One complaint of American Airlines flight attendants is that the introduction of Premium Economy means they have to do more work. American isn’t dedicating more staffing to the new premium cabin.
And as a result anecdotally I’ve heard from quite a few passengers that service suffers.
American’s rebuttal to flight attendants who feel they have to do more work is that staffing ratios remain the same. They’ve added seats to economy on their Boeing 777-200s. And they’ve added a premium economy section. But by adding a flight attendant in back the ratio of flight attendants to passengers is the same as it used to be.
The trick here is American folding Premium Economy into Economy, treating them the same even though Premium Economy entails more work and is supposed to mean better service.
Another challenge American faces with its flight attendants is which group of flight attendants get to fly which routes? Over the summer I shared a leaked memo about aircraft changes that was making legacy US Airways flight attendants unhappy.
The merger of American and US Airways isn’t as done as it appears to many customers. The airline still isn’t set up to have legacy American Airlines flights attendants fly legacy US Airways aircraft and vice versa, or to mix legacy American and legacy US Airways flight attendant crews on the same flights.
So when they take a European route historically flown by US Airways and assign a legacy America Airlines plane to fly it, that means US Airways flight attendants lose the opportunity and American Airlines flight attendants pick it up.
And they’re assigning some legacy American Airlines 757s and 767s to fly Philadelphia – Europe. And that means US Airways flight attendants are losing cool Europe flying opportunities.
You’d think that American’s declaration that Philadelphia is its transatlantic gateway and that they fly boutique business markets from New York JFK — combined with pulling back from JFK flying and adding transatlantic routes from Philadelphia — would be enough to mollify legacy US Airways crew. But it’s not.
American Airlines New York JFK
So American is adding flight attendant staffing to existing legacy US Airways Airbus A330 flying next summer. So more US Airways flight attendants can work European routes.
From a passenger perspective, more crew – and so a better passenger:crew ratio – should be a good thing.
But for the airline, adding flight attendants to planes to make flight attendants happy temporarily as a ‘make good’ so they can fly cool places is the very definition of crazy.
When mergers are consummated they promise ‘synergies’ which mean cost reductions as a result of reduced staffing. Adding a flight attendant to A330 routes to make flight attendants happy because they haven’t yet finished the merger four years in is an example of how this merger is creating whatever the opposite of synergies are.