Get the Facts About Flight Attendant Compensation

Delta’s 2020 Other Airline (OAL) comparison shows how important items in your total compensation, benefits and works rules compare to flight attendants at United and American.
Delta isn’t number one in every category (no airline is), but we lead in total compensation (base pay, profit sharing and shared rewards) and provide a generous package of pay, work rules and benefits.
View the OAL Comparison

Profit Sharing Makes Delta Different


Happy Valentine’s Day and congratulations to all on our largest profit sharing payout ever – $1.6 billion – or 16.7 percent of annual pay.  It’s more than all other U.S. airlines combined.

No other airline has ever paid out as much profit sharing as Delta. As you get ready to enjoy the rewards your hard work has made possible, remember that the industry’s most generous profit sharing program never needed to be negotiated.

  • 2019 is the 6th year in a row that we’ve paid out more than $1 billion in profit sharing – a feat unmatched by any other company, let alone airline. That’s an average yearly payout of 14.9% of flight attendants’ annual earnings during this period.
  • AFA-represented flight attendants at United received significantly less during the same period– an average of 7.15% of flight attendants’ annual earnings – which also came with the requirement of paying union dues.
  • AFA negotiated a different profit sharing plan for flight attendants at United that is less than the plan for pilots. The 2019 payout for United flight attendants is 6.9%.
  • Other AFA-represented airlines have much smaller 2019 profit sharing percentages or no profit sharing at all, for example:  Alaska – 7%; Spirit – 0%; Horizon – 0%.

The Truth About the MIT Study

AFA has made much of a 2018 study of airline financial reporting published by MIT, claiming that Delta flight attendants lag United by $14K per year.

The truth is that AFA has misrepresented this MIT study, despite MIT’s clear disclaimer against using the report to compare between airlines.

The study is based solely on data submitted to the Department of Transportation by each airline and it is not reported consistently between carriers. For example, the data does not include the 14% that Delta paid out in 2018 profit sharing vs. United‘s and American’s pay-outs of 4.6% and 1.4% respectively.

The MIT study authors’ disclaimer about the data, copied below, notes that it is misleading to use this data for a head-to-head comparison between airlines. To see the disclaimer for yourself, click here.

DISCLAIMER: The labor cost measures presented here are based on data as reported by each airline to the US DOT. Given that different airlines may include different elements of total labor expense in their reports, direct comparisons of total labor remuneration across airlines can be misleading. For example, the inclusion of profit sharing payments in these data reports can and does differ across airlines.

At every step from new hire to top-of-scale, total compensation (flight pay, profit sharing and Shared Rewards) is higher for Delta flight attendants than American and United. In some cases Delta flight attendants earn as much as 15% more as of Jan. 1, 2020.