The Flight Attendant IV: Job Uppers
The first advantage that most flight attendants will point to is how much flexibility comes with the job. Hundreds of daily departures and huge numbers of flights mean that employee schedules are much more variable than a standard 9 to 5 office job. You can work fewer long days, or decide to work shorter days more frequently. Also, you have freedom to pick the number of hours you work, meaning you can drop trips (someone else works and you're off) or work overtime as needed. And there's more flexibility than just days off. When you're tired of working in coach and the thousands of passengers you serve in a week, you can change cabins and work in business class or first class. Tired of dealing with grumpy or pushy passengers? Work in the galley to set up and prepare the meals instead.
Another advantage is liberal paid vacation time. While you might only get a few weeks paid vacation on paper, in real life you can often stretch that vacation; we'll explain how later. This means pursuing other interests--school, another job is feasible. While it sounds like working two "full-time" jobs would be exhausting, flying and a second job often seem to balance each other well.
The flexibility also means you can live in one city and work in another. So if the first crew base you're sent to is in an expensive city, after a few months you can move to a less expensive city and commute to your base. This, seasoned attendants will tell you, is one of the most distinctive and important parts of the job. But it requires paying strict attention to flight schedules, weather patterns and other delays; if you miss your commuter flight, you miss the trip you're supposed to work. The airlines keep a few spare crew members standing by for last minute no-shows, but if too many commuters can't make it to the airport, the airline is forced to cancel flights. To avoid disciplinary action that results from missed flights, many flight attendants arrive several hours before the departure of the flights they're working.
Another popular option for those living far from their base is to combine trips so they're flying back-to-back for two weeks, anchored in their base city, and then take a week or two off in their home. And yes, some flight attendants have been known to commute from as far away as Seville, Sao Paulo or Sydney. It's one of the few jobs in the world with that kind of freedom.
Of course, another main draw of this business is the travel perks. While travel isn't exactly free, it's pretty close. Fees vary depending on the airline but if you don't mind flying stand-by, it can be cheaper than taking the bus. It's a bargain; plus, the psychological freedom of being able to just hop on a plane is liberating. Flight attendants get benefits beyond those of other airline employees, too. One is that you can usually ride on an available jumpseat when there's space; this is a privilege reserved for flight attendants.
What's more, you won't have the burdens of an office job: the same old cubicle, same old clients, and same old co-workers. Dealing with passengers can be challenging, but after a bad flight, you're done with them. The same can be said for grumpy co-workers; at a large crew base with over 1,000 flight attendants, it's easy to go months or years without seeing or flying with the same co-workers. That said, if you find co-workers you click with, most of the airlines have a system of 'buddy bidding' that allows you and another flight attendant to have the same schedule. (This, by the way, is an excellent thing to discuss in an interview, since few web sites discuss the option, and it demonstrates that you're people-oriented.)