Flight Attendant Schedule

Flight attendants do not work typical 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. shifts. With flights running all hours of the day and night, a flight attendant schedule has to match the ever-changing flight schedules. Over the course of a month, flight attendants work approximately 65 to 90 hours, with the option to work overtime hours. 

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What Do Flight Attendants Do?

Flight attendants are responsible for a variety of things before, during, and after flights. Some of their core duties include: 

  • Conduct safety checks before the flight
  • Welcome passengers, check boarding passes and accompany them to their seats
  • Prepare and serve drinks and food to passengers
  • Assist passengers and cabin crew during emergency situations
  • Provide special help to passengers with special needs

Preflight Duties

While flight attendants do not start clocking time and getting paid until the aircraft doors are shut, they have plenty of duties prior to takeoff. Before taking off, for each flight, a cabin crew member must go through a preflight safety briefing. These safety briefings are specific to the flight course and may vary based on whether the aircraft will be flying over water. The preflight safety briefing ensures the flight attendants are prepared for all possible emergencies that may occur.

Before passengers board the aircraft, flight attendants are required to clean and organize any equipment that is located in the cabin. They are also responsible for ensuring that all the necessary items are stocked such as food and beverages for the passengers. 

As passengers board the aircraft, flight attendants are tasked with assisting disabled passengers, unaccompanied minors, and all other passengers to their seats. Flight attendants also assist with baggage during the boarding process. Once all passengers have boarded the aircraft, safety checks and briefs will commence based on the preflight briefing cabin crew had prior to the passengers boarding. 

Inflight Duties

Once the flight has departed and the crew members are able to move around the cabin, flight attendants start their inflight duties. During the flight, cabin attendants are responsible for ensuring the safety of the passengers by enforcing lit cabin signs such as seatbelt signs and no smoking signs. They are also responsible for coming to the aid of passengers when passengers trigger the flight attendant call light. 

In addition to helping passengers when needed, flight attendants also serve passengers refreshments and sometimes full meals, depending on the length of the flight. If full meals are to be served, flight attendants must prepare the dishes by heating the menu and distributing the meals based on dietary requirements and preferences. If full meals are not being served, flight attendants serve cold refreshments to passengers. Some passengers may opt to purchase additional food or alcoholic beverages, in these instances, flight attendants are required to collect payment from individual passengers. 

Flight attendants will also be tasked with in flight announcements during the flight. These announcements may include safety announcements such as upcoming turbulence, seatbelt sign announcements, and baggage claim announcements once landed. 

Post-flight Duties

After the flight has been completed, flight attendants will be responsible for cleaning the cabin and preparing it for the next flight. This will include security checks to ensure no passenger has left any personal items on the aircraft, no seatbelts have been broken during the previous flight, and incident reports, if there was an inflight incident during the last flight. 

Flight attendants will also create an inventory report for the galley and bar carts and restock them if needed. Depending on the airline, the cabin crew may clean the aircraft or at least will have collected any remaining headsets, blankets, and cushions in the cabin and bagged them for the cleaners.

What Are Typical Flight Attendant Hours?

Flight attendants do not have an average work schedule. They can expect to spend 65 to 90 hours in the air per month, and an additional 50 hours per month preparing the airplane, processing passengers during boarding, and performing post-flight procedures. Typically, flight attendants work 12 to 14 days and log 65 to 85 flight hours on average each month, not including overtime. Flight attendants are only paid once the boarding doors are closed. 

There are two types of flight attendant schedules, reserve schedules, and fine holder schedules. Flight attendants on reserve schedules remain available 24 hours a day and typically work flights rejected by senior staff, which can cause long legs or layovers. Line holders bid for desired routes or workdays and can swap or drop trips.

Time Off and Travel Perks

When flight attendants do not work, they have many travel perks they can take advantage of. Most airlines allow flight attendants to fly domestically at no cost and fly at a discounted rate for international flights. These flights are on a standby basis and may result in longer than average layover times. 

Which Flight Attendants Get Paid the Most?

Senior international long-haul flight attendants will bring home the most money at the end of the day but will be gone from home much more than domestic short-haul flight attendants. This is due to an international surcharge and the time in flight being longer.

For multi-day trips, flight attendants will be paid a per diem which will be higher for international destinations. 

Important Flight Attendant Skills

Flight attendants are the face of the airlines and must have skills that can represent the airline at its finest. This means that being personable, having great communication skills and knowing when to be assertive are essential skills for flight attendants.

Personable 

A crew member’s duties often include serving food and beverages to passengers and helping them out, this means that flight attendants must be willing and able to help in all instances, while also having a smile on their face and being friendly.

Timely

Flights are a strict schedule, flight attendants must be punctual to ensure that their tardiness does not cause delays. Flight attendants may be required to arrive 1-2 hours prior to the departure time.

Communication 

Arguably the most important skill for a flight attendant to have is the ability to communicate effectively. A significant portion of the job is to relay instructions to the passengers or to understand their needs so they can be fulfilled. They also communicate regularly with other flight crew, such as pilots. 

Teamwork

As a flight attendant, you would usually be working with a crew of four or more. Hence, it is particularly important to know how to work in a team with others and communicate effectively with them.

Assertiveness

Flight attendants must perform several safety checks and precautions. There may be some unruly passengers who think they know better than the professionals. To overcome this, sometimes flight attendants need to be assertive to explain the rules to them. It is important to remember that there is a very fine line between assertive and aggressive.

Prepare For Takeoff

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FAQ

How do you become a flight attendant?

To become a flight attendant you must apply directly to the airline you want to work for. If hired, you will attend their flight attendant training

What is a flight attendant’s salary?

On average, the starting salary for a flight attendant is between $33,000 and $45,000, with long-standing flight attendants making as much as $118,000 per year.

How long is flight attendant training?

Flight attendant training varies by airline. On average, training is between 4-8 weeks long.

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