Flight attendants across the U.S. are reportedly feeling the pressure of fuller flights and decreased staffing levels. They are advocating for a change in how they are compensated for their time on duty and hope that airlines will provide a significant adjustment. The current practice means that flight attendants are not paid until the aircraft doors are closed, leaving them with substantial unpaid hours, including waiting time in airports and the effort required to get passengers and bags on board.
American Airlines flight attendant Julie Hedrick, also president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, highlights that the countless unpaid hours of work contribute to a taxing and stressful day. The flight attendants are demanding to be paid for the duration of their work shifts to reflect the chaotic and strenuous nature of the job. Despite airlines arguing that boarding time is compensated, the flight attendants feel that the current compensation model is inadequate for the demands of the job. They express their frustration over the lavish pay packages of certain airlines who have increased the number of seats on planes while neglecting the wellbeing and compensation of flight attendants. The flight attendants are seeking a 33% immediate pay raise, with contract negotiations ongoing.
While flight attendants are not able to strike without permission from the federal government, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants has requested federal mediators to declare an impasse in the contract talks at American Airlines, opening the pathway for a potential strike. Despite the ongoing negotiations, the flight attendants are determined to fight for the benefits and compensation they feel they deserve.