How much money is it possible for a flight attendant to make in a month? There are lots of variables that can have a big impact on potential earnings for airline crew but one senior United Airlines flight attendant claims they nearly made $9,000 in a single month… although they admit they ‘nearly died’ from working so many hours.
The revelation was made in a Reddit discussion started by a new-hire United Air flight attendant who wanted to find out the top earnings their peers had been able to make.
Unlike some airlines, United doesn’t stipulate a maximum number of hours that flight attendants can work in a month, so depending on a crew member’s seniority, their bidding success and how willing they are to pick up additional trips, it’s possible to make a pretty sum.
One veteran flight attendant responded to the Reddit question, replying: “Close to 9,000 (Dollars). I about died doing that to myself. I’ll wait for a contract raise before attempting that again”.
Although that figure was before tax deductions, earning so much in a single month is pretty uncommon, especially for junior crew members who typically spend much of their time on reserve.
Another flight attendant said they had never made more than $4,000 in a single month, although admitted it might be possible to do so if you ‘strain’.
“I’ve never made more than 4k,” the Redditor explained. “It’s totally possible to make more, but significantly more difficult if you don’t hold a line (the ability to have a fixed schedule). I’d say for new hires on reserve 4k is about the most you can make without straining at all.”
For new hires, the Redditor shared this tip: “International has good hours to pick up if you can, but keep in mind other crew may not be happy about it if you’re not experienced with wide bodies. Best to work a few premium transcons first.”
Another flight attendant with five years experience at the airline said they once made close to $7,000 in a month, although that was with 140 hours of flight time… a feat that was tiring.
“Worth the extra cash, the crew members said, “but damn was I exhausted after”.
For a new hire, one flight attendant claimed not working any overtime would normally net just $2,000 per month, while taking on extra tips and working as many as 100 hours per month would only net an additional $600.
“I haven’t found a way to not feel exhausted yet in order to work more,” the crew member conceded.
Flight attendants at the Chicago-based carrier are in the midst of contract negotiations, although the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) is becoming increasingly frustrated with the pace of the talks.
Late last year, the union said it wanted United to start paying its members an hourly rate for the whole time they spent at work rather than the industry standard, which is from pushback to arrival at the gate.
Delta Air Lines bucked that trend by agreeing to pay its flight attendants a lower hourly rate from the moment they step on the aircraft – known as ‘boarding pay’, but United’s crew union wants to extend this concept still further to include all the time that flight attendants are actually at work.
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 relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.