Flight attendants at major U.S airlines American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Southwest Airlines, wish to be paid for their pre-flight preparations. 

This comes as Delta Air Lines recently added pre-flight hours to the pay of its flight attendants. 

Missing out on fair pay?

Interestingly, American and Southwest flight attendants did not know that they weren’t getting paid for pre-flight preparations. A crucial part of commercial flying, it is likely that there was a general assumption that the hours put in were included in their monthly salary. But according to unions at the major U.S carriers, nobody was getting paid for their hard work during the pre-flight process. In fact, the hourly pay for flight attendants starts once passengers are seated aboard the plane and the doors close. 

Delta, one of the world’s oldest airlines, is taking the first progressive step by boycotting the current system. While flight attendants will now be paid for their work during pre-flight, it will only be half of their normal rate.  

The Association of Flight Attendants praised the change in a statement on its website, but wasn’t shy to criticise Delta’s shortcomings:

“This new policy is the direct result of our organizing [ … ] But this also shows that Delta could have been paying Flight Attendants for boarding all along. And while this is a positive change, Flight Attendants are still being forced to fly more often thanks to short staffing (how many times has management offered IPY this year?!) and the biweekly pay system management imposed on us.” 

Because of Delta’s progress, unionised workers at other U.S airlines are pushing their employers to follow suit. 

The Association of Flight Attendants branch that represents cabin crews at Washington-based Alaska Airlines has said that they will raise this issue in their “opening proposal” on a future contract. 

ALASKA AIRLINES flight attendants
According to Indeed, the average Alaska Airlines flight attendant makes approximately $46,373 a year, 39% above the national average. | © Alaska Airlines

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants represents workers at American Airlines. They are one step ahead by having already added pre-flight pay into their contract negotiations with the Fort Worth-based carrier. 

Southwest Airlines cabin crew is represented by Transportation Workers Union Local 556. They have said that they will also add pre-flight pay into future contract negotiations. 

Flight attendants have always been paid a small wage in comparison to other cabin crew. Many work for minimum wage at the beginning of their careers. The battle for pre-flight pay is yet another chapter in flight attendants’ battle to be treated equally within their sector. 

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