Short-Haul vs. Long-Haul Flight Attendant Life

plane landing at night

In the world of aviation, Flight Attendants have a wide range of flights they could potentially be working. Two of these are known as: Short-haul and Long-haul.

The question is, which one is better: long-haul, or short-haul?

To answer this question, we will look at different aspects, and lifestyles to compare the two.

What Are Long-Haul and Short-Haul Flights?

Short-haul flights are exactly how they sound, short. Their flight time ranges from less than an hour long, to 3 hours.

A good example of a short-haul flight is: Dallas, TX to Denver, Colorado. This flight would normally be less than a two-hour flight.

Long-haul flights are the exact opposite. They pertain to flights that cover a wide expanse, and flight time is more than 6 hours. Flights lasting between three and six hours are considered medium-haul flights.

An example of a long-haul flight is: Dallas, TX to Shanghai, China. Flight time for this trip could be well  over fourteen hours.

Working Short-Haul vs. Long-Haul: Layovers/Travel


Long-haul flights are going to usually provide you with longer layovers, due to the legalities they have to follow; in order to Flight Attendants enough rest in between flights.

This will give you the opportunity to really see the places you are traveling to, but you can expect jet lag and limited amount of sleep if you plan on doing this.

Some flights you could be working for over 15 hours, and only have 24 hours in that country before flying back.

18 hours layover at Cancun – could be worse!


Short-haul flights are truly all over the place when it comes to the length of your layovers.

You could have one day where you are laying over for 10 hours, and other days where you are laying over for over 24 hours.

But most seem to be around 14 to 16 hours. This honestly doesn’t give you time to experience the location you are staying.

The best layovers are always the 24 and above. It gives you so much time to really immerse yourself in the location.

Working Short-Haul vs. Long Haul: Pay


Long-haul flights are always going to provide you more pay.

This is simply because you are in the air for a significantly longer amount of time (remember we only get pay while flying, not while on the ground).

Not to mention if the long-haul flight is an international trip, you will also make more hourly and more in per diem pay.

Then add in the longer layovers, the per diem you are getting that entire time, really adds up.


Short-haul flights are hit, or miss.

You can have some trips that lucrative due to the amount of flight time, or you can have trips that barely have any flight time and you aren’t making much money.

With short-haul flights, you really have to pay attention to what you are doing for the entirety of the trip.

This is all based on preference however. Each Flight Attendant knows exactly what they want to try and fly each month.

Related topic: How Much Do Flight Attendants Really Make?

Working Short-Haul vs. Long-Haul: Workload/While On Plane


Long-haul flights require a lot of work.

You are constantly doing something for the passengers on the flight.

This could be meal-service, beverage-service, picking up trays, picking up trash, setting up, seeing what passengers need when they ring their call-button.

You really don’t get much downtime on these flights.

Not to mention they are extremely long.

Credit: Frankarno


Short-haul flights usually require less service, but you can be working up to five flights per day.

This can amount to just as much work in the boarding and deplaning process, as it would with the long-haul flights.

It really just depends if you want to break your day up into a few flights, or one really long one for the day.

Working Short-Haul vs. Long-Haul: Health


I think the hardest thing with long-haul is the amount of jet lag you can experience flying all over the world.

Your circadian rhythm – also known as your sleep/wake cycle or body clock – just doesn’t exist.

This can be extremely bad for your health over a long period of time.

Not only that, most countries do not let you bring your food into the country, so you are unable to meal-prep, which means you can be relying on really unhealthy sources of food.

jetlag hotel
96% of flight attendants suffer from Jet lag


Short-haul flights can be just as hard, due to flying multiple flights per day.

However, these trips do usually give you the opportunity to meal-prep your own food and have a fitness routine you can adhere to.

Jet lag is still possible working these flights as well, especially when you have a short-layover and are unable to get a lot of rest.

Both are equally as demanding honestly.

Working Short-Haul vs. Long-Haul: Work-Life Balance


Long-haul flights are a great way to have a good work-life balance, due to your ability to get a lot of hours quickly.

By working just a few of these trips a month, it can give the ability to make a really good salary, and also have a significant amount of days off.

Especially if you have been flying for a few years, and your pay rate is significantly higher than the junior (newer) flight attendants.

This, in general, will allow you to have a better work-life balance.

The more money you are making an hour, the less trips you will need to fly.

Offering you more time at home to do other things with your time.

flight attendant talking


Short-haul flights are usually encompassed in an array of different types of schedules.

You could be working anywhere from one to four days at a time.

If you only want to work one day trips, this could essentially be treated like a 9-5 job, where you have the ability to be home and sleep in your bed every night.

So if you’ve got a family, short-haul flying is going to be a lot better for your home life. 

This doesn’t mean that you will not have layovers in different cities, you can still decide if you want short-layovers, long-layovers, how many flights you are working a day, what cities you want to have your layover in, when you want your trip to start (early morning, mid-afternoon, late night flights), or when you want it to end.

Short-haul trips offer a lot of flexibility when it comes to what you want to fly.

However, you usually don’t get as many hours in one trip, as you would in a long-haul flight.

This could mean that you have to work more days in the month than you would if you were to choose long-haul flights.

This can make it much harder to have a normal work-life balance.

Simply due to the fact that you are on the road a lot more frequently.

Working Short-Haul vs. Long-Haul: Bases


This really depends on the airline, but most have specific bases that do the long-haul and international flights.

You will find most of these in locations that make it easy to get to these international destinations.


Short-haul flights mean that you can have bases pretty much wherever you want.

Thus, you will see airlines that specialize in primarily short-haul flights have bases all over the country.


What is more tiring: Short-haul or long-haul?

Personally I think long-haul flights are way more exhausting. They never end.

Can flight attendants do both: Short-haul and long-haul?

Yes, you can do both. It just depends on what you can hold with your seniority.

Would it be better to start working in a short-haul or long-haul airline? What’s your personal preference?

Personally, I would start with a low-cost carrier that provides short-haul flights but usually incorporates the ability to pick trips with long layovers.

The best thing about this job is being able to experience new places.

You can’t do this when you don’t have layovers that are long enough.

Not to mention, most long-haul carriers, those long-haul flights are going to go to very senior Flight Attendants.

You might get one here and there when you are on-call, but is it really worth it?


Whether you decide after reading this article you prefer short-haul or long-haul flights, it really comes down to preference.

Short-haul flights may offer you the ability to have shorter days, but you could also be working up to five flights a day.

Each short-haul flight requires less service than a long-haul flight, but when you put those multiple trips in a day, your short-haul flights might just add up to the exact same.

Long-haul flights do provide more pay for less time, but they also have jet lag attached to them.

There are both pros and cons to each, just depends on which ones you prefer!

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