The financial benefits are also substantial, a freelancing VIP cabin crew earning anywhere between $150 to $450 per day, the exact amount depending on your experience and the number/types of aircraft you are certified on.
Crew that have experience working on their own on small aircraft tend to get offered the higher rate; the reason for that criteria will become clear as you continue to read through this article.
The daily rate is however the only actual payment that you get (along with your hotel and work-related transportation being paid by the company throughout the assignment).
The responsibility of your medical insurance and recurrent training will have to be bared and paid for by yourself. This is an important aspect to remember, as most companies hiring freelancers require that you are certified and still current on the type of aircraft you will be covering duty on.
When called up for an assignment, the notice time can be anywhere from a couple of days to as little as 1 or 2 hours before the flight.
The ideal notice period is at least 24 hours; that gives you enough time to get familiar with the company requirements, the VIP profile, the aircraft lay-out, etc. as well as prepare everything you will need for the flight (catering, specific VIP preferences, flowers, chocolate, etc.).
If you are offered an assignment for a bigger aircraft (Airbus/BBJ), your work is considerably simplified because you will be part of a team of crew and will be briefed on your exact responsibilities on board by the person in charge.
For single-crew operations however, the challenge is at its highest because you become responsible for organizing every aspect of the flight rather than being just another helping hand.
Preparation and confidence in your abilities is key. You need to be aware of:
- Aircraft type and configuration
- Available kitchen appliances (microwave, kettle, fridge, coffee machine, etc.)
- Available food storage space
Thinking on your feet is extremely important, especially when given only a few hours to prepare for a flight. You might be in a new country, working on a new aircraft you haven’t seen before and with passengers you know nothing about.
Having all your resources ready (bag always packed, catering provider details handy, a draft order for the maximum number of pax ready to be sent, etc.) will keep you one step ahead in your flight prep not to mention maintain your stress levels to an acceptable level.
Traveling the world continues to remain one of the big motivations for freelancing cabin crew as you get different owners, many going to remote destinations or very exotic ones, where you tend to stay for days, sometimes weeks on end.
Every single day is different in private aviation in general but even more so for freelancing crews.
On the flip side, freelancing assignments aren’t stable and it is quite difficult to anticipate an approximate monthly income.
It is an on again off again thing and it could happen that you get a long trip which will bring you a handsome income, followed by weeks of quiet periods.
If you have another project keeping you busy, freelancing is definitely a good plan for additional income.
When it comes to finding freelancing opportunities, it’s all about word of mouth. It is important to keep in touch with old colleagues or register with recruitment companies that place freelancing VIP cabin crew as well.
Business networks such as LinkedIn are also a good way to gain exposure and let the industry know you are available for this purpose.
Make sure you get some sort of contract/agreement for every single assignment, whether 1 day or one month long!
Plans change very often in private aviation and you wouldn’t want to commit to an assignment only to end up in an extended trip, with a daily rate different than the one agreed on initially or even working for free altogether.
Some VIP operators offer freelancing contracts for a determined period (6 months / one year). Crews just need to fill in the dates of the respective month with their availability.
As a conclusion, freelancing as a VIP Cabin crew is definitely challenging but also extremely rewarding and it is up to you to decide whether it might work for you or not.
P.S. Most freelancers’ favorite single-crew aircraft to work on is the Global Express (pictured below).
The space is very generous, with plenty of food storage (large fridge), galley appliances (microwave, kettle, coffee machine, sink, etc.), a forward lavatory for the crew as well as a decent crew rest area that make life much easier inflight.
The least favorite has to be the Hawker, as it has one of the smallest cabins. Finding space to store catering is a real challenge and there are no appliances, except a microwave.
You need to be organized and very efficient; you can only heat one meal at a time and need to move fast to ensure all your passengers eat together and their meals are hot enough to enjoy.