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By Wendy Stafford, Sr. Instructor
Flight Attendant Express


8. ADVANTAGES OF WORKING FOR SMALLER AIRLINES

It seems that everyone wants a job with a major airline. And this is no small wonder – major airlines go to far away places, typically offer the highest pay and the largest benefit packages, not to mention the prestige attached with belonging to one of the nation’s major air carriers. But there are some great things about working for smaller airlines.

Maybe you have tried and have been unable to obtain a job with a major airline, as the competition in this arena is most challenging and airlines have a certain image of the employee they want. Or maybe you are not able to relocate, and can only work for an airline with a base in your area; perhaps you simply prefer the idea of working for a small company, or maybe there are just some qualities of a certain airline that you favor over another. Whatever the reason, there can be many benefits attached to working for a national or feeder carrier.

A national airline is usually a medium-sized carrier, serving a smaller region than a major airline and larger than a feeder or regional airline. These airlines usually operate within the confines of North America and possibly Central America and/or the Caribbean. Airlines that are classified as national airlines include companies such as AirTran, Midway, Spirit, Frontier and JetBlue. If you are not interested in flying globally on a daily basis, these airlines still offer reciprocal pass benefits on major airlines, so the opportunity to fly internationally during off-time is extremely likely. Most national carriers also offer abundant benefit packages and the pay, while somewhat less than that of the majors, increases in a timely manner.

For those of you who prefer an even smaller scale company, there are the regional or feeder airlines. These airlines provide connecting service to the major airlines through hub cities and fly to smaller towns that major airlines are unable to service. Flight attendants for regional airlines have many regular customers, people who fly the same routes throughout the week, usually for business travel. These travelers are frequent flyers who give the flight attendants the treat of seeing familiar faces every day. Most regional airlines require only one flight attendant per aircraft, and many flight attendants have found that they enjoy this one-person-show. They are in charge of their passengers and performing their inflight duties autonomously, working on their own. This gives them a chance to creatively provide their own brand of service to passengers, without having to negotiate with other flight attendants on inflight matters, and is considered to be the best of all worlds for some independent souls. Regional airlines usually have competitive pay within the industry and enjoy benefits with other larger airlines as well. Yes, you can still travel the globe for huge discounts!

Another possibility for a flight attendant career with a smaller company is with a charter airline. Charter airlines work with groups who, in essence, lease or rent a flight to go to a particular destination of their choosing. Some clients of charter airlines include the military, other airlines, vacation tour groups, athletes, rock stars and celebrities. In most cases these airlines fly globally and flight attendants can be gone for extended periods of time. Flight attendants for charter airlines have the benefit of globe hopping as an everyday part of the job. Charter airlines are great if you want to see the world right now - your first trip may be to an exotic location!
There is more opportunity to move “up the ladder” and grow in the company if you work for a smaller airline, as there are fewer people ahead of you. Since these types of airlines are smaller in scale, it is possible to form lasting relationships with more people within your company, and some folks enjoy this closer camaraderie. Airlines such as these offer you the ability to limit your scope of travel to a given area. They follow the same FAA regulations, holding to the same safety standards as the big guys.

When applying for a job with a smaller airline don’t assume that just because they are a smaller company that the hiring process will not be at all competitive – smaller airlines can be extremely picky, and their hiring needs are for fewer people. These positions are coveted as well, so keep up your edge when interviewing and don’t let your guard down.

Keep an open mind when applying for an airline job, and don’t exclude the medium and small airlines. It is wise not to hold out only for a major carrier. A smaller company may be just the right fit for you, so consider all the possibilities before you decide for sure.

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