American Airlines Adds Pay Incentives For Flight Attendants

American Airlines is looking to shore up its operations this holiday season. As a result, it is upping its pay for flight attendants and incentivizing its crew to come to work and support the airline’s robust schedules. The airline worked with its union representing flight attendants to try and coax as many crew as possible to pick up shifts, so the airline does not face any mass cancelations or flight disruptions in what is expected to be one of the busiest travel seasons this year.

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American Airlines will be boosting flight attendant pay to keep its operations intact this winter. Photo: Getty Images

Extra pay for peak holiday periods

American Airlines is making sure that those scheduled to work during the peak period have a reason to work with extra pay. Scheduled flight attendants flying between November 23rd and November 29th and again from December 22nd through January 2nd will receive 150% pay for flown sequences.

The airline is also boosting pay for reserves. Reserves on standby shifts for any of the days during the same holiday peak periods will receive 150% pay. If flight attendants are scheduled to fly trips that start before the peak holiday period or end after the peak holiday periods, only the flights flown in the peak periods will count for the payment.

American Airlines Adds Pay Incentives For Flight Attendants
Flight attendants will receive 150% pay for flights they operate during the peak holiday season. Photo: American Airlines

Perfect attendance bonuses

American Airlines is further pushing its flight attendants to work by offering an extra bonus for scheduled flight attendants and reserves who have no absences or removals from duty between November 15th and January 2nd. In addition to the 150% pay increase, they will receive an extra 150% pay, meaning up to a 300% increase in pay for time flown. The 300% would only apply to peak holiday period flying.

Vacation will be the only acceptable absence to count for the perfect attendance period. Calling in sick will lead to ineligibility for the attendance bonus. American Airlines will tally up the hours and pay it out after the peak holiday period has started.

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Supporting the operations

American Airlines has worked hard to get the airline back up and running as the recovery has continued. The problem is that this goal is easier said than done. Staffing has proven to be the weakest link not just at American but also at other airlines. When something like a weather disruption hits, it compounds, and a limited number of reserves and staffing start to strain the operations. This can lead to mass cancelations and flight disruptions.

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American Airlines is expecting to fly many travelers this holiday season, so having enough staffing is vital to keep the airline flying. Photo: Getty Images

American most recently faced this issue around the Halloween weekend, which is the last weekend in October. This is not a peak travel period, but it is a sign that American needs to do some work to ensure it is ready to handle the surge in travelers this winter.

Mass cancelations or flight delays during the Thanksgiving or December holiday period would be a nightmare for the airline. Both holidays will see large numbers of leisure travelers, including families with children, stepping onboard a plane and trying to visit family they have not seen in two years or going on that long-awaited trip to a place like Disneyland or the Grand Canyon.

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American is far from the only airline looking to shore up staffing ahead of the busy winter holiday season. Photo: Getty Images

American wants to ensure that it can take care of all of its customers. An operational meltdown can be very expensive, as Spirit Airlines saw, and it can lead to a near-term hit to the airline’s reputation, which takes a drag on bookings. While American is not out of the woods yet, such a hit could make a difference between a profit or a loss, and it could leave a sour taste in consumers’ mouths – the same consumers American is counting on to come back to the airline when they have to travel again in the future.