'Dream job' turns into a nightmare for some new JetBlue flight attendants
August 9, 2022
By Sam Tabahriti, Business Insider
- JetBlue flight attendants who recently started their jobs say they face high accommodation costs.
- Some who spoke to Insider said up to eight people were sharing a hotel room meant for four.
- The workers say they are not getting assigned to flights, which affects how much they can make.
Traveling isn't what it used to be – airlines are losing passengers' luggage, canceling flights, diverting planes while in the air, and even asking people to get off a plane they just boarded.
Airline crew are also under pressure from this summer's travel chaos. Insider spoke to two JetBlue flight attendants – including one who recently resigned – who described their difficulties finding affordable accommodation after completing the airline's training and being assigned to a base.
Jiani Santana, who quit about two weeks after being assigned to Newark airport, said she had spent far more money on accommodation than what she had earned.
Another flight attendant, who did not want to be named, told Insider: "This was supposed to be a dream job for a lot of us, but we are living a nightmare. Most of us are practically homeless or living in a hotel with up to eight people in one room, barely surviving on the little bit of salary we make."
They fear they will be evicted from the hotel if management realizes how many people are staying in a room meant for four people.
JetBlue began flying from Newark, in New Jersey, in July 2020 and expanded last year but cut several routes earlier this year, according to Simply Flying.
One flight attendant said JetBlue was aware it could not cope with the influx of new crew. "We have spoken with union representatives and the crisis fund – no one is willing to help. All of the crashpads are full until September. We don't make much money as newbies, so we are splitting a room that is almost $3,000 a month."
The flight attendant added: "There are still quite a few of us here with no place to go. There are so many newbies that have quit already because they couldn't afford to stay."
The worker also knows of colleagues who are breaking the rules by staying in airport crew lounges.
Santana said they were told not to worry about where they would be based until they completed the training. "You don't need to look for anywhere to stay right now, because you don't know if you're gonna pass," Santana said she was told.
Both Santana and the flight attendant said they were both on standby, like many others. They were paid $21 an hour before tax but were only guaranteed a minimum of 75 hours a month, which equaled $1,575.
However, Santana said she spent about $2,400 in about two weeks on accommodation, food and Uber trips.
Santana said she felt unsupported: "Everybody in management kept telling us it'll get better – it's just something you have to go through. I didn't get any flights. I was literally spending money that I wasn't making back in return."
The anonymous flight attendant added: "The biggest problem is that we are not flying. Our base is new so there are not as many flights."
A JetBlue spokesperson told Insider it did not provide housing for staff, but was offering confirmed seats on flights for those who decide to commute to their bases from other areas during the summer peak travel season.
"JetBlue has reduced its flying by more than 10% this summer to reduce operational issues, including cancellations and delays from weather and air traffic control programs," they added.
Receipts, a copy of a contract, and screenshots of a group chat have been viewed by Insider.