American Airlines flight attendants claim they have been forced to sleep in the airport and outside of baggage claim on some occasions because of delays by the airline in providing them with hotel accommodation when they are away from home on a layover. The same problems are also being faced by pilots and the airline said it was investigating the complaint as a “priority”.
According to the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), some of the latest issues arose after American decided to hand over crew limo and hotel responsibilities to a third-party contractor. The issues have now reached “unprecedented, unacceptable levels” the union claims.
“We have Flight Attendants sleeping in airports and outside of baggage claim due to the company not providing hotel accommodations in a timely manner,” a memo sent to American’s 28,000 flight attendants read. “Crew rest is being impacted, and clean, comfortable, and quiet rooms are not being provided for required rest.”
Some of the issues have been caused or been made worse by a prolonged period of severe weather in the United States that has impacted the operations of American Airlines and other carriers.
APFA says flight attendants are struggling to get transport to designated crew hotels and sometimes have to get an Uber to the hotel, only to then find out that the hotel doesn’t have any available rooms for them. Flight attendants are also being taken to “unsuitable” and limited-service hotels.
Under the flight attendant contract, American Airlines is obliged to put crew in hotels with minimum standards such as no rooms on the ground floor, no adjoining rooms and with minimum safety standards.
In its memo to flight attendants, APFA claims American is either refusing or failing to put crew in hotel rooms that are “comfortable, safe and clean”. In some cases, flight attendants are being asked to hand over their credit card to check in to a hotel – a big ‘no, no’ within the industry.
In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for American Airlines told us: “Taking care of our crew members while they are away from home is a priority for American. We are looking into the concerns raised by APA (Allied Pilots Association) and APFA.”
As well as demanding AA “cease and desist” from breaking the flight attendant contract, APFA is also calling on the airline to grant additional unspecified relief to flight attendants caught up in the fiasco.
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.