Flight attendants at American Airlines are getting paid big bucks to work the holidays, and to show up even when they’re sick. Back on November 13 (pre-Omicron) I posted the question,
Maybe not such a good idea when the airline has pushed out its vaccine mandate until after the holidays?
The airline’s pilots union unanimously rejected a holiday pay increase, saying they wanted to fix system contract issues instead (negotiations have dragged on). This was meant to leverage contract negotiations but is costing pilots money in the short-term.
However American is also giving a $1000 perfect attendance bonus to CWA-IBT-represented Airport, Premium Guest Services, Travel Center and Reservations; TWU-IAM-represented Fleet Service; TWU-IAM-represented Tech Ops; PAFCA-represented dispatchers; TWU-represented Flight Crew Training Instructors; TWU-represented Flight Simulator Engineers. It requires working all assigned shifts Nov. 15, 2021 through Jan. 2, 2022.
Of course American is hardly alone incentivizing holiday attendance. Airlines don’t want to get caught out on key travel days with full places and lots of media scrutiny cancelling flights due to lack of staff. JetBlue is offering a $1000 perfect attendance bonus and Southwest is offering Rapid Rewards points, for instance.
The problem now is that, for several airline employees, calling in sick when they’ve got Covid-19 costs them their attendance pay. For flight attendants at American that can be thousands of dollars. The incentive program drives employees to show up for work, but it drives employees to do that even when they’re sick and even when they’re potentially infectious.