3000 Free Miles and Pilots Revolting at American Airlines

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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. The Harrison Ford story kind of blew my mind. Can’t even imagine how bad an incident like that could’ve been and feel like someone may subsequently be required to re test for their ratings.

  2. 3,000 free miles for signing up? Come on Gary, as you well know, virtually everyone who reads this blog is already a member of the Ethiopian ShebaMiles program. 😉

  3. Airline labor relations often seem bizarro to the outside world. What’s going on at AA is that Parker gave the pilots massive pay raises, but then Delta and United not only matched those raises, but gave their pilots a little more. Now AA pilots want more than DL and UA. Parker, not unreasonably, said “fine, I’m happy to pay you more — but you’ll have to wait until your contracts expire in a few years.” That’s unacceptable to the AA pilots who think that, despite their contacts, they should get even more money right now.

    Obviously, Parker has to do what he’s done, because otherwise the contracts would be worth nothing and the 4 major airlines would just be engaged in a never-ending annual wage spiral. i’d also note that, last year, Parker did give his pilots profit sharing because DL and UA gave it to their pilots, even though AA’s contract was supposed to include extra money to NOT have profit sharing. And AA already has somewhat of a “wage problem”: last month, they noted that their non-fuel unit costs were up more than 10%, and that’s almost entirely due to wages. That’s a huge increase for any company, and obviously Parker can’t really afford to bump it up further.

    It’s very weird to me that a union would “go nuclear” when the facts certainly don’t warrant this behavior, but in the world of airline labor relations, it seems to happen all the time. The same thing just happened with the pilots at Southwest last year. It seems like if you’re an airline union leader, you have to act irrationally toward management, or risk losing your job because you’re too “soft.” It’s weird. I don’t think it really means much (or anything) to passengers, though.

  4. Pilots are going to grab every dollar they can. They have no appreciation for how highly paid they are compared to other professions of equal responsibility and training. If they can get more they go for it. They have consistently shown utter contempt for other employees, shareholders, management or customers. that’s just who they are. A bunch of entitled whiners who will never be satisfied.

  5. @Jeff — I don’t think there’s anything “different” about pilots. They’re just people, like everyone else. But the way the law is set up — to allow unionized professionals — makes their group behavior irrational. Could you imagine if folks making $150,000 a year at your company were unionized and encouraged to be hostile to management? It would be nuts, right? But that’s the way the law is in the airline industry. It should be changed: basically the Railway Labor Act should be gutted. It would be good for both employees and management. But, politically, it will never happen. The industry is just stuck with this dysfunction. The good news is that while the companies and their employees suffer from this rule, I think the impact on passengers is minimal.

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