Pilots flying for American Airlines are now accusing their employer of choosing cost over comfort when it comes to hotel accommodations. A memo sent out by their union suggests the Dallas-based airline wants to reduce spending on hotel rooms – while a counter-memo by the carrier says they are spending more than ever on housing crews away from home.
The Allied Pilots Association (APA) and American Airlines are pointing fingers once again – this time, over the cost of a hotel room. In a memo obtained by Chicago Business Journal, the union representing over 15,000 pilots says the carrier is downgrading conditions for crews forced to stay a night away from home.
The situation revolves around American’s new hotel program administrator, Travelliance. With a reputation for forcing hotel programs into deep discounts to do business with airlines, pilots say their conditions have downgraded from mid-range business hotels, to low-grade motels instead.
To that end, the pilots’ union claims American is putting a “semi-budget freeze” on crew accommodations for 2018 and potentially beyond. As a result, pilots claim when they have an overnight layover, hotels booked for them resemble “Motel 6” instead of “Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt.”
Immediately countering the claims of the APA, American leadership issued a memo of their own, informing pilots that no spending freeze was in place. Additionally, while Travelliance was known for their “hardball” negotiating tactics, the memo noted that price would not be the only factor considered for airline staff layovers.
“We assure you there is no spending freeze. In fact hotel spend is going up in 2018 not down,” read the American memo, according to Chicago Business Journal. “We will continue to negotiate competitive hotel contracts, and cost will always be a factor, but not the deciding one.”
This is not the first time American pilots have accused the carrier of endangering pilots with fatigue, nor is it the first complaint the APA has claimed over American this year. In 2017, the APA filed a grievance against American over their scheduling policies, claiming aviators were flying fatigued. In February 2018, the APA issued a separate memo accusing American of “deeply trail[ing]” legacy competitors Delta Air Lines and United Airlines in regards to profit sharing.