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World’s Most Powerful Flight Attendant Addresses Fake Social Media Claims That She Has Received a Massive Pay Rise… Who’s to Blame?

World’s Most Powerful Flight Attendant Addresses Fake Social Media Claims That She Has Received a Massive Pay Rise… Who’s to Blame?

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Sara Nelson is often described as the most powerful flight attendant in the United States, if not the world. That’s because she is the President of the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA), the largest cabin crew union in the world with tens of thousands of members.

AFA represents flight attendants at some of the biggest airlines in the United States, including the likes of United Airlines, Alaska and Spirit. And the union is looking to increase its reach still further.

It’s likely that crewmembers at Breeze will soon fall under AFA’s expansive umbrella, while there has long been talk that AFA could take over as the union for flight attendants at American Airlines.

Nelson is regarded as a firebrand leader throughout the labor movement and is well known in Washington DC for her lobbying on various initiatives to improve the lives of flight attendants. This includes the pandemic-era airline bailout that was provided by the federal government on the proviso that airlines couldn’t lay off workers.

Now, Nelson is once again turning her attention to trying to unionize flight attendants at Delta Air Lines – the largest carrier in the United States not to have a unionized flight attendant workforce, despite the best efforts of AFA over many years.

Some insiders believe that Delta’s decision to award flight attendants and other non-unionized workers a 5% pay rise was, in part at least, driven by the latest drive by AFA to unionize flight attendants at the Atlanta-based carrier.

But the local campaign branch for AFA was quick to point out that while workers on the ground were getting a 5% pay rise, Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian had seen his compensation package ‘skyrocket’ to $34.2 million in 2023 – a massive 265% raise on what the veteran airline leader earned in 2022.

Not long after, a mysterious post started to emerge on various social media pages used by flight attendants, including Delta-specific Facebook pages. The post alleged that Sara Nelson had also recently enjoyed a 37% pay rise while many of her members continue to flight for new contracts.

According to the now debunked social media post, Nelson took up $244,771 in 2023, but the union has rubbished the allegations, describing its contents as ‘lies’. In fact, Nelson’s remuneration for last year was $170,000, according to publicly available financial documents.

AFA believes the timing of the fake document being ‘leaked’ is anything but a coincidence.

“While the facts about Bastian’s pay are from Delta’s own financial reporting, the posts about the AFA President were entirely made up,” the union said in a statement.

“After Delta AFA correctly and rightly pointed out Ed Bastian’s 265% raise this weekend, a social media post appeared early this week in various Flight Attendant social channels that included completely false information about the AFA President’s salary and other entirely false financial statements,” the statement continued.

In fact, Nelson’s compensation package is linked to flight attendant contractual compensation through a constitutional formula that’s been in place for decades. Because flight attendants at Hawaiian Airlines are due to receive a pay rise in 2024, Nelson will also receive a pay rise based on this formula.

Who’s to blame for the made-up accusations against Nelson remains a mystery, although AFA is keen not only to set the record straight but also to keep the story about how much senior leaders at Delta are earning.

Bastian’s compensation package for 2023 sounds massive, but it is partly a one-off. For example, $20 million of the headline figure is an ‘enhanced’ one-time award for navigating the airline through the pandemic and half of that bonus is made up of stock awards that vest over three years based on performance.

In response to this article, AFA said it should have been Delta’s front-line workers who got the share of Bastian’s one-time pandemic bonus, arguing that it was flight attendants who picketed congressional offices to make the payroll support program happen, while Bastian didn’t make a single visit to DC.

Delta did not reply to a request for comment.

View Comments (10)
  • I can just see the total fit the flight attendants would throw if their raises were in the form of stock spread over 3 years.

    • If the percentage rise on compensation is even remotely close to what grossly overpaid CEO’s command I’m fairly sure Flight Attendants would NOT “throw a fit” if $20m of their total 265% pay increase was vested for 3 years in stock. Your comment deserves neither credence nor merit!

    • 👌 at $170,000.00 ; hoping 🙏 she resides near a Dollar Tree 🌳.

      She’s most definitely of the people, for the people.
      ✈️ 🥜

  • If one compares the salaries of the US “Big Three” carriers, one might find that they are comparable. Then look at the sales, profitability, customer service, friendliness of the employees and the way they are treated by the company. Set ALPA aside, every contract renewal, two of the carriers get into bitter tussles with the unions. There are surly employees, management that doesn’t care about the employees which, in turn, filters down to customer service. Meanwhile, Delta is run by competent management that sets goals and empowers the workers to come up with a solution that promotes safety first, customer service that is unmatched for a US carrier and at a price point that people are willing to pay. Then, when the company makes a profit, everyone in the company shares in that profit. There are those who complain that “the gold bar is too heavy” instead of looking at the upside…you have a gold bar. The ONLY thing that the AFA would gain is money in their bank account and the flight attendants would be subjected to the whims of the union while other employees reap the benefits. As for the passengers that cannot afford to fly on Delta, that’s OK too. Nothing wrong with that. It’s kinda like complaining that one drives a Toyota (good car by the way) and the neighbor drives a Bentley. Does that make the Delta passenger or the Bentley owner “better” than the Toyota owner? Nope. The Bentley owner is willing to pay the price point.

  • If you were to ask the majority of flight attendants at United we would tell you that we are so over Ms. Nelson & her fake agendas. She is so focused on trying to acquire more revenue for the AFA that she has yet to fix all the issues in her house! United flight attendants have been in contract negotiations for years and the company has shown no interest in changing their delay tactics or in having good faith towards those asked to be the brand and the face of the company. United’s latest motto of “Leading the Way” is false advertising especially when it pertains to its workforce, specifically that of the flight attendants. Come negotiations they will say the money is not available and concessions are necessary, yet the CEO just got a massive bonus on the backs of its workers as the company continues to spend more money on buying properties, planes and building secret hangars. Ms. Nelson and her AFA cronies need to recommit to the people they currently represent instead of looking for more bodies to misrepresent.

  • She is a vulgar and despicable shred of human debris. Her recent Jew-hating comments in support of Hamas terrorists disqualifies her from being considered even a human being

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