American Airlines is trying to reduce the minimum amount of time that its flight attendants have to rest during an international layover to just 10 hours according to the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) which represents crew members at the Dallas Fort Worth-based carrier.
Flight attendants are currently in the midst of contract update talks with the airline and AA negotiators have tabled a motion for the minimum amount of time that flight attendants have to rest during an international layover to be reduced from the current 14 hours to just 10 hours in actual operations.
In practice, an international layover is usually a minimum of 24 hours because there might be just one flight per day so flight attendants have to stay an entire day at the destination before taking back the return flight a day after their arrival.
But in some cases, it might be possible for American Airlines to schedule flight attendants with a lot less time in a foreign country, thereby saving a small fortune in hotel and per diem costs.
For example, a destination with two or more flights per day could be scheduled so that flight attendants get the minimum amount of rest before heading straight back to the airport to fly back to their home base.
The current contract ensures flight attendants get at least 14 hours at ‘international premium destinations’ but according to APFA, the airline is “looking for a major concession” and is targeting rest provisions for international destinations.
The policy would mirror a proposed FAA rule that would ensure flight attendants get a minimum of 10 hours of rest between duty days for domestic flights. The aviation industry has resisted the change and lobby group Airlines for America which represents AA claims the rule would cost its members around $100 million per year to implement.
APFA says the airline wants to do the “bare minimum to comply with the law” on domestic rest provisions, whereas the union wants to build in “buffers” that would guarantee even more rest for flight attendants.
The two sides are, however, furthest apart on the issue of rest in international destinations.
“The idea that one is going to fly to Europe, get to the hotel, settle down and be back at the airport within ten hours is completely unacceptable,” the union told its members in a recent memo outlining the state of contract negotiations.
“We have a number of differences discussed below for both domestic and international rest and other provisions, but this is one area where the company is looking for a major concession, and have been told in no uncertain terms we are not interested,” the memo continued.
“This will be subject to further discussion but rest, both domestic and international, is a major issue.”
The union is also pressing AA to start paying flight attendants for boarding – something that has been moved even further up the agenda after Delta made the surprise move to introduce boarding pay for its flight attendants.
The labor movement believes Delta made the decision on the back of a renewed campaign to unionize Delta’s flight attendants.
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.