The travel benefits for flight attendants are notoriously awesome, with free and reduced flights available to employees, immediate family members and sometimes even friends and extended kin [source: Delta]. I've known flight attendants who regularly pop over to exotic locations just because they can, and workers on international flights sometimes enjoy significant layovers, during which they can sightsee and socialize with the locals. "We've learned that the tiniest cities are just as much fun as the big hubs because there's always something to discover," says Candy Bruton, the 43-year vet.
Don't go hitting up a new attendant for a buddy pass too quickly, though. Many airlines keep 'em on probation for about six months before travel perks kick into action [source: Poole].
Although free travel is arguably the sweetest and most quantifiable perk for flight attendants, flexibility is another major bonus, particularly for parents and people who have other demands on their time.
"I needed a job that would give me money coming in, but enough time off that I could pursue my acting career," recalls Kate Linder, who has simultaneously worked as a flight attendant and acted on the popular soap opera "The Young and the Restless" for more than 32 years. "The job does give you the flexibility to do other things. I can fly on the weekends and still be home to do personal appearances, auditions and act." Linder enjoys regularly interacting with shocked fans on her flights, as well as the way that maintaining the contrasting dual careers keep her grounded. "One day I'm on the set playing Esther [Valentine], another day I'm doing a film, then the next day I'm up at 35 thousand feet serving coffee," she explains. "You don't forget who you are that way."
Bruton echoes the sentiment of the position as the ideal career for working parents. "I was able to go to school and fly and still tend to my family," she says. "That's an amazing amount of flexibility."
It's also a great gig for people who aren't keen on the standard 9-to-5 workday. "I love not driving to an office every day, and the hours change from trip to trip," says Kellie*, an attendant with a major carrier for more than a decade. She points out that flight attendants get to positively impact passengers' lives, via short, sweet connections. "You get to help them and send them along on their way."