Rants of a Sassy Stew

So You Think Being A Stewardess Is All About Glamour And Stacks Of Cash?

Okay, so now that I am hopped up on anti-inflammatories, somewhat recovered from the crazy shift at my second job and am semi-ambulatory — I suppose I can finally write this noise.

Whoever said “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” can go kick rocks (sorry Neitzche). Or was it something like “What does not destroy me… yada yada yada.” The idea of Neitzche uttering the words “yada yada yada” totally makes my day, but I digress….

So in between doing 400 loads of dishes, busing numerous tables covered in dirty dishes and taking orders from a toolish manager, this post hit me. I wrote it in my head as I attempted to drown out the dreaded self-dialogue and the fact that I was probably on coffee cup number 378 at the time.

*photo courtesy of me*

“This sucks this sucks this sucks this sucks…Gotta make coffee gotta make coffee gotta make coffee…Don’t forget to do the dishes don’t forget to do the dishes…Omfg is it time to leave yet?..Don’t lose your s**t don’t lose your s**t don’t lose your s**t…I probably shouldn’t be praying for an earthquake to hit…Did I leave on the iron?..Eff s**t piss eff s**t piss…Dear baby Jesus, get me the hell out of here.”

I thought it should be known just how glamorous it really is to be a flight attendant, because look at what the hell I am doing. I’m hustling my ass off at a semi-fast food chain restaurant on my day off from flying the not-always-friendly skies. Yeah, that’s right. I am a flight attendant and I can now add glorified dishwasher and busser to the resume. Oh, and I make coffee, too! I’m not exactly sure why the hell I said glorified, because I feel no glory while there, but whatevs.

I’m not looking for sympathy, pity or a pat on the back. My goal here is to share a little insight into my experience and story, as well as to educate people about the “real deal” for some of us flying you around in those extremely comfortable (HA!) large metal tubes. If in the end the following information makes a few passengers a little more patient, kind and understanding, that’s just an added bonus my colleagues and I will happily accept.

It is incredibly important for the flying public to be made aware of the amount of money that flight attendants average per year. I can’t necessarily go into specific numbers as it does vary from airline to airline (its size, your seniority, etc.), however, I can tell you that as a single mother I am currently eligible for food stamps and Medicaid. Yes, I can easily collect both because I make what the U.S. Government considers to be poverty wages. Glamorous, right? I am fairly certain that the majority of the general public is completely unaware of just how much money we don’t make.

First of all, the entire crew (pilots included) is paid an hourly wage. No salaries here kids. Second, our paid time does not start until the aircraft door is closed. Period. And please keep in mind that the door cannot be closed until every passenger is seated with his or her seatbelt on, every bag in the cabin is stowed and every bin is closed. If you are following along and doing the math you are indeed correct — the entire boarding process is unpaid work for the entire crew. The same goes for deplaning. Needless to say, we are incredibly motivated to get the hell out of there so that we can all get to our destination as safely and quickly as possible.

Kindly keep this newfound information in mind the next time you board a plane. Also, if you see a flight attendant grabbing their chest, they’re probably just having angina from the stress of knowing the money they are not making as they get you that pillow, blanket or water; address ridiculous questions; wait for you to use the lavatory; respond to your request for a meal or snack; and kindly and politely do all the other things you want them to do the instant you board the plane, all the while preventing them from performing the duties required to shut the damn door. You get the idea. For the love of God and all things holy, please wait the few minutes it takes for us to close the door and leave the ground. After that, we will do our best to get you whatever you need — with the limited tools given to us.

This pay issue is not exclusive to flight attendants either. Poverty wages also carry over to pilots. Yes, the men and women flying you around in those newfangled jet aeroplanes are making crap for pay as well. I have First Officer (co-pilot) friends flying for commercial airlines (seating up to 99 passengers) who are making $22K/year. Yes, I said twenty-two thousand dollars per year. (Please see Will Fly For Food.) Just curious, but how much does a fast food manager make? I’m guessing that it’s a lot more.

The heroic Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (Ret.) testified before the U.S. House of Representatives’s Subcommittee on Aviation of the Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure on February 24, 2009, that his salary had been cut by 40 percent, and that his pension, like most airline pensions, was terminated and replaced by a Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation worth only pennies on the dollar.

There you go, even Captain Sullenberger, who successfully landed a plane in the Hudson River, ultimately being responsible for saving every single life on board that doomed aircraft, isn’t immune from our crap pay. So hey, keep in mind that the next person taking your ticket at the movie theater, making you a sandwich, washing your car, pumping your gas, or bagging your groceries may just secretly be a flight attendant, and an extremely glamorous one at that!

Feature image found on A Traveler’s Mind

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1132997707 Erin Sales

    Wow, I literally had no idea that flight attendants and pilots were paid so very little. Their jobs are super important! I’m going to pass this article on to all of my friends and family, to make sure we’re all very quiet and orderly on our future flights. Thank you for writing this!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=589791134 Shawn-Kathleen Howard

      Thank you for spreading the word and recognizing that we do a little more than pour Coke. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002479813114 Rachel Gosselin

    I hate to be that person, but I believe it’s “Nietzsche” not “Neitzche”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=589791134 Shawn-Kathleen Howard

    You’re so right, Rachel. Thanks for pointing it out! I feel like an idiot, because I love me some Friedrich.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1468762528 Nancy Schrock Garcia

    Awesome! And I appreciate your balance of humor & truth in the article—- if I have to hear one more time how I need to be appreciative for having this job for 25 years I am gonna snap in half on the plane. I DO appreciate my job, but I have EARNED it all— the paycuts, the long days, short nights, no food, hilarious crew members, crazy crew members, awesome passengers, crazy passengers, & fabulous layovers. All while trying to shed the single mommy guilt of leaving my girls & missing important moments in their lives as well as holidays; yet having more time with them in general than a mom who works 9-5. The glass is not half full nor half empty….. it just needs more tips in it! 😉

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=589791134 Shawn-Kathleen Howard

      I couldn’t have said it any better myself, Nancy!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000151040735 Jacque Ridgley Whittington

    In regards to your question about how much fast food managers get paid its about 32k and up. Granted its not an easy job regardless of how it may look. For instance nothing makes you second guess your life decisions as a bean burrito flying towards your head. Not like that happened or anything…….

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1438703607 Deidre Wunderlich

    Awesome! Great article.

    Where’d that “s” go?! I’d swear you had it in there… geez, I hope I didn’t delete it…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=595435538 Juliana RocknRoll-Princess Berg

    I applied and had an “interview” for being a flight attendant with Compass Airlines last week (who made us purchase a passport just to even enter the effing building, I spent all the money I had left to my name since I’m out of work). They had 40 of us in this little room, told how awesome the job is, all the perks, how much we were going to be paid ($15 an hour, and make 30k a year…which seems a little far fetched now as a think about it), and they chose 30 (who all happen to be former flight attendants) to move forward to actual interviews and the rest of us weren’t and kicked the rest of us 10 right out the building. They glamed it up how awesome it was going to be. But now it sounds like what I’ve been doing the past few years with low low pay, but on land instead of the air. I do think that Compass was very shady how they treated me.
    But yeah, I feel for you hun. Ive juggled multiple low pay jobs and taking care of an ill relative. You got my back :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004064613524 Brenda Taylor

    Connect with Facebook to post a comment

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004064613524 Brenda Taylor

      I’m still wondering about you Shawn. Posting things of your blog that are not true about other people. I think it’s great that you have your blog but if you are going to delete people at least tell the truth. Libelous comments do not become you or your agenda. Just sayin. You are very good at throwing out the cuss words when it applies to other people, but when you are confronted with truth and accountablity you lie about it. How sad are you? I sure hope none of those people tried to fund you on your go fund me page.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=589791134 Shawn-Kathleen Howard

        I am unclear about what you are referring to. This is an accurate and truthful article, but I appreciate your comment.

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