Nov 12, 2021 - Business
American Airlines squares off with aircrew before holiday travel season
A pilot talks on the phone in front the American Airlines logo and two gate workers
Photo: Tim Boyle/Getty Images

In an effort to stave off flight cancellations during peak travel times, Fort Worth-based American Airlines offered flight attendants and pilots extra pay for working flights during the holidays. But the pilots union voted to reject the offer.

  • Flight attendants could make as much as triple their usual pay for working holiday flights and having perfect attendance.
  • The pilots union says it wants more permanent changes to how the airline schedules flights.

Why it matters: Flight demand is slowly approaching 2019 levels, when around 47 million people flew on U.S. airlines. Mass disruptions during this stretch could be infuriating for passengers and incredibly costly for the airlines.

Flashback: American Airlines had to cancel more than 2,000 flights in only a few days at the end October and early November, citing weather problems and understaffing.

  • Southwest experienced similar problems earlier in October, which cost the airline a reported $75 million.

Details: American offered pilots a 50% pay increase for flying during certain peak days around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day and an additional 50% increase for picking up extra holiday trips.

  • The Allied Pilots Association, which represents the airline’s pilots in collective bargaining, voted unanimously to reject the bonus offer.
  • American is also offering $1,000 holiday attendance bonuses to ramp workers, mechanics and dispatchers, according to CNBC.

Context: All of this comes as the airline and pilots union negotiate a new contract.

What they’re saying: “We are, of course, disappointed, especially since we have holiday pay programs in place for all other frontline groups at the company,” American Airlines executives wrote in a memo to employees this week. “But we will continue to look for opportunities to work with APA to support you during the holidays.”

The other side: “The pilots’ problem is in the scheduling flexibility, the quickness in which they glue it back together and the ability to quite frankly get us connected to the airplane," a union representative told FOX4.

Our thought bubble: As concerned travelers, we really hope both sides reach at least a temporary resolution soon. Nobody wants to spend a holiday in an airport.

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