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Southwest Airlines Flight Attendants Are Now The Highest Paid in the Industry Following Landmark Wage Deal

Southwest Airlines Flight Attendants Are Now The Highest Paid in the Industry Following Landmark Wage Deal

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Flight attendants at Southwest Airlines are set to become the highest paid in the US aviation industry following the ratification of what the cabin crew union has described as a ‘historic’ contract.

In a landslide result, 81% of flight attendants at the Dallas-based airlines voted in favor of the landmark deal which, it is claimed, will leave Southwest crew members earning 14% more on average than their peers at Delta Air Lines.

The hard-fought four-year contract includes an immediate 22.3% pay rise, along with $364 million in retroactive wages that will be paid out depending on how long a flight attendant has worked for Southwest.

The pay rise will take effect on May 1, followed by smaller 3% pay rises for the following three years up to and including May 1, 2027.

New hire flight attendants will earn around $33.55 per hour under the new contract, while Southwest’s most veteran crew members will earn as much as $84.42 per hour.

Retroactive payments in the form of a one-off bonus will vary by how long crew members have worked for the airline, but many are set to receive a payout of $20,000 or more.

On top of the new headline-grabbing pay rates, the TWU 556 union, which represents flight attendants at Southwest, has also secured an industry-first paid maternal and parental leave program for its members.

With stalled contract negotiations at American Airlines, Alaska Airlines and United Airlines dragging down flight attendant pay rates across the industry, Delta has long been the highest-paying carrier, with a top rate of $76 per hour for its longest-serving crew members.

Earlier this week, Delta announced that its crew members would soon receive a 5% pay rise, which means its flight attendants are still set to fall behind Southwest’s flight attendants.

The airline has, however, told its flight attendants in an internal memo that when discretionary bonuses and profit sharing are taken into consideration, it remains confident that it remains the highest-paying airline employer in the US aviation industry.

Should flight attendants at American, Alaska or United manage to secure an even better deal within the next 12 months, the union has the right to reopen negotiations with Southwest.

Other contract improvements include premium pay for extended duty days, irregular operations, and ground delays, as well as pay protection for injuries sustained at work and additional holiday pay for July 4th, Memorial Day and Labor Day.

View Comments (2)
  • How is this a “landmark wage deal”? It barely keeps up with inflation and almost all of their “signing bonus” is just earned retro pay going back 5 years

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