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Breeze Airlines Hires Interns as Flight Attendants

Date: April 30, 2021

As reported by One Mile at a Time, there are two new airlines starting up whose hiring policies, and their potential impact on the industry, may be controversial.  One, Avelo Airlines launched yesterday; and Breeze is anticipated to be starting soon. The article gives some fresh outsider perspective on the impact these airlines may have, not only on our industry, but also on our profession.  Some of the highlights of the story include:

With Avelo Airlines having launched operations , Breeze Airways is expected to be the next US airline startup to begin flying. The airline is expected to start selling tickets any day now, and many are curious about what the Salt Lake City-based carrier’s first routes will be. Ahead of the launch and after having spent some time with founder David Neeleman,  Forbes offers an insider perspective about the airline.

We offer a few of the highlights in this story, because there are some really surprising tidbits in here.

Breeze Airways views flight attendants as interns

One Mile at a Time has written in the past about Breeze’s controversial approach to hiring Flight Attendants, which requires being enrolled in college and living in company housing. In other words, the airline is trying to exclude anyone who has a family, a college degree, or is looking to build a career.

The speculation is that the role of Flight Attendant will be more like an internship than a career, because Neeleman believes “Flight Attendants don’t improve much with years of experience, and that they can get trapped in a dead-end job due to the seniority system we see at other airlines.”  In summary:

How will Breeze compensate flight attendants?

  • They’ll be paid a fixed $1,200 per month
  • They’ll receive $6,000 towards tuition for online coursework
  • They’ll receive company housing

It’s stated that the role of Flight Attendants will be “part time,” as they’ll “work 15 days per month.” Arguably, the only good thing about this is the tuition money.

The takeaway from all this is a very clear and apparent “gig” style of work similar to those working for Uber, Instacart, Amazon or other “part-time” employment, with zero path towards job or financial security.  On the surface, you can also extrapolate that most of the people who will “qualify” for this lifestyle are younger people, with an expiration date when they fail to continue to meet the “youthful” requirements. 

From a Union’s perspective, that’s age discrimination plain and simple.  This concept must be viewed for what it is - a direct assault on our profession and careers. No one should be required to do these things, especially when only compensated $1,200 per month for 15 days of work (or $80 per work day). To say it is insulting and an affront to our profession is a gross understatement.

In our profession, there may be things some of us wish to see done differently; be it within the framework of the Contract under which we work, or within the organization that represents us.  Having said that, it’s important to recognize that we have stability, security, job protection and a path forward toward longevity.  Our Contract defines our pay, work rules, benefits and many other factors.  Our Union negotiated our Contract and serves to protect our Members every single day, based on individual circumstances through violations and/or having more of a system-wide impact on all of us. 

In the clearest possible comparison: our most junior Members currently make $30.64 per hour (without incentives or Reserve override), and assuming the minimum daily flight assignment has a value of five (5) hours, the daily rate of pay is $153.20 per day. In doing this math, we haven’t even begun to factor in other benefits like holiday pay, vacation, retirement & 401(k) and access to health-care, to name but a few of the other considerations in our compensation package.

Corporations such as Amazon and Breeze Airlines must not be the future of working people.  All of us have the right to work one job and earn enough in our career to take care of ourselves and our families; our Union ensures that.

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