A flight attendant’s work schedule can vary substantially depending on seniority and the airline a flight attendant works for.

How Seniority Affects a Flight Attendant’s Schedule

In most industries, seniority plays a very important role in career advancement and perks.

The aviation industry in no exception, with seniority being a big deal to flight attendants.

Flight attendants just starting out will have all their flights assigned to them with little flexibility.

They will usually also be working on call, which is known as reserve status. This means that they may have to get to the airport and report to work on short notice.

More senior flight attendants may not necessarily be able to pick and choose all their flights, but will have first choice over the trips they fly and have more control over their schedule.

Additionally, flight attendant seniority is so important because it determines:

  • A flight attendant’s monthly schedule, the routes flow, and when a vacation can be taken
  • Where a flight attendant will be based and what aircraft they will work in
  • How quickly a flight attendant can progress to purser, and from a regional airline to a major airline
  • How much a flight attendant will earn

Number of Hours a Week/Month/Year Flight Attendants Work

Flight attendants have very variable schedules, working nights, weekends and on holidays.

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

The FAA require flight attendants to receive at least 10 hours of consecutive rest before their next shift starts.

  • Day: 12 to 14 hours
  • Month: 75 to 100 hours
  • Year: 900 -1200 hours

See Also: How Many Hours Do Flight Attendants Work?

Flight Attendants Get Many Days Off

Flight attendants can expect to receive between 12 and 18 days off a month.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that a flight attendant will be able to go home, as they may be on a two or three day layover in another country.

Where Flight Attendants Stay At Night

A flight attendant will have a home base that will usually be near to the airport to make getting to and from work as easy as quick as possible.

A flight attendant can spend several nights each week away from home, though, with hotel accommodation arranged by the airline they work for.

When on layovers, a flight attendant will get to stay in hotels for free – and they are usually very nice, too.

Flight attendants get to stay in their own hotel room, and can usually rack up hotel points for these stays too.

A meal allowance is also provided.

Flight Attendants Can Have Free Time on Layovers

How much free time a flight attendant gets on a layover depends on the length of the layover.

If a layover is 12 hours or less, this is only enough time to deplane, sleep, and get back to the airport for the next flight.

For longer layovers, a flight attendant will be able to go out and enjoy the sights.

Note that layovers do not count as days off, regardless of the length of the layover.

See Also: Where Do Flight Attendants Sleep?

Flight Attendants Often Trade Trips

Flight attendants can trade trips with other flight attendants.

Some flight attendants with more desirable trips, which will almost always be more senior flight attendants with first bids, sell those trips.

Airlines generally do not like this practice. Even if forbidden by the airline, it still happens.

Flight Attendants Receive Their Schedule Early

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.

A flight attendant’s schedule will include the following:

  • Assigned flights
  • Days off
  • Days “on call”
  • Show-times (time required to be at the airport)
  • Layover destinations

See Also:

Patricia is a senior flight attendant with over 20 years of experience working for a major U.S. airline, primarily on international long haul flights.
Patricia is passionate about sharing her knowledge and expertise about the unique lives flight attendants lead, offers valuable insights on what it takes to become a flight attendant and what the job entails.
Patricia has been quoted or mentioned in major publications, including Newsweek.