American Airlines Will Staff Fewer Flight Attendants On Planes Starting October 1

Once American Airlines is no longer restricted from laying off employees as a result of the CARES Act – October 1, 2020 – they will start staffing flights were fewer flight attendants. According to an internal document shared by JonNYC,

We will reduce staffing on international widebody and transcon flights to FAA minimums + 1 flight attendant (except on Boeing 787-8, where we currently operate with FAA minimum crew), effective October 1, 2020.

It’s not just fewer flights that will mean fewer flight attendants needed at the airline. They’re going to staff the flights they have with fewer cabin crew as well – something that former American Airlines President and current United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby did over at United during good times, as American calls out in their internal news item (United is the “one of our largest competitors” that has already implemented this).

Here’s the new staffing levels by widebody aircraft:

American calls out that Dallas – Hong Kong will have an additional crew member because that’s required. And where they operate a widebody domestically they’ll do so with the legal minimum crew (rather than legal minimum plus one).

As noted in the chart the airline’s premium cross country Airbus A321T aircraft will see reductions as well so it’s not just widebodies.

This will mean lower service levels. United Airlines accomplished their reduction by serving meals in business class pre-plated. They’re far less appealing, but the Kirby bet was that customers wouldn’t make their decision based on quality of the inflight product (hence all the cuts we saw to Polaris business class after he came on board).

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. “but the Kirby bet was that customers wouldn’t make their decision based on quality of the inflight product (hence all the cuts we saw to Polaris business class after he came on board).”

    And we thought there was a race to the bottom before the pandemic. Just wait.

  2. So AA’s argument to draw back customers is to reduce service, using the justification that a competitor has done the same? They really need to look up the definition of sophistry. To think that the idiots making these decisions are actually being paid to do so is frankly stunning. The best they could come up with is the “Tommy blew his leg off with a shotgun so I thought I would do the same” argument? Wow. Just wow.

  3. AA seems to want to eliminate around 7000-8000 flight attendants from the payroll this year.

    That’s a substantial chunk of its FAs.

  4. I am likely in the minority here, I know…

    It seems rational to me for the business to try to provide the level of safety and the level of service that most people expect in the most cost efficient way possible. Staff reduction is a means to that end.

    I doubt that people who read this blog are representative of the flying public as a whole. The service “needs” and desires often expressed here are likely greater than that of most people who are primarily interested in getting from Point A to Point B safely and on time.

    People can and will vote with their feet. Those who find this change can choose to fly with different carriers. If American’s business is significantly negatively impacted, I would think they’d eventually readjust.

  5. Being in the minority on this blog, I will just say that us peons in coach won’t notice any difference

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