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Do flight attendants get paid overtime?

Flight attendants are essential members of any airline crew, providing safety, service, and hospitality during flights. Their work schedules can be demanding, with long hours and quick turnarounds. So an important question is: do flight attendants get paid overtime?

The Short Answer

In most cases, flight attendants do not get paid overtime in the traditional sense. Their compensation is structured differently than a typical 9-to-5 job. However, attendants do earn additional pay through measures like duty rigs and flight hour rates for working beyond scheduled hours.

How Flight Attendant Pay Works

Rather than earning an hourly wage, flight attendants are paid based on set duty days and flight hours. A duty day is defined as a day an attendant is scheduled to work. It encompasses the hours spent working on flights, as well as time spent waiting at airports between flights.

Attendants are paid a daily minimum duty rig rate for each scheduled duty day. This ensures they earn a minimum amount even if a duty day is cut short due to delays or cancellations. The rig rate varies based on seniority and airline. It may range from around $50 for new hires to over $100 for very senior attendants.

In addition to the duty rig, attendants earn an hourly flight rate for time spent in the air. This is based on scheduled block hours – the time between when the aircraft door closes prior to pushback until the door opens at the destination gate. The flight hour rate can range from around $30 to over $60 per hour depending on seniority and airline pay scales.

Duty Rig and Flight Pay Examples

Here are two examples to illustrate how the duty rig and flight hour rates work together to compensate attendants:

Flight Attendant A Flight Attendant B
Daily Duty Rig Rate: $60 Daily Duty Rig Rate: $100
Flight Hour Rate: $40/hour Flight Hour Rate: $50/hour
Duty Day Hours: 12 hours Duty Day Hours: 14 hours
Block Hours: 6 hours Block Hours: 10 hours
Daily Pay: $60 rig + $240 flight pay = $300 Daily Pay: $100 rig + $500 flight pay = $600

Overtime Pay

With this pay structure, flight attendants do not earn overtime pay in the traditional time-and-a-half sense for working beyond 8 hours in a day. However, they do earn additional compensation through duty rig minimums and flight hour rates when their duty days or block hours exceed scheduled hours.

For example, if an attendant’s duty day was originally scheduled for 10 hours but gets extended to 12 due to delays, they would earn their full daily duty rig plus the additional flight hours at their hourly rate.

Some airlines also have premium “double-out” duty rig rates that compensate attendants when they work very long, unscheduled double shifts of often 16+ hours.

Rest Requirements Limit Extended Duty Times

Importantly, there are federally mandated rest requirements that limit how long flight attendants can be scheduled on duty. Attendants must have at least 9-12 hours of rest between duty periods. And their maximum duty hours in a week are capped based on start times and number of days worked.

These restrictions prevent flight attendants from being overworked. While not overtime per se, the extra duty rigs and flight hours for additional unplanned work do fairly compensate attendants for extending their day.

Other Forms of Premium Pay

In addition to duty rigs and flight hours, flight attendants can earn other premiums, allowances, and bonuses:

  • Holiday Pay – Extra hourly pay for working on major holidays.
  • Language Allowance – Monthly pay for being proficient in other languages.
  • Galley Pay – Extra hourly pay for time spent setting up/cleaning galleys.
  • Sales Commissions – Percentage of sales for buy-on-board items.
  • Profit-Sharing – Annual bonuses tied to airline performance.


While flight attendants are not directly compensated with overtime pay, their duty rig, flight hour, and other premium rates do account for extra hours worked. Considering their unconventional schedules, this specialized pay structure incentivizes and fairly compensates attendants for extending their duty day when required.