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American Airlines Offers Flight Attendants Boarding Pay and Promises To Match Delta’s Pay Rates But Union Rejects Proposal

American Airlines Offers Flight Attendants Boarding Pay and Promises To Match Delta’s Pay Rates But Union Rejects Proposal

the tail of an airplane with stripes on it

American Airlines has offered flight attendants ‘boarding pay’ as part of federally mediated contract talks, it has emerged. If accepted, American Airlines would become the first major U.S. carrier with a unionized flight attendant workforce to pay crew members for boarding.

Until now, there has been a longstanding policy at many airlines only to start paying flight attendants from the time the airplane pushes back from the gate up to the point the flight arrives at its destination.

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SOPA Images Limited/Alamy Live News

The policy is controversial because passenger boarding time is not only one of the most work-intensive and stressful times for a flight attendant, but the amount of time dedicated to aircraft boarding has been steadily increasing over the years.

Not paying for boarding is particularly disadvantageous for new-hire flight attendants because they spend more time working short-haul flights with multiple turns a day—that means more of their working day is spent unpaid during boarding and deplaning.

In 2022, Delta Air Lines became the first major U.S. carrier to start paying its flight attendants for boarding at half the usual hourly flying rate. The Atlanta-based carrier was able to implement the policy quickly because its flight attendants are not unionized.

Flight attendants at both American Airlines and United Airlines have demanded boarding pay as part of ongoing contract talks, and we have now learnt that the Fort Worth-based carrier is now offering boarding pay as part of a revised economic offer.

American Airlines is not, however, willing to offer more than an 11% pay rise and a top rate of pay of $76 per hour to match Delta’s current pay rates. In return for boarding pay, flight attendants would also have to accept the airline’s position on a slew of other contract issues.

As an added sweetener, AA is proposing to reduce the contract length to just two years or until flight attendants at United reach a deal in their own contract talks —whichever is sooner.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) has demanded a pay rise closer to 35%, along with retro pay and increased allowances and per diems. As a result, the union has again rejected AA’s proposals, saying the airline has drawn an “unreasonable line in the sand”.

“American Airlines is perfectly fine with Flight Attendants lagging the industry for an extended period,” the union told its members. “A contract is not industry-leading or even matching if all we do is catch up once in a while, only to fall behind,” the memo continued.

APFA has called on the National Mediation Board to release the union to strike, but the board has instead down the union to ‘redouble’ its efforts to reach an agreement with American Airlines.

Further federally mediated negotiation sessions have been pencilled in for April and May.

View Comments (6)
  • Delta is non-union however when all the other airlines finally negotiate a contract Delta will then offer their Flight Attendants a new pay contract that is better then their competitors! American Airlines offered to match an out dated contract that expired 5 years ago.

  • It is shocking that flight attendants work without pay, for so long. Also, why should any flight attendants get a rise in pay when they are not even trying to compete with Delta customer service wise? American is not making the profits that Delta Airlines enjoys. Delta employees are just better and seem to enjoy their jobs more than AA employees do. Comparing apples to oranges in this case.

  • Getting paid for the time that flight attendants are boarding passengers should be made a law worldwide by international organizations. Also the minimum pay-rate should be define by IATA. We are working so hard but with the minimum income. 😔😔

  • United needs to get on board and pay Flight attendants boarding pay while matching the other major airlines pay rate.

  • There is also dissension in the APFA ranks due to current union leadership kowtowing to the USAir senior flight attendants who demand their seniority should account for everything they do. With the merger, USAir senior FA moved into AA bases and started demanding that their old rules be implemented at those bases too.
    They want first chance at all open flights so that junior FA always get the least desirable trips, making their careers tougher than necessary. Seniority gets FA the best trips and schedules each month. But they aren’t satisfied with that.
    AA, UA, DL and all international carriers have language qualified FA in all cabins. Many AA FA were hired with multi-language skills and others went to school to learn another language so they could work international trips and the premium cabins.
    These same USAir FA demand all premium cabin positions and demanded that language qualified AA FA, like at their old system, be regulated to coach. They don’t care about customer service as all other international carriers do with language qualified FA available in all cabins. So the APFA changed the contract language to appease these USAir FA. AA didn’t ask for the change.
    So the 4000 or so AA and former USAir language qualified FA are up in arms by this union action and the senior USAir FA demands. This could lead to an even longer protracted contract negotiations… brought on by the union leadership throwing the language qualified FA under the fuselage!

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