Delta Pilots Make A Bad Faith Case For Boarding Pay

Pilots are one of the few unionized work groups at Delta. They’re complaining that Delta gave non-union flight attendants a raise by adding pay for boarding time (in addition to their pre-pandemic raise, post-pandemic raise, and special profit-sharing).

However Delta cannot unilaterally change the pay of their pilots. Their pilots literally agreed to – voted on – a contract that paid more for time flying the plane and didn’t calculate pay including boarding time. Not only haven’t pilots made boarding pay a priority, they’ve chosen the current arrangement because it benefits senior union members at the expense of junior ones.

Of course Delta pilots would like more money, as an add-on, raises for everyone as long as it doesn’t compromise the extra pay senior pilots have gotten – at the expense of junior pilots – by negotiating contracts that do not include boarding pay. But for the union to complain about how they’re paid in the union-driven contract is disingenuous in the extreme.

Meanwhile Delta pilots are protesting their union contract over its maternity leave benefits which provide pay and insurance for six to eight weeks. If you want to know why richer maternity benefits haven’t been a union priority in past negotiations, ALPA notes that “[l]ess than 6 percent of Delta’s pilots are female.” but Mother’s Day during contract negotiations makes for a good news hook.

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. A lot of lefties don’t know what to think about until their late night comics tell them how to think.

    Its no wonder the left is the ideology of emotion and hysteria rather than logic and reason. Just look at how they react to the news they won’t be able to murder children anymore. Its why we call them snowflakes.

  2. #Kogger…

    You must really have an empty life that you bring your ax to grind here.


  3. @Kogger I agree. I am firmly opposed to off-the-clock Delta pilots murdering children in the cockpit.

  4. Kogger thanks for my LOL for the day!
    OK, you can insult me now……

  5. I’m an active Delta Flight Attendant and I try not to worry about the pilots much. All I can say is I regularly have pilots telling me how they make $300,000 a year. The top scale flight attendants are barely making $100k a year and that’s after 12 years! Funny, because everything the pilots have is literally better in every way not just a little but a lot. Their crew lounges are like plush lounges with the best couches and lazy boys while the flight attendants are lucky to get uncomfortable chairs to sit in. Many times they fly first class while deadheading and many time they can take first class seats while commuting into work. They get what is called a green card when short on pilots where they are making 3,4 or 5 times their pay and flight attendants do not get any of that. Most flight attendants are making 35k to 65k a year so of course the pilots are going to cry but they don’t give a damn about the flight attendants. Some do but most treat us as their servants, oh get me a coke and all this other garbage like we’re just servers on the airplane. You won’t see me crying for pilots pay because they are by far one of the more highly paid professionals in the industry.

  6. Gary,

    I’ve been on ALPA negotiating committees. Been involved at other levels as well. It’s simply false to say that the current arrangement of being paid from brake release to door open was chosen by pilots to benefit senior guys. The current system has been in place in one form or another for decades and dates back to those first union contracts.

    Pilots could be salaried. They could be paid based on duty time or Time away from base. And a lot of pilots have rigs based on those metrics.

    But boarding pay have never been seriously pursued because it’s frankly far easier to just negotiate for a higher rate. Plus when the entire industry does things one way it’s not worth the effort to be the lone holdout. Southwest is
    Unique with their System but everyone else just applies a conversion so it’s a difference without distinction these days.

    What Delta has done is give their FAs a pay raise. They just picked a different way to do it and calls to match this are all about more money plain and simple.

  7. Hey Gary Leff, you stupid [redacted]… you are just part of the problem spreading misinformation. Get a [redacted] life and a real job and [redacted]. The pilots are handsomely compensated and should be further compensated to keep the industry and traveling public (to include your [redacted] safe.

  8. How about… “Fun fact! Did you know that the hourly pay of @Delta_Pilots puts them in the top 0.01% of American workers and top 0.001% of workers on planet Earth? No minting of small fortunes begins until the plane doors are shut and the brakes are released.”

  9. First of all, there are only two work groups at Delta that are unionized; the pilots are one of them.

    Please tell me how the current arrangement regarding no boarding pay benefits senior pilots at the expense of junior ones? And what is this “extra pay” you say that senior pilots get? Because other than the higher pay rate that seniority allows, I’m not aware of “extra pay.” Here’s how the pay rate works…the more senior you are, the higher your pay. Pilot pay scales top out at 12 years. A 2 year first officer is not going to make the same as a 20 year captain. Nor should they. They’re not being penalized, but that’s how seniority works. And it’s not exclusive to the airline industry.

    As far as TP’s comments..not entirely correct. Pilots travel in first class international because that’s in their contract. They have the ability to sit in first class when commuting to work, depending on availability and seniority, but so does a commuting flight attendant. It’s not just a pilot benefit.
    They are green slips, not green cards, and they are not paid 3, 4, or 5 times their pay. If they are among the more highly paid professionals in the industry, it’s because of the many years and huge amounts of money spent to become the professionals that they are. Oh, and also because of their contract. So, while you may not be crying over the pilots’ pay, I hope the next time you cash that profit-sharing check, you at least say a thank you because the pilots, and their union, are the reason you have it.

  10. Reference TP

    You should thank your lucky stars that you make that kind of money, considering most flight attendants have a low skill set. (Other than the flight attendants that add value and intellect by knowing a second language. Most don”t)

    Flight attendants get paid more than teachers and most of the trade professionals. They are paid over three times what a fast food employee gets with less of a skill set, and usually the level of hospitality/appearance.

    So in the meantime, smile and get that pilot a cup of coffee. You have it great even with the idiotic murikan passengers than cannot wear a mask. My son’s kindergarten teacher has the same problem. And she gets paid 1/3 less..

  11. @Edison

    You just admitted pilots are paid very good, but you think they need more?! Their jobs are stressful, but very rarely. I say this because both my sister and her husband are UAL pilots. Unless something goes wrong, it’s not a “hard” job. And a first year Captain on DAL, flying a narrowbody, makes at least $251/hr.

  12. To K Helldoge

    There are quite a few flight attendants that are former teachers, firefighters, cops, myself former Marine and the list goes on. We are a wide group of many different skills. Not sure why you are degrading the position of flight attendant saying we have low skill sets. In the event of an emergency they would be the ones to save your a$$. Take care

    Semper Fi and respectfully

  13. @helldoge

    Flight attendants are safety professionals whom mostly get paid less than school teachers. Unlike school teachers however, flight attendants don’t have the same work schedule as a child nor do we get pensions and other benefits. We also don’t get the respect that most people in similar professions do. Btw, most flight attendants at mainline airlines have more college degrees, work experience and skills than most the people in this comment section

  14. @helldoge, most of us know to use the apostrophe with a contraction and not quotation marks. Clearly you don’t.

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