Monday, October 27, 2008

Will Airlines Require Me to Relocate?

I have received many emails lately asking about relocation. It seems that many of you would like to become flight attendants, but are wary of the fact that you might have to relocate.

Well, the fact of the matter is, you don’t have to move if you don’t want to. Of course, I would not publicize the fact that you are not willing to relocate because every recruiter out there would like to hear at the interview that where you live is not a concern to you.

Here’s how it works in the real world after you are hired. Sometime during new-hire training, you will fill out a ‘dream sheet’ with your preference of bases. Of course, the most junior bases are generally awarded in reverse seniority order. All airlines have their ‘junior’ bases, meaning that they are usually not the most desirable places to live or be based. What you need to understand is that you are not locked in to a base assignment forever. System bids are announced quite frequently and you are given the opportunity to change bases through a bidding and award process.

Some of the emails I receive from prospective applicants state that they are not willing to be based anywhere outside the area in which they live. One young woman said that if she couldn’t get based in Chicago O’Hare, she didn’t want the flight attendant job. What I tried to explain to her was the idea of commuting.

Commuting is a common practice among crew members who live in one part of the country and originate their trips from a base in a different part of the country. Since they have pass privileges on their airline, they fly in the night before or the morning of the trip and return home at the end of the trip. Your commute can be a short thirty minute flight between states or for the more adventurous, it can even be between countries. I met one flight attendant based in Philadelphia who made her weekly commute between trips back to Rome, Italy! I also knew a pilot who lived in Aruba and commuted to Boston.

For required overnight stays in base, especially for reserve flight attendants who are ‘on call,’ many choose to invest in a ‘crash pad.’ This is nothing more that a shared roommate arrangement for flight crew members who stay at the house or apartment at different times. Even if you are sharing a crash pad with four or five other flight attendants, you may very often be by yourself.

Typical crash pads cost between $200-300 per month depending upon the accommodation. Many are advertised on crew room bulletin boards and there even is a website to assist in your search for accommodations:

In summary, don’t put too much emphasis on the need to be based in one particular place or think that your base needs to be right next to your home. With a little creativity and flexibility, your lifestyle as a flight attendant can allow you to be based in one place and live just about anywhere you want in the country (or the world).

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