Showing posts with label US mainline carriers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label US mainline carriers. Show all posts

Thursday, July 3, 2008

American Airlines cutting 900 flight attendant jobs

American AirlinesAt it annual shareholder meeting earlier this year, American Airlines announced plans to cut capacity in the coming months, and acknowledged that the capacity reduction would result in the loss of thousands of jobs across every work group. This week, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), the union representing American Airlines flight attendants, was notified of plans to cut 900 flight attendant jobs.

According to the APFA, the letter to the union stated that the 900 most junior U.S. based flight attendants are subject to furlough effective August 31, 2008. Several measures intended to mitigate the impact of the work force reduction requirements have been negotiated between the APFA and American Airlines.

The first of these measures is called the Voluntary Bridge to Retirement (a program similar to one offered by United Airlines to its senior flight attendants last month). Under the provisions of the American Airlines Voluntary Bridge to Retirement, the company will offer a severance payment of $15,000, plus medical and pass benefits to flight attendants who are at least 50 years of age who will have at least 15 years company seniority as of August 31, 2008. In addition, American Airlines will offer Overage Leaves of Absence and opportunities for Partnership Flying, a job sharing plan.

A Hotline message on the APFA website about the work force reduction said that the one-time Voluntary Bridge to Retirement will be awarded first, followed by leaves at bases with an overage. Where overages then still exist, partnerships will be awarded. After these three voluntary provisions are exhausted, and should any overage still exist, the company will then determine how many flight attendants will need to be furloughed involuntarily in order to meet flight attendant work force reduction target of 900.

According to the flight attendants' contract with American Airlines, “When there is a reduction in force, the Flight Attendant(s) with the least system seniority shall be laid off." Presumably the majority of those would be the former TWA flight attendants, who also were furloughed after the September 2001 terrorist attacks. American Airlines recalled 200 of those furloughed flight attendants in May of 2007, and another 460 in August of 2007.

As of the end of June, there were still 1,192 American Airlines flight attendants on furlough from the earlier layoffs. This week's announcement of new furloughs surely comes as a blow to those who have been awaiting recall for years.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Continental Airlines flight attendants injured in turbulence

wptv.com - Mike Jachles/Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue On the afternoon of Monday, June 30, 2008, three Continental Airlines flight attendants were injured in flight during the cruise phase of a flight between Houston and Fort Lauderdale. The incident happened when Continental Flight COA1448, a Boeing 737-300 aircraft, encountered turbulence at 31,000 ft above the Gulf of Mexico.

The Sun-Sentinel identified the injured flight attendants as Newark-based crew, and reported that their injuries happened when they either fell or hit their heads. News reports, quoting Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue spokesman Mike Jachles, said that the injured flight attendants were first treated at the gate area after landing, and then taken to Broward General Medical Center for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. No passengers were injured in the incident.

[Photo Source]

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

79 year old Continental Airlines flight attendant retires

Ray Hope (pictured at right) made his final flight as a Continental Airlines flight attendant this past Friday. He thought it was time to retire; he will be 80 years old in August.

According to a Houston Chronicle article about Ray Hope, this is his second retirement. Before he became a Continental Airlines flight attendant 16 years ago, he had a 40 year career as a commercial photographer.

Mr. Hope, whose daughter has been a Continental flight attendant for 22 years, was in his sixties when he applied for the cabin crew job. He told the Houston Chronicle that he had "some good days and some bad days." But the experience taught him patience, he said.

"It's just a good experience of meeting people and communicating with them," Hope said. "I think it's the best choice I've ever made in my entire life. I wish I would have done it sooner."
He called being a flight attendant a "rewarding job" that he hated to give up, but he felt it was the right time to do so.

The almost-80 year old now plans to spend time with friends at a retirement community, making wooden toys for children in Child Protective Services. He jokes, though, about a possible third career as a Wal-Mart greeter.

The Houston Chronicle quoted Ray Hope's daughter, Diane Peckham, who said of her father, "He's not one to relax very easily. He's always one to do something."

Best wishes to Ray Hope for his retirement years.

[Photo Source]

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Details of the United Airlines Flight Attendant 'Early Out' Program

United AirlinesLast week, United Airlines announced plans to retire 100 aircraft, end its low-fare Ted service, and cut over 1,000 jobs. In conjunction with those plans, the airline announced that it will offer "a one-time opportunity for eligible flight attendants to voluntarily separate from the company." Known as the Early Out Program, the voluntary separations will be made available for up to 600 senior United flight attendants.

The United Airlines announcement about the Early Out Program summarizes:

Flight attendants who are at least 45 years old and have at least 15 years of flight attendant service with the company as of August 1, 2008 will be eligible to participate. Participants will be entitled to severance payments based on years of service and retiree travel benefits.
Sounds potentially attractive on the surface, but is this a good deal for senior flight attendants or not? The answer is, "It depends."

Mostly it depends on whether the flight attendant has another source of income to rely on, and access to affordable health insurance coverage.

The present Early Out Program is based on a collective bargaining agreement reached between United Airlines and the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), the union representing United's flight attendants. The details of the Early Out Program have been made available on the public section of the website of the United Master Executive Council (MEC) of AFA:
  • Eligibility
    • Flight attendants aged 45 or greater, and with at least 15 years service are eligible for the Early Out.

    • Flight attendants aged 55 or greater, and with at least 15 years service are eligible for retirement, plus the Early Out.

  • Early Out Severance Pay will consist of $500 for each year of service as a Flight Attendant up to 25 years ($12,500 cap). Total pay is distributed in 12 equal installments beginning January 2009.
    • Example: 18 years of Flight Attendant service equals $9000. This would be paid out at $750 per month, before taxes, for 12 months.

  • Travel Benefits - retiree travel pass benefits provided for all Early Out participants.

  • Life Insurance will be provided only for those who enter retirement at the time of the Early Out.

  • Medical Insurance will be provided for those Early Out participants who also retire, but not to those who are too young to do so. The latter will be able "to purchase COBRA for continued medical coverage for 18 months at the full cost of the insurance and administration."
United Airlines flight attendants who meet the age and length of service criteria for the Early Out Program would have been employed by the airline prior to and during the carrier's recent bankruptcy period. That means that they had their company pension plans terminated in 2005. At that time, United Airlines defaulted on its pension obligations, and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) took over pensions for workers at the airline, including the flight attendants.

Federal regulations limit the amount of pension payments the PBGC can make -- an amount far less than the original pensions -- and by law, that amount is further reduced if the worker retires early, i.e., before age 65. As a result, many flight attendants at United have since felt that they had no practical choice but to continue working until their 65th birthdays. To do otherwise would put them in serious financial straits.

In light of that situation, it seems that the current Early Out Program will be attractive mostly to those who already have a substantial second income, or whose spouses' or partners' income and health care benefits are sufficient to support them.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Flight attendant union files charges against Delta Air Lines

AFA-CWA logoThe Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) has filed formal charges with the National Mediation Board (NMB) against Delta Air Lines alleging that the carrier's management illegally interfered with a recent union representation election among Delta's flight attendants. The allegations "include substantial evidence that Delta flight attendants were denied a free and fair election due to management's aggressive tactics aimed at defeating union representation."

In February of this year, a majority of Delta Air Lines flight attendants signed cards indicating that they wanted union representation. This was the first step in the unionization process. The second step was an official election to determine union representation, a process which ended on May 28.

Under the rules of the NMB, which supervises such elections, 50%-plus-one of all those eligible to vote must do so in order for an election to be certified. In the recent election, only 40% of eligible Delta Air Lines flight attendants cast ballots, thus even though the vast majority of those votes favored the AFA, the election could not be certified.

In a statement issued by the AFA, the organization's International President, Patricia Friend, said, "Delta flight attendants were denied the opportunity to freely participate in this election without being intimidated by management and heavy-handed efforts to keep them from gaining a voice. A majority of Delta flight attendants wanted the opportunity to have an election and they deserve an election that is free and fair. We now look for the NMB to stand up for that right and hold Delta executives accountable for their actions."

The AFA has charged that Delta management acted illegally to suppress the union vote, leading to the less-than-majority turnout, and the subsequently nullified election result. The AFA says:

If the NMB finds sufficient evidence that illegal interference occurred, it can set a new election. AFA-CWA is asking for a new election with a balloting procedure that will limit the effects of any further illegal conduct by Delta management. By rerunning the election using a 'Laker' Ballot, flight attendants will be permitted to vote "Yes" or "No" for AFA-CWA representation. In the previous election, flight attendants were discouraged from participating in the voting process as only the "Yes" votes were counted, thereby automatically counting those who did not vote as "No" votes.
Meanwhile, Delta's plans for a merger with Northwest Airlines are moving forward. Northwest's flight attendants already are represented by the AFA, and they have expressed an intention to stay with the union after the merger is complete.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Delta flight attendant union certification election results

Poster in a Delta Airlines crew lounge urges flight attendants to rip up their union ballots.Balloting for the election to certify the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) as the collective bargaining unit representing Delta Air Lines flight attendants was completed today, May 28, 2008. The AFA reportedly won the "vast majority" of the votes cast, however only about 40% of those eligible to vote did so. Under the rules of the National Mediation Board (NMB), which supervised the election, a majority of eligible voters must cast ballots in order for the election outcome to be certified. Since that did not happen, the AFA cannot be certified as the union representative for Delta's flight attendants at this time.

Management at Delta Air Lines openly opposed flight attendant unionization. The AFA has claimed that an aggressive voter suppression campaign by Delta management kept thousands from casting a vote. Tactics included the posting of signs in flight attendants' crew lounges (see photo) "encouraging them to rip up the voting information before even bothering to read about their rights."

"For months, Delta management has touted its commitment to the democratic process, yet never let up on their intimidation and coercion of voters. Their empty rhetoric cannot conceal their interference. The conditions surrounding election were neither free nor fair, as required by NMB statutes. Now it is up to the National Mediation Board to defend the Delta flight attendants’ right to an election free of interference," said AFA International President Patricia Friend in a statement issued by AFA.

Delta Air Lines put a different spin on the outcome of the union certification election. Instead of mentioning that only about 40% of those eligible cast a vote, the airline's management interpreted the non-votes as NO votes, by stating the following in a Delta Air Lines press release issued today:

Delta Air Lines has received notification from the National Mediation Board (NMB) that a decisive majority – more than 60 percent – of eligible flight attendants rejected representation by the Association of Flight Attendants/Communication Workers of America (AFA) in the representation election at Delta, and the airline will continue a direct relationship with its flight attendants.

“We are pleased that Delta’s flight attendants clearly believe that our unique culture and direct relationship are worth preserving,” said Delta CEO Richard Anderson. “Delta continues to be the best advocate for its people, and our employees recognize the benefits of working together to enhance their careers and drive successful results for themselves and our company.”

Joanne Smith, senior vice president – In-Flight Service and Global Product Development, added, “This decision was one of the biggest our flight attendants faced in their career at Delta and it arose during some challenging times in our industry. Through all of these distractions – soaring fuel costs, a softening economy and an unrelenting AFA campaign of scare tactics and inaccurate information – the professionalism of all of our flight attendants shone as they maintained an unwavering focus on safety and service. This comes as no surprise however, because that is the Delta Difference; it is what sets us apart from the rest of this industry.
Not all Delta flight attendants share management's view of the situation, as evidenced by a particularly well-written opinion piece by a Delta flight attendant in today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Here is part of what she said:
To protect our future, it is critical that we have safeguards to keep management from destroying our profession —- safeguards that are detailed in a legally binding contract. Delta flight attendants want to maintain the quality of middle-class jobs that have benefited the local Atlanta economy and communities across the country for decades. We want to have a say in building and growing the world's largest airline.

What once was a "family style" environment at Delta is no more. This sad fact faces us each day. The new Delta is run by a group of executives who have only been around for nine months. People like former Northwest CEO Richard Anderson are making decisions that will affect the future of Delta flight attendants who have spent their lives building our company.

Our airline has evolved, and Delta flight attendants intend to do so as well. By becoming union members, we will actively defend our profession. We will protect our interests as we work alongside management in creating the world's largest airline.
There is another chapter to this story that has yet been told: When the Delta - Northwest Airlines merger takes place another union certification election will be held, since Northwest's flight attendants already are represented by AFA. Under the rules of the NMB, when a non-union work group merges with a union group, if 35 percent of combined workforce has union representation or signs a union card, a union election will automatically be called. That vote is expected to occur in early 2009.

[Photo Source]

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Man indicted for in-flight assault on United Airlines flight attendant

United Airlines Boeing 747A man who allegedly assaulted a United Airlines flight attendant in April has been indicted by a federal grand jury, and was to be arraigned today. The incident happened on April 23, 2008 on United Airlines Flight UAL862 while the aircraft, a Boeing 747-400, was en route from Hong Kong to Los Angeles.

According to an FBI press release, dated May 22, 2008:

James Allen Cameron, 49, of Anaheim, was indicted by a federal grand jury on Tuesday [May 20] and he surrendered today [May 22]. Cameron allegedly had to be restrained in his seat by passengers and crew members during the flight.

A grand jury in Los Angeles returned an indictment on May 20th which charged Cameron with one count of Interference with a Flight Crew, a violation of Title 49, Section 46504, which carries a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison, and one count of assault, a violation of Title 49, Section 113 (a) (4), which carries a maximum penalty of six months in prison.

Cameron was afforded an initial appearance in U.S. District Court today [May 22] and posted $50,000 bond. An arraignment has been scheduled for Tuesday, May 27 th.

Under Title 49, as well as Title 18, of the U.S. Code, the FBI has primary jurisdiction for investigations into criminal acts or other violations of the federal code that occur on all aircraft arriving to the United States (foreign and domestic carriers), as well as U.S. carriers flying outbound from the United States.

This case was investigated by the FBI, U.S. Customs Border Protection and the Los Angeles Airport Police Department, and will be prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office.
Although it was unclear what had provoked the alleged assault, several news articles about the incident reported that Mr. Cameron was intoxicated during the altercation and had to be "wrestled down" by a several crew members and passengers, after which he was duct-taped to his seat. He was arrested upon arrival at LAX.

[Image Source]

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Delta flight attendants accuse management of suppressing union voters

Delta Airlines logoFlight attendants at Delta Air Lines voted earlier this year to unionize. A majority of Delta flight attendants already have submitted signature cards to the National Mediation Board (NMB), indicating that they wanted to be represented by a formal collective bargaining unit, even though Delta management has openly opposed the move toward flight attendant unionization.

Last week, Delta flight attendants began the next phase, casting their votes to decide whether the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) will be certified as their collective bargaining representative. The voting process, carried out under the supervision of the NMB, will continue until May 28, 2008. According to the rules, a majority of the entire flight attendant workforce must cast a vote in order for the election to be valid. Anything less than this majority turnout will void the election entirely, even if the union gets a clear majority of the votes cast.

Apparently the management of Delta Air Lines is persisting in its opposition to the union election, employing what AFA activists describe as "tactics of intimidation and interference, pushing flight attendants not to vote for the union." Earlier this week, a number of Delta flight attendants met with Congressional leaders to brief them on "Delta management’s aggressive voter suppression campaign during the current AFA-CWA representation election."

In a news release about their meetings with Congressional officials, the Delta flight attendants explain:

Management’s anti-union voter suppression campaign gained the attention of Capitol Hill earlier this month, prior to the start of the vote. In the U.S. Senate, 26 Senators submitted a letter to Delta Air Lines executives urging them to “demonstrate a genuine commitment to cooperative labor relations” and to remain neutral in this election. Delta executives never responded to the Senators’ letter. At the very moment Anderson was testifying in a U.S. House hearing on Delta’s announced merger with Northwest Airlines, management’s latest anti-union, voter suppression packet – with letters and a DVD – was being mailed to all flight attendants’ homes.

“Actions speak louder than words and management’s actions right now clearly indicate that they want to prevent us from having a union and having the right to negotiate a legally binding contract,” said Mara Levene, a Delta flight attendant and AFA-CWA activist. “Management will do whatever it takes to make sure that we do not have a voice. A solid majority of Delta flight attendants wanted this election and despite management’s fear tactics, bullying and intimidation, we remain determined and are voting for AFA-CWA representation.”
Delta CEO Richard Anderson testified in Congress last week that "management was supportive of the democratic process and would not engage in illegal interference." Not so, says Patricia Friend, AFA International President. “Their current actions to keep flight attendants from voting are anti-democratic and are a disgrace. Delta flight attendants have earned and deserve the right to have a voice in their future and a seat at the table,” said Ms. Friend.

Delta currently is seeking approval for a planned merger with Northwest Airlines. It is worth pointing out that Northwest's flight attendants already are represented by AFA. Delta's flight attendants have never had union representation.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Several injured in severe turbulence incident on United Airlines DEN-PHX flight

United Airlines A320Earlier this week, a United Airlines flight encountered severe turbulence while en route from Denver to Phoenix. Several people on board were injured, including at least one flight attendant.

The incident happened on the evening of Tuesday, April 15, 2008 on United Flight UAL 1427, an Airbus A320 aircraft. According to news reports, the turbulence began about 30 minutes after the aircraft departed Denver International Airport. The aircraft turned back to Denver where it landed safely.

The FAA's preliminary report about this turbulence incident provides few details, however descriptions of what happened have appeared in several news media reports. An article on IN-Forum News included an account of the scene given by Mr. Keith Holland, who was a passenger on the flight:

...When the Airbus A320 hit cruising speed, the seat-belt sign was turned off, flight attendants started serving drinks and Holland began working on his laptop.

Then there was a bump caused by turbulence, which seemed normal at first, Holland said.

But when he looked out the window from his aisle seat, Holland saw the plane tilted to the right – “the wing was tipped to the ground. I could see the ground.”

The beverage cart bounced around and the drinks and cups spilled out, he said. One flight attendant was thrown to the ceiling and passengers’ personal belongings – including Holland’s laptop – flew into the air.

After the laptop hit the overhead compartment, “I pulled it to my chest and held it hard,” which caused some sore ribs, he said. “The flight attendant was bouncing along like a ping-pong ball.”
Mr. Holland added that the flight attendant who hit the ceiling recovered enough to continue working on the way back to Denver, but that another flight attendant required medical attention. He also observed a passenger with "a bloody face" who, he said, "needed paramedics to help her off the plane."

An article about the turbulence incident on the website of Denver television channel CBS 4 mentioned that one passenger and one flight attendant who were injured were hospitalized. The CBS 4 article includes a video clip that includes comments from a passenger who was on board UAL Flight 1427.

Friday, April 11, 2008

American Airlines flight attendants get pay protection for lost time

APFA logoAmerican Airlines will provide pay protection to flight attendants who lost time as a direct result of flight cancellations during the recent grounding of the airline's MD80 fleet. According to an announcement posted on April 10, 2008 to the website of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, the union representing American Airlines flight attendants, "This pay protection applies not only to monthly guarantee but also to those who have lost high-time hours as well as commuters who were unable to make their trips - as a result of the MD80 re-inspections - after having followed commuter policy guidelines."

A separate agreement, also announced on April 10, 2008, provides American Airlines flight attendants with a mechanism to restore Personal Vacation Days (PVDs) that were voluntarily used to supplement pay following last month's MD80 cancellations. Flight attendants who used PVDs to protect loss of pay will have the option to make up time in order to restore the PVDs that were used.

Letters of Understanding for both the pay protection agreement and the PVD recovery agreement stipulate that they are offered on a non-precedent setting basis. Details can be found in the following documents:

American Airlines also reached a similar agreement with its pilots regarding pay protection. American Airlines pilots are represented by the Allied Pilots Association.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Former NFL lineman fined for pushing flight attendant

Former professional football player Tyoka Jackson (in photo at right), who had been a defensive lineman for several NFL teams, was ordered by a federal jury to pay a flight attendant $3,000 for an incident that happened on board a Northwest Airlines flight between Memphis and St. Louis in 2005.

According to a news story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the flight attendant testified in court that Mr. Jackson pushed him, sending him "toppling onto a passenger and the armrest in seats across the aisle." Jackson was said to be upset because the flight attendant asked him to stow a laptop bag under the first-class seats.

Jackson's attorney, Tom Magee, said in his opening statement that Jackson "used only such force he thought was necessary to stop this man from touching him against his wishes. He was not trying to hurt him."

[The flight attendant] testified that Jackson did "not simply push me, he threw me across the airplane."

"His hands came up so fast and hit me in the chest, and back I went."
The flight attendant also testified that he suffered back pain, a deep leg bruise and anxiety. He said he finds it hard to work because he now fears confrontations with unruly passengers.

In their suit against Mr. Jackson, the flight attendant and his wife had asked for more than a million dollars, but last week jurors ordered Mr. Jackson to pay $3,000 to cover medical expenses incurred by the flight attendant, according to the Associated Press.

Tyoka Jackson played professional football in the NFL from 1994 through 2006, most recently for the Detroit Lions. Earlier he had played for the Miami Dolphins, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the St. Louis Rams.

[Photo Source]

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Delta Air Lines opposes flight attendant unionization

Delta Airlines logoAs I wrote here in Cabin Crew News last month, Delta flight attendants are seeking union representation. In that article I wrote:

Up to now, Delta flight attendants have not been unionized. Although there has been growing dissatisfaction with pay and work rules among the rank and file, it seems that the tipping point came as Delta began engaging in merger talks with other carriers. Now a growing number of Delta's flight attendants are acknowledging the potential value of representation by a formal collective bargaining unit such as the AFA [the Association of Flight Attendants].
On February 14, 2008, a majority of Delta flight attendants did indeed submit signature cards to the National Mediation Board (NMB), formally requesting union representation. Yesterday, the NMB officially announced that the flight attendants' request for election of a union had been authorized. In its letter to Delta Air Lines and the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), the NMB indicated that "the election will be conducted by Telephone Electronic Voting and Internet Voting."
The Notice and Sample Instruction will be sent out on April 16, 2008. The Voting Instructions will be mailed to the employees on April 23, 2008. The voting period will be from 12:01 a.m., ET, April 23, 2008, through June 3, 2008. The tally will take place at the Board's offices on June 3, 2008, at 2 p.m. ET.
Today, Delta's response to this news was to issue a press release with a very lengthy title:

Delta Flight Attendants to Decide on Union Representation; Company Says Direct Relationship with Management Best for Flight Attendants

That title, folks, is the story in a nutshell. But there is a longer version. The press release, referenced above, included the text of a statement from Joanne Smith, senior vice president – In-Flight Service and Global Product Development, as follows:
“Delta flight attendants will make one of the most important decisions of their careers over the coming months as they choose between a direct relationship with Delta’s management team or the cost and risk of a third-party representative,” Smith said. “Our flight attendants have long been successful at speaking for themselves and we continually demonstrate our willingness to respond quickly and directly to their individual and collective feedback. I’m asking all of our flight attendants to make an educated choice, based on fact.

“The facts are: Delta flight attendants have it better than what the Association of Flight Attendants’ has been able to deliver at other airlines, and those airlines’ contracts are not open to changes for several years to come – years in which Delta flight attendants will continue to enjoy higher rates of pay, a better profit sharing program and a better performance rewards program.

“In contrast, the AFA’s track record at other network carriers is not a good one. The AFA has demonstrated that its members have not been protected from pay cuts, job loss, pension termination or any other changes affecting the airline industry. And flight attendants at those other airlines also must pay hundreds of dollars per year in union dues.

“Delta has good momentum thanks to the hard work of all Delta people and we look forward to the ability to continue working on their behalf and responding to their feedback,” Smith continued.
An Associated Press article about the upcoming union election, published on Forbes.com and elsewhere, quoted Corey Caldwell, an AFA-CWA spokeswoman, who said Smith's statement is "typical, anti-union rhetoric that companies use."
"The truth is when there is a union on property, there's just as much communication with management as there was before," Caldwell said. "The only thing that changes is this time the flight attendants get to determine the issues and policies that affect them as a group instead of being dependent on the company to make decisions for them."
For further insight about what rank-and-file Delta flight attendants are thinking about the unionization issue, visit the Delta Voices page of the website opened by AFA to support the campaign by Delta flight attendants for unionization. There, dozens of Delta flight attendants have come forward publicly to share with their flying partners their reasons for supporting the move to unionize.

Should Delta's flight attendants succeed in their bid to unionize, they will be airline's the second major work group to have union representation. At the present time, only Delta's pilots are represented by a union; they are represented by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA).

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Flight attendant hiring freeze at United Airlines?

United Airlines logoEarlier this month when I was researching an article about the profit-sharing distribution to United Airlines flight attendants, I noticed that the carrier was continuing to hire new cabin crew. I mentioned it here, and posted a link to the flight attendant careers page on the airline's website.

Then I began to hear a rumor that United had suspended recruitment of new flight attendants. The rumor caught me by surprise, so I decided to find out if it was true. I'm sorry to report that this is indeed the case, according to information published on the website run by the United Airlines Master Executive Council (MEC) of the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), the union representing United's flight attendants.

News of the hiring freeze is contained in a letter to United's AFA membership from Greg Davidowitch, President of the United MEC. Dated March 18, 2008, the letter addresses plans by the carrier to downsize its fleet, and discusses the potential impact of this move on United's flight attendants. Quoting from Mr. Dawidowitch's letter:

Undoubtedly, there will be an impact on our flying as a result of potential staffing decisions and which markets United may cut as a result of the downsizing of the fleet. At this time we can confirm that based upon our discussions with management there are no plans for a furlough as a result of today's announcement. United will implement a hiring freeze for the newest Members of our Flight Attendant community for classes that were originally scheduled to begin after March 31, 2008. There are no plans to release Flight Attendants who are currently in new hire training and we look forward to welcoming our newest flying partners on the line.
I trust that Mr. Dawidowitch is in a position to know what he is talking about, so there you have it. Click here to read the letter in its entirety.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Cabin features on Delta's new Boeing 777-200LR

Last week, Delta Airlines took delivery of a new Boeing 777-200LR, the first of its type delivered to a U.S.-based carrier. The aircraft will be known as "The Delta Spirit."

The new aircraft will be the flagship aircraft for Delta’s new BusinessElite® global product, according to a Delta news release. The BusinessElite® cabin (see photo at right) includes the following features:

  • Reclining seats that adjust to multiple comfortable positions, including a completely flat 6-foot 3-inch bed
  • Privacy screens incorporating pull-out meal table, fold-out 10.6-inch personal video screen, integrated footrest and personal stowage compartment for bags, shoes or blankets
  • Immediate access to the aisle so customers do not have to disturb another passenger when exiting their seat
  • USB ports offering charging ability for personal MP3 players
The airline plans to have similar sleeper suites installed on all of the B-777 aircraft in its fleet by 2010.

Economy passengers flying on the new B777-200LR aircraft will enjoy comfortable new all leather slim-line seats, manufactured by Weber Aircraft LP. The Weber seats have ergonomically designed cushions, and provide additional under-seat storage. Each seat has on-demand music, movies, games and television on individual 9-inch video monitors.

The aircraft is set to begin scheduled service tomorrow (March 8, 2008) with a flight between Atlanta and Los Angeles. The first international run for Delta's new B777-200LR, will be on March 9 when it flies from Atlanta to Tokyo.

[Photo Source]

Thursday, March 6, 2008

United Airlines flight attendants get profit sharing distribution

United AirlinesThis week, flight attendants at United Airlines flight are receiving profit-sharing payments related to the airline's 2007 performance. United's US-based flight attendants can expect to receive a profit-sharing payment of about $1,200, before withholdings, for every $30,000 of eligible earnings, according to a news release issued by the airline.

This is the second year United provided profit sharing to its employees and the benefit is part of their union contracts. Under the terms of their union's contract, which was negotiated during the airline's bankruptcy, United's flight attendants receive their profit-sharing award in the form of a company contribution to their 401(k) accounts.

United Airlines flight attendants are represented by the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA).

By the way, United is continuing to recruit new flight attendants. Click here for more information on becoming a United Airlines flight attendant, and an online application.

[Illustration Source]

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Disruptive Delta passenger offloaded, jailed in Bangor

Delta Airlines Flight DL176, a Boeing 767-300 aircraft, diverted to Bangor, ME on the evening of February 29, 2008 due to a disruptive passenger. The flight had been en route from Atlanta to Dublin, Ireland when a male passenger became unruly, assaulted another passenger, and made threatening statements. He was taken into custody at Bangor International Airport and remanded to the Penobscot County Jail. The flight later resumed its journey to Dublin.

The passenger was identified in news reports as 44 year old Aiden Mackle, of Portadown, Co Armagh, Northern Ireland. He appeared in U.S. District Court yesterday, charged with interference with a flight crew and assault. An article on the Bangor Daily News website reported the following details about the incident:

The man, who had been visiting family in San Diego, became unruly Friday night about 2½ hours after the plane left Atlanta about 9:10 p.m., according to court documents. Mackle allegedly drank three or four of the small bottles of wine sold onboard. He then allegedly went to the restroom and illegally smoked a cigarette.

When a flight attendant confronted him about the smoking and told the captain she was dealing with an unruly passenger, Mackle allegedly said he was associated with Osama bin Laden and was going to hijack the plane.

Mackle also punched an off-duty Delta employee and told airline employees that he was a terrorist, according to court documents.
A USA Today article about the incident added that, according to an affidavit presented in court, Mackle "...responded to an off-duty AirTran Airways pilot who told him that the flight may have to make an emergency landing, 'OK, I'm a terrorist. Go ahead and land the plane,' and then proceeded to punch an off-duty Delta flight attendant who warned him that he may have to be restrained."

A detention hearing is scheduled for March 5, 2008 to determine whether Mackle will be released on bail.

UPDATE March 10, 2008: The Boston Globe reported today that a federal judge has denied bail to Mr. Mackle. The news article said, "After a 40-minute hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Margaret Kravchuk found probable cause for the charges and sided with Amie Blanchette of the U.S. Probation Office who testified that Mackle should be detained to insure that he will show up for trial." He will continue to be detained, pending trial on charges of assault and interfering with a flight crew.

UPDATE June 25, 2008: The Bangor Daily News reports that A Federal Court judge has sentenced Mr. Mackle to time already served in jail (116 days), two years of supervised release, and ordered him to pay $20,030 restitution to Delta Air Lines. In addition, he is being deported, and is forbidden to re-enter the U.S. without specific permission from immigration officials.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Delta flight attendants seek union representation

Delta Airlines logoThis week, flight attendants at Delta Airlines will formally act to seek union representation. On February 14, the flight attendants will file signed cards to this effect. If a sufficient number of signed cards are collected and verified by the U.S. National Mediation Board (NMB), an election will be called to officially determine union representation. The NMB is responsible for overseeing union representation elections in the U.S. airline industry.

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, known as "AFA," has been working for some time with Delta flight attendants who favor union representation. A media release issued last week by AFA states that "a solid majority of Delta flight attendants have signed cards and eagerly await an election."

Up to now, Delta flight attendants have not been unionized. Although there has been growing dissatisfaction with pay and work rules among the rank and file, it seems that the tipping point came as Delta began engaging in merger talks with other carriers. Now a growing number of Delta's flight attendants are acknowledging the potential value of representation by a formal collective bargaining unit such as the AFA.

The AFA has opened a website -- Delta AFA -- to support the campaign by Delta flight attendants for unionization. There is a copy of the authorization card for union representation on the website, as well as a wealth of information about AFA, and about the legal rights of flight attendants in regard to collective bargaining and unionization. In addition, the website features a page with comments by individual Delta flight attendants telling why they want AFA -- definitely an interesting read!

According to reports in the news media, Northwest Airlines currently is considered to be the most likely merger partner for Delta, however officials at United Airlines also have discussed a potential merger with Delta. Flight attendants at both Northwest and United already are represented by AFA.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Delta flight attendant wins $1 million in Georgia Lottery

Georgia Lottery winner Kristen DiloretoDelta flight attendant Kristen Diloreto, pictured at right, recently won $1 million playing the Georgia Lottery instant game Georgia's $500 Million Club. Ms. Diloreto purchased her winning ticket at a Publix supermarket in the town where she lives.

According to a Georgia Lottery news release, Ms. Diloreto purchased the ticket while grocery shopping at the store. She scratched the ticket to reveal the winning number while still in her car.

"I was thrilled," she said. "I took the ticket back to the store manager, and we both looked at each other in disbelief."

The 40 year old flight attendant and her husband have three children. She said that she and her husband may use a bit of the winnings to take a family vacation. Beyond that, they have no immediate plans for their million dollar prize.

Congratulations to Kristen Diloreto on her good fortune!

[Photo Source]

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Northwest Flight Attendants' Merger Concerns

AFA-CWA logoAmid media reports that Northwest Airlines is in merger talks with Delta Airlines, Northwest's flight attendants have publicized a list of conditions they say must be met in order for them to approve and support the merger of Northwest with another carrier.

In a press release issued earlier this week, the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), the union representing Northwest's flight attendants, notes that "a merger agreement that addresses the needs of front line employees will help to ensure a quality product and service that meets the needs of our customers." The union has set forth eight conditions that they wish to have included in any merger agreement:

  • Job protections for Northwest flight attendants.
  • Seniority integration of the two flight attendant groups should be given the full protection of the AFA-CWA Constitution and Bylaws and the law, as applicable.
  • Allegheny- Mohawk Labor Protective Provisions that cover displaced workers and other matters not directly related to seniority.
  • Stock, or other equity in the merged company no less favorable than that granted to any other employee group, including management.
  • A labor agreement that provides substantial improvements in compensation and work rules to the current flight attendant agreement.
  • A route structure that has a sufficient network and market strength to allow for growth and profitability.
  • Inclusion in discussions on the effects of a proposed merger prior to the finalization of any transaction.
  • Maintaining a strong hub presence in the Twin Cities and continue to plan for future growth, securing our position as one of the largest employers in Minnesota.
The union also cautions that for a merger to be accepted, it must include "transparent and open communications" between the airline's management and its employees on the status of merger developments, and discussions regarding the issues of concern to employees.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

United flight attendants injured by turbulence

A number of people were reported to have been injured early on the morning of Monday, January 21, 2008 when a United Airlines flight encountered turbulence. United Flight UA 1028, a B-757 aircraft, was at FL370 en route from Los Angeles to Chicago when the incident occurred, according to a preliminary incident report posted this morning on the FAA website. The aircraft diverted to Denver, where it landed safely at around 03:00 AM local time.

The FAA report states that three flight attendants sustained "minor" injuries. There was no damage to the aircraft, which later resumed its flight to Chicago without further incident.

In contrast to the information posted by the FAA, several news media stories about the incident reported that up to 10 people had been injured. The flight was said to have had 180 passengers and seven crew members on board.

UPDATE January 24, 2008: Here's a link to a first person account of this incident by a passenger who was on board UA FLight 1028 that night, from the Denver Post.