The airline industry never sleeps with its 24/7 schedule, so you might be wondering how many hours flight attendants work.
While flight attendants can have very variable schedules and may work nights, weekends and holidays, some months can look very different to other months.
Additionally, seniority, flight length, destination and layovers can all determine how often a flight attendant works.
However, we can still work out the average number of hours a flight attendant works.
In this article, we cover the hours worked by flight attendants per day, month, year, as well as answer some of the most popular questions about a flight attendant’s schedule.
Number of Hours Flight Attendants Work
Flight attendants can work between 12 and 14 hours a day. If working on international flights, a flight attendant may work longer hours.
Flight attendants spend between 75 and 100 hours a month in the air.
Flight attendants can expect to work 50 hours on the ground performing duties like preparing planes for passengers, writing reports, and waiting for planes to arrive.
In total, flight attendants can work between 125 and 150 hours a month, consisting of both work in the air and on the ground (or sometimes just waiting around for flights).
Flight attendants work approximately 900 to 1200 hours a year.
What Determines How Many Hours a Flight Attendant Will Work
One of the most important factors that determines how many hours a week a flight attendant will work is their seniority.
Flight attendants just starting out will be on call, which is also known as reserve status.
What this means is that they will be required to report to work on short notice if necessary.
More senior flight attendants have paid their dues and will not have to do this.
Flight attendants will have routes flown (or trips) that consist of the following:
- Turns: Turns involve flying to a single destination and then straight back again. Turns are the shortest routes.
- Two-day trip: A two-day trip is, you guessed it, a trip that covers two days. This means that a flight attendant will complete a flight in one day, have a layover, and then return to the origin airport the following say.
- Three-day trip: A three-day trip involves more than one leg over the course of a day. This can either include multiple layovers, or a very long layover.
- Four-day trip: Four-day trips may involve multiple flights, cities and layovers.
- Long-haul trips: Long-haul trips are defined as any that are over seven hours long. As you might expect, these tend to be international trips. More senior flight attendants are usually assigned these trips.
Flight Attendants Get Many Days Off
While most people only get to enjoy their weekends off, which means they only get 8 days off a month, flight attendants get to enjoy between 12 and 18 days off a month.
Flight Attendant Working Hours Limits
To ensure passenger safety onboard, it is key that flight attendants get an appropriate amount of rest.
This is why the FAA has implemented guidelines to ensure flight attendants get enough rest by limiting the numbers of hours worked.
This is also why flight attendants get to stay in their own hotel room for free. Sharing a room, especially between cabin crew members that do not know each other, would make it hard to get enough rest.
FAA guidelines include:
- A rest period of 9 consecutive hours is required for any duty period that is longer than 14 hours
- A rest period of 8 hours is considered acceptable as long as the next rest period is at least 10 consecutive hours and must begin no later than 24 hours after the beginning of the eight hour rest period
- A rest period of 12 hours is required for any duty period that is longer than 18 hours.
Layovers Don’t Count as Days Off
For flight attendants, layovers do not count as days off, regardless of the length of the layover.
However, flight attendants also do not get paid during layovers.
Flight Attendants Can Change Their Hours
Flight attendants can and often do trade trips with other flight attendants.
Sometimes this is done for scheduling reasons, but it’s quite common for flight attendants with more desirable trips (almost always held by senior flight attendants) to sell those trips to other flight attendants.
Airlines generally do not like this practice.
When Flight Attendants Receive Their Schedule
While it can vary by airline, flight attendants receive their schedules at the beginning or end of the month, and at least two weeks before their first assigned flight.
It Depends if Flight Attendants Get to Go Home After Their Shift
Whether flight attendants get to go home after their shift finishes depends on their schedule.
If a flight attendant is on a layover, they will have to stay in a hotel that is paid by the airline.
If not on a layover, a flight attendant will usually have their home base near to the airport and will go home.
Patricia is a senior flight attendant with over 20 years of experience, making her a go-to for anyone aspiring to become a flight attendant or for anyone who is curious about the lives flight attendants lead.
Her extensive experience working for a major U.S. airline on international long haul flights makes her an expert in the field.
Patricia is passionate about sharing her knowledge and expertise on how to become a flight attendant, knowing too well that it's a dream job for many people out there. She offers valuable insights on the steps one can take to become a flight attendant to give themselves the best chance of success.
With a flight attendant acceptance rate of only 1%, compared to 5% for Harvard, aspiring flight attendants need all the guidance they can get, and Patricia is happy to provide it.
Patricia has been quoted or mentioned in major publications, including Newsweek, cementing her reputation as a trusted and knowledgeable source in the field.
You can get in touch with Patricia by emailing email@example.com