Visiting far off places, meeting new people and an opportunity to work in an exciting industry are some of the reasons workers are choosing jobs in the airline field.
Lisa LeCarre was first interested in travel as a high school student. She started exchanging letters with a pen pal in France. In college, she studied journalism at Arizona State University and set her sights on writing for an airline.
“I thought that would be a good place to write and travel,” she said.
Bitten by the travel bug, LeCarre continued to write and found a job driving the bus for airport employees on the weekend. America West took over the contract for the bus in 1986. And in April 1987, LeCarre entered flight attendant training with the company, a job she has held for almost 20 years.
“Most people very interested (in airline work) will apply to three, four or five different airlines,” she said.
In the latest economic impact report out of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, “there were 31,437 jobs on the airport in 2003, with a payroll of $1.5 billion. On-airport employment increased 28 percent, from 24,516 jobs in 2000.” Commercial airlines employed 15,000 of those workers. Air cargo firms employed 7,500.
Jobs with airlines include flight attendants, ramp agents, ticket counter agents, baggage handlers and reservationists. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, most jobs with airlines are on the ground. But the most visible workers are the pilots and flight attendants.
Being a flight attendant requires customer service skills and schedule flexibility, LeCarre said.
“We’re seeing a greater influx of retired people. We’re hiring people in their 40s, 50s and 60s. It’s a great if you’re interested in travel. You need to have that flexibility to be coming and going,” she said.
LeCarre was able to raise her family while she worked because she could drop down in hours if she needed to be around or she could pick up extra hours for extra expenses such as the holidays or saving for a new car. She also found a way to combine her two loves – travel and writing – as now she writes for the Association of Flight Attendants local Council 66 (America West Airlines) as the Communications Director. Though US Airways and America West merged, their flight attendants maintain their separate unions.
Mesa Air Group recruiter Rachel Branch spent six months as a flight attendant before turning to recruiting. And travel is definitely a perk.
Last month she and a group of friends from work hit a different California city each weekend: Santa Barbara, San Diego and Monterey.
“I just knew you could travel whenever you wanted. A lot of people have always wanted to do that since they were little. That’s their dream,” she said.
She’s finding people of all ages interested in working as a flight attendant.
“Travel is an attraction for anyone in this industry. It’s a joy to be able to go to the airport and hop on any plane you want,” she said.