UPDATE: American Airlines has kowtowed to the demands of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) and will reduce service onboard in all cabins.
As noted by AA insider JonNYC, the following cuts will be introduced effective January 26, 2022 for an unspecified duration:
- Flagship Routes
- First Class – the first three courses (appetizer, salad, soup) will be delivered in one step
- Business Class – meal service remains unchanged
- Economy Class – beverage and beverage accompaniments will be offered in conjunction with the meal cart
- Domestic Routes
- Premium Cabin – no “immediate” changes
- Main Cabin – on flights of 1,500 miles or more, the second beverage service is eliminated, but additional drinks will be offered on-demand
Let me start by saying the union does not represent all flight attendants and I have flown with some absolutely amazing FAs over the last year who work so hard to provide excellent service to their passengers.
Second, charges of being “lazy” are not totally unfounded. It seems to me the primary goal of this initiative is to reduce (and already reduced) workload for flight attendants, which the APFA hopes will make flight attendants feel like their union dues are actually paying off.
That’s because we are already appear to be over the omicron curve and there are far more effective ways to protect flights attendants, like for the union to require (and provide) N95 masks for each FA.
Furthermore, won’t making additional beverage service on-demand create many more back-and-forth trips down the aisles (or congregation in the galley)? Won’t that directly undermine precisely what the union is supposedly protecting the flight attendants from? Or are passengers going to be scowled out if they dare request a second cup of water on a six hour transcontinental flight?
I believe these changes are regrettable and have little do with flight attendant safety. I am sorry to see that AA kowtowed to the union wishes in this matter.
The original article is below.
As airlines have slowly restored in-flight service to pre-pandemic levels, the omicron surge has pushed a number of flight attendants, via their unions, to demand reductions in service. The latest is American Airlines, which is asking that meal service be consolidated and beverage service reduced.
Blaming Omicron, American Airlines Flight Attendants Want Service Cuts In All Cabins
A brief memo from the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), the union which represents flight attendants at American Airlines, notes the highly contagious omicron variant and how the APFA is trying to reduce service onboard:
With the continued spread of the Omicron variant, APFA has proposed a temporary reduction to onboard service levels and customer touchpoints. Our goal is to maintain the highest level of Flight Attendant and passenger safety as possible onboard the aircraft. These proposed changes lessen the time that a passenger will not be wearing a mask and, in turn, limit Flight Attendant exposure.
APFA proposals include serving entreés with salad/soup/appetizers in premium cabins when possible and reducing main cabin beverage services on domestic and IPD flights. We have asked that these reductions in service be implemented immediately.
(when did “flight attendant” become a proper noun?)
IPD stands for “international premium destinations” which includes longhaul service.
The union is proposing appetizers and main courses be served on single tray instead of course-by-course (which only recently returned to American Airlines) and additional drink services be eliminated in economy class.
Already, American Airlines does not serve alcohol in economy class and I’m of the opinion that cutting back service has the potential to create even unsafer conditions for flight attendants. While passengers briefly remove masks to eat or drink, when drinks are eliminated, passengers become more agitated, which leads to the sort of onboard masks incidents that have made headlines over the last year. It also encourages passengers to bring their own drinks, including illicit alcohol in larger quantities than the portion-controlled servings onboard.
It’s also alarming that APFA puts so much faith in masks when so many passengers wear improper masks, like flimsy cloth ones. It underscores what a fight it will be once (if?) the federal mask mandate is lifted and airlines must battle flight attendants over whether to voluntarily eliminate their own mask mandates, which were present before the federal mandate.
The APFA would be better off advocating for mandatory N95 or KN95 masks onboard instead of trying to reduce beverage service.
The union representing flight attendants at American Airlines is demanding “temporary” service cuts it says will protect flight attendants. Beyond my disgust for cost-cutting masquerading as COVID-19 protection (“hygiene theatre”) on the airline side, I genuinely think eliminating additional beverage services in economy class may have precisely the opposite effect the union wants: it will lead to more bad behavior, more mask incidents, and also move passengers to bring their own (perhaps illicit) drinks onboard.
What are your thoughts about the proposed American Airlines omicron service cuts?