Now Reading
You Would Need to Have Worked as a Flight Attendant at American Airlines For 38 Years to be Guaranteed a Set Schedule In This City

You Would Need to Have Worked as a Flight Attendant at American Airlines For 38 Years to be Guaranteed a Set Schedule In This City

a woman holding a book in front of her face

The most junior American Airlines flight attendant working from the carrier’s base in Phoenix, Arizona, to be guaranteed a set schedule every month has been working for the airline for nearly 38 years, it has been revealed.

In the United States, monthly flying schedules are determined by seniority – effectively how long you have worked for an airline. The more seniority you have, the more likely you are to get the trips and schedule that you have bid for.

This is often referred to as ‘holding a line’ – the line is a set schedule for a whole month, providing flight attendants with certainty over what trips they are going to be working, allowing them to make plans and budget based on their allowances for that month.

Holding a line is seen as a perk of seniority because new-hire flight attendants will have to work reserve duties where they only know what days they might have to work but could be called with just two hours notice of a flight leaving.

How long a new-hire flight attendant might be stuck on reserve, however, very much depends on what base they work at.

For example, the most junior American Airlines flight attendant at Washington National Airport joined the carrier last February and is already holding a line. And the most junior flight attendant at AA’s LaGuardia base only joined the airline in March 2023.

Some bases, however, are considered incredibly senior, with veteran flight attendants making up the bulk of the workforce, so even highly experienced crewmembers are expected to share reserve duties.

Phoenix might be the worst for this, but there are several other bases throughout AA’s system that require decades of seniority to hold a line. These include Los Angeles, where the most junior flight attendant to hold a line joined AA back in 1989 – although that can be partly attributed to the airline’s decision to draw back its LAX base.

The next worst is Philadelphia, where you’ll need to have been working for AA since July 2014 to hold the line, followed by Dallas Fort Worth (January 2015) and Charlotte (January 2015).

On the other end of the spectrum, new hire flight attendants who want to progress to become line holders as fast as possible will want to get assigned to Boston (May 2023), Miami (May 2022), or Chicago O’Hare (April 2019).

The issue of reserve duties is particularly contentious for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), which represents AA’s crew members. The union believes that American Airlines is putting far more flight attendants on reserve than is strictly necessary, meaning that veteran crew members are being required to do reserve duties.

In 2022, American Airlines ended up terminating 50 flight attendants in six months because they failed to make it to the airport on time after being called off reserve for a flight.

The airline sacked these flight attendants because it suspected they had taken a chance that they wouldn’t be called, so they weren’t even in the same city as the airport that they would be required to work from.

The issue is that many new-hire flight attendants don’t make a huge amount of money and can’t afford to live in the large metro areas where AA has its crew bases. As a result, they ‘commute’ from smaller, cheaper cities, but if they don’t get used to reserve, they’d have to pay for hotels or so-called crash pads.

As for Phoenix, the possibility of new-hire flight attendants coming in to lower the reserve seniority date is on the horizon, with the base close to clearing its transfer request list.

View Comments (7)
  • I was hired Sept 1985 and I will be on reserve for the month of June. I’ve only ever been based in PHX. I am Vintage America West Airlines.

    • I’ve been trying to get my wings for the past 3years. Even had second interviews with 4 different airlines. What am I doing wrong? How might I do to better prepare myself to increase my chances of getting hired? I appreciate the mentoring.

      Still trying to fly

  • American Airlines’ acquisition of America West saw the AW micromanagers and bean counters take the reigns at AA. AA has lost its direction with nickel and dime-ing of customers, including its most loyal customers.
    So this report does not surprise me at all.

  • Hey Matheus. This article is misleading.

    AA FAs have a rotating reserve system, so yes your dates of being “off of reserve” is to completely be off of reserve, but what you’re missing is that after 12 months of service regardless of where you are based you are guaranteed a break from reserve as you start your 1 month on reserve, 1 month off reserve rotation. This continues until year 4 where the rotation shifts to 1 month on reserve, 3 months off reserve.

    Those 38 year FAs in PHX are serving reserve 3 times a year. Same goes for those under the seniority threshold in CLT, DFW, PHL and ORD. And for example, those at under the seniority threshold at a base in which reserve seniority is above one year of service but below 4, which are currently DCA, LGA, and MIA are only on reserve every other month.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

© 2023 All Rights Reserved.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to with appropriate and specific directions to the original content.