Earlier this month I covered a memo from American Airlines to its flight attendants threatening to fire them if they aren’t near the airport when called to work a flight while on reserve. It turns out, according to the flight attendants union at the airline, that they’ve already terminated 50 cabin crew over this.
When flight attendants are on reserve they may never get called to work, but they’ll get paid. Some of them – disproportionately an issue with American’s younger crew, I understand – will roll the dice and guess they won’t be called in. So they stay home in the city they live in, rather than the one they’re based at for work (where they may have a shared crash pad). Then when they’re called for duty they aren’t available, and may say they’re sick.
When flight attendants are scheduled for a ‘reserve availability period’ they have to be able to report to the airport within two hours (three where a co-terminal is involved). American has been investigating instances of,
- flight attendants ignoring their call up and missing a trip
- no shows and missing a trip
- calling in sick after they’re told they have to work reserve (when they’re sick they’re supposed to call out sick, not wait until they’re assigned a trip, of course this may get them attendance points)
What American will do – to potentially terminate a flight attendant after a single incident – is investigate their travel to see whether they were really in the city they were supposed to be in. Cabin crew, it seems, aren’t very good at covering their tracks.
[T]he Company will conduct a travel audit and compare it to your reserve schedule. They will conduct a 35R investigation. During this investigation, they will pull all your travel benefits history, including past, current AA listings, travel, and other airlines. They will use other evidence to substantiate their claim that a Flight Attendant was not in position to report within the contractual timeline.
Already American has fired 50 flight attendants in the past six months over this, and numerous additional investigations are underway.