American Airlines Flight Attendants Just Filed a Big Complaint and No One Is Very Happy

Many people usually want to become American Airlines flight attendants.

“That’s a far lower acceptance rate than Harvard,” as former American Airlines CEO Doug Parker put a few years ago. “We get the best of the best.”

At the time, he was probably right. Before the pandemic, American Airlines had about 500,000 applications for 2,000 flight attendant positions.

Since then, however, the entire airline industry has been turned upside down, and both at American Airlines and its competitors some of the shine might have come off the idea of ​​the job.

Example: Recent communications from the union representing American Airlines flight attendants, who blasted American Airlines this week about scheduling issues.

In short, the union says its members are “frustrated” and left feeling that American Airlines has “no regard for the well-being of our flight attendants,” due to the “high line averages and increased number of hours imposed on their schedules.”

Simply put, the union is basically saying that American Airlines is forcing senior flight attendants to accept hectic schedules that often don’t work due to cancellations and delays.

As a result, says the union, which calls itself the Association of Professional Flight Attendants or APFA, American Airlines is in turn putting too many flight attendants on reserve status, so they can be ready on short notice when d ‘other flight attendants are inevitably unable to staff. their flights.

“Our concerns and logical arguments fall on deaf ears,” the union wrote, adding:

“Blatantly ignoring APFA contributions each month, the allowances department continues to build footage that cannot withstand weather and air traffic delays.

As a result, these interrupted streaks force AA to call in an entirely new reserve crew… The sheer number of reserve flight attendants used to supplement these flimsy streaks is shocking.

In 2022 alone, flight attendants have clashed with American Airlines management over everything from how many drinks to serve in economy class at policy don’t play stewardesses when boarding and disembarking passengers.

American Airlines and the union even called flight attendants to create a secondary market for the best flights.

In short, senior flight attendants would bid on desirable flights they had no intention of working, only to turn around and sell their right to work on the flights to more junior flight attendants. .

Basically, no one seems very happy. By the way, I asked American Airlines to comment on all this, but heard nothing back. If they have anything to add, I’ll update this article.

Look, I want American Airlines to succeed. I want their flight attendants to be paid fairly and enjoy their jobs, and I want the entire American aviation industry to be healthy so that we can all fly safely, reliably, comfortably and more or less affordable.

Although it sometimes seems like a tall order, my interest in this story – and probably yours – is not so much about the specific complaints of American Airlines flight attendants, as it is about what the leaders of any industry can learn from history.

In this case, I think it has to do with the rather archaic, Byzantine flight attendant scheduling system that seems to be the source of so much trouble.

In the course of reading all of this, I came across the single-spaced 122-page manual or guide to the Flight Attendant Preferential Bidding System that they use at American Airlines.

I am aware that policies like this are the result of negotiations between unions and airlines, and that with something like 25,000 flight attendants and countless flights, but the complexity is striking.

As I write in my free ebook, Flying business class: 12 rules for US airline executivesthis industry offers an unbroken parade of business school case studies that can help you overcome your business challenges.

Today’s lesson? Keep it simple when you can. Maybe you’ll end up with happier employees.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

About Theresa Burton

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