A flight attendant’s salary consists of different pay components that when added up determine how much they will make. Flight pay is the component that puts the biggest chunk of money into a flight attendants paycheck. Provided below is a comparison of flight pay for United, American and Delta flight attendants and is current as of 1/26/2022. Again, this is one component of many. To determine which flight attendants have it the best, review their total compensation package.
United Flight Attendants last contractual wage increase went into effect September 2020. United announced plans to hire more than 18,000 new flight attendants over the next few years with more than 4,000 expected to be hired in 2023. The company’s career page states it currently employees over 22,000 flight attendants. United flight attendants are represented by the Association of Flight Attendants AFA-CWA.
Delta Flight Attendants current hourly rates went into effect on 5/1/2022. Their previous rate increase prior to the current one was effective 10/1/2019. The flight attendants at all major U.S. airlines are unionized with the exception of Delta flight attendants. The company has done a good job of keeping the flight attendants happy with consistent improvements to pay and benefits. Delta announced plans to hire an additional 6,000 flight attendants in 2023 adding to the 25,000+ that are currently flying the skies.
The pay comparison below contains the same data as above but provides an alternative view of the flight attendant pay rates at American, Delta and United that are currently in effect. This pay information is believed to be accurate as of 2/12/2023. We hope you find it helpful!
Comparing United, American and Delta Flight Attendant Starting and Top Rates
United, American and Delta Flight Attendant Per Diem Pay Compared 2023
All flight attendants regardless of airline receive compensation for the time they are away from base, referred to as Per Diem. This pay begins when the flight attendant reports for their trip and will end a few minutes after the arrival of the last flight of that particular trip. Provided below are the rates of pay for per diem that the flight attendants receive at American, United and Delta as of 1/27/22. The amount of per diem a flight attendant sees in their paycheck will depend on the amount of flying, the type of flying as well as how many days a flight attendant is “away”. Besides flight pay and per diem there are other pay components that can contribute to a flight attendants salary and will vary at each airline.
Minimum Monthly Pay Guarantees
Since Delta does not award monthly reserve schedules like other airlines the flight attendants do not receive a minimum monthly pay guarantee. American Airlines flight attendants who are lineholders are guaranteed 71 hours and reserves receive 75 hours. Flight attendants at United Airlines who are lineholders are guaranteed 71 hours and reserves receive 78 hours.
Delta Flight Attendant Compensation Overview and Pay Calculations
Delta Flight Attendant compensation is paid as an hourly rate for all hours flown or Credited. Flight pay refers to the compensation received by flight attendants for each block or credit hour, or a fraction thereof, that they spend flying. The rate of flight pay is determined by the flight attendant’s seniority and is used to determine the monetary value of the total flight time accumulated by the flight attendant.
A rotation is one or more duty periods, each initially containing a series of one or more flight legs; also known as a TRIP or PAIRING. Each duty period of a rotation pays the greatest of:
- Flight/Block Time, including deadhead flight time, minutes under, and/or flight pay for ground time (FPGT). Flight time is the greater of scheduled or actual block time on a flight.
- 4:45 Minimum Duty Period Credit (MDC), which is a credit rig that guarantees a minimum of 4:45 for each duty period which contains at least one flight segment. MDC is calculated at the end of each duty period.
- 1 For 2 Duty Period Credit (DPC), refers to the credit earned at the conclusion of a duty period and is allocated to the calendar day on which the duty period was originally scheduled or rescheduled to commence, based on the local time zone.
The sum of the duty period values listed above are then compared to the 1 For 3.5 Trip Credit (TRP) and the Minimum Rotation Guarantee (MRG). Flight attendants are paid the greatest of the three values.
All this might sound confusing, especially for someone fresh out of training who just started flying or someone considering the profession and wondering how much they are going to make being a Delta Flight Attendant. It would be beneficial to become familiar with the different calculations to ensure that proper credit is being applied to each rotation and the pay received each month is accurate. With time, ensuring everything all adds up will become easier.
Time Away from Base Pay (TAFB) for Delta Flight Attendants
This is pay that flight attendants receive for the time spent away from their home base. This pay accounts for the hours or days that flight attendants are away from their home base due to layovers or extended stays at other locations. Flight attendants receive TAFB expenses beginning at scheduled report time of the rotation and ending upon release at the end of the rotation.
Effective January 1, 2018 the time away from base meal expense reimbursement is $2.45 per hour for all domestic and non-transoceanic international rotations.
Effective January 1, 2018 the time away from base meal expense reimbursement is $2.90 per hour for all transoceanic rotations and Hawaii flying.
Delta salary and benefit information for 2023 is provided for informative and comparative purposes. Always refer to official airline sources and work rules for the most accurate and updated information.
Big Three Airlines
The three largest major airlines in the United States are American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta Air Lines. American Airlines had the largest fleet size of 1,440 aircraft and the highest number of passengers carried in 2020. It also holds the highest domestic market share in the country. United Airlines had a slightly smaller fleet size of 1,391 aircraft and posted a net loss of $194 million in Q1 2023. Delta Air Lines had a fleet size of 1,170 aircraft and recorded high revenue, but also ended Q1 2023 with a net loss. All three airlines are focused on reducing costs and improving profitability in future quarters. 
How To become a Flight Attendant in the United States
There are some general requirements that need to be met. These requirements can vary slightly between airlines, but here are the common qualifications:
- Education: Most airlines require a high school diploma or equivalent.
- Age: The minimum age to become a flight attendant is typically 18 or 21, depending on the airline.
- Citizenship: You must be a citizen or have the legal right to work in the United States.
- Height and Weight: Airlines usually have specific height and weight requirements to ensure that flight attendants can reach overhead compartments and perform their duties safely.
- Physical Fitness: Flight attendants must have good health and physical stamina to handle the demands of the job, including lifting and carrying heavy items and standing for long periods.
- Communication Skills: Excellent communication and customer service skills are essential to interact with passengers and provide assistance during flights.
- Language Skills: Proficiency in English is required, and knowing additional languages can be an advantage, particularly for international flights.
- Appearance and Grooming: Airlines often have specific appearance guidelines, including restrictions on visible tattoos and piercings, as well as grooming standards.
- Background Check: All flight attendant candidates must pass a background check, which includes verifying employment history, criminal record, and drug testing.
- Training: If selected, candidates must complete a training program provided by the airline. This typically covers safety procedures, emergency protocols, and customer service.
It’s important to note that these requirements can vary between airlines, so it’s recommended to check with specific airlines for their specific qualifications. Additionally, having prior customer service experience, such as in the hospitality industry, can be beneficial when applying for flight attendant positions.
Flight Attendant Salary Q&A
How much do flight attendants make at American Airlines?
A flight attendant with one year of service will receive approximately $2,285 in flight pay per month based on 71 hours. This does not include other pay components such as per diem. This is based on current pay rates that went into effect on 1/1/2019.
How much do flight attendants make at Delta Airlines?
Flight attendants that receive their wings at Delta will enjoy $32.20 per flight hour, which is the highest starting pay in the industry as of August 2023. The top rate of $72.38 is reached after 12 years of service.