American FA’s New Contract – Win or Lose?

You may recall that last month, American Airlines flight attendants voted on the proposed contract from management but it was defeated by 16 votes. CEO American AirlinesDoug Parker said that if the flight attendants rejected the offer, it would go to binding arbitration and they would receive $81 million less. Well, it went to arbitration and sure enough, the flight attendants were awarded $81 million less. After an appeal from the APFA president, Parker agreed to add back that amount to the 5-year contract and it is a done deal.

So how did the American flight attendants fare?

The new top pay rate is increased from $50.17 per hour to $53.52 per hour. Generally, flight attendants are paid from the time the boarding door closes until it opens at the destination. There are rules that limit the number of flying hours but most attendants that fly on an equivalent full-time basis are somewhere in the 75-80 hours or so range per month. Of course, they also have uncompensated time for things like travel, pre-flight meetings, and some training.

In a statement, American said that this flight attendant pay is “the highest hourly rate among our peers.” While perhaps true, in reality that’s only part of the story. What’s missing from this contract are things like profit sharing and shared rewards as well as possible bonuses, something enjoyed by Delta’s non-union flight attendants. While Delta’s flight attendant hourly pay is a bit less, it won’t be surprising to see it increase next year after all the airlines report record profits this year. Nevertheless, a good win for American and the flight attendants to have this issue behind them.

One major hurdle down for American, one major hurdle to go. Next up for American is the Allied Pilots Association.

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