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American Airlines

American Airlines Cracks Down on Flight Attendants Who Sell Flight Assignments

American Airlines Cracks Down on Flight Attendants Who Sell Flight Assignments
Joe Cortez

Some senior flight attendants at American Airlines are accused of bidding to work some of the most coveted long-haul flights, just to turn around and sell those assignments back to junior staff members. American is now telling employees to stop the practice, threatening loss of bidding privileges and firing as punishments.

American Airlines flight attendants are getting a stern warning from senior management: if you sell your flight assignments to less-tenured staff, you could lose the privilege entirely – or even your job. The edict comes in the form of a memo made public by the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA).

As part of their employment, attendants can put in bids for which flights they would like to work, with long-haul international flights getting the most bids. Senior employees often get first choice on these routes, leaving younger attendants to work less desirable flights.

However, some employees have allegedly found a way around the system by reselling their flight assignments. It works when experienced attendants bid on the international flights to Asia, Europe and South America, and then switch assignments with someone else for a price. Some flights reportedly go for as much as $200.

A spokesperson for American told Chicago Business Journal the blame could weigh on the 800 legacy US Airways employees who joined the Dallas-based carrier during the merge. Airline managers are now warning employees that the practice must stop.

“With flexibility comes responsibility, the memo reads. “And it’s unfortunate we continue to receive complaints from your colleagues that certain flight attendants are not using these systems responsibly.” If a flight attendant is found selling assignments, it could result in “suspension of individual trip trade capabilities and, in egregious cases, corrective action up to and including termination of employment.”

“We take our team members’ concerns seriously,” an airline spokesperson told the trade journal. “So when we started receiving feedback about questionable use of bidding and trading systems by some flight attendants, we looked into it.”

In a hotline dispatched to American employees by the APFA, the union claims the airline can’t actively monitor bidding systems under their current contract and accuses the carrier of strongarm tactics. “As in most cases, when a few people abuse a right or a privilege, it jeopardizes the right or privilege for the majority,” Mark Littleton, interim national vice president for the AFPA, writes in the hotline. “But abuse by the few cannot and must not set up a witch hunt for the majority.”

[Photo: Shutterstock]

View Comments (10)


  1. DEN

    May 2, 2018 at 8:14 am

    When will the Airlines move from seniority based flight staffing to performance based, or at least a weighted blend of both? Just because you have seniority doesn’t necessarily mean you are the best person for the job. They should put their best performing cabin crew on the most prestigious routes.

    Employee should be motivated by doing a great job, not just for showing up for work.

  2. topman

    May 2, 2018 at 8:16 am

    Is Bonnie Werner selling trip on AA too?

  3. Wingtipflyer1

    May 2, 2018 at 9:25 am

    More like AA mgt. is kicking themselves saying “why didn’t we think of this??-more revenue:)

  4. KLBGO

    May 2, 2018 at 2:09 pm

    No reason for young FAs to complain about wages, if they are paying $200 to work.

  5. Irpworks

    May 2, 2018 at 9:32 pm

    If it is a privilege they have, why can’t they sell it? That’s the beauty of markets, both sides win in a voluntary transaction.

  6. JimInOhio

    May 3, 2018 at 5:25 am

    American is right to try to shut this down. Employees should be working for the the company paying their salary, not for themselves (when on the job).

  7. Disneymkvii

    May 3, 2018 at 6:25 am

    That’s the Union hard at work, folks.

  8. flyerCO

    May 3, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    @DEN that’s not how unions work. They want strictly seniority based. One of many reasons that I say for all but a few jobs unions should be outlawed.

  9. Morgacj2004

    May 3, 2018 at 4:06 pm

    Who cares! Doesn’t AA have more important issues to address than this.

  10. Morgacj2004

    May 3, 2018 at 4:07 pm

    Who cares. Doesn’t AA have more important issues to address than this.

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