American Airlines Failed To Pay A Lot Of Its Flight Attendants, Shorted Hours Or Delivered $0 Checks

There are a lot more employees at U.S. airlines than are needed to work flights right now. So many of them are being paid a guaranteed minimum number of hours. The federal government has so far awarded more than $23 billion in payroll subsidies to make sure this happens.

At American Airlines some of the required hours didn’t get paid during the mid-May pay cycle, and in fact many flight attendants whose scheduled flights were all cancelled received $0 checks. Others who got some pay appear to be missing hours.

I’m seeing comments on social media like one from a flight attendant who was paid for 28.5 hours when they were supposed to receive 55 hours. Another whose check was shorted 19 hours.

Since current procedures are being handled outside of the way the airline’s pay systems were programmed, payroll didn’t get done. Apparently everyone’s guarantee or make-good hours need to be entered manually. There are approximately 13,000 flight attendants at American Airlines.

According to the airline’s flight attendants union,

The Company has advised that the April flight hours and contractual pay protections (reschedules, last sequence/last series, crew sub) that falls under the [Joint Collective Bargaining Agreement] will be paid on the 05/15 check. The April monthly guarantee (cancellations) that fall under the [Letter of Agreement] are being handled manually and will be paid in a separate check no later than 05/30. The Company advised that they will make every effort to have it paid sooner, rather than later.

With more employees than work at an airline that has reduced its schedule by almost 90% they might consider bringing in staff from outside of payroll accounting to help with the lift. In the meantime many American Airlines employees will have to wait to get paid.

Update: a response from American’s Senior Vice President of Flight Service is now being shared in social media,

We have been working with Crew Compensation to understand the path forward and timeline. They had processed on time all the existing pay protections in the contract, but the incremental letter of agreement with the line guarantee was a manual pay process.

The good news is that this process has been completed and it is being submitted tomorrow for a separate check to be issued. We expect this to be deposited no later than Monday, Jan [sic] 18 into your account (one business day after you may have expected.)

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. Not paying hard working flight attendants is just one more reason American Airlines is “something special in the air.”

  2. That special smell is rot.
    Jail the senior management until ALL the salaries have been paid in full.

  3. American Airlines is awful – The issue is the sr. managers are all buddy with each other. The comms team – is a joke- not only are they always behind the 8ball they move like turtles. One of the managing director is a drunk something [redacted -gl] is her last name – and everyone talks about it its rather comical. I remember seeing a video of her at NYC pride hammered she couldn’t event walk – and everyone was laughing it was great. Great company imagine way to show the brand. Ive never had an issue with flight attendants they’re typically great when I fly. (well previously) no one is flying anywhere I am doing zoom with my company. I usually split my time between JetBlue and AA. JetBlue Boston to LA AHHHMAZING!

    They will be the airline that fails during this covid event, if Doug and Robert – don’t realize their people department is bad – real bad.

  4. A similar pay issue is happening with unemployment benefits, it’s because they have to pay out of two separate pots (one state and one federal) and systems are not designed do this. Also, same goes for the airlines.

    So social media is now your source for factual information. . give me a break Gary.


    1) It’s not even pay day yet (the 15th is)

    2) they told us it would be a separate check for LOA protections.

    3) just because FAs didn’t understand doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

  6. Looks like you jumped the gun and started a bit of chaos. Way to fall for it, Gary. Not credible. Not what I would call the research and post of a “thought leader”

  7. I lobe it when companies say they “have been working to understand.”

    I guess when employees complain they have not been paid…it takes a lot of work to understand that.

    Seems to me it’s one of those PR phrases, that try to convey that…a company is “hard at work” “trying to understand” how they screwed up.

  8. @Stuart – I didn’t start the chaos it was well underway, American did fail to pay flight attendants on time and sent many of them $0 paychecks for the May 15 payday. They let those who asked know they’d get paid by the 18th, and then after I wrote about that they said they’re on a path to get things done for May 18 – three days late, still late. Everything I wrote is accurate.

  9. “I’m seeing comments on social media”. This is definitely a credible source.
    “There are approximately 13,000 flight attendants at American Airlines.” The actual number is more than double this.

  10. @Gary L


    You literally have no idea what the fuck you’re talking about. Stop while you’re ahead.

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