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AA Jacks Up Flight Attendant Holiday Pay To Avoid More Flight Cancellations

Date: November 5, 2021

By Leslie Josephs, NBC News

  • Flight attendants could receive triple their pay for holiday trips if they have perfect attendance.
  • All peak-period trips will be paid at 150% of their base pay.
  • Southwest Airlines offered staff extra pay over July 4 to avoid disruptions.

American Airlines, jolted by mass cancellations last weekend, has offered flight attendants as much as triple their pay to work holiday trips if they also have perfect attendance through early January.

The offer comes just days after American canceled hundreds of flights last weekend and early this week, many of them tied to staffing shortages of flight attendants. The extra incentives show American is willing to pay up to avoid a repeat.

American said flight attendants and reserve cabin crew members who work trips that fall between Nov. 23 and Nov. 29 or Dec. 22 through Jan. 2 will receive time-and-a-half, according to an internal memo that was reviewed by CNBC. If they also have no absences from Nov. 15 through Jan. 2, they will receive another 150% pay for those peak-period trips.

“The past few months, and particularly the past week, have been challenging,” wrote Brady Byrnes, vice president of flight service to flight attendants.

“From mother nature wreaking havoc on the operation, the myriad of policy changes you’ve had to keep up with and an increase in incidents of customer misconduct, you’ve been dealing with a lot,” Byrnes added, referring to a surge in unruly travelers, including an alleged assault of a flight attendant last week by a passenger.

Airlines spent much of last year urging workers to take leaves of absence or accept buyouts.
When travel demand bounced back in late spring and summer, some carriers didn’t have enough staff to cover during routine disruptions like bad weather. Southwest Airlines offered flight attendants double pay to get more people to pick up shifts during July 4 weekend.

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