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Viral letter to American Airlines new-hire flight attendants reveal $27,000 annual salary

An employment verification letter American Airlines gives to some newly hired flight attendants documenting their salary has been circulating on Reddit, drawing attention to their low wages.

The letter states that a new American Airlines flight attendant will have a “projected annual salary of $27,315 per year before incentives and taxes” and concludes, “Any courtesy you can provide would be appreciated.”

The union representing American Airlines workers, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), verified the authenticity of the letter, which is given to potential landlords or for other services where attendants need to verify their employment and income. The union represents 28,000 American Airlines flight attendants, and it is working on their first new contract in five years – a deal that stretches back before the pandemic and the inflation crisis.

American Airlines did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment.

Even as price increases are slowing down, the letter shows how, for some Americans, a little inflation relief isn’t nearly enough. The low wages for starting flight attendants – a job once seen as glitzy – underscores how many people are still struggling, despite what on paper looks like a strong economy and job market.

This salary is above the federal poverty line of $15,060 for a single-person household. But that’s a national level and doesn’t take into account regional price differences, including in major metro areas where the cost of living can be significantly higher.

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by Anonymousreply 41May 26, 2024 6:40 PM

That's very low, or so it strikes me. I knew salaries could be low, depending on airline, but I would have thought maybe low- to mid-$30000s. The schedule and the work seems stressful, and for this pay with a major airline?

by Anonymousreply 1May 17, 2024 8:00 PM

My mother was a flight attendant back in the 70s and early 80s. Back then it was a very good union job and before she “retired” to have kids, she was making what would have been like a low six figure salary in 2024 dollars. She put my dad through law school on what she made!

by Anonymousreply 2May 17, 2024 8:15 PM

$27,000? You can’t even live in bumblefuck Flyoverstan on that! No wonder why they all turn themselves out.

by Anonymousreply 3May 17, 2024 8:27 PM


by Anonymousreply 4May 17, 2024 8:42 PM

There are a few different pay scales out there but it looks like a brand new under 6 months on the job American Airlines FA makes right about $30 an hour as of 2023. And when you see a year’s salary listed it usually has the salary like $27,000 and then plus other pay.

No matter how much they actually are paid or take home over a year this letter could have been a way to help FAs especially new FAs try to get a break on rents.

by Anonymousreply 5May 17, 2024 8:48 PM

You're all gonna die up there..

by Anonymousreply 6May 17, 2024 9:54 PM

I used to recruit flight attendance for United airlines and I can confirm that they don't make crap starting out. Even though it's a very high hourly rate they only get paid for the time from the when the plane door closes to when the door opens. All of the prep and duties they perform before and after the flight they are not compensated for.

Also all of the scheduling is seniority-based and starting out as a new flight attendant you're not even guaranteed that you'll fly a full 40 hours. Part of my coaching candidates was to help them understand that they may need a second income until they've established full time hours. Sometimes they would be on call where they would just have to sit at the airport all day and may or may not even been used on a flight and that would all be time that they were not compensated for except a very small hourly base on call rate.

Also they're not paid for any other training outside of room and board and they are also responsible for the cost of their uniforms. If you can stick with it it's a pretty good career if you enjoy flying although this was like 15 years ago that I was last to recruiter so I'm sure what glamor remained is long gone.

by Anonymousreply 7May 17, 2024 9:56 PM

That sounds awful, R7.

Why do so many of them stick with it?

by Anonymousreply 8May 17, 2024 11:02 PM

R8 because once you put in your time which depending on where you're based could take years you make really good money and can set your schedule it's only work two or three days a week. It's just that you pay a lot of dues getting to that point. Plus the flight benefits for not just yourself but your immediate family and allows you to travel to all sorts of places. But even those because it's all on a standby basis just aren't as good anymore so these days I can't imagine why anybody would want to especially given the way people behave now.

by Anonymousreply 9May 17, 2024 11:24 PM

Unless you are working an hourly minimum wage at a coffee shop, nobody should be making under $40K a year. That's why so many flight attendants are living 4 people in a 2 bedroom apartment.

by Anonymousreply 10May 18, 2024 1:34 AM

as bad as being a teacher. . . . .

by Anonymousreply 11May 18, 2024 2:08 AM

I thought about being an FA for a while. I ruled out American Airlines because they don't pay you during the multi-week training course (unlike Delta and Alaska). I thought it was a REALLY bad sign that they would be that stingy right off the bat.

by Anonymousreply 12May 18, 2024 4:34 AM

[quote] I thought about being an FA for a while

Me too.

I actually interviewed with United, and made it to the second phase, where they fly you out to Chicago for a second round of interviews.

Unfortunately, I didn't get hired. I was late for my interview, even though I was physically in the building. I got caught up talking to one of the other interviewees, and didn't hear them call my name. Lol.

It's okay, though. I already had a job.

I just thought it would be fun to try. And the trip to Chicago was really nice.

by Anonymousreply 13May 18, 2024 5:28 AM

After watching videos of people acting like savages, I think I'd rather dig post dig post holes for a living.

by Anonymousreply 14May 18, 2024 8:59 AM

R13 I used to screen people on the phone and would decide if they flew out for an interview in Chicago. It was kind of fun almost like giving out game show prizes all day.

by Anonymousreply 15May 18, 2024 10:41 AM

I worked at a Delta call center in the early 90s. The took pictures of us to send to corporate. I got called in an reprimanded for having a pierced ear. Fast forward 30 years and one of the FAs on my last Delta flight had a pierced ear (hot muscles and an ass to die for). Anyway, times change.

by Anonymousreply 16May 18, 2024 10:48 AM

Well if starting at the bottom of the pay scale, and even sharing a house with others, like an E-2 might, and working your way up sounds hard.

Why don’t all the future FAs take their MBAs to Wall Street and make their fortune there instead ?

by Anonymousreply 17May 18, 2024 10:59 AM

R17 f*** off. No one should be making poverty level wages whether they're starting out or have a degree or what have you.

by Anonymousreply 18May 18, 2024 11:10 AM


No one is forced to be a FA or an E2.

If people have the kind of degree employers want, if they have really good grades, if they interview well, if they can pass a piss test, and if they have something of value to offer, there are jobs that pays really well, and they would not be applying for a FA job, that you know the pay in advance, or join the military as an e2.

Take that engineering or Econ degree with your A- gpa and go out and get a better job. They exist for those who have prepared themselves well.

Far too many are not prepared and have little to offer other than their B- GPA in art history or gender studies. Welcome to a career at McDonalds and a chance at a management job in time.

by Anonymousreply 19May 18, 2024 11:28 AM

I was shocked to discover they don't get paid until the cabin door is actually closed. WTF? The cabin seems to be under their control and direction while passengers are boarding. How is this not compensable? The unions need to remedy that.

by Anonymousreply 20May 18, 2024 11:36 AM

I was on a five hour flight recently that experienced delays. The FAs had to sit on tiny jump seats and one was directly across from a bathroom that had a wet, sticky floor and reeked of piss before the end of the flight.

If it were anywhere else, I’d have thought, “ Clean the bathroom, lazy shit.” But there is literally (yes, literally) no room to do so with the door shut. And I think even those who are very willing to pitch in and get their hands dirty would hesitate to get in their hands and knees and clean a bathroom in from of a full flight. Plus, they can’t clean up and change afterwards.

And we all know what the passengers can be like. It seems like one of the worst jobs out there. I really can’t imagine a worse full-time job for someone with a HS diploma and no record in the first world, outside of maybe jobs that are very physically dangerous. But those usually pay well.

by Anonymousreply 21May 18, 2024 11:43 AM

R7, I have many FA friends. Their schedule would make maintaining a 2nd job very difficult. Especially when their flights are affected by seniority.

R18, did you really compare the role of a FA to fast food jobs? Flight ant are trained professionals responsible for the safety of hundreds of people each flight. They have to pass security clearances. They have to know features of multiple jetliners. They deal with an entitles, often uniformed public. The FA training is intense, and often uncompensated - which ironically wouldn’t happen at McD’s.

by Anonymousreply 22May 18, 2024 11:53 AM

Meanwhile Singapore Airlines and other asian airlines are giving out crazy amount of bonuses. They certainly deserved it because they’re a lot prettier😆

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by Anonymousreply 23May 18, 2024 12:07 PM


People complain about the low pay of a FA people complain about the low pay at McDonalds. Right there is the comparison.

If you are not in demand and wanted for a higher paying job it’s the low paying jobs that you will have to settle for.

No one should consider a FA job if their goal is a larger better starting salary. Same with McD. Interview for a better paying job. And be prepared to land it.

The unprepared almost always fall behind

by Anonymousreply 24May 18, 2024 12:08 PM

It used to be common for Asian and Middle Eastern airlines to only hire women of a certain height and level of prettiness. I don't know if they still do this. I'm sure they treat their staff worse then any American airline because unions and worker's rights don't exist in Singapore, UAE, Qatar etc.

My boyfriend is Filipino and works for a multinational hotel chain. He said at the company's hotels in the Philippines, they watch the front desk employees via CCTV to make sure they are smiling for their entire shift. If this is how service workers are treated in a supposed democracy than I cannot imagine what hell Singapore Airlines FAs go through to get that money.

by Anonymousreply 25May 18, 2024 12:25 PM

The FA - McDonalds comparison makes no sense. People work at McDonalds because it’s convenient or short term or because they lack the competence or knowledge to apply for and land a better job.

Love or hate FAs, they do go through a selection process and training that weeds out anyone who can’t complete an application or interview. They could get other jobs. And it’s not a convenient job. It’s just about the least convenient job there is. So why does anyone do it? In 1985, when air travel was expensive the idea that you might meet an attractive single man was plausible, it made sense. Today?

And wtf does an FA have to do with joining the military? The numbers on the paychecks may be similar, but the military also provides housing or an allowance and other superior benefits. And veteran status and other potential benefits that continue after the service commitment. It’s a reasonable choice. FA, I don’t get.

by Anonymousreply 26May 18, 2024 12:51 PM

[quote]I was shocked to discover they don't get paid until the cabin door is actually closed. WTF? The cabin seems to be under their control and direction while passengers are boarding. How is this not compensable? The unions need to remedy that.

Delta has remedied this situation for their flight attendants. Delta’s F/As are non-unionized. So perhaps the unions aren’t the answer to better pay and working conditions?

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by Anonymousreply 27May 18, 2024 1:01 PM

Well if you read the article, they will get between $10-$20 more per flight and of course management can claw that back at any time. It’s certainly due to the plethora of cell phone videos showing disruptive passengers fighting with other pax/crew and being dragged off the plane by security. Any young thing looking for a very poorly paid career (at onset) probably will pass on fight referee duty.

by Anonymousreply 28May 18, 2024 1:25 PM

Flight attendant is a shitty job when starting out. But the pay and benefits and schedule improve significantly with seniority.

by Anonymousreply 29May 18, 2024 1:30 PM

Yes, r27. It's much better to be completely dependant on the generosity of a large corporation than it is to have leverage through a union. American businesses are famous for taking really good care of their employees. Just ask anyone who works in an Amazon warehouse.

by Anonymousreply 30May 18, 2024 1:40 PM

R30, I’m just saying that Delta (non-unionized) seems to be treating its FAs better than unionized American or United.

by Anonymousreply 31May 18, 2024 1:44 PM

Also, the former Northwest FAs, now part of Delta, have tried to unionize at Delta multiple times, and its always been voted down by the combined group at Delta.

by Anonymousreply 32May 18, 2024 1:46 PM

I flew AA from Chicago to Maui (by way of Phoeni). I was in first (it was my 50th birthday and so decided to splurge). The first leg, Chicago to Phoenix, a young (maybe 30?) flight attendant was assigned to first class. He had me on my second glass of Prosecco before take off. I thought, “Oooh, I’m gonna like first class!”. He even replaced the flute between glasses (of which I had several, you judgmental cunts — I was so bombed, people thought I was the pilot…enjoy the veal.). He took care of all of us that way.

The second leg? Phoenix to Maui. Two old battle axes. Not the charm of old diner waitresses, like we’d hope. They were more Patty and Selma. We were issued one plastic cup and the Selma went back and forth with a bottle of water, filling glasses.

The woman next to me was …. clearly a more frequent first-class flyer and was having very little of the shoddy service. She took down names and was emailing and Tweeting AA about it. They were bitter, indifferent old cunts and asking for a beer or Prosecco, you’d think it was a mammogram or a PAP, they were so put out.

The seniority thing is bullshit when you’re stuck with flotsam and Jetsam. I appreciate the years of service, but perhaps some time in coach would teach you how good you have it in first.

by Anonymousreply 33May 18, 2024 1:57 PM

R33, the very senior old women get those prime routes like to Hawaii and Europe because they only have to fly a few times a month. The service suffers as a result, with some exceptions of course.

by Anonymousreply 34May 18, 2024 2:02 PM

The only reason Delta started offering boarding pay was to quell unionizing efforts.

by Anonymousreply 35May 18, 2024 10:23 PM

The Delta flight attendants ALWAYS give me a pre-departure beverage in First Class. American, not so much. Unions 👎

by Anonymousreply 36May 18, 2024 10:29 PM

[quote]I flew AA from Chicago to Maui (by way of Phoeni).

I hate that Phoeni hub.

by Anonymousreply 37May 18, 2024 10:32 PM

Long haul inflight service on US based carriers is pretty much horrible with Delta considered the best of the US carriers. We just got back from Trans Atlantic long haul flights with both Lufthansa and Turkish. The difference in service and attitude between a US and European carrier is seismic. For roughly the same price, I will fly a non US carrier every time (and yes, I know their are horrible exceptions to that rule).

by Anonymousreply 38May 26, 2024 3:19 PM

[quote] The second leg? Phoenix to Maui. Two old battle axes. Not the charm of old diner waitresses, like we’d hope. They were more Patty and Selma.

That’s an excellent comparison. The old FAs are exactly like Patty and Selma. They make traveling even more unpleasant.

by Anonymousreply 39May 26, 2024 3:43 PM

Emirates -- Fly Me

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by Anonymousreply 40May 26, 2024 5:05 PM

American’s most senior FA just died age 88.

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by Anonymousreply 41May 26, 2024 6:40 PM
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