Southwest Airlines has penned an agreement with delivery service provider DoorDash to give thousands of flight attendants and pilots access to fee-free restaurant delivery. The airline said it was shouldering the expense due to numerous issues flight crew have faced over the last few months getting hold of food at airports and layover hotels.
Beginning October 12, all active crew members will be given access to the DoorDash subscription service known as DashPass. The subscription normally costs $9.99 and covers delivery charges and some other fees at thousands of participating restaurants and eateries across the United States.
Southwest pilots and flight attendants will still need to pay for any food they order but the cost to have it delivered should be covered in most cases. The subscription service will be covered by Southwest for an initial period of six months.
Confirming the news, a spokesperson for Southwest said the airline had partnered with DoorDash because of “reported issues felt throughout airports, hotels, restaurants, and the travel industry as a whole, making it challenging, at times, for Flight Attendants and Pilots to obtain items during layovers.”
In August, the Southwest flight attendants union pleaded with chief executive Gary Kelly to improve working conditions for crew who were said to be “exhausted” and close to “breaking point”.
“No food and no rest is no way to treat the best. From lack of transportation to lack of hotels accommodations, our Flight Attendants sometimes resort to sleeping in the airports, hungry and tired,” the TWU Local 556 wrote in an open letter to Kelly.
“Get food to us in airports and on layovers, even if it has to be delivered to the plane or room. Find hotels where we can lay our heads,” the letter continued.
The hospitality sector continues to struggle to recruit and retain staff with restaurants sometimes being forced to reduce their usual opening hours. The issue has been particularly acute at airports with many F&B outlets closing early or not opening at all.
Many hotels continue to reduce service levels and keep bars and cafes shuttered, making it challenging for flight attendants to find food after a long workday.
Chief operating officer, Mike Van de Ven apologized to staff after the airline took advantage of a surge in bookings over the summer. “We have to be honest with ourselves: it’s also taken a toll on our operation and put a significant strain on all of you. And for that, I am sincerely sorry.”
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.