American Airlines is struggling to find large enough hotels in London that are both able and willing to accommodate its pilots and flight attendants in the British capital.
According to the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) which represents crew members at AA, the airline currently has flight attendants spread out across six different hotels and a seventh could be added as more rooms are needed over the busy summer period.
Unfortunately, not all of the hotels are allegedly up to the standards required by APFA and both the union and the airline have seen an uptick in complaints from flight attendants about the lodging currently being offered in London.
Problems began after a longtime crew hotel shut down during the pandemic. That didn’t pose an issue to begin with but as international travel demand rebounded at an astonishing rate, American Airlines found itself struggling to find hotels in the city that met the needs of an airline customer.
In an internal memo, the union says the hotel industry “has faced many obstacles and challenges” during the course of the pandemic and many were now no longer able or willing to take on big airline contracts for crew lodging.
Before the pandemic, American Airlines had such a large presence in London that it used two different hotels but now flight attendants and pilots are spread out across six different properties.
American Airlines currently serves London from eight different U.S. cities with as many as 21 flights per day. The union says the situation is made worse by the fact that London is a “challenging and cumbersome international layover market”.
Many international airlines with a big presence in London get around the complexities of London’s hotel market by selecting airport hotels that are better equipped to deal with airline customers.
Each year, American Airlines embarks on the ‘staggering’ job of booking 2.5 million hotel room nights around the world for its flight attendants and pilots. The airline spends around $350 million a year on hotel accommodation but lucrative contacts can only be awarded to hotels that meet certain minimum specifications.
These include rooms that are away from lifts and other sources of noise and that are on at least the second floor with doors that open into a secure hallway.
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.