American Airlines About To Get Pilots Contract? Some In The Cockpit Are Furious

American Airlines pilots know they’re going to get well paid in a new contract. The company has publicly offered a 17% raise. They want 20%, and changes to work rules that (among other things) keep the airline from altering their schedules and leaving them without lodging on the road. United’s pilot union agreed to a deal offering a 14% raise, but when they heard about what American’s pilots were on the verge of getting – and unwilling to take – they backed out of the deal wanting what American was getting.

Some pilots – including union leaders – are furious with what they appear on the verge of settling for as aviation watchdog JonNYC reports. Philadelphia-based pilots say:

  • their union is lowballing the airline
  • pattern bargaining means that’s keeping Alaska Airlines pilots from getting a better deal, and pilots at other airlines from getting a better deal
  • and that will limit their own pay, too – both in the long run and because of ‘snap up’ provisions they expect in their contract

The American Airlines pilots union has been working on a new contract for years. They haven’t pulled job actions the way that they did a decade ago, helping to push out legacy American Airlines management over residual anger with former CEO Gerard Arpey. But they’ve been very publicly trying to scare passengers away from flying the airline, literally making up stories on national TV and being generally grumpy with management. In other words, being generally all-around ineffective for its members.

The irony, though, about Philadelphia pilot reps complaining about low pay offers is that they’re speaking from a legacy US Airways hub. They never managed to get to a new pilots deal at US Airways after its takeover by America West, preferring to go to war with their own members (US Airways versus America West pilots) over seniority issues that stood in the way of a contract and kept pilot wages down for years. It was only with the American Airlines merger that their wages began to rise.

This signals that any deal that the Allied Pilots Association negotiates with the company is far from a done deal being agreed to by the membership, since elements within their own leadership might fight it. A more competent Allied Pilots Association might use this as a stalking horse to negotiate up the airline – pointing out how difficult passage of a deal on the company’s current terms would be, needing ‘help’ to get it through with additional key concessions. However given the union’s structure, and inability to discipline its public messaging, that would be quite the feat for them.

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, 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. Chinese pilots are highly paid and work for airlines they, and their nation, can be proud of. Multiculturalism fails.

  2. This doesn’t seem like anything new in pilot union negotiations. “New” would be if negotiations went smoothly and quickly, with both sides happy with the outcome.

  3. There is much more than pay issues at United. The pay could’ve been higher than American’s and it would’ve still failed to be ratified.

  4. PHL is a dumpster fire right now. Arrived Friday, AA only using B for exit and baggage claim. All who arrived in A or C, even if they didn’t need to go to baggage claim, couldn’t even exit those terminals. Doors locked, so 5-10 min walk detour to B.

    Flew out tonight, 3 of 4 precheck areas closed at peak evening departure time. Folks sent to walk outside for 10 mins from A West (the main Int’l departure terminal) to C. Agent at C claimed “airport politics” is why the other lanes are closed.

    Meanwhile, AC, Centurion, and BA Galleries lounges all with 30+ min waits (BA wasn’t allowing OW elites, only BA pax). The main AC, which was being renovated to Flagship, is still closed. Leaves the airport with just one terrible ex-USAirways lounge

  5. It would be nice if you’d actually bothered to interview or even do some sort of investigative “journalism” into the why’s behind the union pushing back, their actual situation and how much they deserve a great contract with quality of life improvements. Not exactly sure what they’ve “lied” about to passengers, but I can tell you as a major airline pilot of a direct competitor, none of the media APA has published to date has been factually incorrect. Do your job better and report the truth, or maybe suggest sticking to credit card reviews.

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