Southwest Airlines has put a call out to flight attendants and a slew of other employee work groups urging them to pick up extra shifts to prevent a crunch over Independence Day weekend according to internal memos sent to workers in the last few days.
The Dallas-based airline is offering employees double pay if they work on their days off or even power through double shifts to keep the airline fully staffed over the holiday weekend.
Last weekend, Southwest Airlines was forced to cancel or delay thousands of flights because of severe weather across certain parts of the United States. In one incident, three Southwest flights were hospitalized after turbulence hit their Chicago to Salt Lake City flight last Friday.
“We have heard from many of you who are frustrated with our network reliability and irregular operations created by summer storms across many parts of the country,” Alan Kasher, Southwest’s executive vice president of daily operations told employees in the internal memo.
The note was titled: “We Need Your Help This Holiday Travel Week.”
“To address the situation for the short term, we will be incentivizing our Ops Employees during this busy holiday travel week by increasing overtime pay from July 1 through July 7,” the memo continued.
Along with flight attendants, Southwest’s ground and cargo operations employees will also be offered double pay for working on their scheduled days off.
The Southwest pilot union had failed to reach a deal with the airline to incentivize extra flight crew working which could throw a spanner in the works. Recent meltdowns at Delta were caused by pilot shortages.
The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association called the offer of double pay for pilots “inadequate”.
Southwest Airlines never had to furlough any of its employees during the pandemic but soon to be departed chief executive Gary Kelly did come close to enacting furloughs for the first time ever in the airline’s history.
The threat of furloughs was made as some workers, including flight attendants, refused to accept temporary pay cuts. In the end, Congress approved further payroll support funding which removed the need for any furloughs.
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.