American Airlines pilots now are prioritized ahead of customers for upgrades at the airport when they are deadheading, flying between segments on a trip that they’re working.
Some readers said ‘this is business travel’ so pilots deserve it, but most companies don’t pay for first class on domestic travel, and certainly not companies like American Airlines that lose money in what should be their best quarter (their third quarter loss was due to cash payments… to pilots).
American Airlines gave this to pilots in their latest contract because United pilots already had it. But United at least got something from their pilots in exchange during the pandemic – flexibility in how they scheduled pilots to avoid furloughs and keep everyone flying and current, which benefited their operation and reliability. It saved United millions, while American’s pandemic furloughs wound up costly as the airline didn’t have enough ready pilots to fly their schedule and they had to both scale back flying and delay and cancel flights.
Here’s the full detail, from an internal memo, on how pilot priority for first class upgrades works now at American Airlines.
American clearly isn’t being run for shareholders. Six years ago their CEO bet an analyst that the airline’s stock price would hit $60 by November 2018. It fell to shockingly low levels even before the pandemic and now the stock is near pandemic lows.
I don’t think anyone believes the airline is run for customers? So that leaves employees, but flight attendants are wearing pins saying they’re ready to go to WAR and customer care agents are furious. So only pilots are happy these days? At a minimum they’re flying up front more than before.