America's top airlines are considered some of the best employers in the U.S. Perhaps that's why competition is so fierce for airline jobs. In 2017, Delta Air Lines, Inc. (DAL) received 200,000 applications for about 1,000 flight attendant openings, meaning fewer than 1% of applicants were hired. Mathematically speaking, that means it is five times harder to get a flight attendant job at Delta than it is to get into Harvard, which typically has an acceptance rate of 5.4%.
- Free or cheap travel is a primary lure for prospective airline employees.
- The airlines listed here also have decent pay and generous perks.
- Delta even has a profit-sharing program.
The perks can be exceptional, including free travel, good pay, generous benefits, and, in many cases, a decent work-life balance. There are 12 major U.S. airlines and a plethora of regional carriers to choose from if you're looking for a career in the industry.
Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV)
If job security is your number one concern, you'll love Southwest. In 45 years of operations, the company has never laid off a single employee. (There are currently more than 53,500 of them.)
Southwest also ranks on the Forbes Top 50 employers' list and was recognized with a Glassdoor Employees' Choice Award. Most workers cited flexibility and a culture of appreciation as reasons they loved working at Southwest.
The company has a generous free or reduced-rate travel policy, including a Guest Pass program so employees can "share the love" with people not covered by the dependent flight program.
The company matches up to 9.3% of eligible 401(k) contributions and has an employee stock purchase plan. According to the company website, health insurance benefits cost as little as $15 per month for medical, dental, and vision.
Delta Air Lines, Inc. (DAL)
Delta makes Glassdoor's 2019 Best Places to Work list and won the site's Employees' Choice Award for the Best Place to Work in 2016.
If you love the idea of free travel, Delta has one of the more generous plans in the industry. Spouses, children, parents, and even friends qualify for free or reduced-price travel to the company's worldwide destinations.
Delta's retirement plan is fairly generous, with an automatic 2% contribution and a 100% match up to 6% of the eligible salary.
There's also profit sharing. In 2016, the company distributed more than $1 billion to its employees in profit-sharing bonuses. Medical, dental, and vision insurance plus a flexible spending account and optional disability insurance round out the benefits.
Delta currently employs about 80,000 people worldwide.
JetBlue Airways Corp. (JBLU)
JetBlue often takes the top spot on the Forbes list of top employers in the transportation and logistics category. Competition is fierce for a job with the nation's favorite economy airline. It has only about 20,000 employees, and its applicant acceptance rate is around 5%.
JetBlue offers a comprehensive package of insurance, retirement, and profit-sharing benefits. In addition to free JetBlue travel, employees receive reduced-rate standby flights on other major airlines.
The pay tends to be a bit low in comparison with other carriers, but employees seem to think that the corporate culture and perks are worth the trade-off.
United Continental Holdings, Inc. (UAL)
There's no denying that United had some serious problems after its merger with Continental in 2010, and customers made their displeasure known. Then the company's CEO stepped down after a Department of Justice investigation around his business dealings. In this context, it's no wonder that employee morale bottomed out. However, new CEO Oscar Munoz prioritized an engaged and happy workforce, and his efforts have paid off.
The number of Delta Air Line applications for 1,000 positions in 2017.
Lately, United has been consistently receiving high ratings from its employees, who appreciate the company's flexibility, opportunities for growth and advancement, and generous benefits.
Pay rates are consistently among the highest in the industry. In addition to free travel, a robust retirement plan, and profit-sharing, employees are eligible for bonuses for customer satisfaction and on-time arrival.
The company currently has about 80,000 employees.