American Airlines Paints Bleak Picture of the Future to its Flight Attendants

By Paul Riegler on 26 July 2020
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An American Airlines Boeing 777-300ER in Dallas

American Airlines, which has thousands more flight attendants than the airline believes it will need in the coming months, painted a bleak picture of the typical flight attendant’s workday as it tries to convince more of them to opt for early retirements or voluntary separations.

Overall, American will have over 20,000 more employees than it believes it will need including almost 10,000 flight attendants.  As is the case at other airlines, the company hasn’t involuntarily furloughed anyone because of the restrictions of the Cares Act passed by Congress that gave the airline industry access to $50 billion in grants and loans.

Were American to furlough the nearly 10,000 flight attendants, the newest hire would have joined the airline in the spring of 2002.

To this end, the airline’s senior vice president of flight service, Jill Surdek, sent employees a memo outlining the extent to which flying will change for crew members while at the same time urging some to consider taking a buyout.

“I also want to make sure you fully understand the new reality of what your schedule and flying may look like. The reality is our business is going to change, moving forward and for the long-term. While we have talked about these ideas previously, it may be helpful to see it all together as you are deciding your future,” Surdek said in the memo, which was shown to Frequent Business Traveler.

“We have some unique offerings that are on the table when it comes to alternatives to flying. That’s why I wanted to paint a realistic picture of what life will be like beginning this fall,” Surdek said.

Surdek went on to say that 80% of flight attendants will end up spending some time on reserve, something that previously was the case only for more junior flight attendants, and that the trips flight attendants will fly will look very different from what is now the case, with many more four-day domestic trips with longer duty days, more flights per day, more sit time at airports in between flights, and shorter layovers.

With American’s significantly curtailed international schedule, fewer flight attendants will be working international trips at least through the end of 2021, In addition, some flight attendants may have to relocate or commute to work as several bases have too many flight attendants, a situation that will require the airline to transfer some to other bases.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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