From being a nurse to a flight attendant - page 2

by abschick

9,057 Views | 19 Comments

I have been a RN for 7 years. I have worked in the med/surg, rehab and now ambulatory surgery center. My job is easy and most of the time I don't even have to go in (still get paid) because we don't have any cases. My only... Read More


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    I thought about flighting attending too. I woud love that job. However, I'm married so hubby may not go for it.
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    Think long and hard before jumping into the flight attendant world. You'll face many of the same challenges you find in nursing--safety concerns, difficult people, time pressure, budget cutbacks--but there are some definite differences that make flight attendant work riskier and more challenging.

    Here's just one example. For many airlines (maybe all, but I don't know this for certain), flight attendants are considered "on the clock" only during the time between the closing of the cabin door before push-back and the opening of the cabin door upon arrival. They don't get paid for the time spent helping passengers find their seats and stow their luggage. They don't get paid for the time it takes to get passengers off the plane unless the flight is continuing on another leg.

    Keep in mind, too, that all airline personnel are subject to wage and benefit concessions that can result in skimpier paychecks than they were receiving five years ago. Pensions may vastly shrink or even disappear.

    Flight attendants working international routes may have things a little better, but a growing number of those bidding on domestic flights work second jobs. The little bit of glamor and the travel perks may not begin to outweigh the hassles and frustrations that accompany working as a flight attendant in today's economy.

    I'm not trying to discourage you. Only to encourage you to really do your homework before taking the plunge.

    Best wishes.
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    I took a break from my nursing studies (prerequisites for BSN) to be a flight attendant. It was great in the beginning. However,I've been working the job for almost nine months now and I'm already sick of it. The pay is really killing it for me as I am living paycheck to paycheck. I can't even afford to save toward anything. The only reason I haven't left yet is because I need to make at least a year commit to be satisfied within myself. Still, I'm so ready to jump back into finishing my degree and actually start the career I truly wish to do... Nurse practitioner
  4. 1
    Quote from rn/writer
    Think long and hard before jumping into the flight attendant world. You'll face many of the same challenges you find in nursing--safety concerns, difficult people, time pressure, budget cutbacks--but there are some definite differences that make flight attendant work riskier and more challenging.

    Here's just one example. For many airlines (maybe all, but I don't know this for certain), flight attendants are considered "on the clock" only during the time between the closing of the cabin door before push-back and the opening of the cabin door upon arrival. They don't get paid for the time spent helping passengers find their seats and stow their luggage. They don't get paid for the time it takes to get passengers off the plane unless the flight is continuing on another leg.

    Keep in mind, too, that all airline personnel are subject to wage and benefit concessions that can result in skimpier paychecks than they were receiving five years ago. Pensions may vastly shrink or even disappear.

    Flight attendants working international routes may have things a little better, but a growing number of those bidding on domestic flights work second jobs. The little bit of glamor and the travel perks may not begin to outweigh the hassles and frustrations that accompany working as a flight attendant in today's economy.

    I'm not trying to discourage you. Only to encourage you to really do your homework before taking the plunge.

    Best wishes.
    I was a flight attendant for the largest airline in the world, and everything you stated is right on the money. I got into the field with the same misconceptions as many others, thinking how glamorous it would be, all the free trips, tons of days off, etc. But even though I truly did enjoy my career and still miss it sometimes, it was definitely not a decision I'd make again if I could do it over again.

    Yes, it's true that we were only paid for "block to block" time, which meant that our "timeclock" started only once the a/c moved away from the gate. We were never paid for the 1.5 to 2.5 hours before a departure where we were required to be at the airport, check into the a/c, do all our preflight checks, brief with the crew, board passengers, assist with luggage, do pre-flight services, etc. Nor were we paid if there was a delay at the gate with a full load of passengers who are restless and demanding beverages, blankets, and such. We were limited by the FAA to only work about 80 hours/month, yet realistically we were putting in over 160 hours but getting paid for half.

    In this day and age, long gone are the wonderful perks of having fabulous long layovers in exotic cities. The airlines want to maximize their investment in you, so they will load your flight pattern to the maximum number of cities in a day, and put you up in a dinky hotel in a boring city close to midnight, leaving you barely enough time for a decent night's rest before departure the following morning to do it all over again. Those who had the privilege of getting international trips were super-senior...having over 30 years seniority. I was lucky enough to have gotten a number of those trips, but only because I was a reserve (anyone under 10 years seniority does not get a set schedule...they have to wait to get called out to replace someone else). The downside of that is that you are on call 24-7 during those block of days, which means you basically have no life because you never know when you will be called with a last-minute 9 day trip of South Asia. I did this job being single with no children, so it was not so much a problem for me. But you say you have a family, and I witnessed firsthand how incredibly difficult this type of lifestyle is for those with families. Once you are away from your base, you are at the airline's mercy. Many, many, many times I found myself rescheduled on the last leg of a trip (incredibly excited to finally be going home!) where I was forced to be away upwards of 4, 5 or 6 days longer. I missed EVERY single holiday (don't even think of asking for one off in your first 15 or so years!), important events, even tragic ones.

    As for pay, after 5 years, my annual pay was still not even close to 30k/year. For me (a young, single, minimalistic person), this was ultimately the reason I chose to leave. After all the ridiculous deductions, union fees, uniform fees, etc., I could no longer survive on the measly income.

    I say this: if you are truly no longer interested in the nursing field, then by all means find something else you are passionate about. However, please do not be sucked in by the so-called glamorous appeal of a flight attendant's lifestyle, because it's a certain myth. While it is a rewarding job in its own right, it is also a labor-intensive, lonely, thankless job that will have you longing for the daily comforts of your family in your own home each night when you are stuck in a hotel night after night, crying because your feet ache from a 16 hour shift and because you're too broke to pay the $9.99 for internet service in your room so you can at least Skype with your loved ones.
    rn/writer likes this.
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    "Yes, it's true that we were only paid for "block to block" time, which meant that our "timeclock" started only once the a/c moved away from the gate. We were never paid for the 1.5 to 2.5 hours before a departure where we were required to be at the airport, check into the a/c, do all our preflight checks, brief with the crew, board passengers, assist with luggage, do pre-flight services, etc. Nor were we paid if there was a delay at the gate with a full load of passengers who are restless and demanding beverages, blankets, and such. We were limited by the FAA to only work about 80 hours/month, yet realistically we were putting in over 160 hours but getting paid for half."

    Wow! Is this even legal? I guess so. And nurses complain when they chart off the clock! (Of course I think that is wrong too.)
  6. 1
    I was a flight attendant before I was a nurse. It was not very much money. Like above posters said, you end up working delays and pre flight duties for nothing (we at the time got a whopping $1.25/hr stipend for the work done outside the block to block time - woohoo!).

    I will always look back fondly on those days, but I would never do it again. There are similar coworker issues you get with nursing, except guess what? You get to spend days on a cramped airplane with them.

    I also did travel nursing - I took my family with me : )
    rn/writer likes this.
  7. 1
    Quote from rn/writer
    Think long and hard before jumping into the flight attendant world. You'll face many of the same challenges you find in nursing--safety concerns, difficult people, time pressure, budget cutbacks--but there are some definite differences that make flight attendant work riskier and more challenging.

    Here's just one example. For many airlines (maybe all, but I don't know this for certain), flight attendants are considered "on the clock" only during the time between the closing of the cabin door before push-back and the opening of the cabin door upon arrival. They don't get paid for the time spent helping passengers find their seats and stow their luggage. They don't get paid for the time it takes to get passengers off the plane unless the flight is continuing on another leg.

    Keep in mind, too, that all airline personnel are subject to wage and benefit concessions that can result in skimpier paychecks than they were receiving five years ago. Pensions may vastly shrink or even disappear.

    Flight attendants working international routes may have things a little better, but a growing number of those bidding on domestic flights work second jobs. The little bit of glamor and the travel perks may not begin to outweigh the hassles and frustrations that accompany working as a flight attendant in today's economy.

    I'm not trying to discourage you. Only to encourage you to really do your homework before taking the plunge.

    Best wishes.
    There's a thread on another list I belong to that is entitled "Seventeen things your flight attendant won't tell you." You might want to search it online. Alas, airlines have gone from paying the flight attendants from the time they arrive at the airport to not paying them until they enter the plane to not paying them unless the doors are closed to... not paying them until the wheels are off the ground. That means that if your flight is delayed you could be working for hours, serving drinks, sitting on the ground, dealing with cranky people... without pay. That also means that the time in between legs is unpaid even if you don't get off the plane before it takes off again. Out of the frying pan into the fire, if you ask me.
    rn/writer likes this.
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    I'm another former flight attendant turned RN. I flew before, during and after nursing school. I was able to do both for five years. As I got older I started to worry more about retirement, getting older, settling down etc. I left flying to work at the local VA. I can honestly say that it was one of the worst mistakes of my life. I miss flying and the flexibility I had. I flew for an airline with great work rules and pay. I'm considering reapplying when they are hiring again, but I will have to start at the bottom of the sonority list. The lifestyle may not be for everyone, but was perfect for me. The others are right the hours are long, the pay is very low and the passengers are like patients and needy children. But, if you have savings and the opportunity to fly, it's definitely worth a try.
    1558hastings likes this.
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    I left flying and I'm in nursing school now and I deeply regret it. I miss essentially being my own boss and the days off. Not all airlines are awful. I left a great airline.
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    I have a couple of suggestions for you.
    Everyone is assuming that the only flight attendant position you can get is with the major airlines. I have many friends who are corporate flight attendants. They make very good money. Some are hired by the companies themselves and others are with airlines who operate sort of like a timeshare. Those F/As fly around the rich/famous. Although the money is awesome, they work very hard for it. Those corporate flight attendants are also the cleaners and caterers. That is something to consider.

    If you want to be in a plane again, you could also consider being a flight nurse with a fixed wing air ambulance. People automatically assume that all flight nurses fly in helos. I do this part time and it's nice to fly again.

    There are many other flying positions other than being employed by the large airlines, but they all involve being away from your family for blocks of time. That will be something you need to decide for yourself.
    GrnTea likes this.


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