Here’s something I wasn’t aware of. I recently wrote a post about my general frustration with service on American lately, and the degree to which some bad apples are lazy. I’m told that my post was shared in a private American Airlines flight attendant group, and not surprisingly, it was controversial. I only know this because I had several flight attendants reach out to me, and they had very different perspectives based on whether they were ex-American or ex-US Airways (meaning depending on which airline they worked for prior to the merger).
The emails I received from flight attendants on both “sides” had consistent messages:
- Ex-US Airways flight attendants basically said that ex-American flight attendants are just lazy, and that’s the problem
- Ex-American flight attendants explained why they’re incredibly unhappy in spite of getting unsolicited pay raises
The way American’s management is acting at the moment sure is interesting. They’ve given flight attendants proactive pay raises, they’ve given employees $1,000 tax plan bonuses (though many companies have done that), and it seems like their biggest fear is giving flight attendants even a smidgen more work, based on the memos they write.
Apparently there’s a reason that many American flight attendants don’t like Doug Parker, which I wasn’t aware of. Before I share this, I want to be 100% clear on a few things:
- I have no clue whether there’s actually any validity to this claim from flight attendants
- I didn’t survey thousands of flight attendants, so I can’t say that this is actually a widespread point of contention, though several American flight attendants emailed me and brought this up
- I’m sharing this simply because this is a situation I wasn’t previously aware of (and I think I generally have an okay understanding of American’s current labor relations situation), and it’s an interesting theory
With that out of the way, let me share an email I received from an American flight attendant who came across my story:
Was reading your article “The Sad State Of Service On American Airlines” and thought I would give you a little backdrop as to why money isn’t motivating the flight attendants as you’ve asserted it should.
Long story short, the flight attendants voted NO to the contract they’re now forced to work under. While this may not seem too important to someone on the outside, it’s very important to a unionized workgroup. What it does is allow a minority group to control a majority group. It’s ununionlike. And this isn’t the first time it’s happened. It happened in 2003 as well, during the airline’s restructuring.
To simplify, the president of the flight attendant’s union, APFA, negotiated a secret agreement (Bridge Agreement) with Doug Parker when he was CEO of US Airways. It was done over dinner during a meeting hosted by her cousin, Tom Weir, who just happened to be the treasurer of US Airways (now American Airlines Group). Why this matters — nepotism aside — is because Ms. Glading was negotiating with a non-employer who was having undisclosed merger talks with said employer. Laura Glading should have been negotiating with Tom Horton, the one who signed our checks, not Doug Parker, a guy who was trying to represent shareholders at an airline that we didn’t work at.
Since the collusion and nepotism was discovered, 2900 flight attendants asked the DOJ to investigate the actions that defrauded American’s flight attendants out of their pension contributions, retiree health benefits, profit sharing and work rules. To date, the DOJ has not dismissed the complaint.
But that didn’t stop Doug Parker from offering Laura Glading a consultancy with the airline upon her resignation from her position as union president over the scandal. To add insult to injury, Mr. Parker, allowed Ms. Glading to leave the company with a multi-million dollar retirement travel pass, one afforded a very small layer of American’s top echelon: unlimited lifetime positive-space first-class travel for herself, spouse and dependent children. Yes, it’s a pass so valuable that the airline stopped selling the AAirpass even though it was a coach seat and not first class.
These two links tell the story in detail. I think you’ll find the story of interest as most passengers and/or investors are unaware.
Very interesting. Like I said, I’m sharing this because this is something I wasn’t previously aware of. I can’t vouch for the veracity of the claims, but it seems that at least some number of American flight attendants feel this way. Nowadays American has a lot of new hire flight attendants, so obviously they wouldn’t be impacted by the old politics involved here. I do wonder if this is a widely held belief by American’s more senior flight attendants, though.
Were you aware of the source of the “beef” that some American flight attendants seem to have with Doug Parker? What do you make of this?