Flight attendants at the ultra-low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines could soon be staying at better hotels after managers made a small concession to the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) who are currently locked in protracted contracts talks with the Miramar-based airline.
Under the tentative agreement, the budget carrier has agreed to put its flight attendants up in hotels within areas of “cultural or historical significance” and within “convenient walking distance” of restaurants, shops and tourist attractions during some layovers.
The agreement marks a turning point for cost-cutters like Spirit who are renowned for sourcing the cheapest lodging options for pilots and flight attendants. These hotels can often be in unattractive locations such as airport hotels and are far away from local amenities and attractions.
In contrast, full-service carriers often pride themselves on putting aircrew in four or five-star hotels set in desirable downtown locations.
Minimum hotel requirements are also frequently written into collective bargaining agreements between airlines and powerful aircrew unions which stipulate room and hotel amenities, as well as acceptable locations.
For example, some legacy U.S. carriers who fly to England are required to find hotels in Central London for their flight attendants and pilots despite the sky-high prices that come with premium lodging options in the UK capital.
Meanwhile, many other international airlines avoid the drama of finding suitable hotel accommodation in London by staying close to the airport.
The majority of Spirit’s layover hotels aren’t likely to move, but under the tentative agreement, the airline has agreed to find better-located hotels for flight attendants on longer layovers of at least 16 hours and 40 minutes.
This will only apply in cities where Spirit already uses two hotels – so one hotel will be for shorter layovers and the second will be in a more premium location for flight attendants to enjoy a longer layover.
Unfortunately, little progress has been made on some of the big-ticket items on the negotiating agenda. Last month, the union labelled a proposed pay offer an “insult” and said the wage offer was far below what flight attendants at jetBlue earn.
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.