IMG_7213 Welcome to the skies, new hire flight attendant! It is a wonderful journey that you are about to embark upon, but keep in mind that your wallet just got a lot tighter. The new hire budget is a real thing that many new flight attendants struggle with.

I was talking to Celessa the other day and she said it best: “Us flight attendants stay in ridiculously nice hotels and fly first class all over the globe….but we still eat like starving college kids.” But wait, it gets better. The next thing Celessa said to me was “I just opened up my suitcase…. and a ‘Cup of Noodles’ rolled out.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the epitome of the flight attendant life. Our lives seem glamorous and (sometimes they are), but most of the time, it’s a facade.

Oh yes, our lives seem glamorous from the outside… but inside our lunch bags you’ll find more Top Ramen than a frat boy.

When you get a line and finally start earning that steady income, it’s easy to spend too much and take on debt. The flight attendant budget takes a lot of balance. But if you weigh your priorities and try to live conservatively, it is doable for almost anyone! Spend less, save more and splurge occasionally.

I have put together a few tips I have to help you get through the beginnings of the budget lifestyle.

1. Save like crazy before you go to training. Most airlines don’t pay you for training and if they do, its very little. Since you’re in training with lots of other outgoing individuals like yourself, its going to be tempting to go out eating and drinking often, but try to avoid it.

2. Meal prepping. The best investment I ever made was buying the luggage lunchbox. I would not have made it through my first year without it. I try to prepare my meals before long trips and my lunchbox harbors those until I am ready to eat. It saves me a lot of money from eating expensive airport food every meal!

Apples for travel snacks

Apples from the hotel breakfast buffet and Trader Joe’s treats. This might just be my dinner.

3. Drink your coffee at home. Honestly, I still struggle with this one. I love a good cup of joe, especially in local coffee shops on layovers or in airports for those long nights or early mornings. Think about this, if you are an avid coffee fanatic like myself and you buy it three times a week… At about $3-$5 per cup per week (depending on how fancy you are) it could cost you anywhere between $36-$60 a month! Thats a pretty chunk of change that you could have easily saved by drinking it at home or at the hotel.

4. Try to get based close to home. The flight attendant life is a little easier when you have family and friends to lean on… when you end up on a different side of the country from them, it can make a big difference. I’m from North Carolina but my mom lives in New Jersey and I also couldn’t have survived my first year as a flight attendant if I hadn’t been based in New York. I had a great rock to lean on for support!

5. Travel frugally. I have an extreme case of wanderlust, as I’m sure you do too, new hire flight attendant. The key is to travel smartly and count your pennies! Stay in hostels, go see places and find all of the free things to do in that city when you travel!


Goals are good. Create a #vision for your budget, and stick to it.

6. Write out a budget and stick to it.

7. Avoid debt. Its tempting to charge things to your credit card but trust me when I say, just avoid using it all together, if you can. Debt can be a dream killer.

8. Put money into savings. It will seem counterintuitive but start putting aside money when you start getting paid. You will want to build a savings, trust me. You won’t have much to put into your savings the first year but try to do what you can. You will be thankful for it later.


Who needs to go to the club? ‘Girls Night In’ is lookin’ pretty darn good. Plus, no cover or creepy dudes!

9. Invite friends over instead of going out. So new hire, you just made a lot of other new hire flight attendant friends while in training and now you are all based in the same place! That is fabulous. Well, when they want to go out to bars and spend a lot of money, consider inviting them over and buying some wine instead. Ask everyone to bring a dish and throw a pot luck. This will save you a lot of money instead of going out for an expensive night with meals and drinks on the town.

10. Always spend less than you make. Pretty straight forward. 🙂

I hope you find these tips helpful. With each change in lifestyle comes a new set of financial needs. The flight attendant lifestyle comes with changes in income and also new expensive that affect your ability to spend frivolously. I wish you all the best of luck.

If you are new the skies, welcome! If you are wanting to join the flight attendant life cabin crew in the sky, come on over! We have tons of resources for you to take advantage of. Please check out our free YouTube careers videos and buy our careers workbook eBook to help you ace those tricky flight attendant face-to-face interviews. Go like us on Facebook and follow Meghan on Instagram @flywithmeghan.

And as always, I am totally approachable and reachable via email at

Happy budgeting!

  • Duncan Raikes

    Very cool Article Meghan, Kudos! I have only only one problem, number 3, hotel coffee? Tsk tsk, I say spare no expense in the coffee game. Haha

    May 12th, 2015 14:36
  • Jane doe

    Flying first class is a thing if the past if you work for united! They upgrade anyone now? Even internationally. They have taken away our one reason for putting up with not getting paid during boarding and deplaning, not getting paid while on call at home even though you can’t drink, only getting paid 4 hours for ywo days of recurrent, etc!

    May 18th, 2015 16:06

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