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Airline Jobs: When seeking employment in the travel industry, why look for jobs outside your local airport? Airports require an enormous amount of manpower to stay running and many are open 24 hours a day. From handling baggage to aviation, airports offer unique job opportunities in the travel industry. There are a wide variety of entry level jobs, many of which have flexible hours.
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Growth in the Industry: The airline industry grows as the nation becomes larger. With the ebb and flow of an expanding economy and the demand for both passenger and cargo traffic, airlines continually seek to add new employees. A variety of positions become accessible in order to maintain the successful growth of the business as a whole. Both international and regional airlines hire a wide-ranging array of employees, from experienced pilots, mechanics, and sales agents to entry-level flight attendants, ramp agents, and customer service representatives. Each role proves crucial to the operating success of the industry as a whole.
Airline industry jobs.
Turnaround and Job Creation: According to Forbes, until as late as 2008, the airline industry struggled to post operating profits. Every year since, the airlines improved profits over $5 billion a year, due in part to the economic turnaround of the nation as a whole and the continued need of the public to fly. With each passing year, the industry grows and adds positions in order to sustain long-term profits. The varying amounts of regional, national, and international carriers allows for both experienced and entry-level employees to find both part-time and full-time opportunities either in the air or on the ground with greater frequency than ever.
Outlook and Salary Information: In the United States alone, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, nearly 1.75 million people travel by plane each day. With a synergistic outlook in employment, individuals seeking an occupation in the airline industry should find a role with an established airline in order to balance the needs of the many versus the availability of the few. Working in a field where additional training may prove beneficial, workers with additional certifications, experiences in related fields, and a hankering for travel may rise above others seeking similar jobs. Salaries for the assorted roles may vary from minimum hourly wage for entry-level employees to as high as $25.00 to $30.00 an hour for skilled workers, pilots, and flight attendants with tenure.
Airline Job Descriptions
Duties and Responsibilities – The flight attendant is the face of an airline, having the most interaction with customers and representing their company. Flight attendants are the standard comparison measure for many airlines and may well be the basis for whether or not a customer returns to fly with the airline again.
Attendants are responsible for passengers from the moment they enter the plane to their eventual departure. These men and women have to check tickets, serve drinks, store overhead baggage, and answer questions on a good day, but are also responsible for having medical certifications and knowing how to cope with difficult weather and operating safety equipment like oxygen masks. A flight attendant must be able to keep a smile and calm voice even if the plane is going down because it is their job to make sure the passengers remain safe in the aircraft’s cabin. Coping with emergencies and stress is all part of the job.
From before the first passenger comes down the gate, the flight attendant is at work. It is their job to make sure that elderly and disabled customers are properly accommodated. They must direct passengers to their appropriate seats, instruct them in all safety protocols of the aircraft, and resolve disputes before the plane even takes off.
During flight, the attendant is responsible for serving drinks and occasionally food to the passengers, delivering blankets, answering questions and calls, and maintaining safety protocols. The flight attendant may make announcements and be required to react quickly and intelligently to developing conditions. This can mean anything from CPR to first aid and, more recently, being responsible for properly reacting to hijacking situations.
Qualifications and Challenges – Only a high school diploma is necessary to become a flight attendant; however, many airlines prefer to see a two-year degree and a large amount of training is required by all airlines prior to ever getting on the first flight. Training is typically conducted at an airline’s home office and is a lengthy course lasting several weeks. Trainees rarely get paid during training time, but room and board expenses are often covered.
During training, a flight attendant will be instructed in every facet of their duties ranging from basic first aid and CPR to emergency drills involving plane crashes, evacuations, and hijackings. Topics as varied as passenger psychology will be given to future attendants so they are able to deal with problems as calmly and efficiently as possible.
All attendants must also learn the proper food and service procedures of the airline, how to assist young, elderly, and disabled passengers, and all FAA regulations pertaining to safety and their job. At the end of the course, all attendants must pass a comprehensive test as outlined by the FAA. Upon completion, they are eligible to work and may well be working flights the next day.
The work schedule is one of the greatest challenges of being a flight attendant. Hours are incredibly flexible. An attendant may be working a single three hour flight one day and a full 12 hour flight the next. Additionally, there is no guarantee the attendant will end up in their own city at the end of the day. There will inevitably be layovers and aggravated passengers, unable to get to their destinations at the promised time. They will also be exposed to sickness and jetlag. Attendants must cope with all of this while maintaining a well groomed appearance and a professional attitude.
When considering a job as a flight attendant, there are several qualifications airlines typically look for. Well mannered and polite dispositions are important, especially under stressful situations. Stressing experience in public relations and customer service can mean the difference between getting an interview and having to look for another job. Age is not a huge factor, but most airlines prefer attendants to be at least 21 years old so they can serve alcoholic beverages when asked. Clear, concise English speaking skills are a must and knowledge of a foreign language can be an excellent selling point. With roughly 15,000 new attendants being hired each year, there has never been a better time to consider becoming a flight attendant.
Salary & Compensation – Typical wages for a flight attendant vary by airline, experience, and hours worked. On average, an airline flight attendant earns between $12.00 and $26.00 per hour. With experience and long-term commitment, a flight attendant may earn a higher salary rate. High-paying flight attendant jobs feature salaries ranging from $55,000 to $60,000 a year. The average annual salary for a flight attendant rests at $40,000 per year.
Beyond the obvious and exciting benefit of travel, flight attendants enjoy being able to maximize their time off by working longer shifts and earn extra money by working during busier seasonal periods, holidays, and overtime. Flight attendants also frequently swap flights with coworkers for the chance to visit new places or obtain preferential hours. Being a flight attendant may also afford the opportunity for free flights and discounts on car rentals and hotels at a destination of your choice. Qualified flight attendants receive further job benefits, including 401(k) retirement plans, medical coverage, and paid time off.
Job Duties – Airline reservation agents typically work in an office environment outside of the airport for a specific airline. They take calls and answer questions about airline regulations, help customers make travel plans, and work with computers to resolve problems. Additionally, reservation agents could be involved in other stages of travel such as offering competitive prices, giving suggestions for accommodations and car rentals, and booking flights for travelers.
Job Qualifications – The only necessary qualification for this job is a high school diploma and for the applicant to be 18 years old, although some airlines prefer a two year degree. Typically, backgrounds in customer service and experience working with computers are helpful for being hired. Most companies will provide on the job training for all airline rules and regulations before the new employee begins taking calls.
Salary & Compensation – A reservation agent typically starts out earning pay between $8.00 and $10.00 an hour. On average, reservation agents earn about $12.00 per hour. Applicants with prior experience may earn between $14.00 and $24.00 per hour. Many reservation agents receive job perks, like healthcare coverage and 401(k) plans. Salary and work benefits vary by employer and experience level.
Job Duties – Ticket agents greet airline customers, help check baggage, and assign seats on the aircraft. This role involves a large amount of customer service as well as lifting larger bags onto the belt behind the counter. These airline representatives are responsible for handling ticket reservations, cancellations, alterations, and informing customers when a flight has been delayed or cancelled.
Even under stressful conditions, a ticket agent is expected to maintain a well groomed appearance and a polite manner. The type of uniform is usually dependent on the airline. The ticket agent is also expected to be able to stand up for hours at a time and frequently lift between 50 and 100 pounds of luggage.
Job Qualifications – A high school diploma is necessary to get a job as a ticket agent, though a two year college degree is generally preferred. Basic computer skills and experience in customer service are usually necessary and some airlines may require experience with a foreign language. Most airlines have a minimum age requirement of 18 to 20 years old. Schedule flexibility is helpful, and overtime and holiday work is typical. Drug tests are usually mandatory prior to employment and a background check by the FAA is also likely.
Salary & Compensation – The typical starting pay rate for an airport ticket agent ranges from $9.00 to $12.00 an hour. Experience level, location, and employer may affect wages for a ticket agent. Experienced airline ticket agents may earn $22.00 per hour or more. On average, an entry-level airport ticket agent earns approximately $14.00 an hour. Ticket agents may also qualify to receive work benefits, such as paid time off, air travel discounts, medical coverage, and 401(k) retirement plans.
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Job Duties – It is the baggage handler’s job to make sure that all cargo is loaded and unloaded from the proper aircraft. They haul cargo or drive baggage carts to and from the plane while loading and unloading luggage, mail, and packages from the craft. This job is similar in many ways to the job of an airport ramp agent and may or may not be the same depending on the airport. A main difference is that the job is typically unionized and strikes may offer an excellent opportunity for employment.
Job Qualifications – This job is an entry level position and only requires the applicant to hold a high school diploma. Applicants must be at least 20 years of age and have a valid driver’s license as the position occasionally requires the worker to drive baggage carts. While no specific weight limit is imposed, it is helpful to be in fair physical condition and able to lift at least 20 lbs. Safety standards, stressful deadlines, and persistent runway noise are staples of this job. The worker is also expected to be able to function in any type of weather condition so long as the airport remains open.
Salary & Compensation – The starting wage for this job is similar to other ramp agent jobs. Generally, baggage and cargo handlers start out earning between $9.00 and $10.00 an hour. Experienced cargo handlers may earn up to $18.00 per hour. Baggage handlers may also earn lucrative work benefits. An employee benefits package for a baggage handler typically includes a 401(k) retirement plan, paid time off, and medical coverage. Job benefits may vary by location, employer, and experience level.
Job Duties – Airport customer service representatives are responsible for working on the phone and in person to provide information about travel plans for customers. This could involve giving the customer information about arrival and departure times, reserving tickets with a particular airline, and a wide variety of other topics. These representatives work with a company’s computer system to accomplish their work. Customer service reps are responsible for greeting passengers, guiding them to the proper terminal, explaining airport regulations, and asking for volunteers to take a later flight when one has been overbooked.
Job Qualifications – Customer service representatives must have a calm and polite demeanor, be able to handle special requests and irritated customers. The applicant must be at least 18 years of age and have a high school diploma to be considered for this position, but experience in a customer service position would be a plus in the hiring process. Additionally, a customer service rep may need to get a SIDA badge in accordance with TSA standards and complete a background check.
Salary & Compensation – The average starting pay for an airport customer service representative ranges from $21,000 to $25,000 a year. The median salary for a customer service representative rests at $30,000 per year. Experienced airport customer service representatives may earn $44,000 or more each year. In addition to pay, airline workers may earn lucrative job benefits packages, including air travel perks, medical coverage, and 401(k) plans.