People always want to know “how much do you make as a flight attendant at Spirit?” That answer will vary from flight attendant to flight attendant. However, I hope to provide some insight to help anyone who is interested in the topic.
To give this article some credibility, most of this information is based on our most recent contract.
Additionally, I did some market research and asked my fellow colleagues from different bases (ranging from “super seniors” at 20+ years to newbie flight attendants who are barely a month in) about their pay to help get a better idea of what a flight attendant can make here at Spirit.
Flight attendants in general do not make a lot of money, but there are ways to maximize what you do make, plus the other perks that come with the job make it worth it.
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How Much Do Spirit Flight Attendants Make?
After their first year, flight attendants at Spirit Airlines start out making about $20,000-$25,000 annually depending on how much they work. They can make up to at least $50,000 by their sixth year. They have their fixed hourly pay rate, but they also have to add in all these other factors to determine what their check will be like (number of hours flown, how much a trip is worth, per diem from layovers, holiday pay, position, etc.).
My colleague was kind enough to share what he made annually after his first 3 years at Spirit.
He flew the minimum and didn’t really pick up any extra shifts.
After his first year, he made around $22,000.
The next year, about $31,000, and the year after that, $34,000.
Now, I know that may not seem like much, but keep in mind that his starting pay was much lower than what it is now. Also, there are other factors as mentioned earlier that play into your pay, but I’ll elaborate on those later.
⚠️ Your first year at Spirit will be the biggest transition financially. You may have to make a costly move to your base or maybe you’re taking a huge pay cut from your previous position. This isn’t your typical “clock in/clock out” hourly pay type of job.
What Hours Do Flight Attendants Get Paid For?
We clock in at least an hour before we even get on the plane, and you don’t start getting paid until the main boarding door closes.
So yes, that whole time from check-in to the gate, to doing your safety checks, to helping people find their seats and space for their bags – yeah, we’re not getting paid for any of that.
However, I digress.
This is supposed to be about what we do get paid for, not the contrary.
So let’s get into it, shall we?
Factors That Will Affect Your Salary
There is a vast array of things that can affect your salary. I won’t go too deep into the specifics, but I will do my best to touch on all of them.
How much a flight attendant can make depends on how much or how little you choose to work.
At its most basic state, Spirit flight attendants are paid depending on what type of “line” they receive.
A “line” is basically a full month’s schedule with pre-selected trips to work.
There are three types:
- Hard – A schedule made up of a mix of trips ranging from 1-4 days. A “set” schedule.
- Relief – A schedule made up of “leftover trips” aka trips that people have been taken off of due to various reasons. Given a couple of days after hard lines are awarded.
- Reserve – Not given trips in advance like the other 2 lines. Will have to wait for crew scheduling to assign one to you. In simplest terms, you will be on-call. Only given to reserve flight attendants.
Hard and relief lines can range from 72-87 hours.
Reserve is always a set minimum of 72 hours. At minimum, these are guaranteed hours that you can expect to be paid for. If you voluntarily drop any trips and go below 72 hours, you forfeit those hours and will not be paid for them.
Anything over 85 hours is considered overtime and you will get paid for each additional hour at the rate of 1.5 of your hourly rate.
This may go without saying, but just in case it isn’t clear, you only get paid for the trips you actually end up working.
Generally, the more hours you fly, the more you’ll be paid.
If you are awarded a hard or relief line, you have the freedom to completely manipulate your schedule.
Reserve lines don’t have as much flexibility.
Reserve lines have no preset trips because you would be “on-call”, and you are not able to pick up on those days.
As a result, you can only pick up additional trips on your off days as opposed to hard and relief lines which allow you to move trips around to minimize/maximize your hours.
We currently have a regulation in place where flight attendants can only “block” (meaning actually fly) up to 110 hours a month. Our system will deny anyone who tries to go over 110 hours.
Lines are given by each base based on seniority.
In the flight attendant world, seniority is the name of the game.
Seniority affects so many things:
- the trips you get
- your priority to choose your position
- and of course, your pay.
This isn’t a job where you can negotiate your pay or ask for a raise. There is no asking your boss if they have a moment to discuss why you deserve to be paid more.
Trust me, if that were an option, the pay rates would not be what they are. Flight attendants are notoriously underpaid.
The closest we get to negotiating better pay is whenever our contracts expire, and that can be years apart.
Luckily, Spirit is currently in negotiations, and our union is heavily advocating for better pay for our flight attendants.
Although we may not be able to ask for a raise, you may be relieved to find out that Spirit already gives all their flight attendants a raise every year on their anniversary.
Yup, that’s right. You don’t even have to ask for it. It happens automatically.
The raise can range from a few cents to a few dollars depending on what your seniority is.
Naturally, the longer you have been here, the more you will get paid.
There is a cap-out rate which is standard practice at all airlines.
Once you hit a certain year mark, you will hit the max amount you can be paid. At Spirit, the latest cap rate is $51.13 once you’ve actively been working here for at least 16 years.
Below is a diagram of the pay scale for Spirit flight attendants:
|Step||Hourly Rate (USD)|
|First 6 months||21.04|
|After 1 year||22.99|
|After 2 years||26.66|
|After 3 years||28.62|
|After 4 years||30.83|
|After 5 years||32.42|
|After 6 years||33.94|
|After 7 years||36.10|
|After 8 years||37.99|
|After 9 years||39.24|
|After 10 years||40.87|
|After 11 years||42.91|
|After 12 years||43.81|
|After 13 years||45.25|
|After 14 years||47.68|
|After 15 years||50.21|
|After 16 years||51.13|
The position you fly on trips can also affect your pay.
Positions are chosen based on – yup, you guessed it – seniority.
Depending on the aircraft you’re working on, there can be up to 5 positions you can choose from: A, B, C, D, or E.
The most senior flight attendant will choose their position first, then the next senior will choose, and so forth. “A” is the lead flight attendant position.
You get paid an extra $2.25 per hour whenever you fly lead.
Anybody can fly lead, as long as you aren’t in your probationary period.
If you fly lead all month, you will make at least an extra couple hundred dollars.
Something interesting I came to realize is that where you’re based can affect your paycheck.
For example, Las Vegas is considered to be one of the lower credit bases.
In non-flight attendant words that means you can work the same number of days, but the shifts you work will not be worth as much as other bases such as Orlando or Dallas.
To give some perspective, a 3-day trip in Las Vegas may only be worth 13 hours of pay whereas, in Orlando, it can be 18 hours for a 3-day trip.
Now, some fun stuff.
Whenever you layover out of base, you get paid per diem.
The current per diem rate at Spirit is $2.37 per hour.
Aside from the hours you work, per diem is where a huge chunk of your check can come from.
Longer trips and longer layovers = more money.
You can easily rack up an extra $200 per trip just because of your layovers.
So if you work 4 trips a month, that’s easily an extra $800.
Not to mention, layovers are the fun part of the job. You can think of it like you’re getting paid to relax in a hotel or to explore the city. Talk about easy money.
Another cool thing Spirit does is something called “hotel buybacks.”
Basically, if you give up your room on a layover, you get compensated an extra $50 per room.
You might be wondering why flight attendants would give up their rooms.
There are a few reasons actually:
- Sometimes people stay with friends or family.
- Some people get to layover where they live, so they just go home.
- Sometimes flight attendants are close enough that they decide to share a room.
Not all our layover hotels participate in this program, but a good amount do.
If you’re lucky enough to do the buyback on a whole 4-day trip, you can make an extra $150 (3 nights x $50).
Credit Card Applications
If you’re really in a hustling mood, you can always try your hand at credit card applications.
If you’re consistent enough, credit card applications can be a great way to make some extra income.
For every valid application turned in, you’ll receive $5.
For every valid and approved application, you will receive an additional $55. That’s a potential $60 just from one application.
Let’s say you get 5 approved applications, that’s an extra $300.
There are literally so many other things we can be compensated for.
There’s a whole section in our contract dedicated to it.
For example, if you aren’t notified about a delay or cancellation within a certain amount of time, you will be compensated an extra 2 hours of pay.
You get paid for any required trainings.
You get paid if you work on holidays.
You get paid if you get rerouted.
You can even get paid if your flight gets canceled.
Obviously, each of those things come with their own little set of terms and conditions, but the main point is that even though the hourly rate alone may not seem like much, there is money to be made.
You just need to learn how, and hopefully this can be used as a helpful guide.
How and When Do You Get Paid?
We get paid semi-monthly.
You get one check on the 15th and the other on the 30th.
The check on the 15th is “the big check.”
Your hours will be split between both checks.
The big check is where the first half of your guaranteed 72 hours go plus any overtime, per diem, lead pay, and hotel buybacks.
The 30th is “the little check.”
It always tends to be smaller than the one on the 15th because this one is just the other half of your hours and any credit card commission. If you don’t do credit cards, it will most likely range from $600-$800.
Spirit Airlines Salary Samples
Alright, let’s take a look at a couple of examples:
Let’s say you’re a brand-new flight attendant with a start pay of $21.04. You only fly your minimum of 72 hours every month. You don’t do any of the things that can help you make additional income. You have about 60 hours of per diem.
$21.04 x 72 hours = $1514.88
Per diem: $2.37 x 60 = $142.20
Add the 2 totals together to get monthly total: $1,514.88 + $142.20 = $1,657.08
Flight attendant Sarah’s current pay is $23.57. She is on reserve, so she has a reserve line. She gets called for a 3-day trip worth 13.30 hours. Her layovers from that 3-day total 50.57 hours.
$23.57 x 13.30 hours = $313.48
Add per diem: (50.57 hours x $2.37 = $119.85)
$313.48 + $119.85 = $433.33
So, from that trip alone, she made a little over $400.
Flight attendant Bill has been with the company for almost 8 years. His current pay rate is $36.10. Bill always works at least 100 hours a month. Bill always flies lead and works with his bf Ned all month. They decide to do hotel buybacks for 3 of their trips. They have 5 4-day trips each worth about 20 hours each. Ned’s total layover hours amount to 387.32 hours.
100 hours – 36 hours (this will be on the 30th check) = 64
$36.10 x 64 hours = $2,310.40
Overtime: 100-85 = 15 x ($36.10 x 1.5) = $812.25
Hotel Buyback: 3 trips (3 nights each x $50) = $450
Lead Pay: $2.25 x 100 hours = $225
$2,310.40 + $812.25 + $450 + $225 = $3,797.65
That’s just the 15th check.
Taxes and Deductions
Now, these figures would be before any taxes or deductions.
Spirit takes out deductions for any insurance you may have chosen, and for anything included in your benefits plan.
It can be a couple of hundred dollars that are deducted from your check.
Spirit offers insurance for medical, dental, and vision as well as matching up to 6% towards a 401K.
In addition to the standard federal and state tax deductions, they also take out a monthly payment for your union dues (it’s only $25). You could always waive your insurance to avoid having anything deducted.