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Thursday, September 21, 2023

United’s Own Flight Attendants Are to Report Themselves For Providing Slow, Poor Service

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In a new deliberate effort to secure an increase in staffing levels, United’s own flight attendants are being encouraged to report themselves for providing slow or poor service.

The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) is pushing for flight attendants to self-report instances in which customers are “frustrated or displeased” with their performance in the hopes that proof of subpar treatment will persuade the Chicago-based airline to undo personnel reductions.

However, like many airlines, United staffs some flights with additional crew members to match the level of service that flight attendants are expected to provide. All United flights run with at least the minimum number of FAA-mandated flight attendants.

Widebody long-haul flights with Polaris Business Class frequently have higher crewing levels, however beginning in 2018, United began to reduce the number of flight attendant positions in this cabin by implementing a number of purported “efficiencies.”

John Slater, United’s head of In-Flight Services, said at the time that the decision to introduce a new streamlined service flow and pre-plating entrees in casserole dishes had been based on “customer feedback”.

The flight attendant union wants personnel reductions adjusted as well after United reversed onboard service level cuts made during the pandemic.

“With the recently increased workload onboard our aircraft, we know that reducing staffing levels or eliminating certain positions, can result in longer wait times for passengers to receive their meals, drinks, and other services,” the union told its members in a recent memo.

“This can lead to increased frustration and dissatisfaction among passengers and may result in a decreased level of service quality.”

Worryingly, the union fears fewer crew members onboard flights could “potentially put the safety of passengers and crew at risk” and increase flight attendant fatigue.

“Therefore, it is important for crew members to provide detailed, specific information on how the staffing and recent increased service changes have adversely impacted passenger safety and service,” the memo continued.

“This can help our Union assess the impact of the changes and take appropriate action to address with the company any safety or service concerns.”

Whether United has any intention of increasing staffing levels on select flights remains to be seen.

The airline previously said that the changes were meant to bring United’s service to par with that of its rivals, implying that United won’t hire more flight attendants until one of its competitors does.

Photo cover Courtesy: @United

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