When flight attendants first get started, wages are very low, and those assigned to big cities may be eligible for food stamps. Some crew live off stealing food from first class snack baskets.
American’s flight attendant union reps may get paid 115 hours of ‘trip removal’ a month not to fly (plus additional hours they pick up). But the average flight attendant might be working just 75 paid hours. So when you see that a 13th year American Airlines flight attendant earns $68.25 per hour, that’s not $130,000 a year – it’s more like $61,000.
However pilot and flight attendant jobs have a lot of down time, and there’s tremendous opportunity for starting a side hustle. These aren’t schedules that work well with a fixed schedule second job, or on call part-time work. But online businesses and ‘make your own hours’ kinds of roles are well-suited.
One flight attendant has recorded a TikTok advising other crewmembers on earning side income.
- Online influencer. This earns her $50 to $100 per day offering observations as she travels. But take care not to share in uniform or mention your employer because you’d be putting your job at risk. And flight attendants can be quite mean to each other, ratting you out.
- Fiverr gigs. She earns money rating online dating profiles, charging men $10 apiece. She also gives “advice on how to talk to girls.”
- Real estate. This one is harder to balance since ideally you’re available to clients and not on a trip. She talks about flipping properties, but that’s out of reach for most cabin crew and also risky.
- Catering staff. There are online services that match people as one-off providers of catering staff, from wait staff to bartenders. Or see what temp agencies may have for irregular work.
@destanieaaa Replying to @annie ♬ original sound – Destanie | Flight Attendant ✈️
Pilots have side hustles too. Insurance businesses are common. One United pilot was a pimp in Houston with a string of brothels.
During the pandemic one American Airlines flight attendant was making money selling courses to other cabin crew about how to make money selling pictures of their feet online. The world is a very niche place.