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Alaska Airlines Cuts Inflight Service Through End of January After Flight Attendant Backlash

Alaska Airlines Cuts Inflight Service Through End of January After Flight Attendant Backlash

Alaska Airlines will offer just one beverage service in the main cabin no matter the length of the flight and axe fresh meals on medium-haul flights through the end of January 2022 after flight attendants raised concerns that they were at increased risk of COVID-19 infection with the return of pre-pandemic levels of inflight service.

The Seattle-based carrier had previously dismissed concerns from the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) about the rollback of pandemic era safety measures but a sharp uptick in employee sickness from the Omicron surge sweeping across the United States appears to have resulted in a rethink.

Last week, Alaska Airlines said ‘unprecedented’ levels of staff sickness, combined with bad weather had forced it scrap 10% of scheduled flights through January to give the struggling carrier “time and space to find our path forward together”.

Along with cutting back drinks services and axing fresh meals, Alaska Airlines will also reduce the number of pre-orders allowed on transcon and Hawaii flights from 63 to just 42 per flight. The carrier’s picnic packs will be removed from the pre-order selection but a limited number will still be available to purchase onboard.

All the measures were taken directly from a list of recommendations that AFA presented to the airline last month. The union said it had spent “hours upon hours’ in meetings with management trying to convince them to reduce inflight service levels but had been rebuffed by the airline.

Jeffrey Peterson, president of the Alaska Airlines branch of the flight attendant union told members Alaska management appeared “profoundly out of touch with flight attendants” and that morale amongst flight attendants had hit the “lowest ever within recent memory”. 

Peterson said flight attendants were pushing for a reduction in service in order to reduce the amount of time crew members had to interact with passengers. The union also said reducing service levels would give passengers less excuse to lower their face masks.

Last week, Air New Zealand curtailed inflight service altogether on domestic flights so that passengers wouldn’t have to lower or remove their face masks for the duration of the flight. The longest domestic flight in Air New Zealand’s network is just over two hours long and passengers will still receive a small snack as they deplane.

At the end of this week, Finnair was told to stop selling alcoholic drinks on domestic flights after 5 pm because officials decided it was subject to the same pandemic restrictions that have been slapped on restaurants, bars and cafes. The airline’s lounges at Helsinki airport must also remove all alcoholic drinks after 5 pm.

American Airlines and Southwest continue to enforce alcohol bans of varying degrees over fears that when combined with the federal face mask mandate, drunk passengers could become unruly.

View Comments (31)
  • They stopped deserving my business after the VX merger. AFA is hellbent on running AS into the ground. Covid has become just another union negotiation tactic and Alaska’s management will play along because for now, “safety” is good press as long as there are stupid people to buy it. As for me, I fly first on Delta and will continue to…even when Alaska has a better schedule.

  • I only fly Alaska because of the restrictions. I do not use the restrooms, I wiped down the seating area where I sit. Nor do I talk to the person who may be sitting next to me and do not drink a beverage . My traveling from one home with a 100 year old former WW2 pilot to a home of my grandson who’s 1 years old gives me reason enough to fly only Alaska.

    • Still not a good enough reason to be an airplane. YOU shouldn’t travel at all. The rest of us will let you know when it’s safe to come out. WW2 has nothing to do with anything but I have a feeling you work that in to as many conversations as you can. Do you run marathons too? How about vegan?…. you seem like the type.

      • Chris. Firstly, use proper syntax and grammar.
        Delta doesn’t want you either, of that you can be assured.
        Your rants are a symptom of a much deeper problem. Namely, the inability to recognize other people and their concerns. These changes are inevitable when staff are presenting symptoms, it’s their livelihoods that are affected as well. Perhaps you should be grounded until you can be civilized in your responses.

  • Just think, Alaska will raise their ticket prices on top of this in the name of COVID. They forget how they get their revenue. It’s about customer service. So much for that. Get on the plane like cattle and like it. So if the customer suffers, what is Alaska going to do to for customer satisfaction? I bet nothing!!! Good luck to those who continue to fly the less friendly skies today. I do appreciate the smiles I get when boarding and exiting the flights. I guess we are lucky to get that.

    • Smiles? You mean through the mask? They’re Spirit now. Delta is cheaper, more reliable, friendlier, has IFE, has inflight service…..

  • Wonderful. We are still in a pandemic and I’m tired of being exposed to lunatics coughing up a lung (one week ago) and taking off their masks to enjoy lengthy meal and beverage time. It’s no advantage to the airline to narcissists who fly for the “service” while celebrating not tipping who may well infect the crew. Most of us who don’t like masks at least have the class not to throw it in the face of fellow travelers. If Alaska doesn’t follow the norms for safety, I won’t be flying with them. I don’t think I’m alone in that. Some ridiculous characters are so selfish, they’d put their feet up around the face of the person sitting in front of them if they could. With the cutback on flights, Alaska flights out of Seattle always seem to be full. They can afford to lose the hysterical Karens and Kens.

  • Flight attendants that don’t want to attend?!? So what’s the point?? Cut out service cut down on the flight attendants. If they don’t want to do their job, makes sense that they shouldn’t be on board to take up space doing nothing. Before anyone reacts, think about it.
    I am in a union, and have clients that pay to have things done. This is no different! If you work in fear of getting sick or/by doing what you are employed to do then maybe this isn’t the career for you anymore. COVID isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. You can do what is necessary to protect yourself, or move onto something less threatening. Clients paying more and more for what you refuse to provide in return is crap. Sorry not sorry.

    • The job of a flight attendant is to ensure the safety of all on board. Snacks/meals/drinks is just an extra.

      But hey, if you ever have a medical or other emergency situation, hopefully the flight attendant on the flight will “do their job” and just bring you your coke and ignore the emergency at hand 🙄

      Flight attendant training for major airlines is about 2 months long. Maaybe a week of that is focused on service. The rest is learning the ins and outs of every aircraft in the fleet as well as safety and emergency procedures.

      Your shitty me myself and f’k everyone else attitude is the reason service has to be cut because the majority of passengers don’t care about their safety and that of others around them, and we’re tired of having to enforce what should be common sense.

      • Thanks for the reminding the entitled yahoo what your REAL job is. You are there for the terrifying moments that we hope will never happen.

        The kind of crap you folks are forced to deal with must stop. Mandatory vaccination w med exemption to fly and a mandatory no fly on every airline for a violation on one would do a lot to stop it.

        Airlines need to stop wasting time on the troublemakers who are driving business away. Many of us will fly once the yahoos are gone.

      • Just stop enforcing it idiots!!! Just because Biden says you have to doesn’t mean you do. And stop the tired old saying that you are here primarily for our safety. You are not flying the plane. every time I hear that announcement I automatically think oh no another lazy crew. If you are too lazy to get out of your seat and pass out drinks snacks and meals then start buying tickets on your flights because your nothing more than a passenger. FA unions are as bad as teachers unions using COVID as an excuse to sit on your fat butt and gossip the entire flight. It’s time to cut the staff and let the service cart be self service. People like you make Amtrak look like a dream come true. STFU mask Karen’s

    • You’re an idiot. We’re not there to serve you, we are there for your safety. Your comfort and our beverage service is secondary to our safety related duties. You obviously know NOTHING about our job or FAA regulations. We’re not going anywhere because we cut service. There are a required number of flight attendants for every 50 seats on an aircraft. We’re there to help in the event of an emergency, not to serve you Diet Coke. This career is juuuust fine for us, perhaps flying isn’t for you. Drive yourself to your next destination and spare us from dealing with entitled idiots like yourself. We don’t need more of you.

    • Sean,
      I’m an Alaska flight attendant, and you are spot on. This change is a result of a whiny minority of social media darlings who don’t want to do their jobs. Probably the same group of flight attendants who party and drink with their millennial friends and go to every restaurant and venue they can squeeze in on layovers. Like many of my coworkers, I’ve been working straight through the pandemic (with the exception of a voluntary furlough I took last year to “help the company’s bottom line”). And I haven’t called out sick. Do I deserve a pat on the back? No! It’s my job! And I’m not afraid to do it. What I am afraid of is that Alaska will never drop these onerous restrictions, especially the mask mandate (even if the federal mandate is ever lifted). The masks should absolutely be voluntary, NOT mandatory. If you’re afraid, then protect yourself… wear the mask. Wear two masks. But I can guarantee you at least 65% of people would stop wearing them on the plane if the mandate was lifted tomorrow. And guess what, all of these passenger on flight attendant and passenger on passenger angry encounters over mask policing would instantly go away.

  • Another reason why I Only Fly Alaska- they take care of their employees and passengers. For those of you who object to mask policies or are pissed off that you can’t get a second drink on your flight, might I suggest Southwest or Spirit and leave Alaska to us regular business travelers who appreciate the steps Alaska takes.

    • Not only do I like a second drink, I also like IFE and frequency…..even timeliness. AS compete no with NK…..Actually they don’t, NK continues to have inflight service. Granted, I only use NK going to ACY when my casino hosts sets something up nice for me. Otherwise its DL to Vegas.

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