United Will Finally Be One Airline in the Sky

United’s flight attendants have voted 53% in favor of a new joint contract.

United and Continental merged in 2010, with Continental management eventually taking over, but six years later that merger is still not complete.

One of the last major stumbling blocks was that legacy United and Continental flight attendants still not operating under a single contract, and as a result United flight attendants work United planes and Continental flight attendants work Continental planes — and new aircraft get split between them.

In late June – finally – United and its flight attendants came to terms on a joint contract.

Without a new contract, flight attendants were making as much as $15,000 a year less than their peers at other major US airlines.

This new deal puts United flight attendants a percent or two above current pay for their peers at Delta and American — although the devil here is in the details.

A new contract has been a priority for new CEO Oscar Munoz. Happy, service-oriented flight attendants are as important to winning back premium customers as new premium cabins, lounges and amenities.

Flight attendants voting against the deal generally focused on the lack of signing bonus, employee health care contributions, and that legacy United and legacy Continental employees don’t actually all get treated the same under the new contract — and some gain more than others based on their starting position.

As I wrote last month, “These issues may not be enough to derail the contract. Union leadership supports it as the best deal possible, and it is going to be a big raise.”

The deal is for 5 years, so there will be a period of relative stability with flight attendants — though it is costing United a lot.

United still needs to get its mechanics contract done, but the flight attendant deal is a big step. They’ll be one airline going forward now — at least once they’re in the sky.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Slimesek couldn’t get it done in 5 years. That speaks volumes as to how that guy ran the airline….almost into the ground.

  2. Gary, you are incorrect. The AA/APFA agreement has a wage opener provision and both LAA & LUS F/As will be getting a base rate increase. Do you actually read the CBAs before you come on here as the know all about labor relations?

  3. @Josh G do you actually read my posts? United’s FA CBA — which I’ve read — pays flight attendants more than AA and DL FAs are currently being paid. That is 100% accurate. Why you seem to read things into what I’m writing that aren’t there I genuinely have no idea.

  4. So you are unfamiliar with the wage opener provision? Still waiting for the IAM TW CBA language showing this fictious 747 base.

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