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.