Flight Attendant Hourly Rates

2023 Flight Attendant Starting Pay Rate Comparison 

Major Airline Flight Attendant Starting Pay Comparison 2023











The image above provides starting flight pay rates for major airlines in the United States and is believed to be accurate as of August 2023. Always consider an airline’s total compensation and benefits when trying to determine if pay is competitive or fair. We can see from this comparison that the larger airlines that have been in business longer offer higher starting pay. 

Flight attendants who receive lower rates of pay have to fly more hours to earn a decent salary to live on. If your dream is to become a flight attendant and you are hired by one of the low-cost carriers, be prepared to fly. Also budget for the slower travel months because your bank account will fluctuate along with how many flight hours are available beyond the airlines minimum guaranteed hours. Future flight attendants can expect to receive yearly pay raises and quality of life improvements as they gain seniority. It may take a bit of flight time and adjusting to settle into this exciting profession that has many benefits besides a paycheck.

2023 Flight Attendant Rates of Pay Compared at 12 Years of Service

If you’re dreaming of becoming a flight attendant at one of the major airlines in the United States you may be thinking about the starting pay but you may also be wondering how the pay compares at the other end of the pay scale. It would wise to know the airline you possibly will be dedicating a good chunk of your life at is paying you competitively before you make the commitment. The below compares the flight pay rates after 12 years of service and is based on minimum hours. Please keep in mind that a few of the larger carriers are currently in contract negotiations. The information is believed to be accurate as of August 2023.

Comparison of flight attendant rates of pay after 12 years employment










Flight attendant per diem pay refers to the daily allowance or reimbursement provided to flight attendants for their expenses while on duty. Per diem is a Latin term that means “per day.” 

Flight attendants often have to travel extensively for work, staying in hotels and eating meals away from home. The per diem pay is intended to cover these expenses, including meals, transportation, lodging, and incidentals. It is designed to compensate flight attendants for the additional costs they incur while working away from their home base or domicile. Flight attendants who spend many days away from home can expect to receive a few hundred dollars of per diem in their total monthly salary as compared to those that operate a flight somewhere and back the same day, referred to as a “day turn”. 

The rates flight attendants are paid for per diem vary depending on the airline and can also differ depending on whether the flight or trip is domestic or international. It is typically based on a predetermined amount per hour of duty or a fixed daily rate. The rates are usually set by the airline or negotiated between the airline and union if the flight attendants are represented by one. Rates would not be subject to change when defined in a union contract. 

It’s important to note that per diem pay is separate from the flight attendant’s base salary or hourly flight wage. It is a form of reimbursement to cover their out-of-pocket expenses while on duty. Flight attendants working at major airlines in the United States usually benefit from software that keeps track of the hours and the different types of pay to be applied–there are many. It is a good idea to  keep track of the total monthly hours away from base on each trip to ensure the proper amount of per diem reimbursement is received in the paycheck. Errors in pay do occur! 

Overall, per diem pay is an important component of a flight attendant’s compensation package, helping to offset the costs associated with their travel and accommodations while on the job. 

Comparison of Flight Attendant Hourly Flight Pay Rates that are believed to be in effect as of February 2023.

WordPress Tables PluginTrip For Pay (TFP) Hourly Conversion: 

Alaska TFP converted to hourly using TFP x 1.13. Southwest TFP converted to hourly using TFP x 1.15

Premium & Incentives: 

JetBlue 1.5 x Premium rate over 70 hours. JetBlue Straight has no premium component.

Frontier 1.5 x rate over 82 hours.

Southwest productivity pay. Refer to 21-155 in contract.

Spirit 1.5 x rate over 85 hours.

United has $5 incentive for block hours in excess of 200 per calendar quarter up to 330 capped at 110 per bid period. For more details visit page 28 in their contract.

Longevity Premiums: Alaska $1 after 16 years, $1.50 after 20 years, $2 after 25 years and then $1 per every five years after that. Southwest additional $1.50 per TFP after 25 years.

Flight Attendant Hourly Wage Table Last Updated: 2/15/2023

2023 is becoming the year of the travel comeback. With enticing worldwide locations, it’s no surprise many travel enthusiasts are curious about the Flight Attendant lifestyle and how they can secure the job. But what does a career in aviation entail, and how are these sky crew’s getting paid for their duties? Let’s get into it… 

Aspiring Flight Attendants must pass months of assessments, interviews, a final face-to-face (up to 4 hours), a drug, and a background check. Once they have received their contingent job offer (CJO), they are off to ground school training! An educational course similar to a college semester. Life-saving information is jam-packed into 4-7 weeks, 5-6 days a week, 8-10 hour days. Few airlines offer paid training. Instead, handing out a weekly stipend, like United Airlines. In 2022, it was about $145 a week. Delta Airlines pay trainees minimum wage during the intense weeks ($7.25 an hour, for approximately 50 hours a week as of 2023). Because you are away from home studying at the airline’s base, a few perks, such as your hotel room and 2-3 meals, are covered during class days. 

The unconventional flight schedule can be a bit tricky to understand; however, not impossible to calculate. Once you have completed training and are “on the line,” it’s important to recognize when you are considered getting paid since many duties are not compensated for the flight attendants’ time. Remember, this is unpaid time when going through security, walking to your gate, assisting lost passengers in the terminals, waiting on flight delays, and doing pre-departure checks. 

It is mandatory for Flight Attendants to show up 15 minutes before boarding passengers for their pre-departure checks. During this time, they are responsible for ensuring all medical equipment is onboard in its proper place, not expired, and functioning correctly. This crucial task is a requirement before allowing any passengers aboard the aircraft- and yet, surprisingly unpaid. 

One of the biggest misconceptions is that Flight Attendants get paid during boarding. Most passengers assume this because, well, they are, in fact, working. Greeting passengers, serving beverages to first class, assisting with seat assignments, finding overhead bin space, and making announcements. Unfortunately, airlines do not pay Flight Attendants at this time. Except for one company- Delta Airlines. 

Delta has proven its longstanding commitment to delivering industry-leading hourly pay with a progressive approach to paying their Flight Attendants for their time during boarding. However, boarding pay is only 50% pro-rated of their standard per-hour rate. Although a small victory, it is a massive step in the right direction, considering there wasn’t any compensation before June 2022. Most airlines are still not on board with this change. 

After boarding has been completed and the main cabin door has been closed, Flight Attendants can breathe a sigh of relief that their “block time” has begun. This is considered their paid flight hours, from when the cabin door has been closed to when it re-opens. 

On top of their paid flight hours, they are also getting paid per-diem. This begins anytime their work trip has taken them away from their home base. A 4-day assigned trip can accrue per diem for up to 96 hours- with 24 hours in a day multiplied by the 4 days. Each airline has its own per diem rate for domestic and international flying. 

If a Flight Attendant is working a trip, scheduled for 28 hours of block time, AND are domestically away from their home base for 72 hours – they would calculate the 28 hours of their hourly rate by the 72 hours of their per diem rate and add those two sums together. On top of pay rates and per diems, airlines also offer cancellation pay and, at times, offer trips at 300%. 

If you are considering this as your career, keep in mind the lifestyles of Flight Attendants are genuinely what they make of it. Good luck in your future interviews, and remember to always stay kind.

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