American Airlines experienced an operational crisis around Halloween. This caused thousands of flights to be cancelled or delayed. The airline has now developed a plan to ensure that nothing similar happens over the busy travel seasons of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.
American Airlines offers flight attendants up 300% pay
American Airlines announced a substantial incentive to ensure that flight attendants arrive on time for work during the holidays. The following dates are affected by this incentive:
November 23-November 29, 2002
December 22, 2021 through January 2, 2022
These are the hours that flight attendants work:
All flights booked between the dates above will be paid 150%
For a total 300% pay, those who are absent between November 15, 2021 and January 2, 2022 will be paid an additional 150% for flights.
But there are many more. Many flight attendants commute from their base to work (meaning that they live in another city than their base), so it is up to them to fly to the base on an as-available basis. It can be difficult to find seats as flights are often jammed around holidays.
American will therefore offer positive space seats to flight attendants to allow them to travel to their base during holidays to enable them to operate assigned trips or be on standby.
These are major steps. Not only will flight attendants be paying 150-300% for holiday flights, but also there will be a significant opportunity cost for all the positive space seats that employees will need to travel to their base. This will cost American taxpayers more than it would be to melt down the entire operation.
Flight attendants are motivated to work during the holidays because they have real incentives
This will make Americans' operations more reliable.
In the last few months, we've witnessed several major airline operations meltdowns in America. Because of all the employees who have accepted voluntary separation packages, there has been an increase in travel demand. However, airlines have been experiencing staff shortages.
Ironically, airlines received billions in payroll support during the pandemic. This was supposed to ensure that there are enough employees for when people can fly again. People have been willing to fly again and there haven't been enough employees.
As it stands now, airlines usually have enough staff to schedule flights if everything goes according to plan. However, it's a completely different story when things go wrong, and American has very few employees. With this in mind, here are some thoughts:
I believe that the positive space travel and increased pay to crew bases will help to alleviate many of these issues.
It makes me feel that sick flight attendants are more likely to show up for work if they feel sick. One lesson we learned from the pandemic was to not stay home if you don't feel well so others don't get sick. However, flight attendants have a strong financial incentive to make sure there is no absences over several weeks.
This incentive is not the only thing that should improve staffing. 1,800 flight attendants are back from leave as of November. American also has 600 flight attendants on hire who will be joining the company before the end of 2012.
This initiative will assist with flight attendant staffing but it doesn't address pilot staffing. Pilot staffing is likely to be a bigger problem with the impending vaccine mandate. Many pilots are feeling bitter about this.
It doesn't even address the possibility of a shortage in ground staff, from customer service agents to rampers. This could cause significant operational problems.
It will be fascinating to see how Americans operate during the holiday season
I am curious to know what American pilots get in return for their efforts.
There is a lot of concern regarding the ability of airlines to handle demand with major holidays approaching. This is especially true if there are irregular operations. American is taking proactive steps to address this by increasing the pay of flight attendants over the holidays and by providing positive space travel for flight attendants to their bases.
This should reduce the number of holiday-related problems with flight attendant staffing. However, it remains to be seen how this affects other work groups.
These initiatives could make Americans more reliable during the holiday season, do you think?
(Tip the hat to view from the Wing