After Furloughing 10 Years Of Hires, The Average American Airlines Flight Attendant Age Will Be 56

American Airlines has about 27,500 flight attendants. I broke the news three weeks ago that American could furlough as many as 30% of its flight attendants and 20% of its pilots.

American Airlines plans to send WARN Act notices to 8000 flight attendants, or 29% of the total work group.

My rough back of the envelope calculation is that the current average age of an American Airlines flight attendant is 48 years old. One flight attendant is over 85, and one flight attendant has been working for more than 60 years (they’re not the same person).

Here are demographics of American Airlines flight attendants (age and seniority):

On a straight seniority basis 8000 furloughs will include nearly every flight attendant under 40 years old and some in the first half of their 40s. And it will include nearly every flight attendant hired in the last 10 years. Every one hired since US Airways management took over, though, can expect to be let go. And after the 8000 least senior flight attendants are furloughed, my back of the envelope is that the average flight attendant age at American Airlines will be 56 years old.

Of course the airline maintains that it hopes to eliminate or limit the need for furloughs through voluntary leaves and early retirements. However they don’t appear to have been nearly as successful attracting candidates for this as Delta reports to have been, and their package isn’t nearly as generous as Southwest’s.

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. In order for the older FA to early retire, AA MUST OFFER them something! They are too young to collect Social Security or their pensions. No one wants to hire them because of their age. They are too young to retire and too old in the hiring arena. Age Discrimination is a very really thing.
    First to go should be based on performance. I’ve witnessed rude FA in all age brackets. Then AA needs to offer an early retirement incentive. Really first to go should be the 85Y.O. She/He could be of little to no help in an emergency

  2. It’s funny to read all these comments. I definitely read the article as just a factual statistic rather than the author saying any opinion about older flight attendants. There is no opinion in the quality of the flight attendant but there is some opinion on how American, delta and SW handles it’s management.

  3. Furloughs are determined contractually…if the 84 year old FA passes CQT each year like every other FA then they’re more than capable of emergency issues. That the Age discrimination you were speaking of??

  4. “Grandmothers” are the only ones who wil tolerate “Grandfather” passengers with bad breath and beer bellys. Thank God for Federal Law. I’d like a good looking Doctor , Lawyer, and Car Mechanic too but I’ve never met one. Putting uo with the general public is just as much of a learned skill. And, we intend to be paid for it. It’s not a floor show!

  5. Numbers are off. I know you’re just a blog, but if you don’t know say it as a guess not as fact. Also if you have a source for information, I’d find a new one, simple math isn’t adding up, 8,000 flight attendants would not even hit 2014

  6. Deepak Thakkar, Thank you for your thoughtful and dead on comments!

    Kyle Allin, 56 year old, 34 year FA, 4th airline, survived three furloughs, two bankruptcies and still happy to serve gentlemen and ladies like Mr. Thakkar. The rest of you can sit in the E zone smoking rows across from the lavatories.

  7. Hey don’t want a 85 or 75 or 70 yr old try to open a door in a fire DO NOT TRUST THEM. My state will only give them a driver’s license for 2 years not fly st this age and be responsible for 400 people. Some just do not know when to move on

  8. You should stick to frequent flyer miles and hotel perks. I can’t stand when people spread panic and misinformation for personal gain. Your numbers don’t match what the company just released. The news should come from a reliable source like the companies, not some blogger looking to share his opinions for monetary clicks. Fire up the next article, this time include more accurate figures. I hope one day you don’t get jammed up for spread such misinformation. Time to find a better source.

  9. @You Don’t Deserve My Name – these numbers come straight off an internal document which was shared with me, but I chose not to reproduce that document directly.

  10. @ Kyle Allin – way to go! I look forward to flying with you soon. We ( the frequent business travelers) will be back and I thank you for your service. Ignore the trolls

  11. For those of you claiming this will “not even hit 2014” hires American Airlines has sent out 9950 flight attendant warn act notices reaching to a seniority date of April 12, 2002.

  12. “these numbers come straight off an internal document which was shared with me, but I chose not to reproduce that document directly.”

    Yet you reproduced an internal and confidential document from Republic Airways yesterday and I bet sent their leadership into damage control mode, not to mention probably make some employees panic and freak. OK.

  13. To say I hate you is an understatement. You have NO IDEA what you are talking about. Please take this crap down and stop trying this act like you know what is actually happening. Just because WARN letters went out doesn’t mean those will get furloughed. The final number will be revealed after early out bids.

    So shut up until you have actual information

  14. Dillon York you are sadly mistaken and clearly have no clue what proficiency and recurrent training is! My neighbor has been a FA since 1967. EVERY year ALL 25,000 of A.Airlines FA’s have to go to Texas for mandatory training. It doesn’t matter what age they are; they ALL do the same exact training that lasts 3-4 days. So you might want to rethink your comment! I guarantee you that if any FA was not capable of blowing the emergency hatch and dropping the shoot for you to slide down during an emergency; they would not be flying!!

  15. @Mark Weathers – “Just because WARN letters went out doesn’t mean those will get furloughed. The final number will be revealed after early out bids.” This is correct and it’s what I’ve written so I have no idea why you say I don’t know what I’m talking about, I think you’re reacting emotionally, having nothing whatsoever to do with what I’ve written.

    I know this was shared in flight attendant forums, this is an emotional topic, but saying “I’m wrong” doesn’t change things as difficult as they are.

  16. What in tarnation! Alright crazies, listen up. To the human that said “American Airlines flight attendants have to go to recurrent training every year for 3-4 day”… you my friend are WRONG. We go for 2 days. TWO days. Secondly, the WARN letters are going allllll the way back to hires of 2002. Some of you forgot the whole 9/11 situation where airlines didn’t hire for 10 years. Thirdly, all the info I’m stating here is factual, because it’s coming from a flight attendant hired in 2018. It’s me, I’m the hire from 2018. We received the information about numbers, warn letters and furloughs yesterday. We are well aware the struggle we are dealing with and the stress we are going through. To the flight attendants who are 65+, I’m thankful for y’all, truly I am. But, some of us (I’m 28) would like to start a family, we can’t do that because you guys won’t leave and give up your seniority. For the comment about Betty Nash, our oldest flight attendant, she’s hung on so long because she has a mentally disabled son who she’s been caring for. However, she did not pass recurrent training. So she’s been on desk duty and she also lost the only aircraft she was previously qualified for. If pilots have to leave at 65, I think it’s high time the airlines make a mandatory retirement age. Some flight attendants can’t even arm or disarm their doors properly without sitting on the jumpseat and bending over. There is a true disconnect with our senior flight attendants and our junior flight attendants. There are still some amazing quality senior flight attendants. But, there’s a reason we lost a lot of our Asian routes and it’s because senior flight attendants are only worried about ONE thing on those long haul flights, and it’s “how fast can we finish service so that we can take a break”… I’m sorry that this comment will ruffle feathers. But the company should be looking at performance, attendance and then seniority when our comes to furloughs.

  17. Bette (not Betty) did not fail recurrent
    training, or one plane and is not on desk duty (no such thing for a FA). She is on a 3 month leave which ends July 31.

    Senior FA’s and pilots have taken the brunt of furloughs over the decades, especially those from TWA.

    It’s true Bette’s son has Down syndrome but that is not the reason she keeps flying. She loves to fly, work with her friends and socialize.

    What will it take for her to retire? Not passing recurrent training. It’s true the senior FA’s have it easier but Bette has always passed.

  18. Actual days doing recurrent is 2 days, 3 if you fail an item such as doors. It can be 3-4 if you have to travel fly) to and from training.

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