Phoenix-based flight attendants at American Airlines have some of the highest sickness levels across the company and it’s an issue that has to be addressed if flight attendants are to have any hope of reclaiming premium international routes like London Heathrow, the crew union warned on Thursday.
Following the merger with US Airways, Phoenix Sky Harbor became a base for American Airlines but flight attendants have sometimes felt like they have been the easy target for cutbacks.
Last December, the base was forced to lose nearly 300 flight attendants who were displaced to other airports that have traditionally been more important hubs for the airline. The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) has warned that the high sickness rates are making it more difficult to fight for the return of those displaced flight attendants.
The issues at AA’s Phoenix base, like displaced flight attendants and high levels of reserve, aren’t just apparently affecting sickness levels though. It appears that customer service is also taking a beating from the changes.
“PHX has a long history of having some of the best Flight Attendants systemwide. Our customer service numbers were always ranked #1 or 2 in the system. Since the start of COVID and rotating Reserve, those rankings have slipped to the bottom systemwide,” the APFA local union noted in a recent memo.
“Like the mythical Phoenix bird, we know that PHX can rise from the ashes and once again reclaim our top ranking in customer service.”
Flight attendants are being urged to step up their game and hopefully attract the attention of incoming chief executive Robert Isom who will take over from Doug Parker in March 2022.
The process of downsizing the Phoenix base started in 2019 when AA announced plans to cut about a third of flight attendants. After 18-months, the flight attendant overage was still assessed to be around 284 and the most junior aircrew were involuntarily moved to other bases.
Despite downsizing the base, AA has found itself struggling with staffing shortages in Phoenix which has heaped further pressure on flight attendants working out of Phoenix.
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.