4 Things American Airlines Is Doing So Flight Attendants Don’t Have To Sleep In Airports Anymore

American Airlines has had a recurring problem getting hotel rooms for its crew during bad weather. It’s not just that rooms become scarce when everyone is trying to get one, but worse than that employees aren’t even able to get through to anyone to help them with a booking. Like last summer, some employees wound up stuck sleeping at the airport – not what you want before they’re scheduled to work a flight the next day.

For instance,

Crewmembers were forced to sleep on the floor in the airport because they were unable to reach the hotel/limo desk.

Flight Attendant crews were forced to sleep in one hotel room.

Flight Attendants waited for hotel rooms over 6 hours after landing, after being on duty for a full day.

The airline, in a memo to crew reviewed by View From The Wing blames weather – and blames the FAA:

A couple of weekends ago, we experienced some unanticipated and significant irregular operations (IROPs), which affected most of our cities in Florida. As a result of this inclement weather which stretched from the middle of the Gulf of Mexico across Florida to the Atlantic Ocean, the FAA closed, re-opened and re-closed virtually all air corridors approved for domestic flights. All airlines felt the effects of this – and the suddenness of their decisions precluded us from taking preventive action to mitigate delays and cancelations. As a result, we found ourselves with crews and airplanes out of place and timing out, which resulted in a sharp increase in demand for off-schedule hotel bookings.

However this isn’t like blaming flight cancellations on weather. They’re blaming an inability for crew to even get in touch with the airline on weather when this has happened before and when they’ve promised to fix it so it does not happen again before.

American promised to improve on this a year ago. They didn’t. They said hotel booking desks would get staffed up – both more staff at their outsourced vendor, and also augmenting that with American Airlines staff as well. Now they’ve outlined a four-step plan to avoid crew getting stuck sleeping in airports again.

  1. Double staffing at their outsourced vendor.

  2. Have American Airlines employees work the hotel and limo desk, too, starting prior to summer

  3. Consider pre-purchasing extra hotel rooms in hubs and heavy crew lay over cities, being willing to eat the cost of rooms that don’t get used. (By the way this will mean fewer rooms available for passengers to book.)

  4. Some managers will have the ability to book hotels as a last resort and only “in the most extreme circumstances.”

It’s amazing to me that the flight attendants union isn’t more up in arms over this, and that’s true even as they’re in the midst of negotiations on a new contract.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Well, this is a bad way to end your day. I feel sorry for the flight crews.
    Nevertheless, I’ve been in situations where AA employees don’t care about my cancelled flight, and they don’t care if I sleep on the airport floor. Now they know how I have been treated.

  2. If the airlines were smart, they’d build some (legal) crash pads themselves with dorm style accommodations in hubs and heavy crew layover cities to deal with overflow situations. It’s worse than crew getting their own room in a hotel, but at least it’s better than sleeping in the airport.

  3. Jetblue has their own “hotel” at MCO. There’s got be some underperforming properties in hubs that they can make the owner the right offer for.

  4. Gary. Can you tell us something about the “out sourced” vendor (name of vendor, location, number of employees, how long AA has out sourced this task, etc)?

  5. American and most airlines will not pay for rooms due to weather.. So passengers are on their own. I don’t blame them. it would cost millions for hotels when people almost nothing for their tickets. , However if crews have worked along day up to 18 hours for flight attendants.. They deserve a comfortable place to sleep.( provided by American) Also do you realize their layover only has to be 8 hours? That’s After working an 18 hour day and they only paid for 8 hours of it sometimes. Then could be forced to do it again the next day.. And sometime no hotels or food at all. They have to do better!

  6. The real problem is acute incompetence at the AA managerial level and above. Outsourcing is another. US Airways never outsourced hotel reservations to outsiders and rooms were always booked by the crew scheduling “systems” team. They had the authority during irregular operations to book hotels for us with a company charge card. We could always reach someone. Now, AA goes into meltdown on a regular basis without competent leadership. Furthermore, their problem solving skills are almost nil. Flight Attendants and Pilots that have the means (mostly very senior) can and will book their own hotels and submit receipts and hope to get their money back in 6-8 weeks. Again…incompetence. No employee should be expected to sleep on an airport floor without a shower and rest….and still be expected to fly a full duty day on the next day. Nor after a 14-16 hour duty day prior to sleeping on the floor. The “union” is a disgrace because they only care about their cushy positions and almost unlimited expense accounts. They never work flights and do not care about anything except their social events. Believe me, we do care about the passengers and hate the way they are treated. We do side with them. AA is a third world operation and will continue to be clueless until they hire from the outside instead of hiring “friends” and “relatives” to fill management positions off of the street. There is no accountability. Time to terminate 75% of management. They can bag groceries at Publix but unfortunately Publix would fire then as well.

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