Travel Chatter: How much do Flight Attendants Make & Other Cabin Crew Curiosities

Travel Chatter: How much do Flight Attendants Make & Other Cabin Crew Curiosities


Over the past few weeks I’ve been on a deep dive in the travel industry, trying to sort out its inner-workings beyond my own experiences in the terminal. While I’ve been working my tail off to establish my own little biz (what? read more here) I’ve stumbled across a bunch of water cooler chat-worthy tidbits about cabin crew that I know you’ll also find interesting:

1 | How much to flight attendants make?

A United flight attendant starts out earning $20.45 per hour and gets a pay raise each year until their 16th year, where they top out at $52.53 per hour. Shockingly though, their pay starts when the flight door closes and stops when it opens at the end of the flight.

Read: They are not paid for boarding, de-planing, delays or anything else outside that time. There might be a day where the crew is on duty for 14 hours and only gets paid for 5 hours. Brutal, right?



2 | What do pilots do on long-haul flights?

I’ve read in multiple forums that pilots are a chatty bunch, passing a lot of cruise time with conversation. Many pilots also read (some airlines require industry-related books) or play Sudoku, basically the same thing you’re doing, however they are not permitted to use in-flight wi-fi.

3| Why is the fasten seatbelt sign still on?

One pilot recently confessed: “We forget about the fasten seatbelt sign all the time.  When you look up at the sign (and disregard it typically) and it has been illuminated for the last 45 minutes in smooth air, we simply forgot.” Ahem, this does NOT mean I’m advising you to ignore the seatbelt sign, k?!

4 | What should you do if you have an awful flight?

Not relating to weather delays or middle-seat, but what’s the best way to get an airline’s attention if you had a terrible experience? Look no further than twitter. The airlines are more concerned about your complaints on twitter than on their websites or their customer surveys.


5 | What do Pilots eat?

On many airlines flight attendants give pilots special meals so that if the airline food shipment is contaminated they don’t get sick. Also, the captain and the first officer may be required to take different meals to prevent them from both getting sick (ex. if the chicken is contaminated and they both take it, they’d both get sick and might even be incapable of flying).

6 | There’s psychology in your 45 minute delay:

One airline’s policy is that for mechanical delays pilots should advise passengers initially that it’ll be a 45 minute delay, even if they had no idea. The theory is that an hour is too long and might cause some passengers to change their flight. If it turns out to be 15 to 30 delay then passengers were thrilled when it beats 45. Interestingly, often times, the 45 delay turns out to be pretty accurate.

There are a ton of psychology studies about waiting (at the grocery store, concert or airport), simply put – waiting for something without an estimate on the length of time you’ll be waiting is absolutely agonizing. This is why pilots are obligated to provide passengers an estimate.

What do you think about all this? If you know of any other cabin crew curiosities I’d love to hear them!

Don’t forget that my first-ever Lightroom class is tomorrow! I’d love for you to join!

how to cheat at travel photography-4

[mc4wp_form id=”12040″]

(cover image via)