Travel

1/4/2023 | By Terri L. Jones

Inspired by an article on the benefits for seniors working in the travel industry, even just part time, writer Terri L. Jones began exploring the possibilities and perks. See why she discovered this as a ticket to a dream getaway.

High up on most people’s retirement bucket list is travel. But while you may find yourself with the flexibility to jet off to parts unknown because you’re not working anymore, you may not always have the budget to do so for that very same reason.

But there is a solution that a growing number of retirees are discovering and taking full advantage of. In the past few years, many seniors have been picking up part-time work with airlines and hotels, not as much for the money as for the amazing travel perks this employment offers!

Why now?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in June 2022, employment in the leisure and hospitality sectors was down almost 8% since before the pandemic in February 2020. And just like other industries, airlines and hotels are pulling out all the stops to fill positions.

But these companies’ innovative recruiting tactics don’t just include bonuses and same-day pay. They’ve also begun considering older applicants, who are generally overqualified for the entry-level positions and may only be willing to work a handful of hours each week (one senior hotel employee works just one shift per week handing out towels at the pool). Plus, their motivation for going back to work is no secret!

An asset management company that works with more than 300 hotels estimates that since the beginning of the pandemic, 65% or more of the new hires at these hotels have been retirees or at least over the age of 50. Travel companies find senior employees, despite the fact that they don’t want to work long hours (or many hours at all!), to be good and reliable workers, so it’s definitely worthwhile.

The perks

senior couple traveling, with inlet and lighthouse in the background. Image by Diego Vito Servo. Inspired by an article on the benefits for seniors working in the travel industry, even just part time, writer Terri L. Jones began exploring the possibilities and perks. See why she discovered this as a ticket to a dream getaway.

One couple, who work as an airline ramp agent and a hotel desk clerk, recently flew business class to Europe, where they stayed for four nights in upscale hotels for under $800. Without their part-time gigs, that trip that would’ve cost them $6,000+!

Another airline part-timer, who checks in travelers and takes baggage, flew to Madrid for $46, while a senior hotel desk clerk, who works just two shifts a week, plans to redeem her perks at an all-inclusive resort in Cancun.

There are, of course, requirements and restrictions for seniors working in the travel industry. For example, one airline requires a minimum of 15 hours per week to qualify for unlimited standby travel for the employee and a companion – free within the U.S. and deep-discounted internationally – and discounted standby fares to any location serviced by the airline. But seniors are flexible and are more than happy to make their travel plans fit the perk.

The work

The most common available positions are hotel desk clerks and airline check-in agents, but there are a variety of other roles that might present themselves. For example, ramp agents are responsible for loading and unloading baggage in an aircraft, including cargo and mails. They also operate ground equipment such as belt loaders and cargo carts. An airline passenger assistant helps passengers safely board and exit the plane and provides extra assistance to people in wheelchairs, those who use mobility equipment, and children who are flying without an adult. These employees also may transport passengers to and from their gates at the airport. There are also hotel housekeepers; airplane custodians, who clean planes’ cabins; passenger service agents, who work at an airline-specific help desk within a terminal; and even folks who hands out towels at the pool!

Related: National parks offer an affordable travel option

Means to an end

So, if you’ve been longing to explore the world or simply see the sights in your own region, consider picking up a few hours in the travel industry. Don’t think of it as a job; think of it as your ticket to your dream getaway(s)!

Terri L. Jones

Terri L. Jones has been writing educational and informative topics for the senior industry for over ten years, and is a frequent and longtime contributor to Seniors Guide. She also writes for many other local magazines and publications.

Terri Jones