Prior to the merger with US Airways, American Airlines crew would generally stay together on a trip and even stay on the same aircraft. When a flight delayed, it was only that flight and crew which were affected (and subsequent flights scheduled with the same aircraft).
US Airways management took over and eliminated this practice. When a plane lands at a hub, crew disperse on separate journeys. When a flight delays, that means each flight attendant and pilot going their own way delays a flight. There’s a cascading effect on the operation.
American has started to revise its approach and 97% of crew flowing through Dallas – Fort Worth now connect together onto their next flight between the hours of 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. They may not be staying with the aircraft, but a lack of crew because of a single flight delay won’t mean a lack of crew for several flights after that. This contains delays.
As it was explained to flight attendants earlier this week in an internal company question and answer session,
One thing you’ve seen maybe hopefully felt in DFW in October is a lot more transits through DFW when you’re connecting with your pilot and flight attendant crew together. That’s an intentional act. We think there are some really great benefits both for our pilots, flight attendants and overall operation to stay together through DFW. It went from very few to almost all kind of in the middle of the day. Early morning and late night not so much.
Zachary Shapiro, who manages crew planning at the airline, expanded on this.
You all may ask why, how does that improve my quality of life? Keeping the flight attenadnts and pilots together reduces the likelihood of delays and reschedulings associated with having pilots but not flight attendants or vice versa.
The practice of keeping crew together is rolling out to Charlotte next month. The Dallas change in particular is helpful, though, not just because it’s the airline’s biggest hub (with potential to make the biggest difference) but also because the airport is subject to frequent thunderstorms and it’s known as (D)oesn’t (F)unction (W)et.
American has also eliminated flight attendant trips with 5 legs, and reduced the number of trips with more than 3 legs by over 50%. This is a big reversal from where American Airlines was a year ago trying to convince employees to voluntarily separate from the company, promising that they’d hate the schedules they had to work if they stayed.