American Airlines increases flight attendant holiday pay after mass cancellations

American Airlines will offer flight attendants who work during peak holiday travel times a premium of between 150% and 300% in the wake of mass cancellations last weekend in part due to staffing issues. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI

Nov. 8 (UPI) — American Airlines has offered some flight attendants who work holiday trips up to triple their pay after facing mass cancellations due to operational issues during Halloween weekend.

The airline said that flight attendants and reserve cabin crew members who work Nov. 23-Nov.29 and Dec. 22-Jan. 2 can receive a premium of 150%, while those with no absences between Nov. 15 and Jan. 2 can receive a 300% premium, according to an internal memo reviewed by CNN and CNBC.

“To ensure we’re providing certainty for both our customers and team members, we’re doubling down on efforts related to our schedule and staffing,” American Airlines COO David Seymour said in the staff note Friday. “On the schedule front, we’ve ensured that November and December are built to meet customer demand and that they are full supportable by our staffing.”

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants, a labor union representing about 23,000 cabin crew members, said it negotiated the incentives, as flight attendants have faced frequent rescheduling, a shortage of hotel rooms and an increase in unruly passengers over the summer.

In the note, the airline said it currently has 24,000 flight attendants and anticipated it will add 4,000 new team members in the fourth quarter and 600 new flight attendant hires by the end of December.

In addition, nearly 1,800 flight attendants have returned from leaves in November, and 800 more are set to make their way back to work in December. American furloughed 8,000 flight attendants during the COVID-19 pandemic while anticipating the end of federal aid for airline workers.

“From pandemic-related changes to the way we must do business (including mask and other travel requirements) to the small minority of customers who cause disturbances, the last 20 months have been incredibly challenging for many personally and professionally,” said Seymour.

American canceled more than 2,000 flights from Oct. 29 to Nov. 1, citing severe winds in Dallas-Fort Worth on Friday and Saturday and staffing issues.

An unruly passenger last month also punched a flight attendant, causing her to have “multiple broken bones in her face” and requiring the flight to be diverted in what the airline’s CEO described as “one of the worst displays of unruly behavior we’ve ever witnessed.”


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