Do you dream of becoming cabin crew? Do you want the glamour, the travel, the #lifeofahostie ? Beware, it might just cost you your savings, and your credit rating!
The typical cabin crew member drives a convertible or equally suitable ‘cabin crew car’, they go on extensive shopping trips in search of those Abercombie jeans in the sale or those goodies from Bath and Bodyworks that they can’t get back home. Their hair is always nicely cut and coloured and their nails perfectly manicured. They go for dinner and drinks on most night stops and have seen EVERY tourist attraction going.
But how do they afford it?
We all know that cabin crew work is not renowned for its high salaries and the appeal is the job itself as opposed to the money you will earn. However, how much will you pay to become cabin crew?
I have heard stories about people being on ‘self-employed’ contracts and being given barely any hours but not wanting to seek alternative employment in the hope that they will be able to fly more. Some airlines have really low base salaries, meaning that the less you fly the less you earn… which is not good when you have a month of standby! Other airlines may even make YOU pay for your training and uniform!
How do they get away with this you ask?
Demand. The demand for the job is so high (for example only 4% of applicants with British Airways are successful) that they can do whatever they want and there will still be potential crew queuing at the door. Ethical? In some cases, absolutely not.
The answer? Many airlines have unfortunately outpriced older applicants from the market; how can you afford mortgage repayments, bills, food etc on under £1000 a month? Cabin crew positions are often filled by younger applicants, straight from college or university, and many of which are still living with their parents and can afford to live off the salary provided. For those that are that bit older and have bills to pay? They turn to their boyfriends or their credit cards.
I don’t think I have ever met a crew member that didn’t have a generous boyfriend, a credit card, or a car loan, or all three. They often supplement their income with credit. A sustainable solution? No. Time and time again I have seen people secure their dream job, live the life they dreamed of for a few months or a couple of years, and then have no choice but to leave and get a ‘proper job’ to help pay for the bills. I have seen ex crew struggling to pay off thousands of pounds in debt, all in the name of their flying career.
The airlines must know this is happening. How can somebody afford to live in London, where many of the flying jobs are based, and live off of such a low salary? Many cabin crew resort to packing porridge pots and cereal bars in their luggage to eat for their tea downroute, they sell their used cabin shoes on e-bay for an extra few pounds and they take on extra jobs outside of their flying hours. Not quite the glamourous life they had envisaged I’m sure. They become tired and poor and inevitably will begin to resent the job that they once desired so badly. A sad reality? I think so.
Will this change? I doubt it. And it is worth noting that this is not representative of every airline in the world, in fact airlines in the middle east seem to be quite the opposite often offering very generous salaries! However, in response to the amount of e-mails and messages that I get from want-to-be crew, I think it is only fair that I prepare them for this. I am not trying to put anybody off flying- it’s a fantastic job! But it is important that your eyes are open as to what you may be receiving in return for your hours in the sky.
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