Following pressure from the flight attendant union, which wants its members to spend less time near passengers, American Airlines will make more cuts to its in-flight service.
The airline said in an internal memo that while it intended to restore pre-pandemic standards of onboard service, it had agreed to “temporarily adjust” some service areas to reduce client encounters.
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), which represents AA crew members, advocated for a reduction in current inflight service earlier this week, citing the risk of flight attendants contracting the highly transmissible Omicron strain of the COVID-19 virus.
The union proposed changes to “reduce the amount of time a passenger is not wearing a mask and, as a result, limit Flight Attendant exposure.” Many, but not all, of the union’s recommendations have been followed by American Airlines.
On international flagship flights, First Class dinner service will be altered such that the appetizer, salad, and soup are all provided at the same time before returning to the standard service schedule.
The service routine in Business Class will remain the same, however, there will be no separate beverage cart service in the Main Cabin, and beverages will instead be served with the main meal.
These modifications will not go into effect until January 26.
Meanwhile, on domestic routes, all flights of 1,500 miles or longer will be without a second beverage cart service. For the time being, domestic First Class service will continue as usual.
Some of AA’s longest domestic flights will be affected by the lack of a second beverage cart, and customers will be asked to press their call bell to request a drink.
“As we have throughout the pandemic, we will continue to assess ways to thoughtfully return the onboard dining services customers are asking for while keeping safety front and center,” the airline told flight attendants in a memo explaining the temporary changes.
“We appreciate the APFA’s collaboration as we continue to navigate the ever-changing circumstances of the pandemic,” the memo continued.
Alaska Airlines cut its in-flight service earlier this month because to Omicron worries. The first service cuts were approved through the end of January, but they are likely to be extended until Omicron infection rates decline.
Despite recently revised recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Airlines has not changed its masking requirements for flight attendants (CDC).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now urges Americans to “use the most protective mask” available, which includes N95 and KN95 masks.
Respirator-style masks are especially recommended for professionals who interact with big groups of people or who travel by plane.