenure, sometimes affecting their personal lives.
As employees who are technically on call all the time, if they get a message from the airline they work for saying they need them to report for a flight, they have to be there within a few hours. As tenure increases, this becomes less prevalent, but this is a harsh reality that many have to contend with every day.
17 REASON TO TIP: It Can Get Lonely
The glamourous life of a flight attendant is often highlighted in pop culture, but what sometimes gets left out is the solitude of the job which can be a harsh reality. It is not uncommon for them to spend most of their nights alone in hotel rooms, with only their thoughts as they shuffle from destination to destination.
Often times, their only companions are their fellow attendant peers. This is especially difficult for those who have family back at home. Getting used to the loneliness is probably something that can become overwhelming for some, so those who choose this career path have to accept the lifestyle that comes with it.
16 NOT GETTING A DIME: Health and Retirement Benefits
Although the pay that the average flight attendant makes leaves some hoping for more, one thing they have going for them in all the right ways are the benefits when it comes to health insurance and retirement.
With robust 401k options throughout the industry and some of the best medical insurance which often includes dental and vision, attendants can definitely mark this one down as an awesome perk of the job that is sure to come in handy throughout their careers.
15 REASON TO TIP: Seniority Is Kind of a Must
New attendants can attest to the importance of gaining seniority when it comes to their careers. Only after putting in some serious work and time does a flight attendant get to truly reap all the benefits of their job.
Tenured employees get the first pick when it comes to their work schedules, the flights they will be working, their destinations, which holidays they will get off and more.
Unfortunately, new hires are often left to pick up the leftovers until they have more time under their belts.
14 NOT GETTING A DIME: Travel Discounts and Perks
Definitely a reason to envy flight attendants the world over is the incredible discounts they get on travel. Although it differs from airline to airline, it’s no secret that each company rewards their flight attendants with incentives and prices that seem too good to be true.
In fact, it is not uncommon for them to get free flights on a regular basis and if not free, the discounted costs are astronomical. Definitely not getting a tip from us regular Joe's for this one!
13 REASON TO TIP: Holiday and Weekend Work
It’s been noted that flight attendants have the great benefit of being able to select their work schedules, but with that perk is a tradeoff they have to make which often ends up being the need to work on holidays and during the weekends. After all, the flight industry doesn’t shut down for those timeframes. In fact, it’s the contrary when bookings ramp up during the holidays and most travelers book flights during the weekends when they are off from work.
12 REASON TO TIP: Unruly Passengers
This is probably the single biggest reason we should tip our flight attendants if we were allowed to. They have to deal with passengers who are not easy customers. Sometimes passengers can get unruly or they may often simply just be rude.
It’s a well-known fact that those who fly find it stressful so their demeanor might be on the not-so-nice side, which flight attendants have to tend to. A big part of the job, aside from safety, is service so dealing with angry flyers is part of the bargain.
11 NOT GETTING A DIME: Meeting Interesting People From All Cultures
One of the coolest perks to being a flight attendant is the people watching that comes with the job. To take it even further, being able to meet so many interesting, new people from around the world is definitely a plus.
Picking up passengers in India and learning of their customs while dropping them off in Paris is a cultural shock that few get to experience on a regular basis like attendants do. The exposure to so many different cultures is not only interesting but can be a profoundly eye-opening experience.
10 REASON TO TIP: Not All Hours in Uniform Are Paid
Although flight attendants can rack up some serious hours on a weekly basis, sometimes topping 80, the harsh reality is that not all hours they spend in their uniforms are paid out to them.
Although it differs from airline to airline, the general rule of thumb is most attendants get paid only for the hours they spend in the air. This means that pre-flight and post-flight preparation activities are not included in their paid time. Definitely, a difficult truth they have to come to grips with so a tip would probably ease some of that pain.
9 NOT GETTING A DIME: It’s An Adventure
The monotony of the typical nine to five job can be grueling sometimes. In fact, it makes people question their career choices, but with flight attendants, no day is like the last. There is always something new at work for them, whether it’s the passengers they meet, the cities they travel to, the airports they visit or the hotels they stay in. It really is an adventure. There’s nothing quite like having a Cuban sandwich in Miami on Monday evening and being on a beach in Jamaica by Wednesday morning, all while collecting a paycheck!
8 REASON TO TIP: The Schedule Can Get Crazy
Attendants get to pick their schedules, for the most part, meaning they can choose which days to work and which flights they are going to service, but while on those trips a lot can change.
A 6am flight time means having to wake up at 3am in the morning for work. Once there, a flight delay can wreak havoc on the entire day, causing some of them to have to wait at an airport for hours on end until they are up in the air which essentially pushes back every other flight they were scheduled to work.
These changes can make the schedule grueling and the pay docked for not being in the air only adds to the stress.
7 REASON TO TIP: Having to Teach Travelers The Rules of Flying
First-time flyers can be trying for flight attendants. This even applies to the regulars, but one of the biggest pet peeves they have to endure is the need to go over the same information over and over with passengers. Going over bag check rules, telling passengers they need to get back in their seats, pleading with travelers to put their phones on airplane mode, and having to ask someone to buckle up their seatbelt several times can get pretty tedious to say the least.
Although it’s a part of the job, having to repeat these rules over and over to newbies or those who simply ignore them is never fun.
6 NOT GETTING A DIME: Food and Housing Are Usually Provided
The incredible discounts flight attendants get on personal travel is incredible which has already appeared on this list as a major benefit to the job. If that isn’t good enough, it is the norm in the industry for flight attendants who are staying overnight to get a hotel stay free of charge along with a generous per diem for food expenses.
This is definitely one of the perks that have contributed to the idea of it being a glamorous job as many of them document their stays in some of the world’s most expensive hotels and best restaurants, which often tend to be on the house.
5 REASON TO TIP: Changes in Hours
Jet lag is a very real thing. The effects flying has on the body are documented and can definitely take a toll on a person. This only becomes amplified when travelers are crossing time zones which can really mess with a person’s whole demeanor.
Not only does it affect how tired someone becomes, but it can also do a number on the mental state of a person, as having to get used to the drastic changes in hours along with sunlight and nighttime adjustments can be taxing.
In fact, this is so difficult to get used to that it is often cited as the biggest setback of the job by many attendants.
4 NOT GETTING A DIME: No Boss Hovering
Being micromanaged is one of the biggest complaints from people in the workforce today. It is simply one of the many things bosses do that can drive an employee up the wall. One of the great perks of being a flight attendant is the lack of management hovering over your shoulder.
For the most part, when working a flight, there is very little close observance from upper management where attendants are trusted to do their job properly. This freedom on the job is a welcoming breath of fresh air.
3 REASON TO TIP: There’s A Lot Of Responsibility
There’s actually a lot of responsibility that comes with the job. Although most passengers see the service aspect of being a flight attendant, the primary duty of the job is safety above all. This means that on occasion, they have to jump into action to perform the tasks that go with ensuring all passengers are safe. This means that attendants have to be able to handle unruly passengers who pose a threat, administer a certain level of medical attention including CPR and help with airplane evacuations in the event that something has gone wrong. The stress that comes with this can definitely take a toll!
2 NOT GETTING A DIME: Access to World Landmarks
Probably considered the best perk of the job by most, this is one that will make us all green with envy and feel no desire to tip any of them ever again. In the end, the essence of the job is flying so flight attendants basically get paid to see the world.
They have some of the easiest access to see some of the world’s most breathtaking landmarks. While flying, they can plan their trips so that they can take a few hours to explore the cities they visit and take in beauties like the Eiffel Tower or Pyramids of Giza. Most of us have to shell out thousands to do these things while they are getting paid!
1 REASON TO TIP: Misconception About Their Jobs
There is a pretty big perception out there that flight attendants are only glorified waiters and waitresses on planes, but the truth is they are so much more than that. In fact, the amount of training they have to complete and the level of responsibility that rests on their shoulders are more than most jobs.
It is not uncommon at all for the person serving your water on a plane to also be a lawyer, accountant, or analyst who are trying their hand at a new career, so don’t allow the misconception to change the way you treat them!