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Pinay Flight Attendants Reveal Their Monthly Income, Sacrifices, And Secret Grudges

The money may be good, but the job isn’t as glamorous as it seems.
PHOTO: Pixabay

We know that everyone's not-so-secret ~*dream*~ job is to become a flight attendant, so we spoke to five Pinays to see what it's really like to work at 30,000 feet and travel the world. 

Name: Rach

Age: 26

Do you work for a local or an international airline? Local

Monthly income range: It really depends on how much time I spend flying. I get basic pay, transportation allowance, per diem (daily expenses) allowance, and productivity pay, which are solely based on my flying hours. A good estimate would be P50,000 – P70,000.

How long have you been a flight attendant? Just had my first anniversary! :)

Do you worry about money?
I’m pretty young and I only have myself to take care of. That said, I make sure to know where my money goes, but I also have a fairly comfortable margin when it comes to spending and enjoying what I worked for. 

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Are you a good saver? What’s your #1 saving tip?
I’m a good saver for the most part, but I also have days when I just splurge on myself (and feel guilty about it afterward). Something I wish I learned sooner was to always save half (or a quarter or however much you can afford to save) of every paycheck before spending on anything. Of course, we all have bills to pay, but the key is to save first, spend later. It’s effective for me because it keeps my spending habits in check. It’s a good reminder to always live within my means.

Do you live alone? Kind of.

Can you give us a breakdown of your expenses?
My parents are from the U.S., but they do come home often. I pay the association dues, which is around P5,300, and I use my basic pay to cover the utilities: water, electricity, Internet, and cable.

Do you feel any pressure to live or spend a certain way?
I don’t really have a benchmark for how to live or spend. I have always been very independent. I get to decide how I go about my day, what things are necessary for me, and which lifestyle habits I live by.

What are your financial goals?
My financial goal is to manage my income, savings, and investments well. I would also like to eventually have my own business or a passive income (while still working, of course).

Continue reading below ↓

What does financial independence mean to you?
Financial independence is more than being able to make ends meet. It is about being debt-free. It is having the security to survive for a long enough period of time, even if you lose your main source of income.


How much does physical appearance matter in your line of work?
Physical appearance is a factor in my job in terms of looking pleasant, warm, and approachable. But beyond that, your disposition and work ethic are what will help you survive. As glamorous as the job may look from the outside, it also comes with a lot of stress and pressure. You have to know how to channel different personalities for different situations.

In your opinion, is it the same for male and female flight attendants?
Yes. Flight crew members, in general, have to be pleasant enough to make any passenger feel welcome and comfortable. We are responsible for making them feel like once they get on our flight, their vacation or trip has already begun.

What’s the best part about being a flight attendant?
The best part is being able to work and play at the same time! When I serve the passengers, I hear their stories. And when I get to certain destination, I get to create my own story. That, to me, is such a beautiful opportunity.

What about the worst?
The worst part is having to deal with things that are beyond my control—flight delays, airport closures, check-in problems, immigration hold-ups, and so on. But that is where the challenge begins.

How often do you feel homesick?
Since we are based in Manila, I always get to come home after a few days, but with my parents living abroad, I also fly there at least once a month. It’s convenient for me to see them.

What’s one myth about your profession that you want to debunk?
The biggest myth about my profession is that we are just there to serve passengers food and beverages. People forget that we are safety officers first. We undergo rigorous training for all kinds of situations. And we never stop training! We are there to ensure the safety of everyone onboard. We put their safety before ours.

Name one thing you’d like to change about your job or in your industry?
One thing I’d like to change about the industry is the congestion of flights at our airport! It’s time we shed light on improvements that can be made for better and more efficient operations.

Continue reading below ↓

Can you picture yourself doing this long-term? Why or why not?
I do see myself doing this long-term! I think about what the next step could be, but then I think, what other job can give me the sweet deal of good pay, travel perks, long days off, and the satisfaction and happiness I get from flying?

Up Next: Victoria, 23. Monthly income range: P45,000 – P60,000.

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Name: Victoria

Age: 23

Do you work for a local or an international airline? Local

Monthly income range: Around P45,000 – P60,000.

How long have you been working? One year and three months!

Do you worry about money?
Not really. I have stable job that pays pretty well.

Are you a good saver? What’s your #1 saving tip?
Yes, I’m a pretty good saver! I set aside at least half of my income every month and deposit it to my savings account. I make it a point not to spend that money once I’ve made the transfer.

Do you live alone? No, I still live with my parents and siblings.

Do you contribute to household expenses?
Yes, of course. It's my way of giving back to my parents. Ever since I started working, I’ve paid my share of the groceries as well as the electricity and water bills.

Do you feel any pressure to live or spend a certain way?
Sometimes. There's this pressure to follow new trends, but trends come and go and it's important to be practical. Don't get me wrong—I love to shop! But I always keep in mind to stick to a budget and never overspend.

What are your financial goals?
My goal is to get a place of my own and for my parents to have comfortable lives.

What does financial independence mean to you?
Financial independence for me is a big step in getting the life you've always wanted. I'm not talking about having to live luxuriously—only comfortably.


How much does physical appearance matter in your line of work?
It's a big deal, actually. We're taught to always look presentable when we’re out in public. You can never go wrong with filled-in brows and a nice shade of lipstick. It's not about being vain. It's just about looking professional and setting a good impression.

In your opinion, is it the same for male and female flight attendants?
Yes, it is. It's also important for male flight attendants to be well-groomed. They also have to maintain the same standard that's expected from female flight attendants.

Continue reading below ↓

What’s the best part about being a flight attendant?
Of course, it has to be the fact that I get to travel around the world as part of my job. But more than that, there's a sense of fulfilment with getting the passengers safe and comfortable to where they need to be. Nothing beats receiving a “thank you” and a sincere smile from a passenger.

What about the worst?
You won't believe the kinds of attitude flight attendants have to deal with. There really are a lot of rude and inconsiderate people in the world. I've had a passenger raise her voice to me and say, "Can you just get out of my face!? I don't want to see you!” Why? Because she didn't get the meal she wanted. And just like every work place, I also have to work with a few difficult people. When it comes to perverts, you'll be surprised by how much kabastusan I've gotten from my own crew mates. I just have to keep my chin up and put my foot down.

How often do you feel homesick?
My home base is Manila so the most I'm away from home is just about a week and a half. I only feel homesick when I'm away during the holidays and important occasions.

What’s one myth about your profession that you want to debunk?
It's not as luxurious as you may think. People seem to think that every one of my layovers is one happy, free vacation. In reality, we only have enough time to sleep, eat, and get dressed before we’re on our next flight.

Name one thing you’d like to change about your job or in your industry?
I don’t like it when people label us as "glorified waiters and waitresses." We're trained professionals who are perfectly capable of saving lives and evacuating an aircraft in 90 seconds in case of an emergency.

Can you picture yourself doing this long-term? Why or why not?
Right now, I don't know what I'd be doing if I weren't a flight attendant. I enjoy my job and it wouldn't be bad to stay in the industry for a long time.

Up Next: Maria, 27. Monthly income range: P80,000 – P150,000.

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Name: Maria

Age: 27

Do you work for a local or an international airline? International

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Monthly income range: P80,000 – P150,000.

How long have you been a flight attendant? One year!

Do you worry about money?
Yes. I think about my future and my own family. To be honest, money is a big factor in my life. I always think about my emergency funds and how I should always have a back-up plan. I want my future family to live well. 

Are you a good saver? What’s your #1 saving tip?
I’m not the best when it comes to saving, but I’m trying! I have learned how to control any urges I get to spend on things that I don’t really need. But I’m not going to deny that the temptation isn’t there—especially when I’m in a different country! My saving tip is live on a budget. Avoid debt! People always say that you should save at least 20% of your income, but if you can try to keep more, then why not? 

Do you live alone? Yes.

Can you give us a breakdown of your expenses?
50% of my income automatically goes to my savings. I give my mom 20%, spend 20% as my international allowance, and the remaining 10% is for my miscellaneous expenses.

Do you feel any pressure to live or spend a certain way?
Not really. I don’t live beyond my means. I don’t care about looking like I’m living a luxurious life. 

What are your financial goals?
I want to have my own house and my own car before I get married. I also want to have my own business! 

What does financial independence mean to you?
Financial independence is when you don’t need to ask anyone for money. You can cover for your own needs and wants.


How much does physical appearance matter in your line of work?
Honestly, I thought physical appearance was all it took to be a flight attendant, but I was SO wrong. It takes courage, A LOT of courage.

In your opinion, is it the same for male and female flight attendants?
Yes. Sexism doesn’t exist in my profession. 

What’s the best part about being a flight attendant?
Definitely the ability to travel! I get to see the world for free. I’ve met a lot of people as well and have grown to understand different cultures. Not gonna lie, I’ve also stayed at five-star hotels around the world. ;)

Continue reading below ↓

What about the worst?
The daily stress. Unruly passengers, different time zones—they add up to a lot of stress.

How often do you feel homesick?
Every single day. I am living in a country that is the total opposite of the Philippines. There is still no place like home.

What’s one myth about your profession that you want to debunk?
We are not just here to serve you. Our main role is to ensure the safety of every single person on a flight. We don’t go through training just to serve food and drinks. We’ve memorized emergency protocols and aircraft aids. It’s like squeezing a four-year college course in just three months. We are not there to lift your bags! (And we do not deserve to be hit when we refuse to carry your luggage.)

Name one thing you’d like to change about your job or in your industry?
I want all the flights to be during the day. It’s hard to fly at night. My sleep pattern is constantly changing, and it isn’t healthy. That’s really my only complaint. I’m still very lucky.

Can you picture yourself doing this long-term? Why or why not?
Not really. I consider this job to be a stepping stone. I have bigger plans. I still want to spend my life raising kids and taking care of my family. I’ll spend the next 2 or 3 years of my life roaming the world before I finally settle down and go back home.

Up Next: Michelle, 27. Monthly income range: P90,000 – P120,000.

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Name: Michelle

Age: 27

Do you work for a local or an international airline? International

Monthly income range: P90,000 – P120,000

How long have you been working? One year! Happy anniversary to me!

Do you worry about money?
Yes, I do. 

Are you a good saver? What’s your #1 saving tip?
Honestly, I can’t say that I’m a good saver. Working as a flight attendant has been really amazing—seeing new places, shopping, shopping, and more shopping. I try to enjoy most of it as much as I can. Two months ago, however, I realized that I need to start saving. I opened an account in the Philippines and started sending half of my salary there. 

Continue reading below ↓

Do you live alone? Nope, I still live with my family. 

Do you contribute to household expenses?
Yes, I do. I shoulder one-third of the household’s expenses.

Do you feel any pressure to live or spend a certain way?
Not really. I’m not that impulsive when it comes to spending my money. 

What are your financial goals?
I really want to invest. I want to see where my money’s going. Part of my savings, however, will be going to my dream house. 

What does financial independence mean to you?
Financial independence means I can pay for my own bills, buy whatever I want, and still have enough to sustain me if I ever lose my job.


How much does physical appearance matter in your line of work?
Physical appearance matters. I represent the airline I work for and people can be pretty critical of everything! They criticize our gestures, our walk, and even the way we serve them. Proper grooming and professionalism are very important.

In your opinion, is it the same for male and female flight attendants?
In my airline… not really. Our passengers are mostly Arabs and our male flight attendants are locals, so the passengers are more comfortable conversing with them. 

What’s the best part about being a flight attendant?
I get to see a lot of lovely countries. I also get to experience five-star hotels. During a layover, we’re also paid on the hour—even when we’re just roaming the city. Management gives us free tickets for personal trips, discounted hotel rates, bonuses, and more.

What about the worst?
Living in different time zones and working above the horizon can be really tiring. My body clock’s pretty messed up.

How often do you feel homesick?
Once a month? Whenever I’m on my period! Haha! I have terrible mood swings.

What’s one myth about your profession that you want to debunk?
One myth I’d like to debunk is that we apparently have a lover in each city we visit. Completely untrue! Whenever I have downtime, I’m always planning my next trip with my only love. 

Name one thing you’d like to change about your job or in your industry?
Nothing. I was a nurse for five years and was not fulfilled by it. I am now living the dream. There’s no such thing as an easy or perfect job. There are always stressful situations, but I am grateful for every minute I am working as a flight attendant.

Continue reading below ↓

Can you picture yourself doing this long-term? Why or why not?
Maybe for another 10 years? But definitely not more than that. It’s a pretty dangerous job—never mind the sleep deprivation—so I’m going to want a life where I can sit down with my kid and do her homework together.

Up Next: Camille, 23. Monthly income range: P130,000 – P140,000.

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Name: Camille

Age: 23

Do you work for a local or an international airline? International

Monthly income range: P130,000 – P140,000

How long have you been working? Over a year!

Do you worry about money?
Sometimes. 

Are you a good saver? What’s your #1 saving tip?
Yes, definitely. I always allot a portion of my salary for savings or investments. It doesn't matter how much it is or how small or big the investment will be—just save a portion. I opened two bank accounts: checking and savings. My salary is deposited directly to my checking account, then I just transfer a portion to my savings account every single time. 

Do you live alone? No. I live in an apartment with my mom and brother.

Do you contribute to household expenses?
Yes. 

Do you feel any pressure to live or spend a certain way?
Not really. I manage my finances pretty well, and I've always been good at budgeting. 

What are your financial goals?
Right now, I'd like to have enough money to fund all my travels. My long-term financial goal is to buy my own place and have enough money set aside for my retirement fund. 

What does financial independence mean to you?
Financial independence is having a sufficient amount of money to live on, but also enough to splurge with. Basically, being able to attend to your needs and wants at the same time. For me, it doesn't really matter how much you earn. You can be financially independent even if you are only earning minimum wage.


How much does physical appearance matter in your line of work?
A lot. Before we formally started our induction training, we had to go to a make-up and grooming class. We were taught how to put on makeup, fix our hair, and use skincare products. 

In your opinion, is it the same for male and female flight attendants?
Yes, physical appearance is important regardless of gender. Male attendants don’t have to wear makeup though so maybe in that sense, they have it easier. It usually takes me about 2 hours to get ready for my flight, while my male FA friends only spend approximately an hour. 

Continue reading below ↓

What’s the best part about being a flight attendant?
The best part is traveling. I travel a lot outside of work. Without the travel benefits and flexible schedule that I have, I don't think I will be able to travel as often as I already do. 

What about the worst?
While the lifestyle may seem fun, it has some downsides, too. Working on a holiday is the worst for me. One time, I had to work on New Year's Day. I missed so many family gatherings and birthdays because I had to fly.

How often do you feel homesick?
Seldom. 

What’s one myth about your profession that you want to debunk?
It's not as glamorous as most people think. There is more to it than just traveling or shopping. On one occasion, I had to clean someone's poop. My passenger had diarrhea and he was not able to control it, so he ended up pooping in his pants (and on the floor). It was gross, but I had to clean it.

Name one thing you’d like to change about your job or in your industry?
Seniority. It is very common in the airline industry. 

Can you picture yourself doing this long-term? Why or why not?
As of now, no. I plan to keep my job for a couple more years then after that, I'll pursue something else. I only accepted this job mainly because I wanted to travel while I'm still young. It’ll be a tough decision to make. I love the lifestyle, the benefits, and my schedule, but I have a bigger dream that I want to pursue. I'll cross the bridge when I get there. :)

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