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.”