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United Airlines Sending UK-based Flight Attendants to India via the USA

United Airlines Sending UK-based Flight Attendants to India via the USA

United Airlines has been accused of doing U.S.-based flight attendants out of work by using international crew based in London to operate trips from the United States to India. The accusation comes after thousands of United’s flight attendants received federal WARN letters for the second time informing them that they are at risk of being furloughed without pay or healthcare benefits when an airline bailout runs out at the end of March.

In recent weeks, flight attendants based at London Heathrow have not only worked flights between the UK and US but also onwards to Delhi and Mumbai. One routing involves flight attendants flying from London to Chicago and after a short layover, working a third flight to Delhi and spending a night in India before doing the same trip in reverse.

Another routing involves United’s international crew flying from Heathrow to Newark and then onto Mumbai. The London Heathrow base employs over 400 flight attendants, some of whom are U.S. passport holders.

Thousands of United’s U.S.-based flight attendants were furloughed at the start of October when funds from a federal payroll support program dried up. After flight attendants spent several months without pay or benefits, Congress agreed on an extension to program on December 28, 2020.

That extension, however, will come to an end at the start of April. On Friday, United sent WARN notices to around 14,000 staffers providing them with the legally required 60-day notice that their jobs were at risk.

Many of the flight attendants who were brought back from the first round of furloughs haven’t worked a single flight while they await security checks and mandatory training. A lack of flights also means that many flight attendants are sat at home without work on contractual minimum pay.

United didn’t comment on the specifics of what routes international flight attendants were operating on behalf of their U.S.-based colleagues, but a spokesperson said of the matter: “We comply with government regulations to manage our service and flight schedule. United is making adjustments to crew staffing in accordance with current government mandates.”

Some flight attendants have also raised concern about the fact that UK-based flight attendants may be exposed to a highly-transmissible variant of the covid-19 virus that was first discovered in South East England.

Although passengers now have to get a pre-departure test before flying to the United States, aircrew are currently exempt from the rules.

View Comments (18)
  • This article is very misleading . The LHR based flight attendants are members of the same Union as the USA based crew and belong to the same seniority list . They are not taking jobs from USA based crews. Being part of the same seniority list they are just as entitled to fly all the routes United operates. As it would happen the crews in London are as this point on average more senior than most of the USA based crews. As such if the company were to close london then they would displace the junior crew in the USA causing them to lose their jobs. This article is exactly why media gets such a bad reputation, sensationalist, factually inaccurate and misleading. Shame on the author and the publisher.

  • You’ve got no clue what you’re talking about!!! Please do your homework before you throw out all this rubbish online… Should really be forbidden, but hey, you probably end up on the bottom of the pile of rubbish online ‘news’ anyway..tmrw you’re history already.. I hope.
    Annaflygirl.

    • From my experience in USA-India United flights for more than a decade and then one London-USA flight, the UK based United Crew are 1,000 times nicer and friendlier than their USA counterparts. It was hard for me to believe that they both work for there same company. I think the USA-India Untied passengers are getting a much better experience thanks to this change. Keep it this way United.

  • Thanks Ben… what is the purpose of this article??? To stir the pot and cause discord? To make United out to be a bad company because they’re using senior flight crew out of the U.K.? So flight crews out of the U.K. don’t deserve to fly? You haven’t answered Ben…. can you answer me?

    • From my experience in USA-India United flights for more than a decade and then one London-USA flight, the UK based United Crew are 1,000 times nicer and friendlier than their USA counterparts. It was hard for me to believe that they both work for there same company. I think the USA-India Untied passengers are getting a much better experience thanks to this change. Keep it this way United.

  • Thanks Ben… what is the point of the article, Someone should get their fact straight and not publish a bunch of drivel!

  • These UK based crews have been in existence at United since 1991. This is nothing new as far as flight assignments.
    The same was done when the airline had crew bases in Frankfurt, Paris, Santiago, Tokyo, Taipei and Hong Kong.

    London is flying India because many nonstops to London are not operating due to Covid. Whenever there’s a surplus of crew, traditional route assignments change to increase efficiencies. When international flights cancel, US-based crews can be reassigned to domestic flights since they’re guaranteed the pay from their original trip. UK crews cannot be reassigned to internal US domestic flights due to immigration/visa restrictions.
    Once LHR flights return to normal, these crews will go back to flying to US gateways only.
    It’s interesting that your source didn’t tell you that the UK crews have since been removed from the India flights in February due to Covid restrictions.
    This article is now out of date.

  • “One routing involves flight attendants flying from London to Chicago and after a short layover, working a third flight to Delhi and spending a night in India before doing the same trip in reverse.“
    London to Chicago=One flight.
    Plus
    Chicago to Delhi= Two flights.

    Wondering where that ‘third flight’ is you’re talking about.
    More great editing from PYOC. Not.

    What’s the point of this article anyway? United may schedule their FAs according to their agreement with the FAs union.

  • United has had a base in London for decades. The international flying rotates between bases and always has. Btw, many of the flight attendants in London are U.S. citizens.

  • Not even talking about the Frankfurt counterparts that have been erased like they never existed. These crews are or were the best . I miss them tremendously. I flew with them for decades, they were the reason i stuck to this company.
    Such an article is do wrong in so many levels

  • Lots of great comments here already.

    Further the crew is type approved for these long haul aircraft.

    Finally UK labor laws provide stronger protection for furlough / redundancy so are likely to drive use of this crew, keeping them current as much seniority.

  • Further, Ben, you are also mistaken. No flight attendants sat at home with full pay. The contractual amount the company must pay is about half what many flight attendants actually make.

  • This is terribly misleading. The flight attendants based in London are on the dues paying members list of the AFA union, which in in seniority order. These people are considerably more senior to anyone that was furloughed.

    Unfortunately, your source for this story mislead you.

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