Working conditions in air transportation vary widely, depending on the occupation. Although most employees work in fairly comfortable surroundings, such as offices, terminals, or airplanes, mechanics and others who service aircraft are subject to noise, dirt, and grease and sometimes work outside in bad weather.
In 2002, the air transportation industry had 11.8 injuries and illnesses per 100 full-time workers, compared with 5.3 throughout private industry. Virtually all work-related fatalities resulted from transportation accidents.
Because airlines operate flights at all hours of the day and night, many workers have irregular hours or variable work schedules. Flight and ground personnel, including mechanics and reservation and transportation ticket agents, may have to work at night or on weekends or holidays. Flight personnel may be away from their home bases frequently. When they are away from home, the airlines provide them with hotel accommodations, transportation between the hotel and airport, and an allowance for meals and expenses. Flight attendants typically fly from 75 to 85 hours a month. In addition to flight time, they have about 50 hours a month duty time between flights.
Flight crews, especially those on international routes, often suffer jet lag-disorientation and fatigue caused by flying into different time zones. Because employees must report for duty well-rested, they must allow ample time to rest during their layovers.