United Airlines To Reduce Number Of Crew On International Flights

United Airlines is set to remove a member of cabin crew from some international flights. The move which has been met with resistance by existing crew members would see the airline supposedly saving enough to hire an additional 2,000 members of cabin crew over the next year. The United Airlines crew reductions were announced by the airline’s Senior VP of Flight Services, John Slater, during a recent internal memo.

Decreased Polaris Service

United Airlines is aiming to decrease the level of service offered in its business class cabin, Polaris. United currently plates up all of the entrees onboard the aircraft. Instead, now the airline is planning to pre-plate entrees on the ground. While this change doesn’t affect the quality of the food, it will likely negatively impact the appearance of the food. In fact, the food will essentially revert to looking like aeroplane food rather than restaurant food.

united airlines crew reductions
United is set to start pre-plating entrees for Polaris customers. Photo: United Airlines

In an internal memo, Mr Slater commented on the change by saying: “Starting February 1, 2019, we will begin replacing galleys and our Catering team will plate entrees ahead of time, further speeding up the meal service and eliminating the need for the mid-galley position on certain international widebody flights. This decision was made after months of effort during which we listened to our customers.”


Reduced Crew Numbers

United Airlines is going to accompany the change with a reduction in cabin crew members onboard international flights. This is supposed to bring United into line with American and Delta. The airline currently operates the B787-8 and -9 with one more member of cabin crew than American. Additionally, Delta has one fewer member of staff on some of its B777 and B767 flights. Finally, United is also planning to remove a member of the crew from the economy cabin of the B757. This will allow United Airlines to “operate more efficiently and align with our peers.”

united airlines crew reductions
United Airlines is set to remove a member of cabin crew from the economy cabin on B757 aircraft. Photo: United Airlines

Unpopular With Crew

The move to cut the number of cabin crew and level of service on flights has been met with a fairly negative reaction from existing long-haul crew. Mr Slater anticipated this, commenting: “Based on the conversations I’ve had with many of you who regularly bid the international premium cabin, I know this is difficult news. However, this is a necessary step for us to stay competitive and continue growing.”

Staff have told that the changes will reduce the levels of safety and service on board flights. In fact, the Association of Flight Attendants published a response to the changes entitled “Great Job! Now Here’s Your Punishment”. In the statement, the President of the association, Ken Diaz, told: “Staffing is about safety and service – we can’t accept the lowest level in either case.” Before going on to call staff to action: “It is time to band together to out the real reason for diminished service: Short-term gain for Wall Street with billions in stock buy backs funded on our backs. We are an airline, not a hedge fund.”

united airlines crew reductions
United Airlines has one more member of cabin crew on B787 flights than American Airlines. Photo: United Airlines

Do you think United Airlines is right to cut staffing levels? Let us know in the comments down below!


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Je We

I have been on Qatar Airways and on Turkish Airlines where their business class some of the courses were supposed to be individually plated up. They did not always look that special. In fact, I had thought then that really, some of the cabin crews really did not have any… Read more »