American Airlines Flight Attendants Demand 50% Wage Increase Or Strike

The American Airlines flight attendants union has reduced pay demands ever so slightly, but extended out the period of time they’re talking about to get up to a 50% bump in wages in order to sell it to their members.

They’re still outside the zone of possible agreement, though. And they’re saying they are “holding firm on” wages after taking a strike authorization vote in which over 99% of voting crew supported going on strike. They want a 50% increase in wages – firm – and they’re threatening strike to get it.

  • American Airlines has offered Delta-level wages including boarding pay along with increased profit sharing, increased training pay, and increased retirement contributions. The initial wage increase would be 11%, followed by 2% increases in each of the remaining years of the 5 year agreement.

  • Flight attendants have demanded a 35% increase up front and 6% annual increases in future years.

  • They’ve reduced their ask to 33% up front, and 5% increases after that, netting an increase of 50% over 4 years.

American Airlines is offering to match Delta Air Lines cabin crew wages. American is financially weaker than Delta. Their flight attendants aren’t more productive than Delta’s. The value of the age can’t exceed the value of marginal product.

If the Association of Professional Flight Attendants wants to bargain for higher wages, they’re probably best to wait and see what United’s flight attendants get. United flight attendants represented by Sara Nelson’s AFA-CWA. American’s APFA is already borrowing AFA-CWA’s lead negotiator, waiting for United’s deal could put them in a stronger position.

The American Airlines flight attendants union lacks the financial resources to sustain a strike. They can’t pay their members enough to sustain them without pay from their job.

That’s why, even if released to ‘self help’ by the National Mediation Board, the union isn’t actually planning a full strike despite public rhetoric. They are planning to surprise the airline by not showing up to work specific flights, which may change day to day. It’s a tactic that rival union AFA-CWA calls CHAOS (‘Create Havoc Around Our System’).

In the meantime, with a market offer from the airline that increases both wages and adds boarding pay, and going into the holidays, it’s likely to be difficult to get a release from the National Mediation Board to strike. An airline strike over Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years would be a costly political hit to the Executive Branch going into a re-election year.

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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    Why don’t you write the after-tax, after-inflation amounts instead? How many of us are earning the same as 5 years ago, in after-tax purchasing power? You’d need a 35% increase for sure, and 5% a year for the future.

    That’s why big business loves inflation, it’s a guaranteed wage cut every year. And their lackeys like yourself can moan about the gross pre-inflation wage increases as though unjustified.

  2. Should go back to 2000 or so, and compare executive compensation then to executive compensation now, and give line-level employees the same pay raise.

    Well probably not as that would bankrupt the airline.

  3. What’s lower, the iq of the commenter above me, or the fare for a middle seat overnight LAS-EWR on spirit airlines?

  4. @Christopher Raehl: Little hard to determine as the majority of upper-level executive compensation is in the form of stock options.

  5. FAs are arguably play the most important role in determining passengers’ flight experience. I wish the best ones I’ve met would make a million a year. The worst ones should refund their pay to the passengers. It is hard to support a system will compensation is based on seniority rather than actual performance.

  6. I hope they LOCKOUT all of the FAs for an extended period of time. I would be completely fine even if it disrupted my own travel. AA needs to get some discipline in their ranks to get the attitude adjustment they need.

  7. Using the CPI number that came out this morning, the CPI has gone up 21.9% in the last five years. A 50% increase through the end of the contract is excessive.

  8. We Are Ready…….for them to strike……and then get replaced by younger, more energetic, customer-focused people who actually WANT to be there.

  9. @jns: So they will be getting back pay from the date the contract was amendable . . . back in December of 2019, the last time they saw a raise? Will their pensions lost in bankruptcy be reinstated? Will the staffing levels cut in Covid to FAA minimums in most cases be reinstated? Will those with 35-years based in LAX finally be off reserve so they can finally have a set schedule and a life? Will non-rev benefits ever become meaningful again in this era of oversold flights?

    @Chris: That’s not how it works with CHAOS. APFA will wait until they are about to board an FCO departing flight and one flight attendant will announce they are on strike. Since they are flying most flights at FAA minimums and there are no reserves at FCO, the flight is cancelled. Chaos around the system. AA can’t fire the others because they were present and willing to work.

  10. Yes the FA’s have gotten repeatedly hosed by American but the union is being incredibly shortsighted. The union needs to build up a large war chest so threats of a strike are actually believable. Otherwise they’re just destroying what credibility they have. Another alternative would be to take the matching Delta wages and shut up. That doesn’t help past hurts but it stops the bleeding.

  11. Yes. There are lazy, rude flight attendants. But we are not all that way. The complimentary letters and ‘nonstop thanks’ certificates that Executive Platinum and Concierge Key customers have given me apparently show that I am not one of them. For nearly 32 years. In any job there are lousy employees, but it is obviously unfair for people to put all AA flight attendants in the same category. Though I am sure that all those above who have posted such negative comments are stellar employees….

    It is very easy for people that are not in the job to scoff (and worse) at the suggestion of such a large pay increase. Especially when it is taken out of context, like this post is. Since you naysayers have not been the recipient of extreme AA corporate greed, since you have not experienced doing more with fewer workers (bringing back pre-Covid full service but not the flight attendants that were removed in that time), since you have not experienced flat-out lies from AA about returning pay, medical, retirement funding, and work rules (which are too intricate for you to understand since you are not in the job), then you have absolutely no clue what type of AA we are facing as an employer. Fifty percent is, in my opinion, inflated But not nearly as much as you think. We deserve a decent raise.

    And as for those rude and lazy flight attendants, please remember the next time you fly that respect is a two-way street. I’m sure that you, as an employee, give your customers (or employees if you are in management) your absolute best attitude every day.

  12. I hope AA can use this opportunity to get rid off the ever increasing bad seeds in their FA team. I had FA scoffed at me for requested breads during meal. I had FA told me to get water myself in the open bar section when I requested one. I also had many sleepless redeyes because the loud chatting/laughing coming from the FA in the galley. All these happened to me in dozens of business class I flew with them. If this is the service level for their business class, I can’t imagine what economy passengers go thru. Please fire all the FA who only want to be there for the paycheck. Especially those entitled businesses class FA with seniority.

  13. @ One – and that’s the problem with unions representing service professionals. The good and the bad get lumped together and represented as One. I would love for you to get a 100% raise. But you can’t blame us for not wishing to reward your far lesser colleagues, some of whom truly seem to despise us.

  14. @ One of the Good Ones

    Yes, I give my clients my absolute best every day. All the Way Every Day. That’s all I have to sell.

  15. Grant it all of the unions in American airlines do deserve a raise. Better yet, while they’re asking, they should be asking for their pensions to be reinstated, especially to the rank and file that started their careers in the ’80s. People in my work group totally got screwed in 2016 where we had our pensions frozen. My retirement is projected 1421.00 a month, and I have 33 years under my belt. I sincerely hope our TWU/IAM Association puts that into our next contract. I’ll take that over a 40% we’ll never get. All of the 1980’s generation employees deserve dignity too! I was projected to make 3500 a month but instead our pension was frozen and on top of it we get no medical in retirement as that was promised at date of hire. We were told the loyalty with us will definitely pay off in the future as in medical was included in our retirement… Was… The thing is I don’t want to hear anybody bash us for greed because back in 2012 we all gave back 23% of our pay and benefits and unfortunately to keep us out of bankruptcy we had to freeze our pensions to keep this company afloat. So again, please have compassion and don’t bash us. And as for our so called flight attendant’s attitude. Most of you people need to check your attitudes before you even step aboard our airplanes, I’ve seen enough nonsense on videos, news broadcasts. I wish we could go back to the ’80s because back then people had class! they weren’t self-serving fist wielding entitleist arsholes as there are today!

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