American Airlines flight attendants, pilots complain about lack of hotel rooms, transportation

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An exterior view of an American Airlines B737 Max aircraft is seen as a man walking at the Dallas-Forth Worth International Airport in Dallas, Texas on December 2, 2020.

Cooper Neill | AFP | Getty Images

Unions representing 40,000 American Airlines pilots and flight attendants say the carrier has failed to provide crews with sufficient transportation and adequate hotels during layovers, a trend that deprives them of rest in some cases.

In grievances filed with the carrier on Tuesday, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants and Allied Pilots Association said crews were facing delays in hotel reservations and transportation on the route.

“We have flight attendants sleeping at airports and outside of baggage claim as the company does not provide hotel accommodation in a timely manner,” said APFA National President Julie Hedrick , in a press release. “Crew rest is affected and clean, comfortable and quiet rooms are not provided for the required rest.”

American said in a statement it was examining union concerns. “Taking care of our crew members when they are away from home is a priority for American,” he said.

On July 17, several American Airlines flight attendants spent the night in cots at Glacier Park International Airport in Montana after flight delays. led the crews to reach their legal working limits for the day, according to the union and the airline.

There weren’t enough hotel rooms available at the popular tourist destination, a union official said. The crew were originally supposed to return to their New York base the same day.

The incident was unusual, but flight attendants often arrived at destinations without accommodation, faced long waits for rooms and extended wait times for crew accommodation support, a declared the union official.

The airline searched for hotels up to a three-hour drive away, but there was no availability that night, which coincided with a big music festival, according to American. A spokeswoman said the incident was an “anomaly” and the company is working to prevent it from happening again.

Earlier this week, American told flight crews they could use an app to try to book again due to long waits to book hotels due to “irregular operations” in the network, according to a note. service, which has been reviewed by CNBC.

As travel restrictions continue to weigh on demand for overseas travel, U.S. carriers and others have stepped up services to smaller airports that are gateways to outdoor destinations, which have been extremely popular during the pandemic. Car rentals and the provision of hotel rooms have been difficult to find or expensive in these areas this summer.

Very busy flight schedules and some crew shortages compounded the disruption due to weather conditions and other issues.

The APFA said they have received complaints from crew members, for example finding that no rooms were available when traveling to a stopover hotel and faced with waiting times “excessive” for hotel reservation services.

Lack of hotel rooms and long wait times for customer service are issues that airline customers have also faced this summer, as the industry grapples with a shortage of workers to manage the increase in demand which materialized faster than expected by carriers.

The pilots’ union, APA, has said it wants pilots reimbursed for accommodation costs, including when they have to find hotel rooms on their own.

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