Male flight attendants

The TRUTH about male flight attendants!

There was a time when being a flight attendant was considered to be a job for women only. But those days are long gone! These days, there are plenty of male flight attendants working in the industry. (Interestingly, when the role was first invented in the late 1920s being cabin crew was a male only job!)

In this article, we will explore what it’s like to be a male cabin crew member. We’ll take a look at how many men are working as flight attendants, the pros, and cons of the job, and what life is like on the road.

Unfortunately, there are also a few disadvantages to being a male flight attendant. However, things are changing fast in the airline industry, so make sure to read on to find out more!

Male Flight Attendants: In Numbers

The first thing to note is that the number of male flight attendants in the USA has been growing steadily recently. In fact, according to international flight attendant statistics, men now make up around 21% of all cabin crew members worldwide. This is a significant increase from just a few years ago, when men only made up around 15% of the workforce.

Interestingly, despite being an overwhelmingly female job, there is still a gender pay gap. Male flight attendants in 2021 earned $1.00 for every $0.95 their female counterparts earned. They are also younger, with the median male cabin crew approximately three years more youthful than the median female.

International flight attendants

79%

Female

21%

Male

Median incomes

globe money travel
$31,065

Male flight attendant

$28,622

Female flight attendant

The median age of Flight attendants is 45.7, and Male employees are generally 2.91 years younger than their Female counterparts.

International flight attendants — DataLab

Flight attendants in the USA (2020 stats)

75%

Female vs 80% in 2015

25%

Male vs 20% in 2015

$48,262

Median female FA salary

$55,985

Median male FA salary

FAQ’s

What are male cabin crew called?

We’re often asked what are male cabin crew called? The simple answer is: They’re just called ‘Cabin Crew’ or ‘Flight attendants’ like the rest of us. There is no difference in the job title, responsibilities, or duties between men and women.

Some airlines refer to their female flight attendants as Air Hostesses. In this case, their male counterparts would be known as stewards.

Can men always apply to be cabin crew?

Unfortunately, there are still a few airlines that only accept female applications to be cabin crew. Notable airlines include IndiGo, and Jet Airways.

However, this is slowly changing in all corners of the world. There are now an increasing number of airlines who are happy to employ male flight attendants. As an example, Indian carrier Vistara Airlines banned male cabin crew until 2017, but now allow up to 20-25% of crew to be male. Similarly, Taiwanese carrier EVA Air began hiring male flight attendants for the first time in 2019.

Are there any straight male flight attendants?

Yes, there are a significant number of straight male flight attendants. That being said, out of all the female-majority occupations, flight attendants have the highest number of gay men among male workers.

A great part about being cabin crew is the diverse nature of your colleagues. International statistics for 2021 show approximately 1/3rd of international flight attendants (31.52% to be precise) classified themselves as LGBT.

How long have men been able to be flight attendants?

Interestingly, the first flight attendants were actually men! The first ever ‘stewards’ were appointed in the 1910s on airships. Their job was to load luggage and help with fire safety, alongside looking after the comfort of passengers on board. It wasn’t until 1930 that the first female flight attendant was hired.

Imperial Airways, began recruiting so-called cabin boys to load passenger luggage onboard the aircraft, reassure passengers, and enforce fire safety regulations by extinguishing cigars and cigarettes during the flight.

A male dominated profession — Aerotime

However, in the late 1930s, hiring male stewards became unfashionable. In fact, it became an entirely female dominated industry until a landmark US Supreme Court case in 1971 ruling on the gender discrimination male crew faced. Since then, the percentage of male flight attendants crept up, before remaining static at around 20%.

Pros: Sometimes male flight attendants have it better!

  • Disruptive passengers
  • Promotion and pay
  • Cultural norms

Disruptive passengers

She saw a male flight attendant move quickly to the front of the plane, then heard pleas for “big guys to come to the front of the plane.”

Passenger restraint on American Airlines flight 1775

Remember the Captain’s pre-flight PA? Flight attendants are primarily for passenger safety. And, while disruptive passenger events are a rare occurrence, they are rising.

In these occasions, male flight attendants suddenly find themselves in the spotlight!

Passengers restrained to aircraft seat with tape

More than 85% of attendants have dealt with unruly passengers in the first six months of 2021

The Guardian — Unruly passengers
Aircraft issue passenger restraint kit

In the rare instances passengers escalate to physical violence and need restraining, decisions like GoAirs plan to only hire the smallest and lightest female flight attendants to save weight — no we aren’t making this up! — don’t look too wise.

Promotion and pay

The ability to stand out, and this subsequent impact on career advancement, can work in your favour. Because there are still relatively few men working as flight attendants, companies that are looking for talented and ambitious men to join their team, may give you priority.

This is reflected in flight attendant pay statistics. In the USA, despite being on average three years younger than their female counterparts, male flight attendants earn 5% more.

Cultural norms

Unfortunately, in many places around the world, it’s quite literally a man’s world. On several routes, male flight attendants have a significant advantage.

Cabin crew team with lead male flight attendant

The downsides to being male cabin crew

  • Uneven standards
  • Gender imbalance

Uneven standards

A career as a flight attendant is seemingly one of the few holdouts where widespread discrimination between the genders is the norm. While all airline crew have to adhere to strict uniform standards, sometimes male flight attendants get a raw deal!

  • Many airlines prefer taller male flight attendants, and set differing height requirements for male and female crew. For example, Singapore Airlines have a large differential, with male cabin crew expected to be at least 5’5 but female crew only 5’2.
  • Uniform standards vary hugely, with female crew often offered a range of outfits but male cabin crew just one — and it’s a similar story for ear piercings too
  • Many airlines also expected spotless skin, with blemishes, spots, or freckles covered. However, covering these with concealer is only accepted for female crew, ruling out any male applicants with natural imperfect skin.
  • Some rounds of job applications don’t even allow male cabin crew to apply. Several airlines advertise they artificially restrict the ratio of male to female crew, opening female only applications.
Male FA makeup brushes

Gender imbalance

Similarly to female pilots experiencing more hurdles working in a male dominated role — approximately 98% of international airline pilots are male — working as a minority male flight attendant can be challenging too.

Any workplace with a large gender imbalance can have disadvantages, and the role of cabin crew is no different. You may sometimes feel like you have to work harder to prove yourself in a female-dominated industry. And, you may also find that you are treated differently by your colleagues, either because they see you as a threat or because they don’t take you seriously.

Similarly, this can extend to passengers too. It is rare, but over the years I have heard countless passengers make disparaging remarks about my male colleagues. Ranging from stereotyping their sexuality, to sexist comments about the job role.

The first three most frequent experiences being; being told suggestive stories, crude sexual remarks, and attempts to discuss sex, each reported by more than 41% of male flight attendants.

Work, Gender and Sexual Harassment — AeroSpace Phycology

Summary : Why we need more male cabin crew!

So, there you have it, we hope this article has given you some insights into what it’s like to be a male cabin crew. Despite an uptick in male flight attendants in the USA, on a global level, the airline industry is one of the few remaining industries with a large gender gap that doesn’t seem to be narrowing.

In most other industries, gender imbalances continue to erode. But in aviation, women still make up around 80% of all cabin crew members.

Despite this, many airlines are now starting to see the value in having a more diverse workforce. This means that they are actively recruiting men to become flight attendants, and offering training and support to help them succeed in the role.

If you’re thinking of becoming a male flight attendant, it’s important to know what you’re getting into:

  • The lifestyle can be demanding, with many nights away from home.
  • Equally, you need relatively thick skin. Some passengers continue to have an outdated view of the world, and expect to be served by a female flight attendant.
  • The occasional negative passenger reactions, and stereotyping, you will need to be prepared for.

But if you’re up for the challenge, it can be an exciting and rewarding career. So, if you’re thinking of becoming cabin crew, then don’t let your gender hold you back! Thanks for reading!

Share this article
Alissa
Alissa

Flyingbynumber’s Resident Senior Flight Attendant — Alissa

Articles: 22