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American Airlines Flight Attendants Say They Are “Sick and Tired” and the Company is “Intent On Punishing” Them

American Airlines Flight Attendants Say They Are “Sick and Tired” and the Company is “Intent On Punishing” Them

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Flight attendants at American Airlines say they are “sick and tired of being ignored” by their own management, who they claim are “intent on punishing” crew for what they describe as the company’s “inability to properly staff and run the airline”.

In an extraordinary memo, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) claims managers have ignored their suggestions and instead threatened crew with more volatile working conditions as an “implicit punishment” for the union’s “audacity to raise concerns.”

Markus Mainka /

The root cause of the bad blood between the union and the Dallas Fort Worth-based carrier is the company’s apparent reliance on so-called ‘reserve’ flight attendants who don’t have guaranteed trips and don’t know what they’ll be working from one day to another.

Being on ‘reserve’ can be an understandably stressful experience and is normally only something that the most junior flight attendants have to endure before they become a ‘line holder’ with a set monthly schedule of flights.

But the union claims management has been assigning reserve duties to an unnecessarily high number of flight attendants, which is having a major impact on the lives of its members.

The airline initially blamed higher-than-average sickness levels for the need to assign reserve duties to more flight attendants in order to cover for flight attendants who might call in sick at the last minute.

But even though the union claims absenteeism has fallen, American Airlines is planning to increase the number of reserve flight attendants by 300 in January.

The airline blames operational issues and union work rules for the increase, while APFA national president Julie Hedrick accuses the airline of punishing flight attendants and the union for raising issues about reserve numbers.

This issue isn’t new but it does appear to be getting worse. In August, the union said American Airlines had “zero consideration” for its flight attendants and said poor trip construction was behind the need for so many reserve duties.

“APFA’s position is consistent: Flight Attendants want lower reserve numbers, humane trip construction, and the flexibility that our scheduling tools afforded us pre-pandemic,” the union told its members in an internal memo.

And in an open letter that flight attendants are being encouraged to send to the airline, they continue: “We are sick and tired of being ignored. Stop turning your backs on constructive dialogue with our Union and improve the work/life balance for your Flight Attendants.”

The union and the airline are currently negotiating a new contract with boarding pay and various quality-of-life improvements at the heart of the talks. The two sides are currently far apart on a number of issues, and flight attendants have already staged an ‘informational picketing event’ at airports in protest at working conditions.

View Comments (4)
  • I’ve said it a million times. American is a marketing firm that sells seats on a airplane. They could give a crap about their customers or employees. All stop. I lived in Dallas for 20 years in the 80’s and 90’s when they were great, and have watched the demise of great customer service they once exhibited. Been a Delta sky miles member now for a number of years, and do boy, do I see and experience the difference.

  • Que el 100% de los flight Attendants llamen enfermos por un par de dias, y veran que hace la Cia, Nunca han respetado a sus empleados y siempre tratando de pisarlos, es hora que la Cia. se lleve un tiron de oreja.

  • Before the antiunion comments start rolling in, the AA flight attendants are absolutely justified in being outraged. Most airlines’ flight attendants are on reserve for five or six years, but Americans flight attendants are on reserve for an average of over 30 years. Many AA flight attendants retire having never been off reserve. In fact reserve in some bases such as San Francisco have reached the seniority year of 1967. That’s right, 55 years. Only the most senior 16 flight attendants at the base held a line for January. Reserve is much worse than you described it too. My wife is an AA flight attendant. She has to sleep with her ringer on to answer their call in the middle of the night for a panicked crew scheduler to rush her to be at the airport for a flight waiting to depart where she will jump into the lead position on the flight as they throw the door closed behind her. Only to come home from that trip and go right back on call. No one can live like this for their whole career. American has to change. It’s in humane. Reserve was designed for a short term for new hires. AA uses it as the norm. They are a cruel company to work for. All they ever do is blame their employees for their own mismanagement . Their $13 a share stock price says it all.

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