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Southwest Airlines gives flight attendants, pilots DoorDash memberships

Date: October 7, 2021

By Kyle Arnold, Dallas Morning News

Southwest Airlines is giving thousands of flight attendants and pilots subscriptions to restaurant delivery service Doordash to try to alleviate some of the problems that started this summer with food and transportation shortages.

Starting Oct. 12, Southwest will give every active crew member a six-month subscription to the delivery meal service so they can get meals delivered straight to their hotels.

“This pandemic has affected our everyday lives in more ways than we can count,” said a memo to crew members from Southwest’s leaders for flight attendants and pilots. “As it relates to your workday, we recognize that the staffing issues felt throughout the airports, hotels, restaurants and the travel industry as a whole made it difficult to get a meal during your days and overnights.”

The company confirmed the DoorDash deal Friday.

Flight attendants and pilots have struggled this summer to find hotel rooms, transportation and meals as a labor shortage has plagued both airlines and the service industry that crew members rely on when on the road.

The problem has affected pilots and flight attendants at American Airlines as well.

Many have complained of shortages in employees who schedule crew member hotels. Unions have said that pilots and flight attendants show up to assigned hotels only to learn that a reservation hasn’t been made or the company hasn’t provided proper payment.

Southwest Airlines’ flight attendant union, TWU Local 556, has filed a grievance over the issues, and the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association has sued the company in federal court over a host of issues stemming from conditions since airline traffic started to rebound this spring.

Crew members are struggling to get food because of a shortage of workers in the restaurant industry. Many airport restaurants have been closing early because they don’t have enough workers to staff all shifts. The same is happening at restaurants across the country.

As of September, employment in the leisure and hospitality sector is still down by 1.8 million workers compared with February 2008, according to government labor figures released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There have been shortages of bus, van and ride-share drivers as well.

Southwest Airlines has apologized to employees after the “challenging summer travel season” and has tried to improve the situation by providing grab-and-go sandwiches and salads at crew bases.

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines had 15,400 flight attendants and 8,500 pilots to start the year, according to its annual report.

Membership to DoorDash’s zero-fee delivery service usually costs about $10 a month per customer. Crew members have to pay for the food themselves, but pilots and flight attendants are also given a per diem for food (which was about $2.30 per hour worked in 2019).

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