Because flight attendant morale is at an all-time low, Alaska Airlines is considering abandoning several aspects of its in-flight service.
Despite opposition from the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), which had spent “hours upon hours” in meetings with airline management trying to persuade them to maintain a reduced inflight service during the pandemic, the Seattle-based airline recently rolled back some of its pandemic-era inflight cutbacks.
After the carrier implemented a series of major changes against the union’s objections, Jeffrey Peterson, president of the Alaska Airlines section of the flight attendant union, warned members on Wednesday that Alaska management was “profoundly out of touch with flight attendants.”
Alaska Airlines could enhance flight attendant morale by making a number of immediate changes, including lowering the number of meal options in all cabins and canceling the scheduled reintroduction of a third beverage cart service on certain longer flights, according to Peterson.
Because the current method is causing flight attendants to spend “longer time in the cabin,” the union would like to see Alaska lower the quantity of pre-order products available and cap the number of passengers allowed to order pre-order food.
The Omicron strain and other probable future pandemic developments were suggested by the union as reasons for wanting flight attendants to spend less time engaging with passengers in the cabin.
Alaska Airlines has previously informed the union that it is considering all of the union’s issues, as well as the union’s ideas for service reductions.
“Management and AFA remain philosophically apart on the possible hazards that Flight Attendants face as a result of growing onboard service in the current environment,” the union told flight attendants last month.
“The health and safety risks posed by additional interaction time with passengers and increased challenges with enforcing the federal mask mandate are likely only to be amplified with more food and beverage items being offered on the aircraft.”
The union is worried about flight attendants’ “increasingly unpleasant” encounters with customers as a result of the federal face mask legislation, as well as “continuing fear around COVID transmission.”
To make matters worse, Peterson argues that the airline’s approach to flight attendants is “missing the mark” because of a “unrelenting concentration on an unattainable absence rate.”
Peterson says that one method for Alaska management to enhance flight attendant morale is to introduce a “$$$” holiday incentive system to encourage flight attendants to show up for work throughout the holiday season.
American Airlines promised flight attendants a 300 percent pay incentive if they showed up for work on time for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays in November.