Average Salary: $37,240
Expected Lifetime Earnings: $1,555,000
Remember that paper route you turned down so you could pursue an exciting career in flight attending? Is it too late to call them back?
How does a starting salary of about $16k sound to you? Don’t worry—stick it out for 5-10 years and you could work that all the way up to about $25k.
It's ugly. You don't get into this line of work because you have dollar signs in your eyes, that much is for sure. If you stay with an airline for a number of years, you may eventually be able to rake in $40-$50k a year, but it will take you a while to get to that point. Very few flight attendants make upwards of $60-$70k, but it has been known to happen. Generally these higher paid positions go to Chief Pursers—attendants who have put in their time and obtained seniority status.
Unfortunately, the seniority status does not quite qualify you for the early bird special at Denny's. You'll need to put in even more time to be eligible for that bonus.
Flight attendants are also protected by unions, such as the Association Flight Attendants—the largest in the U.S. These unions work to improve pay and benefits. They've got a long way to go until flight attendants are paid more than the peanuts they offer on international flights. (Note: Planes no longer serve peanuts on flights because of the many allergic reactions. It was necessary, however, to use "peanuts" in order to make the joke work. Please forgive us for taking liberties.)