So Much For Protection, Flight Attendants Forced To Pick Up Trash Without Gloves

Some airlines are doing more to clean planes, while others are not. There’s been much ink spilled over travel safety, but flight attendants are on many more flights than travelers. Is their safety getting as much attention as that of passengers?

Flight Attendants Being Shunned Out Of Fear

I’ve written about the idiocy of denying hotel check-ins to Asian American men because they look like they could be from China. One flight attendant shared being disinvited to a party Saturday night because.. people are idiots. She’s LAX-based, but hadn’t been to China, South Korea or Italy this year. In fact where she’s been there’s less exposure than in L.A.

Our reactions to the health risk of the new coronavirus need to be based on science, not fear. I’ve had little concern about flight attendants at parties, but if airlines aren’t going to ensure their proper protection that would change.

Lack Of Gloves For Flight Attendants And Airport Workers

Here’s a note shared by an American flight attendant on Saturday who boarded her flight to find that there were no gloves yet she’s expected to pick up trash from customers.

It seems to me that if a flight can’t meet its safety standards it shouldn’t operate until it can, D0 notwithstanding.

It’s not just flight attendants though. Did you know that American’s airport employees aren’t permitted to wear gloves with the carrier’s new uniform standards? The week before last one employee questioned American’s President Robert Isom about this at a town hall event in Philadelphia. She pointed out that customers checking in juggle their personal items, put their passports in their mouths, before handing them over – and agents are expected to take the passports with their hands.

On The Ground Safety Is Where Unions Should Be Focused

I was concerned about hotel housekeeping staff cleaning rooms and potentially being exposed to infected guests, so I reached out to the UNITE Here union to see whether they had similar concerns. They told me, in effect, that they want pork not protections – they want federal bailout money to go to hourly workers but had nothing to say about the safety of their members.

When anthrax was found in a letter on Capitol Hill, congressional staffers received cipro. Postal workers did not. Two D.C. postal workers died. So naturally it’s the ‘less seen’ people I start to worry about. These are the sorts of issues that union heads out to be emphasizing right now, not playing Presidential politics.

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. …And we still wonder why Bernie Sanders is so popular, particularly demanded the voice of employees on the Board..?

    The FAs and gate check-in folks need to hit hard back at their arrogant corporate masters beyond merely protesting, as protesting requires the intellectual capacity for the corporate governance to understand the situation being presented.

    No, instead, either their current union, or, they will join one that is not a lay me down to the Parker fan club and shut down selective flights on still heavy volume flights; present their concerns to CDC, U.S. Public Health, and appropriate House and Senate committees. They should also have an informational picket at the HQ of their corporate board members.

    Although I came out of executive management and dealt with labor relations on both sides of the table, this story tells me it’s well beyond any hope of just discussing the issues. Already, we know Parker et al could care less about customer experience, comfort, and food quality. But to fold his hands and not care about their own employees, is striking. Nobody but Parker even cares if the gloves don’t “blend” with the uniform, or, do not appear appropriate at check-in.

  2. And this is the airline that Alaska chose to partner with? WTF were they thinking?

  3. Gloves, hand sanitizers, wipes, etc. are all becoming harder to find. Unless things improve quickly we’ll find out the danger on relying on other countries for products.

    I saw a note about India cutting back exports of some drugs due to lack of ingredients from china and wanting to retain supplies for their own citizens.

    You can argue about people over reacting but it doesn’t matter what you think, what matters is how people behave in these circumstances. And without strong, respectful leadership you just have chaos. Check out the stock market as well as the oil prices. Not good.

  4. FAKE NEWS. . .AA FA have been wearing clear gloves for years picking up trash. They did it on my flight the other day with new uniforms. STOP the mis-information.

  5. @sunviking82 : One swallow doesn’t make a summer

    There’s a callous part of me, and bear with me on this, that hopes covid hits hard. The reason being is that it will hopefully expose the myth that a 100% focus on capitalism is the right thing to do. You HAVE to look after those that deliver your product. Covid-19 has been around since, well, 2019, and the main transport mechanism has been (cruiseships notwithstanding) airlines. So for any airline to have NOT been stockpiling protective equipment is criminal. Would you expect to have to work on a construction site without a hard hat?

  6. Mark, do you remember a guy named Reagan? Or his successors Bush and others on the anti-labor party tickets? You know the ones,the corporatist who think Unions cost to much to the millionaire CEOs and their wealthy stockholders? Those that have been busting unions for the last 50 years…
    Well they have been pretty successful at destroying all union efforts and now here we are.. FA’s can beg for improvements for YOUR safety, and the CEO will say he needs a new mansion,and hand out paycuts to buy it… let’s not forget that you the passengers want free flights and think the flying waitresses dont deserve even minimum wages… you cant have it both ways. Unions have no power, Its even worse when the union leadership is in bed with management like AAs former Laura Glading and Dui Parker. Only you the consumers can make management sit up and listen.

  7. Sunviking..I feel sorry for you. You have no clue. I carry my own gloves,bought at Costco 8 months ago for my own use. They are clear PVC and I go through a lot of them. At my own expense. Repeat : at MY own expense.. and I’m not the only one. The flight attendants often have to make up for company failures. Just because you saw it on your flight ( one of 2000 daily) you think it is on all the flights? Haha.. you have no idea….

  8. Sunviking82…. Do you work for AA ? Or just took one flight and think you know it all ? Actually you are dead wrong… AA Flight Attendants ARE NOT PERMITTED to wear gloves !
    Please stop pushing your lies… if you saw them wearing gloves it means they did it anyway… I retired and we were not allowed and I did it anyway because if anything happens that airline does not care about their flight attendants ! My friends who still fly told me the rule has not changed… Its now allowed temporarily but apparently they are not available on all flights…

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