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Breeze Airways’ Bizarre Approach To Hiring Flight Attendants

Date: April 29, 2021

By Ben Schlappig, One Mile At A Time

Breeze Airways is a new airline that’s expected to launch in the US in early 2021. The founder of the airline is David Neeleman, the same guy behind JetBlue. Breeze Airways will initially fly Embraer 190s, but eventually plans to operate a fleet consisting exclusively of Airbus A220s.

As the airline gets closer to launching operations, it has now started accepting applications for flight attendant positions. However, Breeze Airways’ approach to hiring flight attendants is unlike what we’ve seen at any other US airline.

Breeze Airways is hiring flight attendants

Breeze Airways has a job posting for flight attendants, as the company is looking for “truly awesome” team members to delivery on the company’s mission:

“To make the world of travel simple, affordable, and convenient. Improving our guests travel experience using technology, ingenuity and kindness.”

When I saw that Breeze Airways was hiring flight attendants I figured this could be a good opportunity for those who have been furloughed at other airlines. However, the way the company is going about hiring flight attendants will likely exclude most people who might otherwise be interested.

Online university enrollment required

Breeze Airways is specifically hiring those without college degrees, as the company will require flight attendants to enroll full-time in an online college.

Specifically, Breeze Airways is partnering with Utah Valley University (UVU) for hiring flight attendants. The way this works:

  • Applicants will first be interviewed and selected for the Breeze Flight Attendant UVU Flight Study Program
  • Applicants will then have to enroll at UVU as full-time online students, completing 30 course hours per year; enrollment needs to occur before the start of flight attendant training
  • Flight attendant training will need to be completed before tuition reimbursement is offered
  • Flight attendants must complete their online degree in four years, and maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher

If these requirements are met, students will receive the following:

  • Paid in-state and out-of-state educational assistance of up to $6,000 per year
  • Corporate, shared housing at locations determined by Breeze Airways
  • Transportation to & from the airport
  • One paid trip home per month
  • A monthly salary

Flight attendants will live in shared housing

I mentioned this above, but I think it’s specifically worth calling out. Many aspects of this contract sound a lot more like what you’d expect at a Gulf carrier, rather than at a US carrier.

For example, flight attendants will be offered shared housing, which no other US airline offers. While some flight attendants at other airlines pay for “crash pads,” there’s not another major US airline with a formalized housing program like this.

On top of that, the mention of a monthly salary (rather than pay based on hours flown) as well as transportation to & from the airport does sound a lot like what you’d expect at a Gulf carrier.

What’s Breeze Airways’ motive here?

As of now this is the only contract that Breeze is hiring under. Of course it’s possible (and even likely) that in the future the company will hire under more traditional contracts.

Before we get too deep into this, I have a couple of initial thoughts:

  • How little flying are flight attendants going to be doing that they’re able to be enrolled in school full-time? Why would the company want to give itself such little scheduling flexibility?
  • There’s some risk to flight attendants here, as they’ll have to enroll and front the money for university, and will only be reimbursed if they complete flight attendant training; this will create a financial burden for many

Anyway, what’s Breeze Airways’ logic here? Why is the company only hiring people who are also willing to get an online college degree and will really only be able to work part time, rather than hiring in a similar fashion to other US airlines?

There are only two logical answers I can come up with:

  • Neeleman (who is a Mormon) somehow wants to help people get an education, so wants to hire people who would benefit from this
  • Breeze Airways is looking to hire a certain type of person quite deliberately, without violating any employment discrimination laws

Let’s talk about that second point a second. What type of people are most likely to apply for a job with Breeze under this contract?

  • Young people who may just be a couple of years out of high school, but who have a great personality
  • People without families (which also skews young), because they’ll be in shared housing with other flight attendants
  • People who may be looking for a gig for a few years, rather than a career, assuming conditions don’t change; this is beneficial to some airlines, since more senior flight attendants tend to be more expensive to keep on the payroll

It sure seems to me like Breeze is trying to hire young and charismatic flight attendants who want to be educated and want a flight attendant gig for several years. Even so, is there really upside to Breeze here? Staff won’t be able to work full-time under most circumstances, and tuition reimbursement isn’t cheap, right (or is there some connection that Neeleman has here that I’m missing)?

Bottom line

Breeze Airways has started the process of hiring flight attendants. The airline will require flight attendants to be enrolled full-time in an online college, and flight attendants will live in shred housing.

This approach to hiring is quite a contrast to what we see at other US airlines, and it’s anyone’s guess what Breeze Airways’ motive is. My best guess is that the airline is basically trying to go after a certain type of person without violating any employment discrimination laws. At least that’s the only explanation I can come up with, though I’d welcome other explanations and theories.

I’m curious if Breeze Airways has success with this, or if we see the airline soon hire under a more traditional contract.

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