Airline Profits Soar, but Where’s the Love for Flight Attendants?

In a move that loudly echoes the frustrations of an industry that often overlooks its backbone, American Airlines flight attendants have roared their dissent. With an almost unanimous voice, they’ve signaled they’re done being in the shadows while corporate profits soar.

Get this: a whopping 99.5% of the flight attendants, represented by the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), gave a firm nod to the possibility of striking. This follows a year where pandemic warriors – yes, the same flight attendants ensuring our safety in the skies – didn’t see a dime extra in their paychecks, even while risking their health daily.

The union’s president, Julie Hedrick, didn’t mince words, “Our contributions to the success of American Airlines must be recognized and respected.” And who can argue? Flight attendants haven’t received a pay raise since 2019. Given inflation and the increased cost of living, that’s essentially a pay cut in disguise.

While striking isn’t a decision made lightly, it’s a testament to the sheer frustration felt by workers. Many are putting in 12-hour shifts but are only compensated for a fraction of it. Imagine being on your feet, managing passengers, and ensuring safety for over half a day, but your paycheck only reflects less than half of that time. An analogy: It’s like running a full marathon but only getting credit for a short sprint.

The fight isn’t just about paychecks. Flight attendants face conditions that most of us wouldn’t stand for a minute. The reality of being unpaid unless the plane’s door is shut is a slap in the face. So, while they cater to our needs during boarding, or patiently deal with unpredictable weather delays, their meter isn’t running.

While the flight attendants gear up for what might be a defining moment in airline industry labor relations, they’re not alone in their struggle. Earlier this year, American Airlines pilots threw down the gauntlet, hinting at a strike, which although never materialized, did result in a noteworthy contract featuring significant pay raises.

Now juxtapose this landscape with American Airlines’ financials: a staggering profit of $1.34 billion in Q2 2023 alone. The math is clear. Those at the top are reaping benefits, while essential workers are left grappling for crumbs.

Sara Nelson, President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, summed it up brilliantly, “Flight Attendants across the industry are ready to do what it takes to get the contracts we deserve!” It’s about time corporate behemoths like American Airlines put their profits where their promises are. If not for moral reasons, then for the simple fact that without these workers, the airline’s wings are clipped.