A United Airlines Flight Attendant Makes Their Last Announcement Before Tomorrow’s Expected Furlough

United Airlines has planned to furlough 16,370 employees as soon as they were allowed to do so – once limits on involuntary terminations that were part of CARES Act payroll grants lift tomorrow, October 1.

The airline has walked back that number because they came to an agreement with their pilots union to keep everyone on with reduced hours. Delta, too, is working with its pilots to avoid furloughs.

Airlines keep more pilots on than they need for the flights they’re operating, because it’s costly and time consuming to train them and keep them current to flight. Airlines don’t go to the same lengths for flight attendants. Nearly 7000 cabin crew are expected to lose their jobs at United this week, and around 8000 cabin crew will lose their jobs at American.

A passenger taped this United flight attendant making his last announcement prior to his expected furlough. This crewmember has been flying for United for two years. He chokes up asking the people on his flight to come back to United for their travels “so that we can come back.” And that’s where I really choke up myself.

I’ve been against the federal government spending another $25 billion on airline payroll support, giving money to airlines that aren’t furloughing anyone and spending 10 times as much as the payroll cost of those who actually stand to lose their jobs – using employees as a fig leaf for air dropping money into the coffers of the airlines.

I still have a heart, though. And that heart breaks listening to this United employee about to lose his job – focused on the opportunities he’s had, and the people he serves, rather than even his own next steps.

Delta isn’t furloughing flight attendants, they’re a non-union shop and avoided this with reduced hours and giving flight attendants without flights other jobs to do. Southwest isn’t furloughing anybody this year.

Though United hasn’t managed to take care of its flight attendants the way that Delta and Southwest have, this crewmember clearly cares deeply about his job.

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. Oh man that’s sad. Thanks for sharing. Dark day for airline employees… I hope those who can move on to greener pastures.

  2. At the end of the day, the people make the difference. I certainly feel bad for this gentleman and for others in his shoes. I have a UA flight tomorrow at 7am, so it will be interesting to see what the mood is.

  3. Oh, so now it’s real to you? Why don’t you come to an airport and look at their faces and talk to them. There is thousands and thousands like this great employee. Instead you critiqued and spoke b.s. in your articles from your keyboard. These are all real people. Use your heart a little more often and maybe you’ll be a better writer.

  4. @Bob… Time to furlough Management?

    We already did that Bob. I lost 13 colleagues from my office of 30.

    Management and Administration employees were cut first, not last.

  5. Appreciate you sharing Gary.My heart goes out to all the passionate folks that love what they do and proud to serve with the airlines hospitality etc.Unsung hero many of them Hopefully they will back soon.
    Not to pound a sinking ship I never left United because of the front lines.
    They were like family to me all over the world
    However United isn’t United anymore except name.Its Continental Diet Light with Uniteds name on it
    To many seats shoved cramped into first class if they even have First Class anymore,to focused on a blah business class, mediocre food and horrible recovery if problems arise not unlike American today
    However American as awful as it has become is still somewhat better than United
    United was my favorite carrier of all times back when .They had spectacular dining on board based on airline standards, Godiva’s at the end of meal service, nice seafood, and great salads.The United of today doesn’t want to make me fly even in good times.It would take a long time to talk about the bad decision making over the years.Have great memories
    It doesn’t matter what I think in the end what matters is others want to fly them.

  6. I myself left this job i love hoping to save just 1. Most of us as FA do this job not because we have to but because it was a dream. It breaks my heart to see FA with more the 22 years and down losing that dream. I was a lucky one who flew for Continental from worse to 1st and it was a great ride. Mergers did not help this industry. Airlines became the cash cows. I was no longer a FA but a corporate number, it was time to move on and pass the dream on, unfortunately that didn’t happen. My wish is to see so many of my friends once again see those friendly skies, your dream isn’t dead.

  7. Sorry I am missing something. Millions of people are unemployed and lost their $600 federal addon. Why do the highly compensated airline industry employees deserve 100% of their pay. Fact is the industry will not recover in six months and we will be back with them begging for more money. Senseless, like many other industries airlines need to adjust to the current times.

  8. United management broke trust with loyal lifetime customers, particularly when they stopped honoring the terms under which lifetime United Club membership was sold. I have spent serious money on paid premium tickets on DL, AA, and B6 this year, but I will continue to book away from UA. UA Management needs to do the right thing and honor their promises.

  9. Customer service & Reservations are also affected at United. 20 years of seniority in Res are being shown the door. Union members agreed to reduced hours or a leave of absence, but that wasn’t enough. United’s call center vendors in Manila are still operating though instead of closing them down to keep jobs here. That is something the govt should require – close offshore vendors if you want help.

  10. Makes me feel bad when such employees lose their job. On the other hand, one United check in agent found it more appropriate to gossip with her colleague about life in general while I was desperately waiting to do a late check in. Hey gossip costed me my flight and she had the audacity to tell me I won’t even be refunded. I wrote about this nasty person and I believe my email is sitting somewhere in their data warehouse. I just wish both the agent and the manager that did not act on my complaint got fired. It’s because of them I don’t fly United anymore.

  11. As a flight attendant for Delta this absolutely breaks my heart to watch…..I pray for all of my sisters and brothers in aviation #UnitedByWings

  12. This Gentleman is truly a Class Act! all of us in the aviation field we love our job as crew members..
    I will pray for a quick recovery so that you can get back to doing the job that you love.

  13. It is sad. Thank you all for your services during the best and worst of times. Good luck and I look forward to returning on the friendly sky as soon as the world opens up

  14. My heart breaks for this young man. Glad you shared so we can understand what they are going through. I hope he is able to come back soon.

  15. John D., Airline employees are not as highly compensated as you think. I am a regional airline pilot and we fly under the same paint job as main line, so the customers are clueless and think that they are actually on a mainline flight. (They pimp out short haul routes to regionals.. it’s basically wage suppression. That’s where the savings for mainline comes into play)
    I will be lucky to break $50,000 a year even on a good year.. this is after $150,000 worth of education and training.. and another 2 years of low paid time-building jobs which pay under $25,000 a year.

  16. All companies not just Airlines need to keep all jobs in the U. S. no one should be allowed to outsource. This way so many more people could keep their jobs. The pilots just like the flight attendants won’t be flying so, why did they save the pilots only?

  17. Pilots require years of college, flight training and flight experience before they are even eligible to work at an airline… Once they gain the required flight experience (this can take 3 years after earning a commercial certificate) the airline will train them on their operation and specific aircraft (about a 3 month process). They are trained and tested regularly in multi million dollar simulators and recurrent training programs.
    Flight attendants can be hired off the street with no formal education beyond highschool and trained in 4 weeks.

    4 weeks vs 5 to 8 years of required training and experience.

  18. These flight attendants take their jobs seriously putting you the public first and foremost. They have to have patience for all kinds of people. They were not just hired off the streets they went through rigorous training, some made it some didn’t. The ones that did earned those wings. They attend flights in the middle of the night for the public’s convince, they have lay overs keeping them from returning home for a few days. They miss holidays with their own families so you can be with yours. If an emergency arises god forbid they put your safety first as they were trained to do. They deserve our respect for all they do. They take there jobs seriously and cannot be replaced that easy. I know because the young man that made that video is my Grandson and cannot be more proud of him and others I have met in the time he had been with United Airlines.

  19. “Its time for government workers to feel the pain”

    Why because you want to see more people suffer? They are humans with jobs too. Just because one person loses a job doesn’t mean someone else should just so everyone is suffering.

  20. Boo hoo Every day people lose their jobs for whatever reason Just so happens that it’s a lot on one day Life goes on and hopefully they all find a new job or in the case of airline and hospitality workers things turn around before too long

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