British Airways may well have been celebrating its ‘biggest’ Christmas to date, but the spirit of the festive season was apparently lacking in the airline’s accounting department when cabin crew went cap in hand asking for a special Christmas bonus for anyone who had to work on 25th December.
In the end, senior managers at the Heathrow-based relented and offered a special payment of just £30 (US $38) for cabin crew who had to work on Christmas Day.
The BASSA cabin crew union told its members that while it recognised the special payment was ‘small’, getting it approved in the first place wasn’t easy despite the airline reporting significant profits.
“The scene from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol comes to mind with the charity collection valiantly attempting but ultimately failing to secure a donation from Ebenezer Scrooge,” the union said in a pre-Christmas memo.
Earning double time might be a familiar concept in the hospitality industry for anyone working on Christmas Day, but cabin crew at Britain’s flag carrier who had to work on the big day were only earning their normal wages.
In contrast, flight attendants at fellow Oneworld member carrier American Airlines earn a premium of 100% of their normal hourly flying rate on nine designated holidays, which includes Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and what is known in the UK and Canada as Boxing Day on 26th December.
Flight attendants at the Dallas Fort Worth-based carrier can also expect to earn a 100% premium on Thanksgiving, as well as New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
The payment is, of course, appreciated by crew members, but it’s not entirely philanthropic. It’s called Holiday Incentive Pay for a reason – to incentivise flight attendants not to call in sick on key holidays.
British Airways says it has “pulled out all the stops” to celebrate the Holidays this year and expects to serve more than 380,000 Christmas dinners to passengers over the festive season.
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.