American Airlines Is Actually Shedding 47% Of Its Flight Attendants – Far More Than WARN’ed

Last month American Airlines sent out a total of 24,285 WARN Act notices as required by law when mass layoffs are possible.

  • 9950 of those notices went to flight attendants (37% of the flight attendant group).

  • The airline said they were sending out about 21% more notices than the actual number of people they’d need to furlough.

  • In fact they announced yesterday that they are furloughing 8100 flight attendants after reducing flight attendant numbers by 4500 through 1610 voluntary early outs and 2890 extended leaves of absences.

American Airlines has previously told employees that leaves and early outs would trade off 1:1 with furloughs.

This suggests American wanted to shed its flight attendant workforce by 12,600 (or 47% of flight attendants). They couldn’t have done that right away because they only sent out 9950 WARN Act notices. And the leaves and voluntary quits did not – as promised – actually trade off with threatened layoffs. The number was 27% more than the WARN Act notices they sent out.

The number is “much higher than originally communicated” by American to its union. The flight attendants union says they were blindsided. All flight attendants hired after July 1, 2013 are being let go.

American wasn’t successful in getting more senior flight attendants to retire early because (1) the airline’s offer wasn’t as good as what carriers like Southwest offered, and (2) flight attendants didn’t trust the offer that amounted to ‘money later’ that would be dischargable in bankruptcy. Despite a years-long effort to get employees to trust American Airlines management they trust the company even less now that the math on furloughs has been shared, with flight attendants feeling lied to about the early outs and leaves saving jobs.

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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  1. So Gary how much of this is a based on “forcing” Congress to pass additional trillions to aid the airlines versus actual “redundancy” ? I agree that the airlines will have far smaller schedules going into the next few years and possibly farther out. The huge wide bodies are essentially gone other than the ME3 and those will be phased out sooner than later.

    Personally given Parker’s past I am in the camp this is a play in order to force Congresses hand, the problem is bail out the airlines bail out all the other services companies taxpayers can not afford that. Having said that I am in the camp that something has to be done, not sure or knowing what that may look like.

  2. The problem is that, given the dysfunction in Washington right now, I could see any additional aid bills getting stuck in Congress until after the election.

  3. I agree, It been said many times before Parker cannot be trusted! Promises were made to employees in the past and Parker changes these promises.

  4. Why senior f/as would stay is ridiculous. Especially if u are over 65. Not sure what they are trying to prove. I retired in 2012 and miss flying and AA like I would a brain tumor! Get a clue people!

  5. Time for AA to file chapter 11 again and get out of these union agreements. No reason the old, grumpy fossils get to stay on as flight attendants (at top of the pay grade) while younger, more enthusiastic and lower paid flight attendants as let go.

    This is why people hate unions. They had value at one point but not in 2020. Negotiating work rules is one thing but keeping a seniority based pay system with no consideration of merit is crazy.

  6. Would you trust a company that already tried to dump its pension obligations on the underfunded PBGC during its last Chapter 11 filing to pay your future income, provide future health benefits, etc?

  7. Hi to all the flight attendant and co workers

    I was so sad to hear about the flight attendant and co workers not going to have a job. What??? That is such a shocking to me even tho I have applied with your company 30 times and not one interview with your company as well even too I speak 7 different languages as well.

    I am so disappoint Ted as now your company is laying off workers why??? That is not good at all. I think all airlines needs to function more then laying out people.

    Who is going to give beverages to the passengers? I really don’t care about payment just wanting to become a flight attendant. People needs jobs and payment but I get SSI but knowing to become a flight attendant is my dreams and my career.

    Others have their dreams too and I felt it so bad when they are crying saying no job I had tears too that is so bad real bad.

    So can you all do something about it then laying out people? Thanks

  8. @Cheryl Gardner – this management never actually tried to do that. They took over US Airways *which had already done it* and at American they took over and part of the deal was that wouldn’t happen, it’s why the PBGC favored the LUS takeover inside bankruptcy.

  9. No I would not. But I am a Christian lady and according the Bible we are supposed to forgive others and give them a second chance.

    How are airlines to function when the airlines no longer want to help passengers to get to where they need to go? It is so frustrating to see the world going crazy instead of airlines saying we need funds in order for the passengers to travel.

  10. So glad I retired last year after serving 22 years at American. Our working conditions got worse as well as the food service and longer hours, shorter layovers crappy work schedules when U.S. Airways started calling the shots. Just awful. I took retirement as soon as I could.One of the. Best decisions I ever made. .

  11. It is NO SURPRISE that AA management lied to its employees! Basically “par for the course”!! All the times they tripping typed on our communications “Thanks for all you do!” ACTIONS speak louder than WORDS!”

  12. That is the thanks junior flight attendants get for working hard through the height of the COVID pandemic and then slapped with furlough after the fossils enjoy paid leave 6 months

  13. Oh, it was a wonderful “technicality” because everyone who was laid off was inside the WARN’d group. Very, very creative on the companies part…and appalling that the Union feels “blindsided” I had told freinds that this was going to happen, and I’m not on the union board so I’m not sure they didn’t see this possibility.

    Nearly 50% of the FA staff, when other airlines managed to not layoff any. At the same time though they have us doing a write in to beg for corporate welfare, which is what I REALLY think this high number is all about.

    Of course we’re simply supposed to overlook the fact that the company “buybacked” us into this situation, all while piling on additional debt.

    This is as infuriating as the governments abysmal response to the pandemic.
    Commentor Jason: it’s not the senior FA’s fault (this time) put the blame where it completely belongs square on the head of AA management. As far as the paid leaves earlier this year, there were as many Jr FA’s on that as seniors. I get your frustraion, I’m just shy of 800 people from the furlough, so if things haven’t improved by spring I’ll be in that next batch. Yes jr. FA’s flew through the Pandemic so but so did Sr. You also have to be aware of how extremely risky the buyout off was. Imagine being asked to save the company but YOU take the risk, not them.

    Mark my word, by shrinking the airline with furloughs instead of buyouts (which would make nasty press for AA in the event of a bankruptcy), they have set themselves up to cry poverty leading to a nice adjustable low interest loan from the gov’t as well as ‘right sized’ in the event they want to pull off a merger with a smaller more agile airline.

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