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.
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.
- Double staffing at their outsourced vendor.
- Have American Airlines employees work the hotel and limo desk, too, starting prior to summer
- 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.)
- 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.