Why Work an Airline Job?
If you’re interested in a travel-related job or career, it’s hard to find a better industry than the airlines. In addition to offering jobs that require extensive travel, the airlines usually have special travel discounts for their employees and are known for their generous benefits packages.
Furthermore, the airline industry is enormous. In the United States alone there are more than 100 airlines of all sizes, employing over 550,000 people. And while airport positions generally offer fewer travel opportunities, there are over 13,000 airports in the United States, providing a variety of jobs, many of which pay well with excellent benefits, in every state in the country. Combined, the airline/airport industry dwarfs any other travel-related industry and creates thousands of new jobs, even when turnover is relatively low. Of course, if traveling is a primary interest, then definitely review the cruise ship employment section of JobMonkey.
It’s difficult to imagine a job that offers as many travel opportunities, both on and off the job, as that of flight crew. On the job, flight attendants and pilots are constantly traveling from one destination to another while carrying out their duties. In fact crew members may visit as many as ten cities on several different continents in one five-day shift! Flight crews often spend days away from home, but in return they get to fly to many exciting places – from sunny beach resorts to exotic foreign cities.
Off the job, flight crews receive the same travel benefits that most other airline employees enjoy. Generally, employees can travel free or at a greatly reduced rate on their own airlines (space permitting). In addition, if your airline has reciprocal agreements with competing airlines, you can purchase deeply discounted tickets or receive free tickets on their flights as well. Flight crews also qualify for many discounts on hotels, rental cars, ski resorts, and other travel-related attractions.
A flight crew member with many years of experience says:
Who would want to do this kind of work? Someone who wants to travel. Because the travel benefits cannot be beat. There is free travel to anywhere you want to go.
Even airline employees who do not fly as part of their jobs usually are given opportunities to do so when off the clock. A good portion of the airlines we list in the JobMonkey employer database offer travel benefits to all their employees, not just flight crew.
For example, a former airline catering employee told us about the travel perks she enjoyed during her tenure:
We got two free flight passes per year, plus at any time we could fly nationally for $20 round-trip or internationally for $50 round-trip. We also got discounts on other travel-related expenses. I once went to Cancun and stayed in a five-star hotel for four days and three nights for only $99.
As with any large company, airlines and airports hire people of all ages and experience levels with a variety of business skills. Jobs range widely, including skilled and technical positions such as accountants, catering managers, financial experts, attorneys, airport managers, pilots, navigators, mechanics, and engineers. Airlines and airports also hire a huge number of people for entry-level and nontechnical jobs, including customer service agents, flight attendants, baggage handlers, servicepersons/maintenance staff, and airline ticket agents.
One industry insider says she considers the variety of the job a big perk:
One of the biggest rewards is that this is a dynamic industry, and it’s pretty fast-paced. Things happen quickly. It’s also highly competitive. You know you’re part of a bigger picture. It’s never boring.
Another veteran of the air industry says the people are the biggest reward of the job:
It’s a great feeling to me to work for the airlines. The thing that attracts me to airline work is the people. It’s like you’re family. Everybody knows what your job is and you know what their job is. You can call them up and say you need something and they’ll help you out. Benefits and perks? To me that comes afterwards.
With such a variety of jobs, most airlines probably have a position that fits your particular qualifications and experience. To help you decide what type of work to seek, we’ve included descriptions of a wide variety of airline jobs as well as personal accounts of what it’s like to work as an airline employee.
Meeting New People
In addition to the travel and variety, working in the air industry is a great way to meet many interesting new people on a daily basis. Airline employees, especially flight attendants, reveal that they chose the work because of the people. Similarly, airports can afford a lot of opportunity for “people watching” and conversing with interesting folks. In most industries meeting people means simply getting together with other staff members for lunch. But when you work for an airline or at an airport, the people you come in contact with can change daily.
Working at an airport may not afford you the travel opportunities but it does offer stability and the excitement of dealing with worldly travelers. So working in the air industry not only means getting to travel and being around airplanes, but also making new friends.