American Airlines Gives Flight Attendants Huge Holiday Pay Bump

American Airlines Gives Flight Attendants Huge Holiday Pay Bump

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American Airlines had an operational meltdown around Halloween, causing thousands of flights to be canceled or delayed. The airline now has a plan to make sure something similar doesn’t happen over Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s, which are among the busiest travel periods of the year.

American offers flight attendants up to 300% pay

American Airlines has announced a significant incentive to make sure flight attendants show up to work over the holidays. This impacts those who work over the following dates:

  • November 23 through November 29, 2021
  • December 22, 2021, through January 2, 2022

Flight attendants who work over these periods:

  • Will receive 150% pay for any flights worked over the above dates
  • Those who have no absences between November 15, 2021, and January 2, 2022, will receive an additional 150% pay for flights over the above dates, for a total of 300% pay

There’s even more, though. Many flight attendants commute to their base (meaning they live in a different city than where they’re based), and usually it would be up to them to fly to their base on a space available basis. With flights typically being packed around the holidays, finding available seats can be challenging.

As a result, American will give flight attendants positive space seats in order to commute to their base over the holidays, for the purposes of operating assigned trips or being on standby.

These are some major measures — not only are flight attendants looking at 150-300% pay for holiday flying, but there will also be quite an opportunity cost to all the positive space seats that will be booked for employees to get to their base. While this will be costly for American, it’ll be less costly (hopefully) than the operation melting down once again.

Flight attendants have a real incentive to work over the holidays

Will this make American’s operation more reliable?

We’ve seen several major airline operational meltdowns in the United States in recent months. This is because there has been a huge increase in travel demand, yet airlines have been short staffed, due to all the employees who accepted voluntary separation packages.

The whole thing is ironic — airlines received billions of dollars in payroll support during the pandemic. The logic was that this way there would be enough airline employees available when people are ready to fly again. Well, people have been ready to fly again, and… there haven’t been enough airline employees.

As it stands, airlines generally have enough staff for the flights they schedule if things go as planned, but it’s a totally different story when there are irregular operations, as American has very few spare employees. With that in mind, I have a few thoughts:

  • I do think the increased pay plus positive space travel to crew bases will alleviate many of the issues related to flight attendant attendance
  • I can’t help but also feel like this creates an incentive for sick flight attendants to show up to work; one lesson we’ve learned from the pandemic is to stay home if we don’t feel well so we don’t get others sick, yet flight attendants have a huge financial incentive not to have any absences over the course of several weeks
  • In addition to this latest incentive, staffing issues should naturally start to improve — 1,800 flight attendants have returned from leave as of November, and American also has 600 new hire flight attendants that will join the company by the end of the year
  • While this initiative will help with flight attendant staffing, it does nothing to address pilot staffing, which is likely to be an even bigger issue, especially with the looming vaccine mandate, which in particular leaves a lot of pilots feeling bitter
  • This also doesn’t address how there will likely also be short staffing among ground agents, ranging from rampers to customer service agents; this could also cause major operational challenges

It’s going to be interesting to see how American’s operation does over the holidays…

I’m curious what incentives American gives pilots

Bottom line

With major holidays coming up, there’s a lot of concern about the extent to which airlines will be able to cope with demand, especially if there are irregular operations. American is trying to address this proactively by greatly increasing flight attendant pay over the holidays, and also by offering flight attendants positive space travel to their bases.

This should lead to fewer issues with flight attendant staffing over the holidays. It remains to be seen what happens with other work groups, though…

Do you think these initiatives will make American’s operation reliable over the holidays?

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)

Conversations (17)
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  1. Cara Guest

    Many don’t want to work because they don’t want to deal with rude passengers who retaliate with aggressive beatings.

  2. FlyerDon Guest

    So what are their other labor groups going to think about this program? I can already hear the pilots screaming “what about us?”.

  3. Morgan Gold

    Great idea American!

  4. Eric Guest

    This will make sick fas to show to work? You think they don't show to work sick because they are threatened with attendance points ? It is exactly the same scenario but approached differently. It is good for employee morale to do it this way.

  5. upstater Guest

    I worked for the railroad in the 70s and 80s. Per union contract, all employees got one day pay for all major holidays. If you were required to work on a holiday, you also received time and a half, so it was 250% of regular pay. It was an incentive to work and helped insure adequate staffing.

    American is taking this a step further and it surely makes business sense to do so. My...

    I worked for the railroad in the 70s and 80s. Per union contract, all employees got one day pay for all major holidays. If you were required to work on a holiday, you also received time and a half, so it was 250% of regular pay. It was an incentive to work and helped insure adequate staffing.

    American is taking this a step further and it surely makes business sense to do so. My only concern is the policy may encourage sick people to work.

    Begrudging pay bonuses of flight attendants or ANY public-facing worker in the time of COVID and the demands of capitalist enterprises is simply wrong.

  6. L smith Guest

    This is so unfair, passenger service is the front line of this airline, over working every time flight service, pilots have issues. They get paid 300% more is insane, that’s their work. We just get an email thanking us, others get overpaid. Rewarding them for working, that’s their job. It’s unacceptable!!!

    1. Eric Guest

      This should make your job easier. Since significant less cancelations will happen. Do no assume that it is just for us to show up for our scheduled flights , this include us volunteering to pick up open trips and rescue possible cancelations. So it is an incentive to work the holiday, even if you don't have to.

  7. Tony Guest

    "Let them eat Cake!" as the CEO and shareholders make millions while staying home!

  8. juan g Guest

    american need pay moore no just holidays

  9. D3kingg Guest

    I’ve already spoken with some employees and they are not interested. How about quadruple pay on more focused dates ie Wednesday before thanksgiving, thanksgiving , Sunday after thanksgiving , 2 days before Christmas Eve , etc.

    What’s Doug Parker’s bonus this year ? 20M ?

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      Quadruple pay? Cheapskate.

      I’d want 10x pay just to show up and do my job, or GTFO.

    2. D3kingg Guest

      @Gary Leff

      The dates are too broad. Some of those dates contain shoulder dates. Some days are packed while others in between or around major holidays are quiet. Revenue management 101 .
      So they should have made some days higher pay than just rolling dates . Kind of borderline insulting. It would be premature to say problem solved at this point.

  10. Gary Leff Guest

    1. push off vaccine mandate until after the holidays
    2. pay unvaccinated crew to show up to work sick
    3. winning!

  11. Eskimo Guest

    I can't believe Doug Parker cave in to these blackmail.

    I can't believe Tax payers' money will be used this way.

    Brandon can't fix unemployment and will let Karen rise again.

    1. Jr Guest

      Can we have coherent comments.

    2. Corrado Guest

      I grew up in east TX and can translate here. My family FB group is like this.

      1. First line implies that workers called out sick over vax mandates and Discount Dougie blinked (true).

      2. Second line is a reference to the fact that airlines took bailout money intended to keep crews employed and route networks active but still have so many operational issues.

      3. Third line casts blame on Pres. Biden...

      I grew up in east TX and can translate here. My family FB group is like this.

      1. First line implies that workers called out sick over vax mandates and Discount Dougie blinked (true).

      2. Second line is a reference to the fact that airlines took bailout money intended to keep crews employed and route networks active but still have so many operational issues.

      3. Third line casts blame on Pres. Biden over the enhanced unemployment signed into law by Trump. Brandon is a contemptuous term for Biden. (See let’s go brandon).

    3. Eskimo Guest

      Thank you @Corrado

      Finally some smart readers who actually know how to digest letters and follow the news. And I'm not even from east TX.
      And to add the third line, Snowflake Trump and Sleepy Joe isn't solving problems. WTF you close at 4PM due to staffing. $16 per hour and still nobody? It used to be half of that and all shifts are full.

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Corrado Guest

I grew up in east TX and can translate here. My family FB group is like this. 1. First line implies that workers called out sick over vax mandates and Discount Dougie blinked (true). 2. Second line is a reference to the fact that airlines took bailout money intended to keep crews employed and route networks active but still have so many operational issues. 3. Third line casts blame on Pres. Biden over the enhanced unemployment signed into law by Trump. Brandon is a contemptuous term for Biden. (See let’s go brandon).

1
Cara Guest

Many don’t want to work because they don’t want to deal with rude passengers who retaliate with aggressive beatings.

0
FlyerDon Guest

So what are their other labor groups going to think about this program? I can already hear the pilots screaming “what about us?”.

0
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