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Flight Attendants Advocate for Passenger Rights

Date: June 1, 2007

United Airlines Management Gears Up to Say "Sorry" All Summer Long

Chicago - United Airlines flight attendants, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO, are appalled at a new "customer service'" policy announced by United Airlines management this week. The flight attendantssay that it does nothing to fix the poor planning, poor scheduling and poor staffing decisions that cause increased cancellations. This policy does nothing to address abysmal employee morale, minimal ground personnel or inadequate gate access. Instead, according to the union, it signals to employees that management has set travelers up for a long, hot summer of delays, missed business meetings and disrupted family vacations.

United executives announced the new policy to handle ground delays and named extraordinary delays, "flights of note." A program has been designed to identify delayed flights with the goal of keeping them to less than three hours, thus avoiding flights of note status. Passengers on flights of note suffering over four hours of delay on taxi-out, 90 minutes on taxi-in or on ground diversion delays of over four hours will be eligible for 20% off their next round trip ticket on United and a $10 meal voucher.

"Flights of note? Who are they trying to kid? Trust us when we say flight attendants won't be whistling while they work on hot, minimally staffed, dirty airplanes full of understandably disgruntled passengers," said Greg Davidowitch, president of AFA-CWA at United Airlines. "All United workers will be doing their best this summer. But no matter how hard flight attendants, pilots and other employees work we will never be able to make up for the operation management built like a house of cards."

Almost eight years after airlines committed to Congress that they would improve customer service the Department of Transportation (DOT) reported last month that United Airlines has not clearly or consistently defined terms for meeting essential passenger needs during long, on-board delays. The DOT testified before Congress that airlines must "improve customer service" and "overcome challenges in mitigating extraordinary flight disruptions." But United Airlines just this week introduced a plan that focuses more on a lame apology than efforts to avoid problems.

"Flight attendants know first hand the frustrations of United's customers. We encourage Congress to take action for passenger rights. It's clear that United management either refuses or has no ability to provide even the most basic service; getting from point A to point B." Davidowitch stated.

More than 55,000 flight attendants, including the 17,000 flight attendants at United, join together to form AFA, the world's largest flight attendant union. AFA is part of the 700,000 member strong Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO. Visit us at www.unitedafa.org.

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