14 Pros and Cons of Working for American Airlines

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It’s been almost an entire century since American Airlines first became a flying entity.

Based out of Fort Worth, TX, American has grown to become the largest airline in the world.

That growth is currently supported by over 120,000 employees stationed all over the place.

The airline might sound domestic, but it flies worldwide.

In total, American Airlines delivers passengers safely to 48 countries.

That includes 269 airports within the US border and almost 100 international destinations.

With access like that, is it worth it to work there?

Fly along with us as we pinpoint the pros and cons of working for American Airlines.

Pros of Working for American Airlines

1. Travel Everywhere

When working for the biggest airline, you feel like Oh The Places You Will Go was written about the experience.

Having access to an astounding number of domestic and international locations is an exciting prospect.

That has a lot to do with the ability to fly for free when space is available.

Who else can fly free or nearly free?

Your spouse, children, parents, in-laws, and a select number of friends.

It’s not limited to American Airlines flights, either.

Partner airlines can also take you.

2. Benefits

Traveling for free alone is a good enough reason for many to apply for a job with American Airlines.

However, there is a whole category of benefits that make this employer even more attractive.

There are several categories to enjoy, such as education, emergency assistance, well-being programs, service discounts, and more.

Scholarships for dependents in their higher education pursuit are available.

American has even partnered with all kinds of companies to get you deals on things like lawn care and your cell phone plan.

Many employees feel very supported through the benefits.

3. Growth Opportunities

It’s quite convenient to work for a company that has locations around the world.

Whenever you want to move, you already have an in with a job in that area.

Not only do airlines go everywhere, but they have a plethora of job options available.

Get hired at entry level in any position and you have access to higher education assistance.

Now you have a chance to look into what else is available at the company and expand a skillset or explore a new one.

American Airlines is an easy company to grow with because of the resources provided and the vast array of places you can go with the knowledge picked up.

Once you’re in, they want you to stay for as long as possible. 

4. Diversity

What better way is there to expand your diverse horizons than literally going to places you’ve never been?

Being able to freely travel where the culture is nothing like yours is a wonderful learning experience.

There’s nothing like experiencing something firsthand as opposed to reading about it.

This way, you get to cultivate your own stories and understanding of people and their traditions.

Meeting new people goes beyond traveling.

It also pertains to the array of people employees come in contact with on a plane or by phone.

From the interactions with guests to developing relationships with coworkers, there’s always a new perspective to be gained. 

5. Customer Service Skills

In a world where so many interactions are becoming digitized, airlines still have a lot of one on one time.

While tech-savvy patrons check themselves in using smartphones or kiosks, there are still those who prefer to wait in line and talk with an employee.

These front desk agents get the best and worst of the flying experience.

They might get yelled at for bags being overweight or praised for finding the last ticket on a needed departure.

Flight attendants also spend their shifts entirely public-facing.

Anyone who has seen a video of belligerent passengers knows exactly how stressful those situations can be.

It takes a crazy amount of customer service skills to handle these people professionally. 

6. Company Culture

American Airlines puts a high value on respect.

They want all employees to be heard and treated with respect at every level.

This attitude has created a culture where everyone from flight crew to baggage handlers is thoughtful of one another.

Teams go out of their way to be open to coworkers and help make the time spent at work as smooth as possible.

That’s exactly how you’d want to feel knowing you’ll be stuck with these people for the next 10 hours. 

7. Available Hours

Some times of the year are busier than others.

That creates an opportunity for employees to pick up more shifts if they so desire.

In that sense, you can make as much money as you want.

Of course, it’s important to pay attention to what kind of impact that’s having on your body.

Burning out isn’t the best way to advance any career.

That also depends on what position you hold.

Regardless, in a pinch, work is definitely available. 

Cons of Working for American Airlines

1. Schedules

If you’ve been with American Airlines for many years, this would actually fall into the pro column.

The reason is, those are the employees who get first dibs on the schedule.

New to the company?

Well, that’s another story.

Not only are the flight schedules notoriously bad, but you have to bid for anything you want.

Getting time off or scheduling a big trip can be near impossible to accomplish through this system.

Employees pretty much have to go into the job with a wide-open schedule.

The hours are sometimes painfully long and days away are back to back.

2. Understaffed

At the start of the pandemic, traveling almost completely stopped.

All airlines were losing great amounts of money.

Unfortunately, many employees lost their jobs due to this very sudden change in air travel.

That ended up being over 30,000 in total.

As people started getting out again, the slow crawl meant operating on bare-bones crews.

A skeleton crew is a way to survive, but it’s also a way to head straight for burnout for those who remain. 

3. Salary

Across the board at American Airlines, the salaries are pretty good.

That is especially true when compared with other discount brands.

The reason salary is a con here is what it doesn’t cover.

For example, flight attendants have a lot of work to do before the flight takes off.

They have to be at the airport for a certain amount of time beforehand.

There are duties at the desk and inside the plane before passengers load up. 

They don’t start getting paid for their time until the plane is leaving the airport.

Not getting paid for some duties is unfair and unethical. 

4. High Turnover

It’s hard to get a good view of what constant flying can do to your body until you’re actually doing it.

Compound that with unruly passengers, crappy schedules, and extended time away from home and you might have a problem.

What sounds like a dream job can quickly turn into a nightmare for some.  

5. Lack of Communication

As anyone who has relied on air travel can attest, canceled flights are a part of life.

For the crew, it can be a very frustrating part of life.

They aren’t always made aware of provisions or rescheduling.

Leaving flight staff stranded without a way home or info about when they will get home after all is not cool.

Not to mention leaving them with all the passengers asking questions.

6. Furious Flyers

There’s a new tirade caught on video daily.

While it’s entertaining to see people having confusing tirades and getting kicked off the plane, it’s the staff who have to actually deal with it.

There are always people on each flight who want to buck the rules.

Escalating that disrespect sometimes leads to physical altercations.

No one gets paid enough to be abused by idiots.

7. Physically Exhausting 

Many fantasize about flying to far-off destinations.

Doing it for a living isn’t as much of a fairy tale.

There is a lot of strain done to the body when you’re working as many hours as you can and squeezing in sleep when there’s a brief intermission.

It can also be tough to eat well and get exercise.

Of course, that’s in addition to all the heavy lifting and running around already being done.

14 Pros and Cons of Working for American Airlines – Summary Table

Pros of Working for American AirlinesCons of Working for American Airlines
1. Travel Everywhere1. Schedules
2. Benefits2. Understaffed
3. Growth Opportunities3. Salary
4. Diversity4. High Turnover
5. Customer Service Skills5. Lack of Communication
6. Company Culture6. Furious Flyers
7. Available Hours7. Physically Exhausting

Should You Work for American Airlines?

Before heading down the road of applying to American Airlines, it’s imperative to do research on the company and positions.

Air travel is fast and efficient, which draws a lot of people to careers in the industry.

That doesn’t necessarily make this particular airline the perfect fit for everyone headed in that direction.

American Airlines can be a great place to kick off a career working in travel, but the shortage of staff and not being paid until the airplane has taken off can feel like a letdown.

Feel free to chat with current employees for a better picture. 

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Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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