The number of flight attendants on a plane can vary by the size of the plane and the airline.
Any commercial flight operator must follow the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), which determines the minimum number of flight attendants on a flight depending on the size of the plane.
What Determines the Number of Flight Attendants on a Plane
According to 14 CFR 91.533:
- One flight attendant: Planes that have more than 19 but less than 51 passengers on board must have at least one flight attendant.
- Two flight attendants: Planes that have more 50 but less than 101 passengers on board must have at least two flight attendants.
- Two flight attendants + : Planes that have more than 100 passengers on board must have at least two flight attendants, plus one additional flight attendant for every 50 passengers above 100.
For example, if a plane has 151-200 passengers on board, there must be a minimum of 4 flight attendants; 5 flight attendants if the plane has 201-250 passengers; 6 flight attendants if the plane has 251-300 passengers etc.
Due to the regulations stated in 14 CFR 91.533, the planes used for commercial air travel have the following number of flight attendants on board.
- Airbus A319: 3 flight attendants
- Boeing 737: 4 flight attendants
- Airbus A320: 4 flight attendants
- Airbus A321: 5 flight attendants
- Boeing 757: 6 flight attendants
- Boeing 767: 6 flight attendants
- Boeing 787-8: 6 flight attendants
- Airbus A330: 8 flight attendants
- Boeing 787-9/10: 8 flight attendants
- Boeing 777-200: 8 flight attendants
- Boeing 777-300: 10 flight attendants
- Airbus A350: 8 flight attendants
- Boeing 747: 14 flight attendants
- Airbus A380: 18 flight attendants
Airlines at a minimum follow the Code of Federal Regulations for the number of flight attendants on board.
However, there are usually more flight attendants on board than the minimum required amount because airlines want to offer their customers excellent service.
Of course, more flight attendants on board means higher operating costs for the airline, so they balance the two to maximize profitability.
For example, in 2020, due to the Covid pandemic, American Airlines said that they would reduce the number of flight attendants in an attempt to make up for lost profits.
On their Boeing 777-300 jets, American Airlines said that they would drop the number of their flight attendants by two, totaling 11 flight attendants; and on their Boeing 777-200 and 787-900 jets, they would drop from 10 to nine flight attendants.
Domestic vs. International Flights
The number of flight attendants on a plane changes according to whether a flight is flying domestically or internationally, as planes with higher seating capacities are usually used for international flights.
For example, the Boeing 747 must have at least 14 flight attendants on board, while the Airbus A380 with its seating capacity of over 850 passengers must have at least 18 flight attendants on board.
The Ratio of Flight Attendants is Higher in Business and First Class
When flying in business and first class, there is usually a higher flight attendant to passenger ratio.
As business and first class passengers are paying a premium, they expect a higher level of service, which airlines know they must provide and meet.
There Are Rules for the Number of Flight Attendants on Private Jets
Again, the number of flight attendants on a private jet depends on the regulations.
So, a private jet that has more than 19 but less than 51 passengers on board must have at least one flight attendant.
However, even though the planes offered for charter by most private jet companies have fewer than a 19 seat capacity, there may still be a flight attendant (or a “cabin attendant”) on board to assist passengers.
The U.S. Makes Up the Largest Number of Flight Attendants
There are over 111,000 flight attendants in the U.S. alone.
It’s estimated that 84% of flight attendants are women, while 16% are men.
There is No Need to Tip Flight Attendants
Generally, there is no need to tip flight attendants, and most airlines don’t even allow flight attendants to accept tips, either.
However, there can be exceptions depending on the airline you are flying with, though a tip is by no means expected like it is when in a restaurant, for example.
Flight Attendant’s Have a Unique Work Schedule
A flight attendant’s work schedule can vary substantially depending on seniority and the airline a flight attendant works for.
Typically, a flight attendant will work 12 to 14 hours a day; 75-100 hours a month actually in the air, and 50 hours on the ground preparing planes for passengers, writing reports, and simply waiting for planes to arrive; and 900- 1200 hours a year.
Flight Attendants Get to Sleep in Beds
Flight attendants have their own sleeping compartments on planes.
These compartments have beds for sleeping during long flights for the flight crew and flight attendants.
This compartment is usually above or adjacent to the passenger’s cabin.