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American Airlines Flight Attendant Salary 2024 – Complete Guide!

American Airlines is known as an airline that has some of the highest paid Flight Attendants in the United States, but how much is the salary of an American Airlines Flight Attendant?

We’ll break it down for you here how much an American Airlines Flight Attendant really earns in their salary!

American Airlines Flight Attendant Salary:

How Much Do American Airlines Flight Attendants Make?

The Flight Attendant salary at American Airlines is slightly higher than most of the other large airlines in the US.

Within American Airlines, the annual salary for Flight Attendants varies greatly – from around $35,000 for new Flight Attendants, to around $100,000 for the most experienced and long-serving Flight Attendants!

As you can see, there is a large difference between the lower salary for new Flight Attendants at American Airlines compared to a more experienced Flight Attendant so it’s hard to give an exact figure for an average salary.

What we can say though, is that the average salary for an American Airlines Flight Attendant is well above the national average salary in the US.

HOURLY RATE (STANDARD FLIGHT HOUR PAY)

It’s important to remember that just like in most jobs, salaries for Flight Attendants increase the more senior they become in the role and with the more experience they have. 

A Flight Attendant’s hourly rate is directly related to their seniority. The more senior a Flight Attendant is, the higher their hourly rate will be.

The hourly rate for American Airlines Flight Attendant pay is calculated according to how many years the crew member has worked as a Flight Attendant with American Airlines.

After passing the first 6 months of probation every new Flight Attendant at American Airlines will get an increase to their hourly rate salary.

Then every single year on their joining date anniversary at American Airlines their Standard Flight Hour Pay will increase – roughly by 2 or 3 dollars per hour which is really good!

Once you reach 13 years the hourly rate will be maxed out and therefore stay the same year on.

Your hourly rate is directly related to your seniority, and the first year is always going to be the hardest financially as the first year of an American Airlines Flight Attendant career is always spent on ‘reserve’ – more about that later!

The starting hourly salary for Flight Attendants at American Airlines is just over $30 per hour in their first year working, whereas Flight Attendants at American Airlines with 5 years of experience receive an average of $40 per hour.

Furthermore, Flight Attendants with 8 years of experience receive over $50 per hour, and those with 13 years or more of experience flying can expect to make almost $70 per hour at American Airlines!

Check out the graph below to see the hourly pay of Flight Attendants at American Airlines.

American airlines flight attendant salary

In addition to the Flight Attendant’s hourly rate (calculated by the number of years working in the company as a Flight Attendant), their salary is also worked out according to how many flight hours they have worked that month, as well as a few other factors.

FLIGHT HOURS

For a Flight Attendant, the amount of hours they work each month will directly affect their pay. Therefore flight hours is also an important factor when working out the salary of a Flight Attendant.

The more hours you work, the higher your salary will be.

It’s important to remember that a Flight Attendant at American Airlines only starts getting paid once the aircraft door closes for departure.

All the time spent getting to the aircraft, at the briefing, conducting safety checks, boarding passengers and any delays before closing the aircraft door will therefore go unpaid. 

Equally, Flight Attendants at American Airlines stop getting paid once the aircraft has landed and the doors open at the destination. Disembarkation of the passengers and any delays exiting the airplane is therefore also unpaid.

So the hourly pay for a Flight Attendant at American Airlines is only from when the aircraft door closes for take-off, until it opens again at the destination – basically only the hours they are actually flying.

Whilst it may seem unfair, this is quite standard in the aviation world.

Technically you aren’t always getting paid nothing for this time, as sometimes you can be getting paid per diem in this time if you are outstation (more about Per Diem further down the article).

BREAKING DOWN THE AMERICAN AIRLINES FLIGHT ATTENDANT SALARY PAY 

Flight Attendant salaries are worked out very differently to regular jobs. The salary of a Flight Attendant working in a commercial airline will vary a lot every month.

Instead of receiving a fixed monthly salary like in standard jobs, Flight Attendants get paid not only according to the hours they have flown that month and their standard flight hour pay, but which destinations they have been to, and whether the flight was a turnaround or a layover, and whether they had any on-call/reserve duties.

A Flight Attendant Salary is made up of:

  • Crew Duty Payment (the amount of hours flown that month multiplied by the Hourly Flight Pay)
  • Reserve payment
  • Layover Payment (Per Diem)
  • Special Roles: pursers, language speakers etc.
  • Incentives

These payments can vary considerably, depending on what the Cabin Crew Roster looks like that month. 

Also if a Flight Attendant had annual leave or was sick one month, or didn’t get called on their reserve days, their salary will be lower as they will have had more days off from flying. 

Crew Duty Payment

Hourly Rate x Hours Flown = Flight Attendant Salary

To work out your Crew Duty Payment for the month, add up all the duty hours flown for that month and times it by your Standard Flight Hour Pay.

Salaries get paid after the month worked, like other airlines, as it is impossible to predict Crew Duty Payment as schedules and flights can change last minute.

So let’s say you are a new Flight Attendant (the starting pay at American Airlines is $30.35 per hour for newly hired Flight Attendants) and you just worked 5 flight hours. You would get $30.35 x 5 = $151.75.

But if you were a Flight Attendant with 13 years experience, (salary is $68.25 for Flight Attendants at American Airlines with 13+ years experience) and you also worked the same 5 hour flight, you would get $68.25 x 5 = $341.25. Not bad right?

Hence why when people get a job as an American Airlines Flight Attendant they tend to hang onto it!

Straight Reserve For First Year Working As An American Airlines Flight Attendant

For the first year working as an American Airlines Flight Attendant you will be on straight ‘reserve’ duty.

Being on reserve means the junior Flight Attendant is put on standby/on-call (called ‘reserve’) for the whole of their first year flying.

They don’t have any flights rostered on their monthly schedule so they don’t know in advance what trips they will get that month. They just have to wait until they get called for flights and they will have to be ready at the airport within 2 or 3 hours.

The Flight Attendant will still receive a roster/schedule when they are on reserve during their first year, and this will show them their ‘off’ days and the days they are on reserve.

It’s not like they are on reserve non-stop for a whole year – they still get plenty of days off that they know in advance!

On each monthly schedule it usually works out to be around 18 days rostered on reserve and around 12 days rostered ‘off’. The Flight Attendants at American Airlines are contractually obliged to follow this system.

On reserve days, a Flight Attendant is on call and could get called at any time (usually last minute) to go for a flight.

The flight could be to any destination, it could be a layover or a there-and-back / turnaround, or they could even not get called for a flight at all. 

The role of the reserve Flight Attendant is to fill in for any trips when another flight attendant calls in sick, or can not longer fly due to rest legalities, or for any other operational needs such as change of aircraft for example.

First Year Reserve Payment For American Airlines Flight Attendants

If a Flight Attendant doesn’t get called when they are on reserve, even though they didn’t go to work this doesn’t count as a day off.

In regards to payment for reserve, Flight Attendants receive a monthly paid guarantee. So they are guaranteed to be paid a certain amount of hours even if they don’t fly at all.

This of course is fair, as it isn’t the Flight Attendant’s fault if they don’t get called for a flight. When they are on reserve they have to stay at home ready and waiting to be called, so it certainly isn’t a day off – even though they technically didn’t work.

The reserve guarantee each month for American Airlines Flight Attendants is 75 hours, which means they will be paid for 75 hours even if they end up flying less than 75 hours.

Even if the Flight Attendant doesn’t get called to fly at all throughout the whole month, they will still get paid for 75 hours! As a new Flight Attendant that would work out as 75 x $30.35 = $2,276. Not bad hey?

If they “break” their guarantee – meaning they worked more than 75 hours, they will get paid for the actual hours they worked that was over the original 75 hours.

As mentioned earlier – usually the reserve Flight Attendants will get 12 days off on their monthly schedule. If they are given a schedule with more than 12 days off, for each additional day off around 4 hours will be deducted. 

In addition, American Airlines Flight Attendants can choose to pick up extra flights on their off days if they would like to earn more money.

These extra flying hours don’t count towards the 75 hours reserve guarantee. The 75 guaranteed flying hours are always added to any extra flights that you pick up.

So if you chose to work a 10 hour trip on one of your days off, that month you would be getting paid for 85 hours, even if you didn’t even work 75 hours on your reserve days.

It’s quite easy to pick up extra flights with American Airlines when compared to other airlines, which is great if you’re looking for extra money!

Bear in mind though that whilst the extra money is great, flying too much can really take it out of you, so make sure you allocate yourself enough rest and down time.

Due to their reserve schedules, the pay in the first year working as a Flight Attendant for American Airlines can be challenging.

However just know that every Flight Attendant before you went through this and once you get through it your salary will increase.

Rotating Reserve For American Airlines Flight Attendants

After the American Airlines Flight Attendants have completed their full year of reserve, they will move to rotating reserve. 

This means their schedule will rotate each month: they’ll have one month on reserve and then one month with a regular flight schedule (called ‘holding a line’).

During the months the Flight Attendants are holding a line they’ll be able to bid for specific destinations and flights they want to work, as well as days off.

They’ll also be able to trade in trips they don’t want and pick up trips, so they have more control of their schedule. Their schedule will rotate like this from years 2-4.

After four years, the American Airlines Flight Attendant will then move on to a rotation of one month on reserve and then three months off reserve, holding a line (having scheduled flights like a regular Flight Attendant schedule as opposed to being on reserve/on-call).

The longer a Flight Attendant works for an airline in the US, the less chance they have of getting put on reserve.

And so when they are senior enough they will then be taken off reserve permanently and always have scheduled flights and therefore more control over their schedule.

It’s important to remember the reserve time to get ready and arrive at the airport for duty is only 2 or 3 hours (depending on which airport is your base).

When placed on reserve the Flight Attendant shouldn’t be based too far away from the airport that they could potentially be late for reporting.

Recently 50 Flight Attendants at American Airlines were fired as they couldn’t report to the airport on time when on their Reserve Availability Period.

Different Types Of Reserve At American Airlines

There are three different types of reserve:

  • RAP
  • Sequences
  • Standby

The day before the Flight Attendant is on reserve they can bid and arrange their preferences out of the three.

RAP: RAPs are Reserve Availability Periods. They are 12 hour shifts where the Flight Attendant gets called and must report to the airport within 2 hours (3 hours at certain base airports such as LAX, MIA, SFO, LGA, DCA).

Sequences: Sequences are the flights that haven’t been assigned to an FA yet or have been dropped by another FA. You’ll usually get more notice for these flights.

Standby: A Standby shift lasts for 4-6 hours and involves actually going to the airport ready in uniform and waiting at the airport to be available immediately for a flight (say if a Flight Attendant phones in sick last-minute or is late).

How Does The Pay Differ From Being On Reserve To Having A Line/Regular Schedule?

When a Flight Attendant receives their monthly roster with their scheduled flights they can generally work out how much money they will earn that month.

When a Flight Attendant is rostered the whole month on reserve it’s a lot harder to work out how much they may earn as they have no idea what their flying schedule will actually look like and how many hours they will end up flying.

Layover Allowance (Per Diem)

The Layover Allowance (also known as Per Diem) is a tax-free allowance Flight Attendants get when they are out-station (eg: when you are on a layover, not at your base). This money is in addition to a Flight Attendants hourly rate.

The layover payment is calculated to cover the expenses of all your meals and some other expenses on the layover, so at the end of the month American Airlines in effect reimburses you for the meals you had to buy outstation.

It works out as a rough estimate and American Airlines just works it out automatically.

The Per Diem Layover Allowance at American Airlines is $2.20 per hour for domestic destinations within the US and $2.50 per hour for international destinations.

The Per Diem Allowance is the same regardless of your seniority, so all Flight Attendants on the same flight get the same amount Per Diem.

So in addition to your hourly rate, for every hour you are away from your base (it is calculated from the time the aircraft door closes at your base until the time the aircraft door opens again at your base) you get the Per Diem allowance of $2.20 per hour domestically or $2.50 per hour internationally.

The Layover Allowance may seem small but it does add up when you have several multi-day trips – especially seeing as it is tax free!

Let’s say for example you do an international flight to Europe. It is a 24 hours layover, and let’s say adding in all the flight time on top of the layover time, the total time you were away from base was 40 hours.

You would be making 40 x $2.70 = $100.

That’s an extra $100 on top of what you will earn from your flying hours for that flight!

Seeing as usually you’ll have several trips on your schedule each month, that can mean several hundred extra dollars instantly added onto your salary!

Special Roles

In addition to the hourly rate, reserve and per diem, some Flight Attendants can also earn extra money in special roles – for example when they are a language speaker or a purser or galley lead on the flight.

Depending on your position on each flight and aircraft you can also earn an extra premium pay of $1.25-$3.25 per hour. 

Purser:

A Purser is the Flight Attendant who is in charge of the whole cabin. They often need to fill out safety reports and any incident reports and deal with any conflicts onboard.

The Purser is paid extra as they have more responsibility and oversee the whole customer experience. They will roughly earn $3.25 per hour extra for being a Purser on top of their hourly rate.

Plus remember as a Purser they’ll be on a much higher hourly salary anyway! Most of the Pursers at American Airlines will have at least 20 years experience, so when they do finally become a Purser they will be earning quite a lot of money!

Language Speakers:

Language of Destination (LOD) Flight Attendants are paid a premium for being language speakers on certain flights as it is an additional skill.

If you’re working on a flight to a foreign country that requires language speakers for the specific language of destination and you are qualified, you will earn an extra $2 per flight hour.

Note you will only get this premium on those specific flights that require that language – you won’t get it on flights that don’t require a language speaker for the language you are fluent in, nor on flights that require a language speaker for a different language you aren’t fluent in.

Any Flight Attendant or aspiring Flight Attendant who speaks another language besides English fluently that the Airline requires can apply to be a Language Of Destination Flight Attendant.

They are paid extra to speak the language of destination throughout the flight to the customers and give assistance in the language where needed.

They can only apply if they are completely fluent and can confidently communicate in the foreign language in an emergency.

Languages can includes Hindi, Hebrew, Dutch, Greek and Italian amongst others.

Deadheading

Deadheading is not a special role – but another way Flight Attendants can get paid so I’ve included it here.

Deadheading is when the airline needs to move a Flight Attendant from one city to another for operational reasons (eg: they are short of a Flight Attendant in one base or outstation because someone is sick and therefore need another Flight Attendant to be able to operate the flight). 

When a Flight Attendant is deadheading they are getting paid to be on a flight but they aren’t working on the flight – they get to travel as a passenger. Then when they get to the destination they will operate the flight back.

Whenever you need to be transported to or from another airport to work from this is known as deadheading and you’ll get paid the same amount of money as if you were working the flight! Not bad right?!

Incentives

There are several opportunities where Flight Attendants at American Airlines can get extra pay.

They can include:

  • ‘Drafting Pay’ – being used at another base (will have usually deadheaded to get there)
  • working on holidays ($75 compensation)
  • Credit card commissions – a Flight Attendant will get $50 commission for approved applications for airline credit cards that they open.

How Many Hours Does A Flight Attendant Work Per Month?

On average, a Flight Attendant at American Airlines works between 75 to 100 hours per month. However, they do have the choice to work more or less than these hours if they prefer, as there are no ‘fixed hours’.

A new Flight Attendant who works around 100 hours a month can expect to earn an average of almost $3,000 a month.

Some Flight Attendants may choose (or be scheduled) to work more or less hours one month compared to another, which will therefore affect their pay.

Some of the more junior Flight Attendants can work up to 130 hours per month, whilst the older Flight Attendants may only want to fly part time hours – it is really up to you what you choose.

You also have the option to pick up extra flights for your schedule, or give them away if you don’t want them.

There is an online interactive system where you can give away flights for others to pick up, or you can pick up extra flights if you are looking for extra money.

This is great as it gives Flight Attendants more control over their salary and how they want to spend their time.

When Do American Airlines Flight Attendants Get Paid Their Salary?

American Airlines Flight Attendants get paid every 2 weeks. They will get paid on the 15th and 30th of each month.

The pay check on the 15th is always bigger as it includes all the overtime, per diem premium and any bonuses. The pay check on the 30th just includes your hourly pay so it will always be less. 

In the first year of working the pay on the 30th usually amounts to around $800, and the pay on the 15th is roughly $2000 – both after tax. Obviously this varies according to how many extra trips you pick up so it should be used as a rough guide.

Plus of course it’s worth noting your salary for your first month working will be a lot less.

You will probably earn only $700 on the salary on the 15th, as all flights in one month are paid in the following month so you won’t actually get paid for any of the flights worked.

In your second year flying as a Flight Attendant with Americn Airlines when you get a regular monthly schedule, you can make an average salary of $3000 per month after taxes.

Salary Deductions For Flight Attendants At American Airlines

Medicare, Social Security and other taxes are taken out of your paycheck. Remember that each state in the US has different levels of taxes. Roughly take off 20% for tax.

Other deductions most staff choose to have include 401k, medical, dental, vision insurance, uniform and luggage purchases ($30 a month) and union costs.

What Factors Can Affect A Flight Attendant Salary?

As we can see, several factors can affect a Flight Attendant’s Salary:

1. Seniority Of The Flight Attendant

As mentioned above, the seniority of a Flight Attendant plays a big part in how much their salary will be. 

Not only does your level of seniority affect your hourly pay, but it also affects what your schedule looks like (how much you are one reserve) – which then also affects your salary.

The more senior you are – the higher your hourly pay, the less reserve you will have and the more choice you have over your schedule.

Seniority definitely plays a big part in determining what your salary and schedule will look like.

2. Hours Worked

The number of hours worked also affects the salary of a Flight Attendant. The more hours you work, the higher your salary will be that month.

3. Reserve

4. Per Diem

5. Special Roles

6. Incentives

If you’re looking for help on applying to become a Flight Attendant and the Application Process check out these guides:

How to write the perfect Flight Attendant CV/Resume
Attending A Flight Attendant Assessment Day
What to expect on a Flight Attendant Open Day
Flight Attendant School
Flight Attendant Background Check

American Airlines Benefits

Benefits for American Airlines Flight Attendants include:

  • comprehensive insurance and medical coverage (vision, medical & dental insurance)
  • staff travel discounts 
  • retirement plans – 401K plan
  • Paid time off

American Airlines has very generous benefits for their Flight Attendants.

Interested in becoming a Flight Attendant for another airline? Check out these articles:

Delta Flight Attendant Requirements

Delta Flight Attendant Salary

Southwest Airlines Flight Attendant Requirements

If you would like to see how the salary for Flight Attendants in one of the wealthy Gulf airlines compares, check out this article on Etihad Cabin Crew Salary.

How To Become A Flight Attendant At American Airlines?

As with any other airline, to become a Flight Attendant at American Airlines you will need to fulfil certain requirements.

These include background checks, education requirements, ability to live and work in the USA, appearance requirements, minimum age requirements, fluency in English and more.

If you meet all the requirements you can apply. The application process involves several stages: online application, virtual group interview and an in-person interview.

Successful applicants need to make it through all the stages, which can be quite tough as there is so much competition!

You’ll find all the information about the different stages as well as the requirements, in this American Airlines Flight Attendant requirements article.

Is American Airlines Currently Hiring Flight Attendants?

American Airlines periodically opens vacancies on their official careers website. Click here to view the vacancies for Flight Attendants

It’s good to apply as soon as you see the vacancies opening up, as sometimes the job vacancy can close early if they receive too many applications.

How Long Does The Whole Process To Become A Flight Attendant With American Airlines Take?

As there are several stages in the application process, getting a job as a Flight Attendant at American Airlines is definitely not a quick process. It’s also important to bear in mind that the application process length can really vary amongst applicants.

For some it may take just a few months, for others it may take a year.

It often depends on how many Flight Attendants they need to hire at that particular time, the number of applications received at that time, and if you have a specific requirement that they require at that time (for example: language speakers).

Remember that going for a Flight Attendant job is competitive, and hundreds of thousands of people apply for only a few spots.

Once you get selected and have the conditional job offer (CJO) to join American Airlines, depending on the operational needs of the company you might have to wait a few weeks or months to commence your initial Cabin Crew Training.

The Flight Attendant training will take 6.5 weeks, and then once you have successfully passed you will finally be a Flight Attendant! It’s a long process and it may feel frustrating having to wait so long but it’s sure worth the wait! 

American Airlines Flight Attendant Training Program

American Airlines provides the initial Flight Attendant training at Dallas/Fort Worth usually.

The training program for American Airlines is 6.5 weeks long.

The American Airlines Flight Attendant training course is an intensive course to prepare you for the many different types of scenarios you can encounter when working as a Flight Attendant.

The Flight Attendant training at American Airlines is unpaid – similar to many other airlines, but living expenses of food and accommodation are covered.

You must complete the Flight Attendant training and all the associated background checks, as well as demonstrate your proficiency in order to get your flying licence.

After successful completion of the Flight Attendant Training Course you will get your wings, be assigned a base and join the American Airlines as a Flight Attendant! The probation period lasts 6 months. 

Like all Flight Attendant Training Programs, American Airlines focuses their training on passenger safety (medical emergencies, emergency landings, security, fire etc), aircraft specific training, customer services, culture at American Airlines and more.

American Airlines Flight Attendant Salary Summary

American Airlines currently has one of the highest hourly rates in the US for Flight Attendants and it is one of the best airlines to work for.

Looking for more information on Flight Attendant Requirements? Check out these articles:

Flight Attendant Requirements

Age Limit For Flight Attendants

Height Requirements For Flight Attendants

Can A Flight Attendant Have Tattoos?

Can Flight Attendants Have Piercings?

 

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Pana

Friday 12th of January 2024

Thanks, this is most useful for my application.

Catrina

Sunday 14th of January 2024

Wishing you good luck Pana!