Flight attendant complaints about compensation are not unusual, but they’ve certainly gained momentum with the recent admission of food stamp use by one. Sure, it’s a low-paying gig – the average income of $35,000 isn’t what newbies to the friendly skies are pulling down. Some make less than $20,000 a year, which is tough in just about any part of the country. The work isn’t easy, especially for the thin comp. So, it does make me wonder why more haven’t quit and picked up easier jobs for the same pay.
Maybe it makes more sense to become a greeter at Wal-Mart? If the pay is comparable and the life isn’t as hard, why not?
Based on federal minimum wage of $7.25 and the 70-hour work week I’ve heard flight attendants claim, that comes to $507.50 a week and $25,375 a year. This assumes two weeks off unpaid (for mental health) and no overtime, since the work may have to be split across two Wal-Mart locations, because of shift availability.
How do the two gigs stack up? Well, becoming a greeter might just be the perfect alternative to pushing the beverage cart.1. The financials
While a 70-hour work week at Wal-Mart, at $25,375 (with no overtime pay), does fall short of the $35,000 or so average flight attendant compensation, it does stack up against starting pay at some carriers reasonably well. And let’s face it: you can’t expect to start at the top, right? Now if you build in some time-and-a-half, you’re looking at $39,875 in greeter pay at minimum wage. My advice: flight attendants choosing this route should opt for a Wal-Mart location that is short-staffed.
2. No prolonged customer exposure
While a flight attendant can be trapped working on a plane for hours with the same loathsome people, the greeter only deals with customers on the way in and may notice them on the way out. The interaction is fleeting, making it difficult to become annoyed by the personality types that can stand out in the cabin three hours into a trans-Atlantic flight.
3. Still responsible for safety
As any soldier will tell you, it’s tough to move from a job where people’s lives are on the line to one in which what is considered a high priority doesn’t involve the risk of fatality. I’m sure this is an issue for flight attendants, as well. The good news is that Wal-Mart greeters can see their share of life-or-death action, especially when there’s a big sale. Think back to the 2008 Black Friday death at the Wal-Mart in Queens if you need proof. Also, there’s always a chance one of the “people of Wal-Mart” will have a heart attack before making it through the door. Time to spring into action!
4. No union nightmares
Flight attendants who lament insufficient union protection won’t have to worry about that at Wal-Mart, which isn’t exactly friendly to organized labor. If you think something of value is lost in this arrangement, look back to point #1 above. Flight attendants looking to trade one polyester uniform for another will get by just fine with federal minimum wage protection.
5. Nobody’s griping for an upgrade
Why not? Well, I have no idea how you could possibly be upgraded in any Wal-Mart transaction. So, you can be sure the usual collection of white-collar business travelers won’t be bothering you at the door for priority of entry or a better shopping cart.
What can flight attendants in Manhattan do? Wal-Mart is conspicuously absent from this borough, making it one of the few places in the country that isn’t home to one of this American institution’s stores. Well, there are countless Starbucks locations, and they’ll even teach you how to make a latte!
[photo by FaceMePLS via Flickr]