Benefits of working for a low cost airline vs a premium airline


Low cost airlines often get a tough time in comparison with their premium counterparts.  The butt of many jokes relating to what elements of travel should be deemed as standard and what can justifiably be sold as ‘extras’, the reality is that the vast majority of leisure and business travelers who are looking for the right combination of price, convenience and value seek out the low cost airlines more often than not.

When you are on the lookout for your next aviation job, no matter whether you’ve got your eyes on an aviation job in the UK or in the middle-east, one dilemma you might be facing is whether you should be focusing your efforts on the low cost airlines or the premium airlines.  While there is no clear-cut right or wrong answer to this question, there are certainly some interesting things going on in the low cost airlines that could make your employee benefits a whole lot more interesting than you might think.

It is pretty much taken for granted that if you’re required to stay on the ground for a certain period of time that you’re compensated for this with meal and staying over allowances on top of your paid for accommodation.  Its little perks like these that can see your pay doubling quite easily.  Another is perk is cheap (and in some instances free) flights for yourself as well as friends and family, but what other benefits might you expect from the low cost airlines?

Here are just a few examples of what’s happening right now:

  • Easyjet has recently added a home computing scheme to their employee benefits, which already include a defined contribution pension scheme, life insurance and a share plan.  Their share plan was introduced to attract employees to own a part of the company they work for.  There are two plans in place; one whereby employees can obtain a discount on the share price and another where the employer matches shares bought on a one-for-one basis.  These benefits, alongside a new initiative whereby salary sacrifice can be used to enable employees to benefit from tax and National Insurance savings can all add up to a really attractive package for employees of this low cost airline.
  • Virgin offers a discounted shopping card called Tribe that can be used to get reductions on goods and services in a whole range of outlets.
  • Many of the low cost airlines (and certain premium airlines as well) offer foreign currency purchase and buyback at attractive rates.

So as you can see, there are plenty of reasons to work for the low cost airlines, all of that said, who you choose to work for in the aviation industry is likely to depend on a whole lot more than just your remuneration package.  Job satisfaction, staff retention and the role itself are all things that are worth taking into consideration before plumping for a low cost airline job over a premium airline job.  And what’s more, while competition in the industry is still high, an outstanding candidate should still be able to position themselves to be attractive to both.

What are the differences in low cost and premium airlines?

There are some major differences when working for a low cost airline in comparison to a premium one. Working for low cost airlines often means you, the employee, may be required to pay for a lot of things before you start working for them. For example, cabin crew and pilots may have to pay for uniform and training which can be a costly expense.

In the contrary, when employed by a premium airline such as Emirates or Etihad, you will be given a variety of advantages as part of your employment with them. You have the benefit of working on shiny new planes that are equipped to produce a luxurious experience for both customers and employees. Employees are well looked after and receive a range of benefits like,

  • tax free salary,
  • company accommodation,
  • company transport/allowance.
  • amazing travel opportunities
  • discounted travel
  • excellent medical/dental & much more depending on the airline

Whether you work for low cost or premium, both will be completely different experiences. It can be argued that it is difficult to compare the two as they are so different. Customers will pay for comfort and luxury and that is what they get with premium however customers boarding a low cost flight are not going to be looking for a luxurious experience so it can be argued that it is much the same from an employee’s point of view.

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