American Airlines Will Start Providing Less Service On Flights October 1

American Airlines is furloughing 8100 flight attendants. There’s less travel demand, they need to operate fewer flights, and that means fewer employees to work those flights.

But that’s not all that’s changing at American. The airline is staffing fewer flight attendants on each widebody plane and also reducing staffing on their premium cross country Airbus A321T. They’re saving on labor not just because they have fewer flights, but also because they’re offering less service on each flight.

The American Airlines flight attendants union has just let cabin crew know how reduced staffing is going to spread out their work.

  • Boeing 777-300ER goes from 13 flight attendants to 11 They’re having the pursuer help out in first class “through table linens” and then help out in business and “all Galley positions will flex to aisle.”

  • Boeing 777-200 goes from 10 flight attendants to 9 with two flight attendant positions getting added duties.

  • Boeing 787-9 will have 9 flight attendants with the ‘FA5’ working the galley also help serve in business class, ‘FA2’ working the galley help cover coach, and the ‘FA3’ will “cover both aisles from the aft working forward.”

  • Airbus A321T goes from 6 flight attendants to 5. The purser will work both the first class galley and cabin, business class galley flight attendant also serve the cabin, and the ‘FA4’ position will help out in both premium cabins “when complete in Main Cabin.”

Boeing 787-9 Business Class

This is a plan not just to fly less, but to offer less. Flight attendants are unhappy because it means each one working international and premium domestic flights will be working more during each trip, without being paid more.

American Airlines already reduced flight attendant staffing on Boeing 777-200 in March 2018, so this is a further reduction. Boeing 787-8s are already at minimum legal staffing levels.

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. They’re not doing anything anyway! What are they so worried about. AA should just staff to FAA minimum required……1 f/a per 50 installed seats.

  2. I don’t see this a much of a reduction for passengers. Maybe slows down the time for meal service. But my experience with AA international – FA’s quickly do the meal service and then disappear, and provide little to no service. One FA will prepare the snacks on the counter in Business.

    Not a big deal if meal service is a little slower.

  3. What meals?
    I haven’t seen something you could call a meal in steerage in over 40 years:)
    They should fly w/o FAs. That would free up some isle space when boarding.
    They could install a snack machine for nutritional needs.

  4. I’m confused “American Airlines Will Start Providing Less Service On Flights October 1”. How is it possible for AA to provide less customer service than its current/previous baseline? The headline made me LOL.

  5. There won’t be any difference to customer service as AAL flight attendants provide minimal service even at best times. And, the Union protesting will have no consequences. AAL doesn’t appear to pay much attention to them any way.

  6. @A
    F/A: Wants to know why the plane is on a mechanical delay.
    Mechanic: Wants to know why the Coke machine is talking.

  7. There is little to no service now so will anyone even notice? Last First Class flight couldn’t even get a drink.

  8. They’re running AA like an ultra low cost carrier, but their fares still reflect that of a premium carrier.

  9. @Gary I am surprised airplane staffing levels aren’t part of the CBA between AA and the union. I imagine AA brass has been chomping at the bit to make theses reductions for a long time, and finally has the excuse to do so. I doubt we see staff in restored in the next couple of years as AA fights to keep staffing costs down.

  10. Ten comments & not one compliment? How sad. I am an AA Executive Platinum Customer. As such I travel many thousands of miles per year in both F/C & B/C — domestically & internationally. My experience has been that the vast majority of AA’s F/As I’ve encountered over the years have been consummate professionals. They are polite, hard working & seemingly very interested in providing us with great customer experiences. It’s my guess that the preceding comments / complaints have been made by ten infrequent flyers who’ve never seen a F/A calmly handle an inflight emergency like I have or been catered to in F/C by one of AA’s outstanding international pursers. Over 8000 F/As are about to lose their jobs & one of you called them “talking coke machines?” How rude. I’ve seen your type on many a flight & I’ve seen many an AA F/A bend over backwards trying to please you. My hat is off to all of them … I couldn’t do their job.

  11. We have a flight on October 1st and the only way we could afford to go from Memphis to Phoenix was to leave Memphis and fly to Charlotte Nc with a 3 hr lay over and then board again to Phoenix. This makes no sense. Praying we have a safe flight. My Dad always flue American Airlines. He would be devastated if he was still here

  12. Just flew AA again for the first time in 4 years. There is no difference between AA and any other ULCC anymore.

  13. What hateful comments about flight attendants. Where do any of you work? I’d like to drop by and see how you do your job. And when the FAs are replaced by vending machines? And the old man with Alzheimer’s whose family dropped him off alone gets agitated? Or the lady who needs O2 but can’t figure out how to make it work? Or the smoke alarms go off bc an idiot is vaping in the lav? Or the drug addict who ODs at his seat? Or the alcoholic who gets drunk and starts vomiting? Or the old guy who soils himself? Or the unaccompanied minor who is afraid? Ir the “service animal” has explosive diarrhea at the bulkhead? Or the cardiac arrest in 10C? I’ll stay home – YOU figure it out, you bunch of imbeciles. Hateful people – Stay home.

  14. 1/ The lack of copy editing, proofreading, and basic grammar skills here is usually just annoying, but every once in a while we get a real gift — this time it’s “having the pursuer help out in first class.” Love it! Don’t ever start proofreading, Gary!

    2/ I haven’t flown since March. I am not in any hurry to fly again given the personal and public health risks. When I do resume flying I have no reason to prioritize AA given all the cuts they are making now,, not to mention the gradual diminishment of service and value long before Covid-19. (I’m Executive Platinum and have been for many years, but in the past two years I’ve been paying for business class on most travel and thus have become less attached to the elite benefits.)

    3/ That being said, I would say that overall, my experience with AA, not least with their phone and Twitter teams who must be under such stress during the pandemic, has been that the great majority — 80%+ — of employees I’ve interacted with for years have been kind, efficient, and professional, and sometimes really exceptional. I’ve always felt that the front-line employees are almost absurdly good given the constraints imposed on them by management and union policies. I blame the C-suite entirely for the diminished value I’ve experienced over the years. The sad thing is that the front line suffers much more from the airline’s decline than senior leadership (especially those who actually stayed, rather than those who left under duress or because their contributions weren’t valued—I’m thinking of Suzanne Rubin and the guy who pioneered their amazing Twitter team in the early years).

    I’m sorry that when I return to flying, I will have basically no loyalty to AA and will just be a (high-)paying customer of whoever can deliver the best service on the best schedule. I didn’t want it to be that way and really believed in this airline. But the loyalty is pretty much gone, because of the signals that senior leadership has sent so consistently ever since the HP / US team acquired AA.

  15. Come on Gary, American has been working hard on providing less service for years. The Parker era simply moved this into overdrive.

  16. So let me understand, since senior AA FA’s who make the most money will be the main ones left after layoffs, this means: Less time playing games on their phones in the galley, less time bitching about everyone and everything to their co-workers in the galley, and less time being entitled and fantasizing about being first responders. Sounds like a good plan to me. This might even improve the level of service on AA.

  17. It depends upon how full the planes are.

    Business, the current setup was fine. It was already poor in PE. I can only imagine how dreadful it would be on a 95% full flight now.

  18. I just flew back from Pittsburg to Sarasota on American. The attendants did nothing but sit in their seats the entire trip, both legs.

    The truly ironic part is that for 30 – 40 minutes prior to boarding the gate attendant announced about every 10 minutes that masks must be worn or you would not be able to fly on this or any future AA flights. Masks with vents were not allowed, but you could tie a handkerchief around your face like a desperado. We were then required to social distance while boarding.

    All this concern and I sat shoulder to shoulder with my row mate.

    To make things really ironic, when we landed we were instructed to remain in our seats until the row in front of us had left to practice social distancing.

    This is truly a zany world.

  19. Also, Julia, when you have flown other airlines on international routes…AA has poor service in the premium cabins compared to their competition, because they staff on seniority, not quality. Sometimes, you will find great people who go above and beyond, but the standard for what is tolerated is simply too low for tickets that cost thousands of dollars. Cutting heads on the big jets is going to exacerbate this problem. I haven’t flown international coach in years.

    I think they’re not as bad as people make them out to be domestically in first and Main Cabin Extra. The issues here are more related to the terrible first class seat they’re putting in.

  20. Stuart: it was already senior FAs on these planes. Who do you think it getting staffed on a 777-300 or A321T? Unless you have language skills, you’re not getting on these planes without a ton of experience as is. The senior FAs are not any better.

  21. If CX or SQ or a similar airline cut their flight attendants, I’d be sad. But not for AA FAs. I’d even be less worried, hell I’d be elated, if AA cuts their executives. Saying this as an AA EXP.

  22. As noted above. It would be impossible for the flight attendants to provide less service.

    However, I am grateful to Gary for laying out the changes in such a clear manner.

    Randy’s comment is spot on. The only way to ever improve service on an AA flight would be to find and eliminate the hiding place the FA’s go to once they have thrown a meal at you.

    Julia’s bitterness perfectly reflects the attitude of every fa I have come into contact in the last two years of my 40 years of flying. The only purpose AA serves is to get me to a hub with an Asian international airline.

    My life would be complete if only I could hand out the furlough papers to every FA that disserved business and first class between DFW and hkg the last few years.

  23. Okay, I am most often a coach pax (gasp!). Every now & then I get to fly first class, if I have enough miles or $. My work does not reward me for their travels. The AA flight attendants do not have great service or friendliness in either cabin. I just flew first class cross country (domestic) a few days ago, and ZERO service. ZERO friendly or ZERO helpful flight attendants. Exact same as coach. No service to miss so what exactly are we going to be missing??? ‍♀️

  24. I remember AA doesn’t block middle seats so how does AA reduce flights when they are all packed?
    DL has more frequent flights due to blocked middle seats so I took DL for instead.

  25. I do feel sorry.for.the flight attendants. People think that they are.just.waiters and waitresses that they don’t tip. I am done with AA.

  26. Of course!
    Like in their advertising jingle of the 1970’s:
    “We’re American Airlines, where the passenger is a PEST!”

  27. First off, I just made an international trip on AA, and they are so full of crap it’s not even funny. They announce at the gate and on board that they have discontinued in flight service out of concern for passenger safety due to COVID. This is 100% grade A BS as they are certainly providing regular service to business and first class cabins. Unless greed somehow makes one immune to a virus, I am calling AA full of crap on this one.

    Second, their CEO openly admits that he spends 100% of his time seeking more and more bailout money in the form of our hard earned tax dollars. They have been bailed out repeatedly since 9-11 at the people’s expense. Maybe of their executives spent some time implementing a business continuity plan instead of panhandling from their private jets the airline would be in better shape for both the passengers and the FAs. The absolute least they could do in return for their passengers bailing them out every time world events don’t go their way is give us a quarter of a can of soda and a cookie, but that seems to be too difficult for AA.

    In the end, the flying public would be far better served if AA (and most of the other US airlines that treat their paying passengers like crap for that matter) just went out of business so that an airline that gives a damn could fill the demand left in the wake of their well deserved demise. Passengers and airline staff would be better off for it.

  28. Alana: It’s a bit harder to drive across an ocean. If you don’t have anything productive to add to the discussion, just don’t post. And just to let you know….it’s more time consuming to drive, but rarely cheaper than flying. The advantages are many though, If you drive you can eat and drink when and what you want, don’t have to pay terminal prices, and you don’t have to sit in a seat only suitable for a 10 year old because some executive who earns more than hundreds of employees who do all the real work decided to put 10 extra seats in your car to earn a bigger bonus.

    As I said earlier though, it doesn’t help much when you travel to another continent on the other side of an ocean. For that we are forced to deal with the airlines and their profits over basic passenger needs issues.

  29. Here we go. The perfect excuse for airlines to dumb things down, cheapen it even more. No one really thinks that when things “pick up” again that FA’s or airline staff are then going to hustle back to better quality service. Right, they won’t, it will get even worse.

  30. Let me first say that I am truly very, very sorry for each of the airlines (I fly AA about 85-90% of the time), and to the many hotel companies (I stay at Marriott about 90% of the time, and Hilton about 10% of the time) with this pandemic. My heart truly goes out to the many, many good men and women of each of these. No one could have ever predicted what we now have. I hope for the very best for each of them.
    With that said, I am a long- long-term American Airlines Executive Platinum (6 or 7 million miler, 20+ years of ExecPlat). Last year I had something like 350,000 miles and $60K+ dollars spent. Yet, since Doug Parker took over AA, he has downgraded ExecPlat in favor of his cherished “Pampered Poodles”, the Concierge Key. Sort of “one night I went to bed as one of AA’s most prized people (I was always told year after year that I was in their top 1% or 2% of flyers), and then next morning (after Douggie established Concierge Key “Pampered Poodles”) I woke up was treated like “something you cannot get off your shoe and wish you hadn’t stepped in” (“oh, it’s just another one of those stupid Executive Platinums).
    I had been flying internationally to Asia (always Business or First) about every 6-8 weeks. And when the fog of pandemic clears, I will need to resume that to get over to my office for the company that I own here in the U.S. (have an office in Asia with 17 employees). And, no, I will not be resuming flying on AA. This pandemic finally “broke me of a bad habit” of automatically booking my tickets with them. They had gotten so bad in treating passengers like me as if I were unclean. So I will choose others to fly in the future. Douggie, don’t worry, you still have your Concierge Key. By the way, how is that working out???

  31. @EdSpark58, Thank you for saying what so many executive platinums failed to say on their way to other airlines.

  32. So I guess if you reduce service from zero the plan would be for the passengers to feed the flight attendants and pilots and fly the plane. But, that also means now we get to act indifferent, roll our eyes at their requests or, more commonly, ignore them, withhold and meaningful or useful flight information, grumble beneath our breath, tell them to “just sit down,” “you can’t go to the bathroom with the seat belt light on,” “turn off your phone,” “we don’t have that,”
    “you missed your connection because it was cancelled,” “you can’t recline your seat now” and the other perks of being incompetent and uncaring about your job. Of course, I expect seat pitch for FA seats will now be reduced to the same as ours…25 inches. And you thought American/US Air couldn’t get worse they go and surprise you again.

  33. So very sad that so many men and women are losing their American Airlines job. Yes, over the years I have had a few bad attendants but in 50 years probably about 90% I have been greeted, helped when needed and they have been nothing but courteous. I pray for all of you to find something to do and that this Covid thing gets kicked in the behind. We are all going thru this strange time and all need to be more patient and kind!

  34. I don’t have a problem with this, in fact I think that US airlines should start having a snack bar for premium cabins, similar to foreign airlines, where we can help ourselves to snacks and drinks during the long haul flights to and from overseas. This seems to work fine on that flights so I don’t know that I would even realize the reduction in force. Also, when there is a purser, they usually always work the meal service, greeting, taking orders, serving, etc. I think it is rare for them not to help out. I assume that the reduced staffing still meets with FAA regulations for having sufficient crew to direct in case of an emergency. Also, just to throw it out there, I think they should continue with not allowing bags to be brought on board. Saves boarding, exiting times.

  35. Thank you @EdSpark58 for saying what needed to be said. As an AA Exp, I fly other oneworld airlines as much as possible to avoid flying AA, you get better service and earnings, both RDM and EQM.

    Regarding providing less service starting Oct 1, how do you move from zero to a minus number? Do they have the flight attendant’s picking your pocket as you board or leave?

    Delta provides more service on a flight to Lax/Las with social distancing than AA does Ord/Lax and booking to the limit. AA is just going through the motions with lots of hype and little care.

  36. Wow, it breaks my heart to read these comments. I am a 33 year flight Attendant. I love my job and work a lot. I always provide a wonderful service. I also introduce myself and use names. Even in Covid, I offer drinks in Premium cabins and food. I am generous as long as you wear your mask. I don’t think your all understanding that we are doing what we are told. Many in the airline industry contracted Covid. Some have even died. I am sure our company would love to bring back meals but are trying to keep employees as safe as they can through social distancing. They are looking into many ways they can start adding more service. The reductions they speak of are a cost saving move not because we are offering less service on board. If full service comes back these cuts will most likely stay in place. But to those of you who are saying we should go out of business may I remind you that we have families, some with illnesses. It would devastate many people. Let’s try to get through Covid, please wear your masks safely. Don’t be afraid to ask for something if you feel your not being offered something. But please remember their is no alcohol in main cabin. Please stay healthy!

  37. @girlonaplane. Please understand that my comments and the way I was reading a lot of the other comments are really focusing on the pre pandemic (lack of) service on AA. I have barely left the house since march and certainly not entertaining any flights even though I had to cancel my Cagliari business class trip and the march Paris business class trip. I also think that most of us know what AA is dictating and most are not judging the service based upon those restrictions. We just want to be told the truth, have some reasonable accommodation when we have to change flights due to the multitude of changes and cancellations because AA pissed off the mechanics, and all of the other problems that AA has with customer service. The last 2-3 years, AA employees have just given up. They don’t care about their jobs or the customers and rudeness prevails. I am a mere platinum pro and I even cringe at how the ex plats have been treated. I can’t imagine what economy must be like. My hope is that if an AA FA believes that they are doing superior work, then they might learn something from blogs like these to know that it is highly likely that the rude passenger that you believe you have could possibly have just spent 24 hour trying to make a 4 hour trip. And also learn that the front cabins are going to be funded less and less by customers that ever have the opportunity to fly singapore, cathay, jal, ana, hell even Taiwan’s Eva.

    For these reasons I can have no compassion for the Aa employees that are losing their jobs. And continue to believe that the union that favors a 33 year employee over a better performing employee is the biggest problem at Aa.

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