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Do Not Get Food and Arrive at Work Even Earlier American Airlines Tells Flight Attendants

Do Not Get Food and Arrive at Work Even Earlier American Airlines Tells Flight Attendants

Photo Credit: American Airlines

American Airlines has incensed its flight attendants by implying they should skip meals and arrive even earlier for work in order to improve the carrier’s woeful on-time performance. Julie Hedrick, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants Association (APFA) described a memo sent to crew last week as “insulting” and said the airline was “out of touch” with stressed, overworked flight attendants.

In the ‘Moments that Matter’ memo, American advises flight attendants to leave for work sooner than they might normally just in case there are traffic delays and to arrive “a few minutes early” at security screening points. Flight attendants called to work a flight from standby reserve are told “not to stop for food or other items”.

“It now seems that skipping food runs on the way to the airplane and monitoring traffic patterns should be our new normal,” Hedrick told flight attendants. “This company continues to demonstrate just how out-of-touch they are with Flight Attendants, ignoring the fatigue-inducing trip construction and the constant battles over mask compliance,” she continued.

Hedrick accused American of using the pandemic as a “golden opportunity to make our lives more difficult” – particularly by increasing the number of flight attendants sat on reserve while others are working “exhausting” trip sequences.

“It is time that we are recognized for our work and our sacrifices instead of receiving a callous communication asking us to skip a meal while on duty,” Hedrick continued.

The airline is gearing up for a busy summer season after more than 1.7 million Americans travelled by airplane on Mothers Day – a new record for the pandemic. Many new passengers are leisure travelers who aren’t used to American’s processes and might need more of a ‘hands on’ approach from flight attendants to get planes away on time.

The memo advises flight attendants to actively assist passengers in finding their seats and stowing their bags, as well as giving leisure passengers more attention to ensure boarding goes smoothly.

Flight attendants are also told to make sure their tablets are charged before starting work.

Union leaders are gearing up to restart contract negotiations with the company with the stage set for some heated discussions.

View Comments (57)
  • Sounds like how airlines have been treating their customers for decades. When was the last time a coach flier had a reasonably decent terminal/security experience and got a decent meal?

    Sorry, FA’s, what goes around comes around. Get used to hunger being part of the experience of flying. Heaven knows us passengers have.

    • American has terrible service unless you’re fortunate enough to fly business/first. I’m usually in coach where it’s like a cattle car on the way to slaughter (they don’t get fed) and occasionally in First. Add on the unscientific mask wearing for vaccinated passengers, and it’s an experience to be avoided.

      • Couldn’t agree more AA has the worst service, ever. I always allow for traffic time on the way to my job. Si I guess I don’t understand how that is a bad thing? I have a friend that works for United and he is the friendliest flight attendant you would be fortunate to have!

    • As a 30-year retired airline Captain, in an emergency, when the airplane stops, your ass is in the flight attendants hands. Sully landed the Airbus in the Hudson, but the flight attendants evacuated everyone off..

  • Flight attendants are not paid until the doors close, so spending more time helping passengers to their seats, is on the FA’s dime not AA’s. Of course they want the flight attendants to do more work for free!

    • That is a very important thing to know because I had little sympathy for the flight attendants until I read they are not paid until the doors close. That means exactly what you said, management is asking for more work that is unpaid !!

    • Very true the entire flight crew does not get paid until the doors are closed the airlines get free work on many flights every day wow

  • As a retired airline pilot, this is just basic responsibility. Leave for work a few minutes early. Be ready to go directly to the airport when on reserve. Help pax.

    Do your job.

    • as a retired pilot you damn well know YOUR provided with FIRST CLASS meals! Shut up and get back to your vacation cabin or to south america to your secret oother family

    • Do you job and get paid for it. They should start being in the clock when they’re doing the job, not just when the doors are closed.

      • I didn’t see anything in this article that required them to do more work than they currently do. It just asked them to be on time. If that requires monitoring traffic patterns, just like anyone else who has a start time, then they should do that. If they fail to monitor traffic and are running late, then they shouldn’t stop for food. That’s basic adult responsibility.
        If AA has a terrible on time record, then AA has the right to try to correct that.
        The author needs to present both sides, not whine about being told to adult up.

        • I agree. I’m expected to arrive at work on time, so why shouldn’t the air crew? If they have issues with their pay then it sounds like they need better contract negotiators!

        • Telling someone not eat is unhealthy and degrading that’s the bottom line for me you other folks need to stay tuned in to what’s really going on read between the lines before you get caught up stop trying to be politically correct smh how inhumane to suggest this

    • As a current flight attendant, save your lecture. Your advice comes from a person who sits in the flight deck on his arse, doesn’t engage with customers, lift a bag, shows up after the plane is boarded, doesn’t have to worry about food because he demands whatever food is onboard before anyone else because it’s “per the contract”, works half the flights of inflight per day, runs off the flight before the customers like a bat out of Hell, all the while constantly griping about his terrible work conditions while pulling down a mid six figure salary. Need I go on??? Please. Just sit down. Attitudes like yours are why flight deck is so disliked. You, like so many comments on here, don’t know what you’re talking about. Don’t know how long you’ve been retired, but times have changed. Especially in the past year.

  • “Leave for work sooner than they might normally just in case there are traffic delays and to arrive “a few minutes early” at security screening points.”

    Just, …. wow. Unbelievable. How is this any different than what EVERYONE does on a daily basis, even without the pandemic?

    I’m afraid this article did nothing to win support or even sympathy for flight attendants, at least from me. Suck it up, it’s a job. Get to your job on time. If you want food, make the necessary arrangements so you can, and it doesn’t make you late. No excuses. Sigh.

  • I used to work as an FA. I made food to bring and got to work early. I was also the union president at the airline I worked for many years ago. So bring your food so you dont have to worry about not being able to eat.

  • When the airlines eliminate the attendants not many customers will shed tears. At this point they can be replaced with a coke machine.

  • Seriously! I have to get to work on time. I always leave a little in case of traffic. I don’t see a reason why flight attendants can’t, I don’t know, Eat before they leave home??? My boss wouldn’t be too thrilled if I told her that I was late because I was in line at the drive thru.

  • I don’t know the BIG picture here but ALL Airlines crew should not be told they can’t grab food on their way to the plane. They all work hard and they are people and not machines!!!

  • What’s comical about this article is that the author is complaining about things that are standard in every workplace. Yes you are supposed to monitor traffic patterns so that you arrive to work on time. And yes you should plan to get your food or whatever other items you need ahead of time so that you arrive to work on time. It is comical that this person is complaining that they are expected to arrive on time. The supposedly insulting email said to arrive a few minutes early. I would expect any flight attendant, whether directed to or not , to be at the airport well in advance of their flight so that they are not running at the last minute and having the plane be delayed due to their lack of attention to traffic etc. Regardless of what type of job you have you are expected to arrive on time. And if that means you need to plan more in advance to have food on hand at home etc then that should be part of your day today planning.

  • I vowed never to fly AA after my experience in early 1990s and reconfirmed when I was active duty military and did not have the choice not to fly on AA. Rude staff and rude Flight Attendants. Swallowing the same bitter pill from your Admin that you all served your customers, no sympathy here.

  • I side with the FA’s on this one. Isn’t it enough to put up with A$$holes all day long? To be honest, there’s not enough money to make me put up with the abuse they endure? I hardly doubt that when there’s a flight delay it’s always their fault. If they are basically expected to drop everything at a moment’s notice and come in on an as needed basis then they should be paid to do that. Nurses are paid to be available so why aren’t FAs?

    • Restaurant workers have to deal with much worse, especially if they are in crime ridden areas. Yet they only are paid around minimum wage. FAs are paid rather well in general considering they are essentially in a service industry job which does not require much higher education, not all people in the industry can say the same.

      Still though, I agree that it is abhorrent to expect them to show up sooner to the airport and still not pay them up to until the aircraft doors close.

    • Nurses don’t need to be told or reminded to arrive on time for our shifts. And we arrive at least a few minutes early in order to “get our act together “ before getting report on our patients and conferring with their current Nurse as to how best to care for them, what specific needs each one has, and all the time realizing that in all probability we won’t sit down again for at least 12 hours, we won’t get a “break” to use the bathroom, and the thought of getting anything to eat is laughable. If we were to be rude to a patient, any patient for any reason we would be fired on the spot. Every “call bell” must be answered “in person” within 15 seconds of its ringing or a written explanation must be submitted to management. We get physically as well as verbally abused by patients and their families and even held hostage and killed by patients at times. This is happening in epidemic proportions currently which can be checked out in the media. We must have at least a Bachelor Degree in Nursing to get a job and that isn’t a walk in the park either. Once you get that you must pass the NCLEX… the national licensing examination. It doesn’t stop there. We are mandated to take an active role in “Lifelong Learning” in order to maintain our license. We are expected to work weekends and holidays as well as “Take Call”. We never get to step out of our place of business and find ourselves in an exotic location. But occasionally we do get to accompany a former patient down to the morgue after he “checks out “ of our care. We have the privilege of holding our patient’s hand and comforting them while they die. That isn’t sarcasm, it’s a true privilege that only a few “workers” will ever know. On the other hand we have to tell family members that their loved one is no longer with us. So when I hear complaints from airline personnel such as the ones in this article I have to wonder where their priorities lie. They chose their jobs. They knew what to expect. They are service professionals as are Nurses. We go out of our way to assist and care for our clients. I realize that my life is in the hands of the cabin attendants when I fly and I never fail to say, “Thank you for taking care of us” as I de-plane. Now I only hope they can see clear to realize that they are professionals and stop whining about the apparent need to be reminded to be on time, to arrive a few minutes early to get themselves organized before their shift begins, and the apparent need to be told not to stop for food when running late. Obviously there was a need for management to remind them of these basic principles of holding a job. And if you’re not getting paid for work being done, as until the cabin doors are closed, check with the “Wage and Hour” division of the Department of Labor for the rules and get better representation by your union reps or get a better union. We Nurses learned that lesson years ago when we were being viewed and treated as the physician’s hand maids. And now for the last 20+ years (with the exception of 2001 when firefighters got it for 911), Nurses have been voted the MOST TRUSTED OCCUPATION IN THE UNITED STATES by U.S.News & World Reports. We didn’t get here by whining about management. We got here by addressing our grievances with management in a Professional manner. I’d strongly suggest the FAs do the same and stop taking out your anger and frustration on the passengers.

      • As a nurse you should be able to read… we aren’t being told to be on time we are being told to arrive early. You sound so miserable in your job maybe you should quit and go work in a restaurant.

  • Addressing the entire workforce rather than those individuals arriving late is a lazy management style. It will always make for poor employee, employer relations.
    Examples: ” we encourage pilots to refrain from drinking prior to flights”

    • Says the whining brat. It’s all about doing the job you choose. And if passengers are whining, it’s because the passengers get treated like a commodity, not customers.

      • I watched the crap these people put up with doing their job for 25 years
        , by the way their job is not making you happy it is for your safety

  • Sorry no sympathy from me. I once asked for a water to take meds and was promptly told if she brings me water everyone will want some! I had a migraine for 5 hours. The older ladies and men need to be replaced. Its quite a hard job if performed properly but the majority of the elderly are grumpy and should han g it up!

    • And I’ll just bet you asked for that water as soon as you boarded the plane. Even though there was water in one of the many shops in the terminal. Oh that’s right!! You have to PAY for that water!!! You want FREE water!! Amazing how many people don’t need to take a pill until they board the plane. Listen…. we’re on to you😉

      • I only flew AA once, my flight with Delta was canceled and I was unfortunately rerouted with AA, flying from Heathrow to Charlotte. The plane was dirty, it didn’t even look as if it had been cleaned prior to boarding, the flight attendants were rude and surly, must have seen them 4 times the whole flight, worst customer service ever, I for one have no sympathy with them if they behave like this all the time, just do your job, that’s all that’s required of you.

  • Arrive on time? Be ready to work? Oh the humanity, the poor babies. Smh. Last couple trips had some of the rudest employees working.

  • As a former FA who actually WORKED a flight, serving meals to a passenger on meal trays..walking down the isle with two trays at a time, collecting those trays after service over., putting up with smoking in the cabin, helping passengers by hanging those suit bags . These FA’s today don’t have any room to complain..Easy Peasy job. .throwing a snack and a soda to a passenger, collecting trash, making a few announcements, sitting on their ass on their phones with little or no communication with the passengers. The industry and job has declined to the point that public opinion of the FA job is extremely low. No one cares about personal attention to the needs of a passenger, no engaging in conversation except to ask about drinks/snack. Sad…….

    • Well said. These cry babies wanted that job and now they’re crying about it. Good grief go find a job at a convenience store or a greeter at Walmart or a server and a restaurant that makes $2.35 an hour plus tips

  • From a former airline employee, It was once required that you show up on time for your position. Many will recall the three times you’re out rule after showing up late or missing work.

  • The memo seemed to me to be sound friendly advice. Flying had become an ordeal before the pandemic. Now it must be miserable for the cabin crew but an employer has a reasonable explanation that employees show for work on time and ready to work.

  • As a retired Flight Attendant this is nothing new from Management memos. There was a time we weren’t allowed to walk and talk on our phone. Must be seated in a seat. They were watching what shoes we were wearing walking and or running through the terminals. One minute late for checkin didn’t work, you were written up. Sometimes stopping for a meal to go was truly the only meal we had to eat for the day!
    Im glad those days are gone but miss my days and evenings in Paris. I think I’ll go there in October on my mile points.

  • Very true the entire flight crew does not get paid until the doors are closed the airlines get free work on many flights every day wow

  • Sadly, AA is expecting more and more from all workgroups and sends out condescending communications like this regularly. I used to enjoy my job and feel appreciated. Now I am a glorified policy enforcer who doesn’t believe for a minute that management cares about my well being let alone that of our customers. It’s heartbreaking to me.

  • The memo is telling the Flight Attendants to come to work early. Earlier, not on time, but earlier. And if your a reserve that was just called in to cover a flight, don’t stop to get any food, even if you have a 2 hour call out, because they want you to be “early.”
    This is an on time business. Most employees are early or on time, there are still strict policies in place for being late and you will get terminated.
    Most carriers pay by block hours flown and FA’s are not paid while the cabin door is still open. Even when you are boarding, working, you are not being paid. This is the busiest time of your trip; Greeting passengers, monitoring bags, monitoring mask wearing, handing out wipes, answering questions, assisting with bag stowage and other carry ons, assisting families with seating, wheelchair pax and other special needs pax, infant briefings, emergency briefings and announcements plus regulatory compliance checks before the cabin door can close. And do it all by departure time because if the door isn’t closed, it will be a delay charged to Inflight, that you will be required to answer for.
    And during all of that, the Flight Attendants are not being paid.
    This is a long time practice in the industry that must change. During this same time there can be medical needs and medical emergencies, aircraft equipment to attend to and disgruntled or angry passengers and catering issues.
    Asking FA’s to come earlier and work longer for free is unconscionable.
    I don’t think there is any worker in any industry that would sign up for that.

  • The missing point in all the complaining comments is the FA’s they are pointing at are on Standby Reserve. These workers are waiting days on end to be called up, and are often called at the last minute to work after waiting a full week at their standby locations (see: Out of town, out of state – staying at hotels on their own dime, and often in their cars or public places just waiting for work).
    I’ve flown most every week during the pandemic and I’ve yet to meet an FA who was not doing their job every minute to make sure they keep their jobs. It’s never as simple as most care to see and judge from their own perspective.

  • Nope still not as bad as working your tail off for a Regional Airline ala MESA . Low pay Long days 12 hours 8 legs not able to get off aircraft no food listening to people complain about how small the plane is and if it can even get the ground. 120* f temp on Phoenix tarmac did I mention lowest pay in the industry! Management doe$ not give a flying fig about you and don’t care and 1.25hr perdiem for overnight ‘s wouldn’t pay for a $30 room service Burger at the local airport Helladay Inn only choice for food cause you get there at 1030pm and all restaurant are closed! But AA is getting closer and closer to being like its lil red headed step child ( I’m a ginger BTW) Smiling always worked for me you don’t even have option because of masks something’s gonna give a cabin crew revaluation seems inevitable. Good Luck Fly Safe I still love airliners and am glad I got out in 2012 but I flew threw Sept. 11 attacks and that really was when everything changed. Flight Crew deserve as much respect as passenger’s do.

  • As an ex-employee myself I don’t understand why the fa’s don’t eliminate the union and quit paying them for nothing. These people are working for the management of AA, not a union who is obviously not doing a damn thing to help their work rules. Delete the useless middleman and keep more of the money you work for. Wake up!

  • FAs are nothing but glorified waiters and waitress. For some reason the location of the job makes them think they are better than everyone else. If you don’t want to be on time for your job, and you don’t want to have breakfast before you leave for your job, or eat it on the way, then go get a job in a restaurant. That would be the only other job you would be qualified for. Working in a restaurant, then you would have something to complain about.

    • Ann: flight attendants complete a min 6 week training, are trained and expected to assist in medical emergencies, fight fire, and manage an emergency evacuation. They are not waiters, and an airplane is not a restaurant. The job exists for safety of all passengers. If such requirements weren’t mandatory, you would find vending machines on board instead of people taking care of you. Service is also a wonderful part of the job, as it is a job dealing with the public and people that aplly for that position should have that in mind yes. But before you call them waiters, call them “. nurses”, “firefighters” and remember they will be the ones risking their lives to ensure you get out safe in an emergency. And maybe drop the insulting “glorified” as it makes you sound bitter.

  • I am a recently retired FA from Australia. I think it’s only common sense to allow for traffic when getting to work, after all sign on time is sign on time, not when you can get there time. I think the suggestion from Management on this matter is only sensible and reasonable to expect from crew. There are other ways to protest your work load and schedules via your union and transport authority if they are not up to scratch you have to ask why ?
    If you are on reserve at the airport you have been given time while sitting about watching TV etc.. to nourish and feed your self. stopping for food on the way and delaying an aircraft is a reasonable expectation. would you like it if your baby sitter decided to get to your home late, delaying your appointment or work and saying they had to stop for food when they had all the time prior to work to get it. I don’t think so. its the same thing really.
    As crew we eat at odd hours we are used that, stop complaining you are lucky to have that job, the company are also lucky to have you..
    Personal responsibility is yours for the making and if you don’t like it, no one is holding you in that awful job you seem to hate so much.

  • Evidently you did not make the cut. Jealous. You have not a clue what you are talking about. Most times we are coming in from another flight and have to change planes which are in another terminal and we could not eat that morning because nothing was open in airport where we started. So in changing planes, we would like food to finish the next flight. We do need fuel you know.

    • Anyone who doesn’t think that flight attendants are dedicated to their jobs must not fly often. ‘Jealous’ is probably right. As for the kind of stupid that management has displayed with this kind of ‘advice’ … there must be some kind of competition going on for who can think up the dumbest things. It’s difficult to grasp how people can ascend to any kind of executive level where they are permitted to send out this kind of garbage. Only at an airline, I guess. Perhaps they are trained at the same place as many government officials.

  • Ann: flight attendants complete a min 6 week training, are trained and expected to assist in medical emergencies, fight fire, and manage an emergency evacuation. They are not waiters, and an airplane is not a restaurant. The job exists for safety of all passengers. If such requirements weren’t mandatory, you would find vending machines on board instead of people taking care of you. Service is also a wonderful part of the job, as it is a job dealing with the public and people that aplly for that position should have that in mind yes. But before you call them waiters, call them “. nurses”, “firefighters” and remember they will be the ones risking their lives to ensure you get out safe in an emergency, and many have died in the line of duty. And maybe drop the insulting “glorified”, it makes you sound bitter.

  • Funny most of you all have no idea what your commenting about.

    1. Flight Attendants have to be at work ready to go 1 hour before departure so we can board the plane and be on time without being paid. Although being 5 minutes late doesn’t effect the 30 minutes prior to departure boarding time we still get in deep trouble for being late… although we are not on the clock. Usually if a flight attendant is boarding late it’s either their last flight was late or they were just called in last minute.

    2. Standby crews who sit at the airport 6 hours do not know if they are flying or going home will wait until called to get food. 1, If they are going home why waste the money. 2, International destinations don’t allow us to bring certain items. 3. Sometimes your in line getting food and they call you. Also you can be called into airport standby with only 3 hours notice, not really time to get ready, make food and get to wok early.

    3. People have no idea about our hours. I just worked a redeye from West Coast to East Coast that landed at 7AM. I went home slept 2 hours did laundry, packed food and went back to work EARLY for a 6:30 PM departure. Imagine getting home from work and having to go back again in under 8 hours? Then after I worked 9 days in a row AND my TWO shifts in the same day SFO-MIA second shift was MIA-CLT-MIA with the last flight arriving LATE after midnight then being hit with a no show for refusing to pick up another flight at 0130 AM because I’m just too exhausted. Can your work punish you for not staying longer? Ours can and no we don’t get over time. And I will get in trouble for falling asleep on duty, it’s a no win.

    4. This is why flight attendants can get cranky, no sleep, no food, no empathy, constant schedule changes, not getting home when your supposed to be and passengers yelling at us even though we’re right there getting screwed in the weather delays with you. While upper management is sitting home or on vacation traveling as a full access passenger who can actually bump paying passengers off the plane or out of first class.

    May I suggest next time you are upset on a flight please don’t yell at the agents or the crew and direct your complaints about how the airline is run and comments how you’ll never fly it again to the upper management who are the only ones that can do anything to fix these issues in the future.

    Have a great day!

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