Southwest Airlines flight attendants are preparing to picket outside major employee rally events that have been organized by the carrier in Las Vegas and Dallas in an attempt to improve worker morale following Southwest’s embarrassing Christmas and New Year meltdown.
But rather than attending the lavish star-studded events that will include performances from famous singers, including JoJo and Flo Rida, many flight attendants will remain outside and instead call on senior executives to get back around the negotiating table in stalled contract talks.
The next employee rally is set to take place at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Tuesday, while the Dallas rally is currently slated to take place on March 2 at the carrier’s Love Field campus.
Instead of showing them love, however, flight attendants say they remain “another victim of SWA’s outdated technology”, which led to last December’s spectacular meltdown.
In fact, flight attendants represented by the TWU 556 union were calling on Southwest Airlines to improve its scheduling and IT systems many months before things went so horribly wrong in the run-up to Christmas 2022.
“It’s time for accountability on the part of Southwest Airlines,” a spokesperson for the union said in the runup to the picketing events.
“TWU Local 556 believes strongly in making this airline successful and is working to ensure this company we love isn’t run into the ground by leadership more concerned about shareholders than about workers and customers”.
“Management’s methodology of choosing profits at the expense of the operation and its workforce has to change, because the flying public is also tired of the empty apologies that flight attendants have endured for years,” the spokesperson continued.
The union has long complained that Southwest’s scheduling system was prone to faliures during periods of disruption and, in some cases, left flight attendants high and dry when schedules were disrupted.
Those warnings were, however, seemingly ignored. During the Christmas 2022 meltdown, the scheduling system completely lost track of where pilots and flight attendants were and the airline had to revert to a manual process to locate, track and rebuild aircrew rosters.
The process was so time-consuming and resource intensive that the airline had to effectively ground its operation for several days while the scheduling department caught up.
The Southwest pilots union has also been busy disrupting their own airline’s employee rallies, and earlier this month, a group of pilots marched out of a rally in Baltimore in front of chief executive Bob Jordan.
Just like flight attendants, the pilot’s union is also locked in stalled contract negotiations with the airline.
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.