Flight Attendants Union Sells Out Spirit Airlines Cabin Crew: Lower Wages For You!

Often times airline unions benefit senior workers at the expense of junior ones. They tell their members that workers are ‘in this together’ but it often isn’t true.

Sometimes airline union leaders flat out steal from their members. Sometimes it’s more subtle.

  • JetBlue and Frontier are both vying to acquire Spirit Airlines

  • If JetBlue acquires Spirit, flight attendants (and other employees) will wind up with raises, up from ultra low cost carrier pay levels to JetBlue’s pay

  • So naturally unions favor the JetBlue deal, since that means more pay for their members. Right? Right?

Not so. Sara Nelson’s AFA-CWA has come out in favor of Frontier acquiring Spirit.

  • Her union currently represents flight attendants at both airlines.

  • So they’d continue to represent flight attendants at a combined Frontier-Spirit

  • JetBlue flight attendants are represented by the Transport Workers Union. The JetBlue work group is larger. If JetBlue acquires Spirit we can expect the combined group to be represented by TWU. AFA-CWA loses members.

“We are thrilled to announce our support for the merger of Spirit and Frontier Airlines after reaching a transition agreement that protects Flight Attendant jobs,” commented Sara Nelson, international president of AFA on Tuesday.

“We support the necessary regulatory approvals that will improve competition, increase consumer options and experience, and maintain and grow good union jobs.”

This isn’t merely a process update. It specifically doesn’t mention the potential of a JetBlue merger and how they’d happily work on an agreement with that airline.

AFA-CWA has secured certain trivial concessions that make it sound like they have gotten something meaningful from the airlines in exchange for this endorsement. There won’t be flight attendant furloughs as part of the merger, but the pitch was to grow the airlines anyway. Frontier is essentially buying Spirit’s order book of new planes with this deal, in addition to their own planes, the airlines are set to grow especially in the current travel environment.

Endorsing Frontier’s acquisition of Spirit is Sara Nelson selling out her members’ pay in order to maintain the size of her union, and in order to prevent another union from growing at her expense.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. […] JetBlue offers a better product with more legroom, seat back entertainment, and free snacks. JetBlue has said they plan to retrofit Spirit’s planes to match their own cabins. (Spirit employees would also make more as part of JetBlue than as part of Frontier – yet union boss Sara Nelson sells out her flight attendants, preferring a Frontier deal since she keeps c….) […]


  1. Your credibility on REAL aviation issues is shot!
    Your attacks on AFA and other aviation unions is old and tired.
    We certainly know who is paying for your words in this post!

  2. Suzanne is apparently paid by the exclamation mark. Unions always treat contractors like shit.

  3. @Suzanne Balzer

    Nice try at deflection, union shill!

    Anyone with half a brain can clearly see that union leadership doesn’t give a damn about their members. Their existence is to solely to get fat off union dues, spew venom about the evil Republicans come election time, and sell their future members down the river during contract negotiations.

  4. Union leadership is all negative all the time. You could offer to give the FA unions the entire airline for free so they can reap all the profits and run it any way they wanted and they would find something to complain about.

  5. Check your numbers. Jet Blue flight attendant pay is maybe $1 more an hour than Spirit. A JB flight attendant however works three times harder

  6. I think that unions are absolutely invaluable to balance the needs of employees against the greed of large companies. That said, I loathe Nelson and find it stunning that anyone would elect her considering that she consistently works directly against the best interests of her constituency. I may be mistaken but I think it unlikely that Spirit flight attendants feel overpaid. Nelson being willing to hurt people for effectively agreeing to join another union is shortsighted and downright stupid.

  7. @Stanley – starting pay is only modestly higher but it goes up quite a bit and is *much* higher at the more senior levels

  8. You have no idea what you are talking about. If Spirit and Frontier merge they will enter negotiations for a new, combined contract. Same would happen if Spirit and JetBlue merge. Until the combined contract is ratified both airlines will work on their respective aircraft under their old contracts. Smh

  9. Your view of AFA and Sara Nelson does not represent how we flight attendants feel. Sara Nelson is amazing! I wish we had her at my airline. It’s so obvious to me the reason you dislike her so much is because she is such an effective leader, so you look for every opportunity to trash her and the best flight attendant union in the industry by far.

  10. AFA took 7 years to negotiate a copy and paste of Continental Airlines contract. The United contract was amendable in 2021 with only a handful of sections negotiated. The company and AFA are dragging this out because it means more money for both the company and AFA. The longer it drags out means the officers of the AFA can bill for more hours. Meanwhile they continue to fight to get Delta onboard using our dues. Get us an industry leading contract first and then go after other airlines.
    If I worked for Delta, I would never vote the AFA in. Look at what they are allowing United to get away with. We hold online with scheduling for hours. We have slept in airports and on cots. Reserve life is pure hell. On call for 24/7. Working us to the bone. Our contract means nothing because the AFA does not hold the company accountable for violating the contract. There is absolutely NO compensation to the employee when the company violates the contract so the company doesn’t care. It’s insanity. Do not believe a word Sara Nelson says. She strong armed and bad mouthed her predecessor so she would be ousted and Sara would be elected She is not to be trusted. Delta, you should run the other way. You will regret it if you do business with this mafia of a union.

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