Approximately 119,300 professionally trained flight attendants are employed in the United States. Commercial airlines employ the vast majority of all flight attendants, most of whom are stationed in the major cities that serve as their airline's home base. A very small number of flight attendants work on company-owned or private planes.
Individuals who are interested in becoming flight attendants should apply directly to the personnel divisions of airline companies. The names and locations of these companies may be obtained by contacting Airlines for America. Addresses of airline personnel division offices can also be obtained from almost any airline office or ticket agency. Some major airlines have personnel recruiting teams that travel throughout the United States interviewing prospective flight attendants. Airline company offices can provide interested people with information regarding these recruitment visits, which are sometimes announced in newspaper advertisements in advance.
Most flight attendants start out working on reserve status, or on call. They must be ready to report for duty on short notice. As flight attendants gain experience, they transition from reserve to regular status and have more control of their work schedule.
A number of advancement opportunities are open to flight attendants. They may advance to supervisory positions such as purser (sometimes known as the first flight attendant, senior, or lead flight attendant), or become an instructor or airline recruitment representative. They may also have the opportunity to move into the position of chief attendant, representing all flight attendants in a particular division or area. Although the rate of turnover in this field was once high, more people are making careers as flight attendants, and competition for available supervisory jobs is very high.
Many flight attendants who no longer qualify for flight duty because of health or other factors move into other jobs with the airlines. These jobs may include reservation agent, ticket agent, or personnel recruiter. They may also work in the public relations, sales, air transportation, dispatch, or communications divisions. Trained flight attendants may also find similar employment in other transportation or hospitality industries such as luxury cruise ship lines.
Tips for Entry
Contact airlines directly to learn more about job openings and the job application process.
Follow airlines on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to stay up to date on industry developments and learn about job openings.
Join a union to increase your chances of landing a job and receiving fair pay for your work.
Talk to flight attendants about their jobs. Ask them for advice on preparing for and entering the field.