I’m a flight attendant for a major airline. Some of us are making $150,000 a year thanks to overtime – but I’ve also heard horror stories.


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  • A flight attendant for an American airline (who asked to remain anonymous) said they’re in demand.
  • There’s opportunity to earn a lot from overtime, they said – up to $150,000 a year before taxes.
  • But they also deal with people who refuse to wear masks. Here’s their story, as told to Elle Hardy.

You’ve probably seen that the industry is struggling as there have been serious staff shortages. Some airlines have canceled a large number of flights because of the shortages.


A flight attendant on an airplane.
“I had a captain who said he prided himself on kicking people off the airplane if they were being rude to us or other passengers. That’s something I think is important,” said one flight attendant (not pictured). Matej Kastelic/500px/Getty Images

I’ve been flying for about six years, though at the height of the pandemic, I was furloughed for six months. I was lucky to be able to afford to take the time off and do a bit of traveling, but I know a lot of folks for whom the furlough was really hard.

Now, it’s the opposite. Picking up overtime shifts is always an option.

If you’re on your day off when the airline’s desperate for people, it’ll offer overtime and say, “Hey, if you work this trip, we will pay you time and a half.” That’s been much more prevalent in the past six months.

My airline has hired about 1,000 new flight attendants this year, and it’s also bringing on board about 1,100 new hires who were pushed out of training when the pandemic started.

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