To qualify for leave under the FMLA, an employee generally must have worked at least 60 percent of a normal 40-hour work week in the 12 months preceding leave, which is 1,250 hours annually. However, most full-time flight attendants’ and pilots' work schedules are calculated only according to their “in-flight” time—hours spent while the plane is moving—even though they spend much more time at work, such as the time they spend between flights. As a result, a full-time schedule for a flight attendant or pilot is almost always less than 1,250 hours, which has historically excluded more than 200,000 flight attendants and pilots from FMLA eligibility.
However, the Airline Flight Crew Technical Corrections Act, recently signed into law by President Obama, changes this result. The law makes a flight attendant or pilot eligible for leave under the FMLA if he or she has been paid for or worked a minimum of 504 hours a year and at least 60 percent of the employer's full-time schedule—called a monthly guarantee—or the equivalent in the 12 months preceding the leave.
On average, a full-time flight attendant is scheduled for 960 in-flight hours per year. Also, under Federal Aviation Administration regulations, pilots are prohibited from flying more than 1,000 hours a year.
Source: Airline Flight Crew Technical Corrections Act (P.L. 111-119), enacted December 21, 2009..