If you’ve gotten this far through 2019 and are still thinking of changing up your career to become a flight attendant then you need to stop thinking about it and start acting on that dream. For all the problems facing flight attendants nowadays, it’s still a fantastic job and there’s a type of airline that suits pretty much everyone’s circumstances.
If you’re based in the United States, then you have so much choice – there really is no excuse. But where to start? With so many airlines it can be difficult to know where to prioritise your time and effort. After all, landing the job is notoriously difficult – at Delta Air Lines, for example, only 1% of candidates actually get offered a position.
In the most simple terms, there are three main types of airline:
- Low-cost and ultra-low-cost
Network carriers like American, Delta and United Airlines probably offer the best pay and conditions, more varied work and sought-after international trips. Having said that, if you’re just starting out, you’ll also find these airlines have the most hierarchy with junior flight attendants often losing out on the best trips to more senior crew.
The low-cost sector is incredibly varied and isn’t always necessarily low-cost. We’ve included airlines like Alaska and jetBlue in this category, although these airlines are technically hybrid and include proper Business Class cabins. This sector is particulary confusing because even the network airlines have low-cost elements on domestic sectors. Ultra-low-cost airlines, like Frontier or Spirit, meanwhile have less differentiation in service and focus more on the sales aspect of the job.
And then there are the regional carriers which deliver services on behalf of network carriers. These roles can be less well paid but they offer a lower bar to entry and greater roster stability that can be very appealing.
The point is that you should consider your own circumstances and needs before deciding which airline to apply for.
No matter which airline you decide is right for you, then you’ll need to meet some minimum criteria that applies to every U.S. airline:
- At least 21-years old (with the exception of American Airlines and Envoy)
- The right to live and work in the United States
- A current and valid passport that allows unrestricted travel
- Educated to at least High School level
There are also minimum fitness requirements that vary slightly from airline to airline and in addition, some of the regional airlines have a maximum height rule – this is because taller flight attendants could be seriously injured or develop a chronic disability from working in the smaller aircraft these carriers operate.
In addition, every airline is looking for certain traits, qualities, skills and experience – notably, at least one year of experience in a customer facing role will be massively beneficial.
The Network Airlines
This isn’t a particularly good time to be applying for the network airlines – Delta isn’t currently hiring (although based on previous years, we expect this to open up by September). You can check out what positions are currently open here. Meanwhile, American Airlines has only just concluded a big recruitment drive but it is still hiring multi-lingual flight attendants who can speak one of the following sought after languages: Dutch, Czech, Greek, Hungarian, and Croatian.
Unlike the other airlines listed in this article, AA accepts applications from candidates who are just 20-years old. More details can be found here.
The only network airline with an active recruitment drive for flight attendants is United Airlines who have positions in bases across the United States, as well as some overseas bases. For successful candidates, training takes place in Chicago but the airline does provide hotel accommodation, and a weekly $140 per diem to keep you going through the extensive seven-week course.
It’s not known when this opportunity might close, so we’d suggest getting your application in sooner rather later. Job details can be found here.
There are even fewer opportunities at the low-cost and hybrid carriers at the moment. At the time of publication, the following airlines weren’t looking for new flight attendants…
- Alaska Airlines
Allegiant, Spirit and Denver-based Frontier Airlines in the ultra-low-cost sector are all actively hiring flight attendants. It’s easy to scoff at these airlines but let’s be honest, flight attendants at these carriers are doing the same job as those at any other carrier. Along with delivering a great service, you’re also the in-flight fire fighter, EMT and police officer – it’s the same, no matter what airline you work for.
Pay and conditions have been an issue at some of these airlines in the past, although Frontier flight attendants recently negotiated a new collective bargaining agreement that should significantly enhance their terms and conditions.
The Regional Airlines
When are the regional airlines not hiring – look at the websites of these carriers and it will become clear pretty quickly that these airlines are always on the lookout for new hires. This likely means that turnover is high – make of that what you will.
Current opportunities exist at the following regionals:
- Horizon Air – operates flights on behalf of Alaska
- Mesa Airlines – on behalf of American Eagle and United Express
- Envoy Airlines – wholly owned by American Airlines
- Piedmont Airlines – Again, wholly owned by American Airlines
- PSA Airlines – Yet again, another subsidiary of American Airlines
- Endeavour Airlines – This one is a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta Air Lines
- Skywest Airlines – Operates flights on behalf of several airlines including AA and Delta
There’s also Air Wisconsin but this particular regional is currently in a big dispute with its flight attendants and the Association of Flight Attendants has claimed crew at the carrier are “living in poverty” – best to stay clear.
It can be quite a daunting process – where do you start? Our suggestion is to start small – not necessarily to take the job but to hone your resume, application and interview technique. There are plenty of airlines to try and practice with before you land the job you want at the airline of your dreams!
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently used by some of the biggest names in journalism.