Thinking Of Becoming Cabin Crew?

Salaries, Benefits & Contracts Explained

Every airline has different contracts with different guidelines, structures, salaries, benefits and regulations depending on the country they are based in.

We have detailed below some of the most common denominators you will find for an entry-level cabin crew package.

The Contract

Before offering a working contract, some airlines will check references potentially going back 3 to 5 years, so make sure you have people in good professional positions who can vouch for you.

You will also need to pass your medical exam with a doctor or clinic nominated by the airline as well as your initial training, usually 4 to 7 weeks long.

Your working contract as a new starter can be between 6 months to 2 years. However if you are working for an airline who has relocated you abroad, they will likely have the strongest intentions to keep you indefinitely because you are an investment for the airline.

As part of the contract, you will have a probationary period to complete before the employment contract is set in stone. Probationary periods tend to be 3 to 6 months long.

The Salary

The starting package for new cabin crew is approximately $24,000 per annum.

The full package can include other financial benefits, besides the basic salary, such as:

  • Per Diem (a daily meal allowance paid when crew lay-over in other cities than their home base)
  • Pay per block hour (a fix rate paid to cabin crew for each flying hour)
  • Inflight sales commission (percentage from the inflight duty-free sales)

The Per Diem for commercial cabin crew depends on the cost of living in the destination you are flying to. Because it is supposed to cover the meal expenses when away from base, it is usually higher in Europe, USA, Japan or Russia (more expensive countries) and lower in South-East Asian countries.

If you consider joining one of the major airlines in the Middle East or the Gulf region (Qatar Airways, Emirates Airlines, Etihad, Saudia Airlines, Fly Dubai, etc.), your package will include additional benefits like free medical insurance, free transportation for work trips or free accommodation in the country of the airline’s home base.

The Average Earnings Of Junior Cabin Crew Flying For These Airlines Are As Follows

Qatar Airways: basic $1150 + per diem (on layovers) + block hour pay

Emirates Airlines: basic $1100 + per diem (on layovers) + block hour pay

Etihad: basic $600 + per diem (on layovers) + block hour pay

Saudia Airlines: basic $850 + per diem (on layovers) + block hour pay

It is worth mentioning that this is the full pay salary, applicable after the probationary period of 6 months. During the initial 6 months from the date of joining, the basic salary is slightly lower in all airlines.

Once you start flying and gain a few years of experience, you can move up the ranks depending on your performance and the rate of the airline’s business growth.

For senior commercial cabin crew, the starting salary can reach $35,000 per annum.

If you are fortunate enough to move to VIP or corporate aviation, packages can exceed $70,000 per annum on average.

In addition, VIP cabin crew can get up to 50% more time off than commercial airline crew because the schedule for the private sector is on a rotation basis.

Most VIP companies understand that a happy workforce is an efficient workforce and that the high level of dedication and effort provided by a VIP cabin crew can only be sustained for short periods of time. VIP cabin crew tend to have patterns of 2-months work/1-month off or even 1-month work/1-month off.

Uniforms: Most airlines will pay for your uniforms, however some airlines might expect you to cover the cost of the uniform, which will be deducted from your salary in small monthly instalments.

Commissions: Some (low cost) airlines will pay attractive commissions for any food & beverage or duty free products you sell in-flight. This is an added bonus that motivates crew to sell more, a win-win situation for both the cabin crew and the airline.

Languages: If you are considering applying for a European airline, it is good to know that most major carriers (Lufthansa, KLM, Swissair, etc.) require that you speak the national language of the airline and that you are a legal resident of the country the airline is based in.

Airlines in the Middle East require the applicants to have a strong knowledge of English, while any additional language is considered an advantage.

Furthermore, airlines in the Middle East sometimes offer a separate allowance if you can speak other languages besides English. In addition, you might get assigned to operate flights as a “language speaker” to the country whose language you speak (e.g. if you speak Italian, you will likely go to Italy quite often).

The Benefits

Besides the financial package, there are many other benefits for cabin crew working for a major airline.

Here are some of the most common benefits you can look forward to:

  • You get to travel the world while being paid for it
  • You don’t pay any tax on your salary (everything you earn is yours to keep)
  • Discounted airline tickets for yourself, your family and friends
  • International medical insurance
  • Paid annual vacation
  • Maternity leave (depending on each airline’s policy)
  • Free accommodation and transportation or allowances to cover the costs
  • Discounts on Duty Free products in major airports across the world

The Conclusion

Being in this profession for so many years, we can say it is just as packed with challenges as it is with rewards and opportunities.

If you do it for long enough it becomes more than a job, it opens your horizons wider than any other job we can think of and offers great opportunities for career progression, especially if you work for one of the leading airlines of the world.

So if you have the smallest seed of desire to pursue this profession, we have just one piece of advice for you: GO FOR IT!

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