Four female flight attendants walking down a sunlit hallway with suitcasesA new survey of Canadian flight attendants from CUPE’s Airline Division shows that flight attendants in Canada are performing unpaid work for 34.86 hours per month, on average.

The survey, which ran between December 10, 2022 and January 11, 2023, and received 9,807 responses, shows in detail just how rampant the issue of unpaid work has become in the airline sector, and the profound impact it is having on airline workers.

“Unpaid work is a dirty secret in this industry, and one we are determined to stamp out,” said Wesley Lesosky, President of CUPE’s Airline Division. “The bottom line is, if we’re on the jobsite, in our uniforms, performing work duties then we should be getting paid - full stop.”

Examples of work that largely goes unpaid, according to the survey, include boarding, ground preparation, pre-boarding preparation, galley preparation, and other pre-flight duties. Put together, a flight attendant in Canada puts in nearly a full week of full-time work that goes unpaid over the course of a typical block, which is usually one month.

Over half of the nearly 10,000 respondents also indicated that they are compensated below their full hourly rate of pay for mandatory training.

“As it stands, when a flight attendant gets trained on how to manage a safety issue or a mid-air medical issue, or when they assist a passenger in a wheelchair to their seat, they aren’t getting paid what they should be,” Lesosky continued. “I’m not sure how anyone justifies that.”

CUPE’s Airline Division represents approximately 18,500 flight attendants working at ten airlines across Canada.