American Airlines Flight Attendants Need 50 Years With The Company To Get A Schedule Out Of Phoenix

American Airlines isn’t operating as many flights as it used to. They’ve downsized their Phoenix flight attendant base as well. US Airways needed a large contingent out of Phoenix before merging with American, because it was the airline’s only hub west of Charlotte. That’s no longer the case.

Many flight attendants who weren’t furloughed back in the fall have transferred to other cities. Those that remain are only getting assigned to flight schedules right now, versus working reserve, if they’ve been with the company for fifty years. You’d need a start date in the summer of 1971 to avoid working reserve right now.

Reserve means there are specific days and times you’re scheduled to be ‘on call’ for the month. You can get a call and have to acknowledge it right away, head straight to the airport. You have to be available at all of your scheduled times, maybe starting at 4 a.m. You may sit at home, be out and about, and have to head into the airport to travel – or not. (You may also be told ahead of time that on some of your reserve days you’ll actually travel.)

You may wind up traveling to different cities as a complete surprise. you don’t know where you’ll be sleeping on a given night. Or you may wake up in the middle of the night and wait, only to do nothing.

After furloughing about 8000 flight attendants there are American Airlines cabin crew that have been with the airline for over 40 years back on reserve. Even though the most junior flight attendants are back on payroll retroactive to December 1 thanks to government subsidies, none of those have worked a single scheduled flight yet. Most won’t before American’s obligation to keep paying those employees expires at the end of March.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. @CHRIS “A worthless profession”? What a disgraceful thing to say. And you wonder why you get poor service. Poor you. Our hearts bleed for you.

  2. Well, the good news is, anyone old enough to have been working since ’71 is eligible for their Covid vaccine in Arizona.

  3. I once knew a flight attendant based in LAX that did sex work while waiting on reserve. Not prostitution but something less. She had very little seniority, nothing close to 50 years or even 10.

  4. So thousands of AA employees are getting government money to cover their salary but don’t actually have to work? Sign me up!

  5. @Gary,

    Any particular reason JFK, an AA hub is not on the above list?

    It is really interesting how much the dates vary between hubs with PHX, SFO, and BOS being the only 3 requiring over 20 years of seniority.

  6. There’s way too much non-essential flying going feeding the COVID-19 virus and delaying our coming out of it. They should all train to be nurses or vaccinators.

  7. @JC,

    Several crew bases covers multiple airports, but they just use one airport as the main crew base, in this case, LGA, which also covers JFK and EWR. LGA crews can bid trips out of all 3 NYC airports, if available, and/or if they choose, but the crew list will always list them as LGA based, regardless of the origin of their trip.

  8. My girlfriend and her daughter have purchased a ticket to American airlines and I’m afraid they fell into a scam with the ticket sales person her name is Claire anyways it was three months ago my girlfriend had talked with this Claire and my girlfriend is so clear watch the ticket prices as soon as they go down I’d like to purchase a ticket to come to Oklahoma well apparently Claire had purchased a ticket way before we had talked to Claire had purchased a ticket for $1,380 and she was saying that I told her to buy it back when we first met her, this Oriental individual has got covid-19 she’s in the hospital right now and Pensacola Florida and my girlfriend is stuck there because of this woman. What should I do?

  9. This article is misleading. We rotate thru reserve every few months. You don’t need 50 yrs to hold a line.

  10. @Patti – rotating reserve contributes to more senior flight attendants working reserve, but next month’s numbers (which will be different the following month) are right there

  11. They need to retire! Most of them are double-dipping and have been bashing Junior flight attendants for it. FDA needs to cap age limits same way they do with pilots. Its not safe!

  12. Pilots and Air Traffic Controllers have a mandatory retirement age. As flight attendants work to rebrand themselves as influght first responders- this might be a great place to start!

    However, the reserve system does feel flawed. Certain years of service, say 30, should be better protected but this is a union issue.

  13. Proof Gary will write anything for clickbait. It’s one base experiencing displacements, this is hardly news. Look at the other bases.

  14. Being in this business 37 yrs. this only happens once in a while due to several circumstances. PHX base down sized so they do a rotation for reserve that’s why she’s serving reserve in March. April will bring another rotation. She won’t be on it. @Harry, you’re just not nice at all. @Chris, some of the best Flt Art’s been around for over25yrs. @ Amy, (are you trained in nursing?) FA’S are trained for a lot of medical situations so what does Covid, have to do with needing a nurse when you fly??? Finally, @ free rider you don’t even know what your talking about. Everyone has to work or take an Unpaid Leave! The view from the sky needed to research better for this article about our reserve system because he didn’t even get it right in making everyone understand How It Works and Why She’s on Reserve Now!

  15. Agree completely @KK and @Craig. When I come across articles with comments like so many above, I’m reminded how social media can be vicious. A few of these comments come from people who have never stepped foot on a plane and sit at a computer spewing hateful things they know nothing about. I have to say, the worst comment in my opinion is from @CHRIS. Worthless? The only thing worthless in your comment is how your parents raised you. I have been flying 40 years and have a fabulous career. My parents were wonderful people and taught me that no matter what you do for a living, if you are working hard at something that is legal and can earn enough to put food on your own table, then get up every day and be proud of what you do. I hope you never have kids @CHRIS. If you do, I feel sorry for them. I’ve been fortunate, you not so much. Good luck my friend. Maybe you will get a new attitude someday. As for a few more of you with ugly comments, I’m sorry that life is not what you want. You can use a few trips around the World after covid gets under control to enlighten your closed up views. @Harry and @whocares, hugs from Your World traveling safety professional Grandma SkyHag.

  16. And those that transferred to other bases ruined our lives at those bases. Pushing down the flight attendants in seniority, taking away our flying. Wonder why your flight attendant is in a foul mood. The transfers causes others to be pushed into reserve. American, at the start of the pandemic, should have closed all bases, transfers, till things got better. AA became US Air with poor run management and bad service!

  17. Some of you are just so rude. Does anyone come to your business and tell you to retire? Do they mention sex in your profession? What is it about a flight attendant that makes you think you can be sexist and abusive?
    Flight attendants work hard and can be on duty for 16 hours. Do any of you do that in your job? They are considered essential workers except for when it matters…like a COVID shot.
    Gary, get your facts straight…it is rotating reserve which means 1 month on reserve and 3 months off for a total of 3 times per year. PHX will go to 1971 seniority in March because the base has been cut.
    As for double dipping, etc., whose business is that? Those who were America West have no pension and those who were AA or US had their pensions terminated.
    Have a little respect for people who do an honest days work!
    Some of you are truly disgusting!

  18. I’m very happy to be working for a smaller airline where ten years of seniority gets me most of what I want. Reserve was only two months and never again. If I want to spend time in countries we don’t serve, my benefits get me there on the larger airlines with no problems.

    I’d never want to be at the bottom of the seniority list at an airline with tens of thousands of flight attendants. At my age, I’d be dead before I got a decent schedule.

  19. Why are all you losers beating up on the Flight Attendants; retirement, ageism, sexism, etc.
    Do they show up at your place of employment with the same harassment?
    You losers will be crying them a river of apologies and thanks after they save your thankless, disrespectful FAT ASSES from a burning airplane. Go get a life, then hop on Greyhound.

  20. @JJB, You know they certainly wouldn’t be talking this smack if they were in front of you. Keyboard warriors at their finest!

  21. Amy is absolutely correct. FA’s need to be given free retraining into a more viable industry. Commercial aviation is much like the coal industry. It will be around but at a scaled down version. Leisure will be strong eventually but business will never be as it was.

  22. For those wondering how long ago summer 1971 was… That’s before Walt Disney World opened (October of that year).

  23. M. S. Smith says:
    February 12, 2021 at 5:30 pm
    Many of the people commenting on here should use their time to improve their spelling a grammar.

    Exactly! Including the author ✍ Gary L., who does not work for an airline, but posted a reply above…..

    @Lisa – funny you don’t saw what you think I got wrong, and by the way AA confirms my claim

    My 10 has better grammar!

  24. Life is interesting. I enjoyed all the comments. Life is like a rainbow. Made up of different colors. Beautiful, good, ugly, saints, sinners, nice, rude, pleasant, sad, grumpy, hateful, caring, loving, sad, spiteful, broke, rich, jobless, divorced, single, married, dieing, living, winning, losing. etc. It all depends on what life throws at you and how you are coping. It shows how you relate or react. Enjoy the rainbow!!

  25. I recently traveled on AA. As I was entering the plane I saw the first FA, i smiled and said ‘Hello, he just looked me up and down, rolled his eyes and looked away. NICE
    While I was waiting at the gate to board, a young woman arrived there too, wearing very tight fitting close and at least 8 inch high heals….well, she looked like a prostitute…however, she turned out to be the other FA. How can this woman help anyone during an in flight emergency/water landing or fire?
    If, in 1971, you were 18yrs, that would make you 68 years OLD: YES RETIRE!! I do tell people to retire especially when other peoples live are at stake. And as far as working up or more than 16hrs,now it is a safety concern in it of itself. Can this 68yr old, wearing 8in heals who has been awake for God knows how long really help anyone in an emergency?
    Are there any standards anymore?
    If FA are as miserable as they come across…FIND ANOTHER JOB!!!
    If you FA don’t like your job, find another one and QUIT TAKING IT OUT ON THE PEOPLE WHO “DEPEND? ” ON YOU!!
    Go test seat belt buckles at a car company, that’s really the only thing I see you do, OH, and slam the overhead compartment doors.
    Maybe, you can all just buck up and do the job YOU SIGNED UP FOR!!

  26. Since ‘blogging’ and clickbait became jobs we have seen more opinions not based on facts or experience than I can stomach. Write about something that elevates, or informs with facts, not half- researched opinions that a 6th grader not planning on getting a real job, could have written.

  27. American lost the airline latam that operated South America as part of that one world Alliance and what I see is America doesn’t have a stronghold in South America

  28. The new relief plan proposed by Biden bails the airlines out again until Sept.!!!!..Why work just sit home and get money for free courtesy of the taxpayer’s. This will be the 3rd bailout,how long will this go on.?Other businesses just go under or reduce staff..but not us we are special.American,Delta and United are huge companies over 100000 employees each but you can’t reduce staff at all.Makes me sick!!!Congress are idiots to keep propping them up.

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