By Patricia Green
The subject of salary for cabin crew is often shrouded in mystery, largely due to the fact that current members of crew are advised by their airline not to discuss their salaries online. So the subject remains distinctly vague.
However, we can estimate from previous crew members at different airlines in the UK and Middle East, figures for typical salaries in 2012 (see updated figures for 2017). These should only be used as a guideline. In this article we will also be looking at other factors such as benefits and contracts. All of these will vary airline to airline and country to country and you will be able to find some of the information on the airline’s recruitment page or at the assessment day.
Contracts may be offered on a temporary basis, say for six months. This can be to premeditate a lack of available crew at a scheduled airline or to prepare for a very busy summer season at a European charter airline. Not all benefits available to full time crew may be available to contract crew, for example, things like annual leave or discounted tickets.
Although six months may not seem long, it is great if you want to just try out working with a different airline or if you are not sure that the job is right for you. There may also be a chance that you may be kept on, during the slow season if crew are required and you may be called back for the next seasonal contract. For scheduled airlines, for example British Airways, Virgin, Qantas or Emirates, you will mostly be offered a permanent full time contract. This will have a six month trial period, where you may choose to leave the company if you decide it’s not for you or the airline may not renew the contract.
Part time contracts are only really available to full time cabin crew who have already been with the airline for a number of years and for things like maternity leave or extended sick leave.
As a rough guide, salary is made up of different payments according to the airline:
On average per year, salaries start from £12,000, 12,000 Euro and $15,000. This figure is taken across a range of scheduled/charter airlines. Although, in this difficult financial climate I have heard of cabin crew working for less than 450 Euro a month!
Flight pay is an hourly rate for hours from take off to landing. This is a small figure based on actual hours flown onboard – not all airlines have this.
There is also allowance payment for nights spent away from base (may differ from country to country visited, for example a meal in Tokyo will cost more than in Mombasa, therefore payments will reflect this.) Again, not all airlines pay for allowances and some have a set figure, for example 25 Euro per night away.
Some airlines will pay a small monthly allowance for language speakers. If you speak a language fluently and can do the public announcements etc onboard regular flights, you may get paid a little extra, but you may find you will also be working the same routes regularly!
Commission from duty free sales onboard This may be between 5-10% of total sales on board shared by the whole crew – every little bit helps! It is also worth knowing that during yourflight crew training course, you will only be receiving a basic salary – so for a usual 4-6 week period, you will be on a limited budget! This is normally received a month behind at the end of the month and allowances and extras are usually paid two months behind. The longer you stay with a company is also of benefit, as you should receive a yearly increment /bonus of up to 5% plus a yearly rise after a qualifying period.
So, what other benefits are there?
Annual leave of between 14 and 30 days a year is usually available to you, for your holiday or those special occasions. Many airlines also offer personal or medical insurance in case you get taken ill or have an accident, but this kind of cover can vary company to company. Pension schemes are sometimes available and if you happen to be sick there is a limited period of sick leave where you will be just paid a basic salary. Most scheduled airlines and some charters also offer reduced price tickets or staff travel on standby (if there is a seat available last minute!) which can be helpful if you wish to commute or travel during your annual leave.
Some cabin crew may be lucky and also receive discounts on gym membership, restaurants and transportation. Down-route, you may get discounts on internet fees and food at your hotel and discounts at the duty free shop at the airport. As your uniform is so important to company image, the company will normally pay for you to have it dry cleaned and some have laundry facilities at base for you to drop off your uniform. Many of the airlines in the Middle East, for example Emirates, Etihad, Qatar and Gulf Air offer their cabin crew, free transport (by crew bus to and from airport) and free accommodation (shared apartments with up to 3 other crew members) which can be a huge advantage. They also offer a tax free salary, so is a good option if you have no ties and are willing to move to a new country. So, all in all – that gives you an idea of how a cabin crew salary adds up. Every airline has different salary structure so it is hard to give an accurate single figure here.
On a practical note, it is always a good idea to weigh up the pros and cons of the contract. Consider if you have housing and transport costs to pay for or existing bills at home to cover, as these should be factored in. If you are successful at your assessment day and are still in doubt as to your approximate monthly salary and contract offer then do not hesitate to contact the Human Resources department for clarification on this information.
About Patricia Green:
I have been cabin crew for major airlines in the UK and Middle East for six years and also a SCCM. For the last six years I have worked as a VIP Flight Attendant working for very high profile clients and world leaders on their private jets. This last year, I moved to flying on a freelance basis in order to concentrate on working as a freelance instructor as well as setting up as a Cabin Crew Consultant, so that I could advise potential crew how to get their dream job and help experienced crew move from commercial to corporate flying.
In response to many requests from fellow crew and students, I have written a series of E-books to help guide new crew with lots of insider advice and useful hints and tips.
For more information please visit cabincrewconsultant.weebly.com
Update – 2017 Cabin Crew Salary:
Starting salary: £12,000 – £14,000
Experienced: £15,000 – £21,000
Average salary*: £24,750
*Aviation Job Search data
These figures should be treated as a guide and are from the National Careers Service.
See our cabin crew job description for more information on working as a cabin crew member.
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