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Delta swamped with flight attendant applicants

A United Airlines flight attendant walks through a pedestrian overpass at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois.

So, you want to be a flight attendant? Get in line. Delta Air Lines says 22,000 have applied for the 400 openings it expects to hire early next year.  

“It’s a good job!” says Jay Sorensen, president of airline consulting firm IdeaWorksCompany. There’s still some glamour left in the industry, he says.

“In spite of the fact that it’s been dragged through the dirt, bankrupt many times.” 

The allure of distant lands -- and free trave -- still beckons. But being a flight attendant is not what it once was. 

“The compensation is about what it was 15 or 20  years ago. The working conditions are quite a bit more difficult,” says industry analyst Bob Mann. 

Starting pay can be in the low $20,000 range, planes are packed, and flight attendants are expected to be salespeople now, hawking food and other goods in the aisle.

Don’t let that stop you says former flight attendant Pat Haley.

“It’s so worth it,” says Haley, who just retired from United Airlines, after 25 years as a flight attendant. 

Yes, it’s tough in the beginning, but, “you work 12 days a month,” she says. “It gave me the opportunity to do other things.” 

If you want this Delta gig, you’ll have a better shot if you know Chinese, Hindi, Portuguese or Japanese. At least 100 of the new hires must be bilingual. 

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