AFA wants you to sit in coach!

Well, it seems like United’s division of the Association of Flight Attendants isn’t a fan of United’s new unlimited domestic upgrade program. On one hand I’ll be in the minority in understanding where they’re coming from. There’s very little alignment of goals between management and employees at the airlines nowadays, sadly, and it’s largely understandable. At the same time, United needs to make decisions that are in the best interest of the company, which in the long run would hopefully be in the best interest of employees (although this isn’t always the case).

What really makes me laugh (or cringe), though, is this:

United had previously announced their intention to implement this program last month to United’s elite customers, and is just another kick in the teeth to Flight Attendants and other loyal employees.

Another kick in the teeth to flight attendants and other loyal…. employees?!? Aren’t we forgetting about the loyal customers that help keep United in business?

Anyway, it’s very hard to feel bad for them. Flying domestic two cabin first class was very rare for employees as it is, and they still have some of the most liberal non-rev benefits in the industry. They can continue to easily fly international three cabin first class on a space available basis, which isn’t too tough to do. Actually, I’m surprised they didn’t complain when United introduced the new first and business class cabins, since it greatly reduced the number of available premium seats.

 The whole non-rev situation was really put into perspective for me when I flew British Airways’ Club World London City product. I was talking to the purser and our conversation eventually shifted to non-rev benefits. You know what British Airways flight attendants (apparently) get? One free coach ticket a year! 

(Tip of the hat to Gary)

Filed Under: Unions, United
  1. while I don’t have a problem with the UDU policy putting customers before employees on it’s own, I definitely recognize that a benefit that employees have traditionally had is being taken away from them without anything else to replace it.

    I do think it would have been a nice gesture to at least provide some CR1’s to the employees in lieu of what they are losing – say 4 a year or something which would be nice as they are confirmable rather than stand-by. They would still have p.s., three cabin domestic, and international besides that.

  2. I have no problem with staff being able to travel for free. In fact I’m in favour of them being able to travel as much as they want for free. However surely they should have the lowest priority. Customers, both paying and redemptions should have priority over staff travelling for free. I mean seriously many of us can only dream of being able to fly around the world for free, bitching that you have to fly in coach rather than first for free is utterly ridiculous.

  3. A similar issue will also affect the DL flight attendants with the introduction of “Clear at the Gate” Platinum & Diamond upgrade certificates.

    International J access was one of the few remaining perks that many of these FA’s signed up for. As a customer, I understand the logic of letting me upgrade at the gate. However, as someone who has also traveled on a buddy pass, I’ll miss the opportunity to sit in J.

    It makes business sense but unfortunately unions need to keep themselves in with their constituents and want to whip up as much negative sentiment possible.

  4. It seemed like on most of my CR7 flights the only people in F would be crew. I never felt the need to use an e500 on a CR7 and most of the other passengers had no status so the easy F on those flights will be gone.

  5. It’s quite interesting… when airlines introduce “enhancements” that hurt us, we bitch about it

    Who would have thought that when the airlines introduce “enhancements” that hurt employees, they’d bitch about it, too.

    Or in other words, if you signed up for a program (whether employment with the airline or a FF program that you earned miles in), and the rules change along the way such that your personal benefits are negatively impacted, of course you’re not going to be happy about it.

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