In a move that it hopes will deter flight attendants from unionizing, Delta Air Lines will pay flight attendants during boarding, a revolutionary change in the U.S. aviation industry that will lead to pay bumps, particularly for junior flight attendants.
Delta Air Lines Will Pay Flight Attendants During Boarding, A Boon For Junior Flight Attendants
Although it seems counterintuitive, U.S. flight attendants are not paid when they check-in for work. Nor are they paid when they show up to the plane. Not even during boarding, even if there are delays. Instead, flight attendants only start getting paid when the aircraft door closes.
It’s not like this move is pure avarice on the part of the airline: unions have negotiated for this over the years as a way to bargain for more pay in-flight. But this bargain has traditionally hit junior flight attendants more than senior flights since more junior workers tend to work shorter domestic flights versus longer domestic or international flights.
A push to pay flight attendants for boarding time has gained steam this year and Delta has become the first U.S. carrier to make this change. Effective June 2, 2022, Delta will will pay flight attendants 50% of their in-flight wages for boarding. Depending upon seniority, that translates to an extra $16.10 to $36.19 per hour.
Delta will also increase boarding times while paying a flat rate for boarding (even if there ends up being a delay):
- 40 minutes – domestic narrowbody flights
- 45 minutes – domestic widebody flights
- 50 minutes – international flights
This move will benefit junior flight attendants in particular since on any duty day they might have 3-4 flights. Currently, being junior means those periods do not count for pay, which can certainly add up.
Delta Air Lines will begin paying flight attendants for boarding time, a revolutionary move in the U.S. aviation industry.
Union advocates will say it was their push for unionization that led to this change while Delta management will point out that it pays it flight attendants more and treats them better than their union counterparts. Whoever the winner is in terms of the ongoing labor war, Delta flight attendants–particularly junior ones–are the winners here.
It will now be interesting to see if unionized airlines match, especially at American Airlines where a new contract is currently under negotiation.