Flight attendants at an American Airline regional carrier are furious after the airline announced a bumper pay rise for pilots with some expected rake in as much as $180,000 in bonuses alone. Meanwhile, some flight attendants at Piedmont Airlines say they are barely surviving on wages that fall way short of colleagues wearing the same uniform at mainline AA.
Piedmont, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of American Airlines and which operates flights under the American Eagle brand, said it had struck a landmark deal with the ALPA pilots union that will see all serving Captain’s take home a ‘retention bonus’ worth $30,000 in November.
Meanwhile, First officer’s could take home $30,000 once they successfully get promoted to the rank of Captain. Pilots who progress from Piedmont onto American’s mainline business are also set to make $70,000.
A further $50,000 is up for grabs for pilots who meet working hours targets over the course of the next two years, along with increased pay rates to improve Piedmont’s “competitive position”.
“Our ability to out-perform all other American Airlines regionals, take on flying when necessary and deliver a safe product to our customers is what led to this significant investment,” commented Piedmont’s vice president of flight operations Steve Keefer in an internal memo on Wednesday.
“Any pilot who flies for Piedmont now, or chooses Piedmont in the future, will have a solid future with our company and eventually an opportunity with American Airlines if they wish to flow,” the memo continued.
Flight attendants at the carrier, however, are said to be less than impressed with the massive investment in Piedmont’s pilot workforce while talks on a new flight attendant contract are stalled.
Some flight attendants claim their wages haven’t kept up with rising living costs and Sara Nelson, President of the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) says some flight attendants are struggling to even get to work because taveling costs are too prohibitive.
Unlike mainline flight attendants, Piedmont’s flight attendants didn’t even have any pandemic-related pay protections until earlier this year when the union went public about the situation.
“While other airlines negotiated paid or non-punitive pandemic leave, Piedmont management penalized Flight Attendants,” the Association of Flight Attendants complained in April. “Management forced us to use our own sick leave when we tested positive for COVID, likely at work, or when required to quarantine due to a known COVID exposure.”
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.
In a free economy, people who think they are underpaid can switch employers or change their occupation. If the flight attendants are unhappy with Piedmont’s wage offer, they can reject it and strike.
Kim. Our new hire FA’s are not paid enough for housing in the city of Philadelphia . They offer the pilots hotel rooms, free of charge, but not our FA’s. We have a food basket for FA’s in the crewroom they aren’t making enough to feed themselves and some hv to sleep in their cars. Ive been with Piedmont 35 years to start over, we will be on the bottom of the list. When Piedmont pays those pilots all that money and throw us $250 for the next four month just to get them through the holidays is a slap in our faces.
Does seniority not follow into mainline?
Not for flight attendants at Piedmont
I once had a employer that I felt didn’t pay well enough. So I quit. Easy.
Travel and service industry workers of all sorts are doing this right now. Don’t complain that flight attendants and pilots aren’t getting equal treatment – two completely different groups. Don’t complain that the wages aren’t enough. Just quit.
If and when there is a flight attendant shortage, you’ll see changes in the way your contracts are written and salaries will change as well.
In the meantime, figure out how your flight attendant skill set translates into other industries and find employment there. Or, switch careers. Perhaps, become a pilot. Be careful though, pilots may have a good deal right now but things change.