Oh, hey kids. Another Thursday, another post from Vanessa, our friendly Thursday contributor. Have I said Thursday enough times yet? Joke’s on you, it’s actually Monday.
So you want to be a flight attendant? You want to work long hours, be away from home a lot, travel to new places in a metal tube listening to Sally yammer on about her boyfriend without a way to escape (uh, just headed outside to smoke!) and earn no money. Congratulations, you have picked a great career choice!
Aside from the spectacular outfits, you can enjoy things like dental and health insurance — things that you can’t possibly get at any other company in Canada. You get to sleep in an impersonal hotel room that’s “right by the airport, we swear”. You’ll be constantly jet-lagged, have to wake up at 5am or only arrive at your hotel at 1am and need to constantly ask people what the local time is. You’ll eat every single meal on the road or have to beg someone for access to their microwave to heat up the dinner you brought from home — two days ago.
Related: How I save all the money on hotel rooms by using the Hotwire.
You’ll earn a princely $23 an hour — but not for the time that it takes you to get through security, or boarding, or the mandatory 90 minutes before your shift that you must arrive at the airport. And if your hotel shuttle in Albuquerque is late, you’re standing at the airport, unpaid. Oh but, don’t worry — all of those hours are counted for consideration of your “full-time” position. Yup, you “work” 160h a month but actually only fly (and are paid for) 75h. Let’s see, $23/h x 75h = $1725/month (about 20k a year) . Before taxes.
You will, of course, get a per diem, but it’s not much. Directly from Air Canada’s website, you’ll see that FAs receive an “annual compensation [starting] at $25,000+ based on a minimum of 75 hours per month, including per diems, overtime and benefits after 6 months of work”. INCLUDING BENEFITS. Oh and you can’t really get a second job until you’ve been at the company awhile because, as the bottom ring of the totem pole, you’re on call — 24h a day.
Sure you’ll fly to lots of exotic places — in between trips to Detroit, Milwaukee and Calgary. Oh boy, exciting Calgary! And yes, you’ll get free flights to anywhere in the world, provided you work for a big enough airline that you can trade shifts with other FAs in order to get the time off — otherwise you’re stuck flying to Prince George 6x a week and having the chance to get away once a month. Plus, to be fair, what type of vacation can you have when you earn 20k a year? Visiting Grandma?
But it’s ok! You’re used to living at the poverty level — you’re a PF blogger after all! Good thing though because, before you even start earning your amazing 20k salary, you’ll have to fork over money to get a passport, security clearance, first aid certification, study a training manual (unpaid), pass various tests to see if you’re physically able to be an FA, complete a 5-6 week training program at the minimum wage, and, for Air Canada specifically, complete “a week long training session that usually takes place in Orlando, Florida. […] candidates are responsible for paying $1,750 towards incidental fees for the training in Orlando. This will be repaid at a cost of $50/month throughout the first 36 months of your employment”.
Fly the friendly skies for free! Just don’t expect to have any money to spend once you’re there.
This entire post has been written through a ton of experience applying to various airlines, reading benefits packages, talking to flight attendants that I know and a bit of internet research.