Mateusz Maszczynski is a serving international flight attendant with experience…
American Airlines has been forced to temporarily suspend the majority of flight attendant training at its training and conference center in Grapevine near Dallas Forth Worth Airport (DFW) after several of the training staff fell ill with Coronavirus. Some of the classrooms and other facilities will be closed while a deep clean is carried out and all non-essential training has been put on hold for the rest of the week.
The news that at least two trainers have tested positive for COVID-19 comes as the Dallas area is experiencing yet another spike in cases. In the last few days, the test positivity rate has climbed to as high as 14.2 per cent with Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins calling on the local community to “curve the current spike before it becomes a wave that further endangers public health and the economy”.
American Airlines will be hoping to avoid a repeat of a Coronavirus outbreak at the Hawaiian Airlines training center in Honolulu which led to at least 15 flight attendants falling ill from the virus. Tragically, a long-serving LA-based flight attendant for Hawaiian who was caught up in that cluster died in hospital several weeks after becoming infected.
“The safety and well-being of our team members is our unwavering focus always and especially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” a spokesperson for American Airlines told us in an emailed statement.
“Unfortunately, we recently had two team members at our Training and Conference Center test positive (for COVID-19). Out of an abundance of caution, we’ve reduced flight attendant training and will only conduct operationally necessary training for the next week,” the statement continued.
“In these instances, classes will be led by trainers who have not been at the Training and Conference Center recently.”
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) said the move to cancel all but the most essential training was taken “out of an abundance of caution”, telling its members that routine training might not restart until November 3.
Flight attendants and trainers are required to wear face masks in the complex and abide by social distancing rules. Anyone entering must first undergo a temperature check. As well as regular cleaning, the classrooms will also be treated with “several rounds of electrostatic spraying using a hospital-grade disinfectant”.
Whistleblowers involved in the Hawaiian Airlines outbreak said the airline did not require flight attendants to wear face masks and claimed social distancing broke down through the day as participants took part in role-plays on aircraft mockups. Hawaiian Airlines has since made the wearing of masks mandatory and has changed its training course to comply with social distancing regulations.
This isn’t the first time that American Airlines has been forced to put its flight attendant training on hold. In March, the airline obtained permission from the FAA to postpone some repeating training for experienced flight attendants. The decision followed reports that some flight attendants had tested positive for COVID-19 after attending the training center.
Mateusz Maszczynski is a serving international flight attendant with experience at a major Middle East and European airline. Mateusz is passionate about the aviation industry and helping aspiring flight attendants achieve their dreams. Cabin crew recruitment can be tough, ultra-competitive and just a little bit confusing - Mateusz has been there and done that. He's got the low down on what really works.