Delta Air Lines flight attendants no longer have to work for free while boarding
Delta Air Lines is ending a longstanding but controversial airline industry practice in which flight attendants are supposed to work for free when boarding. The practice is a hot topic among flight attendants at several major US carriers that has spawned an online campaign and Delta’s move comes as the Atlanta-based airline faces new pressure from activists to unionize its flight attendants. edge.
Although the rules differ from airline to airline, flight attendants on many US-based airlines do not begin to be paid an hourly rate until the final gate of the flight. aircraft closes and the aircraft backs out of the gate, which means boarding and pre-departure services are performed. actually free. In the event of a ground delay, the flight attendants remain unpaid.
Flight attendants say the time spent performing pre-departure services has increased steadily over the past decade. About 10 years ago, airlines only allowed 30 minutes to board a domestic flight, but Delta has just increased the boarding time for a single-aisle domestic plane to 40 minutes and for widebody domestic flights. , boarding now begins 45 minutes before scheduled departure. For international services, boarding begins 50 minutes before departure.
Until now, this time was unpaid, but beginning June 2, 2022, Delta will begin paying flight attendants a reduced hourly rate for time spent boarding. The rate is capped at 50% of the standard flight hourly rate, but experts estimate this could result in an annual salary increase of more than $4,000 for most flight attendants.
And the rewards could be even higher for long-serving flight attendants with hourly rates rising from $16.10 to $36.19 per hour depending on length of service.
The decision was hailed as a major victory for Delta flight attendants, although some employees have already openly criticized the decision as “insulting” because boarding time was capped at just half the usual hourly rate of pay. . The Flight Attendants Association (AFA-CWA), which is trying to organize Delta flight attendants, also criticized the move.
The union says the pay rise was only announced because management is getting “nervous” that flight attendants might choose to unionize. And while the union recognizes the decision as a positive step, it says it was taken solely to avoid an “uproar” over Delta’s decision to increase boarding times for domestic services.
Last month, the union that represents American Airlines flight attendants said it would try to win boarding compensation as part of contract negotiations currently underway. In the past, no boarding allowance was weighed against total compensation, but now flight attendants are demanding to be paid additionally due to the increased workload that now occurs during flight. baording.
Delta’s decision, activists say, demonstrates that airlines can afford to pay extra for boarding and that adding boarding allowance will not result in a pay cut elsewhere.
Flight attendants say boarding time is one of the most stressful parts of any flight and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires them to be on board to perform safety-critical tasks. In recent years, hand luggage has become an increasingly difficult issue for police, while airlines also want flight attendants to perform various tasks, including pre-departure drinks.
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