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Double Pay Scandal: American Airlines Flight Attendants Game System To ‘Steal’ Extra Pay

American Airlines doesn’t share everything it knows about delays with passengers – or flight attendants. But savvy flight attendants have been taking advantage of this to pick up extra pay, according to the airline. And American plans to investigate and discipline cabin crew who try it.

Frequently when there are delays and misconnections, there are flights that are missing cabin crew and extra trips that flight attendants can pick up for more pay. If those flight attendants can predict which trips are going to have rolling delays, they can pick up those trips which wind up creating a conflict with their existing schedules when they delay even further, and wind up getting paid for both without working them both.

That’s a practice that the airline is warning crew not to engage in, and threatening employees with discipline, according to an internal memo shared by aviation watchdog JonNYC.

Everyone knows that American Airlines frequently posts departure times that are impossible during delays, and knows when further delays are inevitable but American fails to post them. So flight attendants take advantage of this process failure, according to the airline, picking up sequences that will create conflicts with their legally mandated rest. And since that conflict isn’t their fault they get paid for both trips.

  • Flight attendants have to have a minimum of 10 hours’ rest between trip,

  • If a trip needs crew, and it hasn’t been delayed enough to run into this rest period, they can pick up the trip for extra pay

  • Then when the trip gets further delayed, they can’t work the next trip

  • But since it’s not their fault, they still get paid for that trip – and American has to find different crew

American is threatening disciplinary action against flight attendants who do this. It’s the result of American’s policy of posting rolling delays – they don’t show how long a flight will ‘really’ be delayed since there’s a 1% chance a flight could be delayed for less time.

  • A mechanical problem isn’t as bad as they think

  • A plane might not be arriving for an hour, and will take some time to deplane and then board, but they post just a 30 minute delay because maybe they’d swap aircraft for one at the next gate over?

  • Or they’re missing crew, those crewmembers are coming in on flights that don’t arrive for an hour, but they post delays 10 minutes at a time because maybe the prophet Elijah will show up to work the flight in the meantime?

These rare delay recoveries don’t happen, delays extend 10 minutes at a time even though it’s obvious that delay will be much longer, and it’s not just an annoyance for passengers but a valuable exploit for some crew.

Normally I’d say this warning from American is mostly an empty threat because it is difficult to prove that flight attendants knew better than the airline’s own operations team about what would happen with future delays, and that this knowledge was used in formulating an attempt to cheat the airline.

However the flight attendants union has been weak in defending members against discipline by the company.

  • The President of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants reportedly encourages discipline of members by the company, going along with the return of ‘attendance points’ for using sick days which were suspended during the pandemic, since flight attendants calling out sick causes senior members of the union to have to work reserve.

  • And the union actually helps the airline track down and fire flight attendants (“the cartel”) who rent out their seniority.

Article and image originally appeared on View From The Wing

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