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Air cabin crew: Salary and conditions

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  • Basic starting salaries for air cabin crew are around £12,000. Additional allowances may be received on top of this, which could take the salary to around £14,500.
  • Air cabin crew with experience can expect to earn £15,000 to £18,000 a year.
  • Some airlines will offer additional allowances on top of base pay for number of languages spoken. Many airlines also offer overnight payments for nights spent away from home.
  • Starting salaries at senior cabin crew level (which can be reached after a few years of experience) are around £20,000.
  • The majority of airlines offer free flights to cabin crew on domestic flights and some offer free or heavily discounted international flights. There is usually a policy for discounted travel for immediate family and spouses.
  • Cabin crew work shifts that usually involve irregular and unsocial hours. It can include working early mornings, through the night, at weekends and on public holidays. Short-haul flights may provide more regular hours than long haul. You may also have to work or be flexible on your days off if your return journey is cancelled or delayed. This is normally compensated however.
  • Part-time opportunities are available but this still involves unsocial hours.
  • Airlines catering for the package holiday market tend to recruit air cabin crew on a seasonal basis.
  • Some airlines require staff to live within a certain radius/easy travelling distance of the airport. (Flexibility is vital as staff may need to be on stand-by for work at short notice.) Some air cabin crew may be based in locations abroad.
  • The work can be demanding as cabin crew have to deal with and often work through tiredness and jet lag if crossing over different time zones.
  • The airline provides air cabin crew with a uniform and they are expected to be smartly dressed at all times and well groomed. Many airlines do not allow visible tattoos or piercings. 
  • Air cabin crew often work in confined spaces and have to spend a lot of time on their feet. The work is physically demanding, particularly on long-haul flights. Dealing with difficult passengers in an enclosed space may be stressful.
  • The amount of time spent away from home varies depending on the airline and whether you are working on short or long-haul flights. Spending nights away from home is especially common with long-haul work.
  • You'll work with a variety of people from different backgrounds and cultures.

Salary figures are intended as a guide only.

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Written by Jon Milnthorpe, AGCAS writer
March 2014

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