American Airlines is aiming to avoid a nightmare before Christmas by providing hefty prizes to flight attendants who show up for work on time during the busy holiday travel season.
The Dallas-based carrier was beset by major flight cancellations over the Halloween weekend, and executives are said to be desperate to avoid a repetition in the lead-up to Thanksgiving.
If flight attendants show up on time for work between November 23 and November 29, as well as between December 22 and January 2, 2022, they will be paid 150 percent more. If flight attendants do not become sick between November 15 and January 2, 2022, their salary might be boosted to 300 percent.
Officially, AA’s Halloween operational meltdown was caused by terrible weather in the Dallas region, which delayed flights at first but then spiraled out of control because flight attendants and pilots were out of position and there weren’t enough reserves to pick up the slack.
It could have been a coincidence that the crisis occurred over a long holiday weekend, but sickness rates increased just as AA needed a boost of strength.
When flight attendants become ill, they accumulate points, which can lead to disciplinary action. However, the system was recently reset as a show of goodwill for the work that staffers put in during the pandemic.
Rather than threatening flight attendants with a points-based illness program, AA has chosen to incentivize crew to perform their assignments during the Christmas season.
“First, we would like to appreciate every Flight Attendant’s sacrifices over the summer, especially towards the end of October,” the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) said in a statement announcing the bonus offer to its members on Friday.
“Reschedules, cancellations, lack of hotel rooms, and transportation plagued this airline with a frequency we had never seen. These disruptions affect our mental well-being, stress levels, family and personal relationships.”
The union, which represents more than 20,000 flight attendants, said it had “negotiated incentives with American Airlines to bring some well-deserved relief to our Flight Attendants during the upcoming busy holiday travel season.”
In addition to increased incentive pay, American Airlines will make it easier for flight attendants to get to work throughout the Christmas season by providing positive space for commuters on flights.
Due to a staffing shortage, the airline has been compelled to provide positive space for passengers multiple times during the year. AA is frantically recruiting new flight attendants, with 600 new hires due by the end of December.
In addition, at the beginning of November, 1,800 flight attendants returned from long-term pandemic leave.