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.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.