Air stewardesses, more commonly called flight attendants, tend to passenger comfort and safety aboard aircraft. A high school diploma is the minimum educational requirement, though airlines prefer those with college degrees. Employers typically train those who are hired in programs ranging from three to six weeks. Flight certification is then required by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Air stewardesses can work nights, holidays and weekends, though on-duty time is usually limited to 12 hours per day, with higher maximums for international travel. The FAA requires at least nine consecutive hours of rest after every duty period. Flight attendants usually fly 65 to 90 hours and month, with another 50 on the ground writing reports, preparing planes for flights and waiting for planes to arrive. They might be away from their homes at least one-third of the time, for which the airlines grant hotel accommodations and meal allowances. As of May 2009, their median salary was £26,006 per year, with a range of £16,523 to £46,332. These figures come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and are the latest available.
The biggest employer of air stewardesses is scheduled air transportation, such as commercial airlines, which makes up 98 per cent of the available 95,810 positions. It is also among the top five highest paying employers of stewards with a mean salary of £28,138 per year. The highest-paying employers are support activities for air transportation, which hire out stewardesses to airline companies who do not have any employed in-house. They offer a mean salary of £47,138 per year. However, with only about 100 jobs, these workplaces are particularly difficult to get into.
The state with the highest paying employers for air stewardesses is Arizona, with mean wages of £33,241 per year for 4,560 jobs. Second-ranked Texas, however, has a lower annual mean at £30,491 but more employment with 13,020 positions. The city with the highest salaries is Phoenix, Arizona, at a mean £33,260 per year for 4,470 jobs. Still among the top five is New York City, with lower wages at £28,041 annually but better employment at 8,070 positions.
Employment for flight attendants will grow by 8 per cent from 2008 to 2018, according to the bureau, which is about average for all positions. Population growth and an expanding economy will fuel this demand. The best opportunities are for college graduates who have previous experience dealing with the public. Prospects will be better in regional, commuter, low-cost and charter airlines, than with the major companies.