Rumor: American Airlines Adding Seattle Flight Attendant Base

Just as the pandemic was starting, American Airlines inked its West Coast Alliance with Alaska Airlines. This was supposed to support American’s international flying.

  • After Alaska acquired Virgin America, American saw them as more of a competitor than partner. They had a change of heart. They were bleeding on Pacific routes from Los Angeles. (They’ve since given up on LAX as a Pacific hub, opting to fly long haul only to joint venture partner hubs from LA.) They saw an opportunity to shift their West Coast long haul to Seattle.

  • Alaska for its part eyed joining oneworld. They didn’t want a weaker partnership with American. They want international partnerships especially, in order to sell customers more than just their own domestic network. Delta had encroached upon Seattle and had the ability to sell both. Notably, Alaska’s deal to acquire Hawaiian brings with it Pacific routes.

However the pandemic came. Asia flying was slower to recover. Russia invaded Ukraine, which eliminated the ability of U.S. airlines to overfly Russia making many flights longer and more expensive to operate.

American had planned to fly Seattle to Bangalore and to Shanghai. Neither flight materialized. American isn’t even flying Seattle – London this winter. They aren’t operating long haul at all from Seattle. So it’s been a question mark whether Seattle would actually be a long haul city for American at all – whether their ‘L.A. replacement’ wasn’t one after all, and the airline would just shrink in the Pacific.

So I was surprised by the rumor – not necessarily endorsed – that aviation watchdog JonNYC passes along about the airline adding a flight attendant base in Seattle.

I have 3 reactions to the notion,

  1. Normally I would think that they would use base expansion as (one one small) carrot in getting a deal done with their flight attendants union. But they gave out mid-contract raises which made it harder to get a mechanics deal done before the pandemic, so it wouldn’t be uncharacteristic.

  2. We have seen nothing to suggest they’re growing Seattle flying (especially without Russia overflight).

  3. I suppose it’s possible that new Boeing 787s in New York free up Boeing 777s that could go to Seattle, funding at least Heathrow for the long term. Perhaps as China flights inch back they need to squat on route authority and do Seattle – Shanghai? Alaska filed to codeshare on the route last year.

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 »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Maybe SEA-SYD if Qantas doesn’t start service? It would also be nice if AA could open its own Admirals Club at SeaTac.

  2. I think it would work. I know from the FA’S flying the old SEA-LHR route that AA has quite a few commuters from SEA. Plus they use to have a base in SEA years ago.

  3. Maybe this is to avoid hotel costs in Sea.

    This might allow more FAs to do LAX flying while avoiding to grow California employees with disputed breaktime rules and litigation they have incurred in the past.

    I am sure PHX based FAs are doing LAX flying. By opening up a SEA FA base every SEA-LAX mainline flight can bring a FA crew in and then they can fly Lax-elsewhere for a few days before returning to SEA.

  4. DL has added or is adding satellite FA bases at DFW, TPA, PHX, LAS et al and UA is adding pilot bases in Florida and the southwest. Nobody is throwing rumors of new international flights around for those hubs.
    Commuting is hard, airlines need crew members and it makes sense for many reasons to have more crew bases in order to keep attracting employees.
    AA has no crew bases in the mountain states so they are “pulling” from a larger geographic area than DL or UA in the western US

  5. Hasn’t JonNYC’s accuracy on rumors been poor over the past couple years? It seems like his once reliable insider connections have become increasingly unreliable.

  6. No, Eric, his rumors have been **EXCEPTIONALLY** accurate lately and his unrivaled, unique, industry-leading intel dominates the blogs many days– like today. Get a clue.

  7. It makes sense in that they’d be adding a west coast base that doesn’t have as many labor law hurdles like in CA. FA’s enjoy quite a few labor law perks in places like CA, MA, etc. For the AS-AA codeshare network, it’d be nice from a flight options point of view.

  8. American Airlines doesn’t appear to know what to do on the West Coast. Will they, won’t they? A flight attendant base in Seattle? Why? Seattle is still a mystery to AA. They are seemingly confused. I say keep them all in the horrid city of Dallas! Let every destination be served by and through the sprawling “Metroplex”.

  9. I’m guessing this will evolve into SEA-LHR & SEA-PVG

    Without Russia overly rights, BLR is on the back burner for now.

    I’m curious if AA will fund this with an upgauged aircraft DFW-SEA or operate a W pattern from a different hub through LHR.

  10. Don’t count on an AA club in Seattle. There is a new Alaska lounge being built between c and d concourses that will be 4X the size of the current c&d lounges it’s designed to accommodate American as well

  11. Anything is possible regarding Crew Bases because it is all about containing costs and getting more benefits from having people where you need them. SEA is an expensive city and I am sure reducing hotel costs is a surefire way to save money. An Airline knows where their Employees reside (esp Pilots and FAs) and know where it would be beneficial to open a Crew Base. There reportedly was speculation that Nashville would be reopened as well because BNA is a key city in the Network. Lots of moving parts that change regularly with an Airline and only the Executive Suite knows what the plans are and only armchair QBS speculate and babble without knowing anything.

  12. I would like to see United expand its Seattle operations. UA used to be bigger here in Seattle than it is now.

  13. @Mark AA used to have an Admirals Club in Seattle. One location is currently the C16 Alaska Lounge. And the last location was what’s currently the United Lounge at the A gates. I bought my first AC membership there – right before it closed.

  14. Part of me thinks this is a start to direct flights to Malaysia. They are poorly connected with OW and could give 1 stop access to India and Sri Lanka (OW) without Russian or Chinese airspace. And it’s not like Kuala Lumpur is a small place in its own right.

  15. So, Jon, you are now saying that AA has denied this “rumor?”
    you just made up BS and Gary bought it to create page clicks and there was never any truth to it, am I right?

  16. @James–I love your idea for nonstop service to Kuala Lumpur but I am not sure I believe it. That would become the longest flight from SEA if it happens, being just slightly longer than SEA-SIN. It would also have to compete with Singapore Airlines for service to that region and AA isn’t going to win that competition, at least not based on price. As for India service, Air India has stated they want to start nonstop SEA-DEL service later this year. I don’t know if that will really happen but if it does, despite it’s bad reputation, I wouldn’t bet against a Tata-controlled Air India for the long term.

  17. I meant to say AA will not win the competition against Singapore Airlines based on SERVICE. They might, based on price.

  18. @carletonm–I, too, would love to see UA expand at SEA.. Historically, UA had derp ties here, having originally been created by the Boeing Company. As a kid, my very first flights were on UA. After they bought Pan Am’s routes, they flew nonstop SRA-LHR, SEA-NRT and SEA-HKG for a time. They shed all of those routes eventually. They also shed 2 long haul domestic nonstops they had operated for more than 40 years, between SEA and HNL and JFK. That was the final straw for me as U was just becoming a frequent flyer to HNL shortly after that. Given the other options we have in SEA and that UA only operates to its hubs from here these days, it would take some nonstop international service from SEA to bring me back into the fold. When I do fly UA, though, I still find their service very good. My most recent experience was SIN-SEA, via SFO, in Polaris class. With 2x daily SIN-SFO flights daily, it was a good alternative on a day when Singapore Airlines didn’t operate nonstop SIN-SEA service and at a more reasonable price.

Comments are closed.