Thursday, December 29, 2016

Flight Attendant: Salaries, Benefits & Contracts Explained

Each airline offers different flight attendant salaries, benefits, and contract guidelines depending on the origin of the airline. We'll explain some of the cash and non-cash benefits, salary packages and contract procedures working for airlines in the Middle East as Etihad, Emirates or Qatar airways and in general.

These three components may be subject to change at any time and not restricted to the list below. We have summoned up these denominators to give you an idea of how much you'll be paid and the benefits involved for an entry-level flight attendant package.


After you pass the flight attendant interview, you'll have to go through medical procedures and paperwork process before signing a contract.

Some airlines urge you to provide work references from your previous employers that date 3 to 5 years back, so it's best to have those recommendation letters from your previous employers who will vouch for you.

A fresh contract can be between 6 months to 2 years. But before you contract becomes alive, you'll have to complete a probationary period that can take 3-6 months. Keep in mind that the employer (airline) can terminate an employee (you) for not doing well or otherwise deemed not suitable for the cabin crew position or any position.

Nonetheless, that's uncommon especially after the airlines relocated you abroad and paid for your visa fees and travel ticket. You're certainly an investment for them and they would want to keep you indefinitely.


The starting salary for a new flight attendant can range from $24,000 - $30,00 per annum. Airlines review their salary packages annually to attract newcomers and to stay competitive. Apart from the basic salary, the package also includes other financial benefits, for example:
  • Tax-Free Salary: most golf countries offer a tax-free salary (Etihad, Emirates & Qatar Airways); meaning your salary will not be getting deductions for income tax. 
  • Layover allowance: plus the hourly wages, cabin crew always get paid a layover allowance aka Per diem. This tax-free income helps cabin crew to cover for food and city expenses when they're in a layover destination (away from base). 
  • Pay per block hour: a set rate paid for each flying hour.
  • In-flight sales commission: a percentage paid for in-flight duty-free sales (magazines, beverages, holiday gifts...etc).

Layover allowance can be done in two ways depending on the airline:

1- Hourly; the time the aircraft door closes for departure till the door opens again upon arrival. The per diem rates tend to be around $2.50 per hour. This amount is paid out with the regular monthly paycheck.

2- Cash/charge card: when reaching a layover destination, you'll be given a sum of money in the local currency to cover for your incidentals (meals, taxis...etc). It's usually calculated based on the living cost of the layover destination; higher in USA, Canada, Europe, Japan and lower in South-East Asia and Africa.

  • Block time: the time from Chocks on to Chocks off. 
  • Flight time: the time from Takeoff [Aircraft wheels leave the surface] to Touchdown [Aircraft wheels contact the Surface]. 

Average Earnings of An Entry Level 

Flight Attendant

Etihad Airways: $1000 monthly + layover allowance + block hours

Qatar Airways: $1150 monthly + layover allowance + block hours

Emirates: $1100 monthly + layover allowance + block hours

Flydubai: $850 monthly + layover allowance + block hours

Saudia Airlines: $850 monthly +  layover allowance + block hours

The basic salary is slightly lower in all airlines within the first 6 months, but once you begin flying and gaining more experience, you can move up the ladder based on your performance and the airline's growth.

On the other hand, senior cabin crew can reach a basic salary of $35,000 annually. If you're auspicious enough and made your way to VIP or business aviation, salary packages can be greater than $70,000 per year.

The schedule for private aviation is on a rotation basis, meaning the crew is able to work for 2 months and 1 month off or 1 month off & 1-month work. This ensures an outstanding performance of the crew as they're well prepared and rested for each flight. 
Also Read:

The Benefits

In addition to the financial asset, there are other flight attendant benefits when working for a preeminent airline.

The following benefits are some of the most common among major airlines:

  • Traveling – exploring the world while getting paid
  • Free accommodation – furnished accommodation in a neat environment
  • 24/7 Transportation – A bus will take you back and forth to work-home
  • Paid vacation (depending on the company) –  1-month annual leave
  • Maternity leave (depending on the company policy)
  • Medical and dental insurance
  • Discounted tickets   you're qualified to get ticket discounts for yourself, friends and family. Other discounts (hotels, stores, duty-free products...etc)
  • Free uniforms almost all airlines pay for your uniforms, although some might deduct the uniform cost from your monthly salary in small portions. 
  • Laundry (depending on the company) – laundromat stations near base and always available for crew
  • Commissions in-flight sales of duty-free products or any food & beverage is rewarded with small commissions. This extra bonus excites the crew to sell more and make more money.
  • End of service gratuity (depending on the airline) if you work for Etihad or Emirates, according to UAE law, employees are entitled to end of service reward which will be calculated based on your position and how many years you worked 

Languages: Gulf airlines ( offer different allowances to candidates that are bilingual and speak more than two languages, besides English. Many vacancies are precisely targeted for candidates that will be assigned to operate flights as a"language speaker" (e.g. if you speak French, you will go to France quite often).

If you're applying for European airlines, it's important to check language requirements as major carriers in Europe (KLM, Swissair, Lufthansa...etc) look for native speakers of the airline and that you are a legal resident of the country.

The Conclusion

ConclusionThese are just some of the primary packages, benefits when you work as a junior cabin crew for a major airline. It's advised to apply for airlines in neighboring countries first and expand your circle to other far airlines.

Being a flight attendant has cons and pros just like any other job, but it's definitely a profession to consider if you're adventurous, love to travel and up for a career progression.

If this sounds like your dream, then give it all you've got and there is practically no limit but the sky!


  1. hi, i read your 2/3 blogs reg cc...its very helpful.though i want to apply for customer service in airlines. can u plz help the interview process of customer service field, it will be helpful for ppl who wants to work is the position. good luck for you and your blog.

    1. Hi Farzana,

      cabin crew position is included in customer service and i would have more detailed articles that tackle the recruitment process, final interview for different airlines... best regards


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