One of the most common subjects that readers, friends, or acquaintances ask Meghan, Celessa, or I is a spin off of the question, “Is this airline better than that airline?” or “Which one should I apply to?” or “Where should I work?” Due to the fact that these questions are so important to address, I wanted to write a blog sharing advice on what airline you should apply to and work for. I guarantee that the answer will not be what you expect, but isn’t that typical of flight attendant life anyway? It’s never what you expect…
The simple, straight forward, and short answer to your question of, “Which airline is the best to work for?” is- There is no ‘best.’ Yes, you read that right. I just told you one airline is not better than another. An airline cannot claim title to “The Best” until you evaluate WHO YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU WANT out of the experience. Until then, there is no way to determine which airline is better than another. One person can work at the shittiest airline out there and have the BEST experience, and another person can have an awful time at the same airline. As I said, the simple answer is there is no ‘best airline,’ but there are places that I would rather work over others, and places I know that you would rather work than others.
So now that we have that established, let’s move on and cover 5 points that will help you determine what the best airline is for you to work for.
1. Why and what do you want out of being a flight attendant? Do you want to become a flight attendant or cabin crew member for the layovers, the free flight benefits, the camaraderie with colleagues, the uniform, the pay (haha…just kidding. None of us do this for the pay). But really, figure out why you want to be a flight attendant and what your goals are through becoming a flight attendant. I now fly only international, long-haul flights, which most would think to be better than domestic, but my previous airline was better than what I have now for quite a few reasons. It was the best airline for me at the time and could still have been, but I wanted another experience.
Quite honestly, I switched airlines for this blog. I wanted to be able to share a broader perspective with all of you. What I am saying is that my goals with flying changed, so instead of day trips and Hawaii life, I took a HUGE pay cut to grow as a cabin crew member and as an individual. Through all of the disappointments and challenges of this past year, I am so glad I followed my heart and did what was best for me. I didn’t work for “the best” airline then, and I don’t work for “the best” airline now, but I am in the best place for me. Figure out the best place for you.
2. Do you have responsibilities at home that demand a lot of your attention? It is a misunderstood fact that all flight attendants are gone for long periods of time. Many airlines operate turns which means the crews fly day trips. This is how my flight attendant life started, then moving into two and three day trips, and now, I fly on average 10-15 day trips. The weeks away would be so difficult if I had a family, pets, or a boyfriend even, but honestly, I really love the weeks and weeks away. That could simply be because I feel like I belong more in Scandinavia than Florida though. You need to evaluate your current home life and determine what is feasible for you to manage as far as days away. If you require a lot of work flexibility, an airline like the one I work for or private aviation is probably not for you. But a domestically based carrier or regional could be the perfect fit.
3. Do you want to work on a small/large crew or small/big planes? Some flight attendants like working alone or with only one other flight attendant. Celessa and my mom both actually enjoy this aspect a lot. They don’t have anyone looking over their shoulder in the cabin. I on the other hand, might go crazy with only 30-70 passengers on my flights and only the pilots to talk with. I LOVE having twelve to sixteen crew on my flights. I get to rotate through work stations as there are at least eight or nine positions to work on the aircraft. I can momentarily escape the hard-to-deal with passengers or hard-to-deal with colleagues. I like the plane I work on too. A small regional would not be for me, although there are SO many benefits they have that I do not, one being…
4. How important is travel during or outside of work to you? Do you even care about travel? Do you consider layovers “travel?” Or is travel to you adventuring out on your own? If travel to you is adventuring out on your own, then pick a place that has great schedule flexibility, with an opportunity to gain seniority fairly quickly. Find an airline that has great flight benefits. Celessa and my mom have both incredible schedule flexibility and some of the best flight benefits in the industry. Most airlines based in The United States have decent flight benefits for you to be able to travel inexpensively in your free time. The major issue that most come across is this: When you have the time, you don’t have the money. And when you have the money, you don’t have the time. Now, I am constantly working trips to Europe, but I have no flight benefits like I once had. I really miss flight benefits, but the flight attendant life I live now is an absolutely, almost unreal adventure. I know I am lucky to be where I am and so thankful for the job and the adventures. It’s not necessarily better or worse than what I had before. It’s just different. Know what differences you are willing to put up with.
5. Are you considering flight attendant life as a lifetime career? You may be in the space that I was when I started flying and only saw being a flight attendant as a year or two gig until I figured out what I really wanted to do with my life. Six years later, I’m still in the career, and although I have been struggling with staying or leaving recently, I really love this career and will stay. I don’t know if there is a better job in the world than being a flight attendant. It gets you. It’s not just a job, it’s one’s entire life, and that can be a wonderful thing. Because of where I am in my life personally and as an entrepreneur, I don’t see flying as a career where I need to pick a “career airline”, so I haven’t pursued airlines like Delta or United because those don’t fit with what I want, who I am, or where I want to be (remember point 1). Both of those airlines I consider to be GREAT career choices (along with Southwest, JetBlue, Alaska, Hawaiian, etc), but it’s not me right now. Being a flight attendant isn’t my main goal in life, which is great because what that means, is when a job or life situation is no longer working for me, it’s easier to move on to what fits better. It’s like shoes guys. When you’re two, you have your favorite shoes and they fit so well. When you are ten, you have a new pair of shoes that fit you for this age. You don’t jam, cram, or stuff your toesies into your toddler kicks. THAT’S RIDICULOUS! So NEVER do that with your life! We do things like this due to fear of the unknown, but we are like feet and grow You grow. Buy new shoes when you need them, and move into what fits.
There are more points that I can add about airlines and places to work, but this will help you get started. I also want to mention that sometimes, you just need to start somewhere. Start at the airline that isn’t viewed as glamorous or isn’t well-known if you must. It can actually be the best place for you to start. You will learn and it can prepare you for the next place. Meghan has written about how here start made her ready for a mainline, and from my own experience, I needed my domestic carrier, all of the travel, all of the moving, and all of the writing to prepare me for where I am now and where I am going tomorrow.
Know you will get to where you need to be when you need to be there.
Curious. Bubbly. Creative. Curating a life I don't need an escape from and inspiring you to do the same.