American Airlines Flight Attendants Stuck Sleeping At The Airport

The American Airlines flight attendants union has filed a grievance against the airline because, it says, cabin crew are being forced to “in airports and outside of baggage claim” because they can’t get rooms on their layovers. And they report that pilots “are dealing with the same issues.”

The flight attendant hotel and limo desk, outsourced to TA Connections, is like a customer trying to reach Delta by phone with hours-long hold times according to the complaint and the vendor “has been unable to satisfy our hotel/ limo needs and contractual obligations.”

There’s definitely an issue with crew accommodations, however it is very rare that a crewmember would wind up sleeping in an airport and indeed should almost never happen. In most cases accommodations are pre-scheduled. However flights cancel and crew get stuck in an unplanned city.

  • There’s an app they can use to book a room instead of calling
  • When they can’t get a room through the vendor they can book themselves and get reimbursed later (provided they have a credit card)

Crew shouldn’t have to book themselves. They shouldn’t have to take reimbursement for transportation to and from the hotel or for the room itself. But a little self-help solves most of the issues, labeit doesn’t excuse the airline from its contractual obligations.

During major weather events, when large numbers of flights cancel, there’s a scramble for rooms and crew are competing with customers as well. Flight attendants are experiencing what customers face trying to get ahold of airlines when schedules go wrong.

As airlines have scaled back up, they’ve faced many failures that are in part attributable to remaining fully staffed despite massive government subsidies intended for them to do so. Vendors, too, have faced staffing issues exacerbated by pandemic unemployment and closed schools. That’s what made it hard for American Airlines to cater planes (where caterers lacked sufficient commercially licensed drivers) so it’s no surprise to see problems at a crew logistics outsourcing provider, too. But it’s American’s responsibility to fix it.

According to the airline,

Taking care of our crew members while they are away from home is a priority for American. We are looking into the concerns raised by APA (Allied Pilots Association) and APFA.

Where the ‘sleeping in airports’ incident actually happened isn’t actually mentioned in the message from the American Airlines flight attendants union to its members. However, Kalispell, Montana will have a limited number of rooms. In most cities, even if the airport hotels are sold out you can find a room if you drive far enough. I’ve had to go into Dallas when every DFW airport hotel was completely sold out.

However finding full service accommodations with rooms near Glacier National Park can be tough in peak season and no advance notice. And there aren’t other ‘big cities’ nearby. At some point you hit Missoula, Montana and Spokane is nearly four hours away.

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. I wonder if the Kalispell, Montana route is normally a turnaround but due to delays the crew had to layover for one night?

  2. The overnighting in Kalispell is due to the ongoing fuel shortage and Americans lack of planning for it. No surprise to see crew timing out and having zero accommodation for them.

  3. Investment banker analysts get stuck overnight at their offices regularly, with not even a cot. Cry me a river, AA flight attendants.

  4. No data on how often this happens? Non issue. Find another job. Many of us have spent the night in airports due to cancellations or delays.

  5. In a lot of smaller resort areas this summer, the rooms are there but the Holiday Inn Express or Hampton Inn is $300-400 per night. I’d have some big concerns about an employer easily reimbursing those kinds of prices.

  6. This is a simple labor-management relations issue resulting from one party, the FAs union, policing the collective bargaining agreement, a contract, freely agreed to by management. Like every contract, it is enforceable. It was incumbent upon the employer to meet the performance parameters of the contract. Failing to meet those parameters is an invitation for the FAs union to file a grievance, which they have done. If management is smart, after meeting with the FAs union and validating the complaint, they will quickly reach a settlement with the employees affected and the FAs union.

    Bravo to the FAs for standing up to enforce the terms and conditions of their contract.

  7. @ray yes customers are often left in this position. However, they are not then in a safety critical role on board the aircraft. I wouldn’t want to be in an aircraft emergency with a crew who haven’t been properly rested.

  8. @ghost really a beginning investment Banker is making 160k minumum and after a couple of years has the exp to write their own tickets and is making high six figure or seven figure salaries not 50k like some flight attendant.

  9. A lot of potential passengers are also spending the night in airports due to AA screwing everyone around. I’m sure not going to feel sorry for some FA getting to do the same. In fact, it might be the only time the customers actually see a FA during the night since they go to their hidey holes on the plane. Maybe when some AA executives spend the night in the airport we will see some positive change at AA.

  10. Fairbanks , Alaska does not exactly have a huge number of hotel rooms and yet American has repeatedly delayed flights out of there so that paying passengers have eight hour or more delays on overnight flights. The key, once again is for American to run a reliable operation based on appropriate planning of the resources available. Vendors do fail but that is not the norm

  11. @your daddy
    Thank you for mansplaining. I am well aware of the lavish comp in ibanking. That is exactly my point. Compared to AA flight attendants, there are jobs that are much more prestigious yet endure much worse conditions.

  12. Oh my. Did they have to have contact…with…any stuck passengers too? *shudder*

  13. Crying boo hoo here.

    Twice in less than a year an airline has screwed me over, changing the flight out to before my other arrived and the only other flights out were routed thru multiple cities. After already traveling between 15-30 hours, the last thing I wanted was to have to add another 10 hours trup time.

    I ended up getting a hotel in NYC for basically way less than 24 hours. Want to talk about cost and inconvenience? And nobody was offering me a cot at JFK.

    Pay and get reimbursed, stay multiple to a room but deal, just like your customers have to.

  14. Several ignorant false equivalency comments once again demonstrating narcissistic, low character. Having zero zero empathy for someone who may have to save your non empathetic a * * someday is not cool…… Investment bankers spending the night in their offices ? many possibly belong in jail or worse Lol.

  15. @Franklin, the fat a**, lazy FA’s, not to mention on my international flights they are in their 80’s, couldn’t possibly save my fat a** even if they weren’t the first off the plane.

  16. mark johnson – true character, leadership and courage is not always popular & is demonstrated by what you do when no one is looking. Additionally, my 40 + years of business travel all over North, Central & South America has taught me the pilots & crew consistently perform above & beyond reasonable expectations and despite rude, arrogant and willfully ignorant customers.

  17. How ignorant can so many people possibly be? The flight crew is rarely, if ever, responsible for a delay or cancellation. So, do you really want a crew on board who slept in the airport or didn’t sleep at all before your flight? Also, dumb ass, with age cones experience. Next time you have a medical emergency on board a fight you’d better pray for one of those experienced flight attendants.

  18. @Miss T EXACTLY and well stated. These folks also look forward to having open-heart surgery performed by a surgeon that slept on the floor in a busy emergency room. Moronic people always expose themselves.

  19. It is awful for anyone to spend the night at airport but I would not want my airline crew especially the pilot not well rested. I think the airline should have a special rooms for just the crew in case of emergencies like this.

  20. @TLFL and others:

    Why does sleeping at the airport now reduce these FAs ability to do their job the following day? I have done this more times than I care to remember, taken the first flight out, still handled my job responsibilities. You all act like there is some crisis the FAs handle on a daily basis: guess what, there isn’t. As a matter of fact, most complain they have to serve drinks and food or make announcements during a flight.

  21. Flight attendants equate themselves with surgeons? Someone is a legend in their own mind.

    What’s next? Will you FA compare yourselves to Marines landing on Omaha Beach on D-Day?

  22. At our local international airport there are numerous recreational vehicles parked in the nearby airport parking lot. I’ve heard these were for flight attendants and other staff. Perhaps there could be an RV parking lot timeshare industry that would be reimbursed by the airlines?

  23. @Tanya: I have been out partying late with crews ( including pilots) the night before they fly. Stop thinking these people are saints and all rush to hotel to get rested for next day. Many are party animals.

  24. @ghost of p ness:
    Nice to know you’re spending your i-banking analyst time reading mileage blogs…..
    This seems to be very common in ibanking when you have a bunch of smart people who get to run up cc charges and mileage balances on the firm’s dime.
    Expect your tax rate to go UP

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