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.”
Some American Air flight attendants spent night on cots at Glacier Park airport earlier this month after a series of delays, no rooms avail and trouble booking space home. While unusual unions say long holds to reschedule/lodging, or no hotel rooms on arrival are common. https://t.co/IUs2a44cbf
— Leslie Josephs (@lesliejosephs) July 28, 2021
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.